Litvinenko coroner rejects Met anonymity requests

The coroner in the inquest into the death of poisoned spy Alexander Litvinenko has refused applications for three police witnesses to remain anonymous.

Alexander Litvinenko was killed after being poisoned in 2006. Picture: PA
Alexander Litvinenko was killed after being poisoned in 2006. Picture: PA

• Coroner in inquest of death of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko refuses anonymity requests from three police witnesses

• Identities of three officers may still remain a secret unless their evidence is discussed in court or they are asked to appear in person

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Sir Robert Owen declined the request by the Metropolitan Police for witnesses known only as D1, D2 and C1 to be known only by ciphers during any inquest.

Even though the application has been turned down, their identities will only be publicly revealed if their evidence is discussed in court, or if they are called to give evidence in person.

The reasons for the refusal have not been published.

Sir Robert allowed an application from the Atomic Weapons Establishment for a fourth witness, known as A3, to remain anonymous.

Scotland Yard had applied for the officers to be referred to only by ciphers and a reporting ban on any identifying personal information.

This was on the grounds that they would fear for their own safety, their privacy would be breached and being called to give evidence without anonymity would discourage others from assisting in future investigations.

The force had also applied for the witnesses to give evidence from behind screens that would shield them from the view of media and members of the public, and this will be considered at a later date.

The ruling was published days after the Government rejected calls to hold a public inquiry into Mr Litvinenko’s death rather than an inquest.

Sir Robert had written to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to request the probe after ruling that he could not properly consider vital secret evidence as part of a normal inquest.

On Friday Mr Litvinenko’s widow Marina said she and her team were “shocked and disappointed” by the decision not to hold the inquiry, and her team are planning to seek a judicial review.