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Credibility of British Litvinenko Judgment Doubtful

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Discredited Judge Robert Owen
Discredited Judge Robert Owen
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A dark cloud of suspicion still hangs over a 2006 British murder mystery. The Litvinenko affair started as a London spy mystery. It made top headlines back in the day. Riveting allegations claimed Alexander Litvinenko died of polonium poisoning ordered by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Now almost ten years later, the mystery has evolved into a government political scandal. After years of false starts and inaction, an official inquiry was finally called in 2015. Getting to the bottom of things was its ostensible purpose.

Retired high court judge Sir Robert Owen chaired the proceedings. Prime Minister David Cameron put his weight behind Owen's undertaking. Owen released a final report of his findings on January 21, 2016. But instead of shedding light on what happened to Litvinenko, it only further confounded the issue. The report is replete with incertitude, and its findings are biased, flawed, and inconsistent.

Owen's report is so poorly done that it's worth considering whether Sir Robert himself should be accorded credibility. Instead of moving the long-drawn-out case toward justice, Owen just may have poisoned the chance that the truth will ever be known.

Owen had racked up an alarming record with his work, first as coroner and then as chairman of the official government inquiry. It suggests that he is a man on a mission, and perhaps not an honest one. While coroner, Owen said he had a "duty to undertake a full, fair, and fearless inquiry into the circumstances of Mr. Litvinenko's death." In actuality he followed quite a different path.

Just what circumstances did British law require him to investigate? They're not what you might expect. It may come as quite a surprise, but fingering a culprit in the killing is not among them. That wasn't his job. In fact British law explicitly forbids coroners from establishing criminal liability.

Owen should have been ruling on the manner and cause of death. That was his statutory responsibility. The manner of death could refer to something like: natural causes, accidental death, homicide, suicide, or undetermined (if there were no clear indications of the other manners of death). The cause of death tells what specifically killed the person. Examples include cardiac arrest, drowning, overdose, automobile collision, etc. Owen ignored that responsibility. He clearly had his own agenda. But what was his game?

Owen's rogue behavior got so out of hand that Home Secretary Theresa May actually reprimanded him and told him to focus on his legitimate duties. In my book Litvinenko Murder Case Solved I write about a July 2013 incident:

"Coroner Sir Robert Owen was taken to the woodshed by the British government. At issue is his conduct of the inquest into the death of Alexander Litvinenko. A reputed former KGB spy, Litvinenko died suspiciously in London in 2006.

Owen's rebuke came as a result of the course he had charted for himself in investigating Litvinenko's death. The coroner's statutory responsibility, according to Home Secretary Theresa May, is to 'ascertain who the deceased was, and how, when, and where he came by his death.' But Owen was not focusing on those issues; he was not doing his job.

Instead, Owen had been conducting a rogue criminal investigation, looking for Russian state involvement in the death. The late Boris Berezovsky, a fugitive Russian oligarch who was hiding out in London, had accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of culpability. He never presented any evidence, however. But Owen was apparently picking up where Berezovsky left off."

It's important to note that when reality-tested, Berezovsky's assertions typically can be proved absolutely false. They are sheer fabrications. My 2011 book titled The Phony Litvinenko Murder factually debunks the many unsupported allegations that have become the mainstream news story.

Continuing from Litvinenko Murder Case Solved:

"The Home Secretary reined in Owen, pointing out that he had overstepped his bounds. She stated that the law does not allow a coroner to determine criminal liability.

Earlier news reports uncovered Owen's illicit criminal investigation. In response he concocted a scheme of deception. He wanted to transfer his coronial work to a different venue, one without the restrictions placed on coroners regarding openness and criminality. It was a clever strategy.

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William Dunkerley is author of the books "Ukraine in the Crosshairs," "The Phony Litvinenko Murder, "Litvinenko Murder Case Solved," and "Medvedev's Media Affairs," published by Omnicom Press. Mr. Dunkerley also has authored several monographs (more...)

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