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The Litvinenko Contamination Case is Contaminated

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Mention the Alexander Litvinenko case, and people think of radioactive contamination. Now, though, it's looking like the case itself has become contaminated.

The London Coroner's office has played a central role in the Litvinenko case. But these days it appears to be in disarray and hiding from the public.

What's Behind This?

It is now almost five and a half years since Litvinenko's death. But the Coroner still has not ruled on the manner and cause of death. That means it's not official that radioactive polonium killed Litvinenko. What's more, it's not even official that he was murdered.

While researching my book, The Phony Litvinenko Murder, I broke the news that the Coroner never had concluded that Litvinenko was murdered. All those media reports that said he was are simply unfounded speculation. Details are in the book.

No credible explanation has been given as to what really happened to Litvinenko. Why didn't the Coroner wrap up the case years ago? Until last fall, there was just dead silence from the Coroner.

The first sign of life came in fall 2011. That's when the Coroner announced that finally an inquest would be held. It took place on October 13, 2011. No, it wasn't Friday the 13th; it was a Thursday. But given all the events that followed, it might as well have been a Friday the 13th. It's that strange.

After that inquest, Coroner Dr. Andrew Reid issued a statement that begins: "Following the pre-inquest review held today at St Pancras Coroners Court I would like to confirm that I am yet to provide a written ruling to the properly interested persons and potential properly interested persons. Therefore I have indicated my preliminary view that there should be further investigations into the wider circumstances about which allegations were made at the hearings today."

What did he say? The statement certainly is not written in plain English.

Just as an aside, I ran a Fog Index calculation on his whole statement. I publish Editors Only (, a monthly for magazine editors. We often pick passages from magazines or newspapers for Fog analysis. It is a measure of how readable copy is. Reid's statement has a Fog Index of over 25. That number tells how many years of formal education are needed to understand it. Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and the Bible average around 6. Publications like Time and the Wall Street Journal come in around 11. This article up to the Reid quote scores about 10. At over 25, Reid's statement seems unnecessarily complex. Was he trying to be obfuscatory?

Two things that can be gleaned: The inquest wasn't really an inquest. Now Reid calls it a pre-inquest. And, allegations were made by someone during the pre-inquest. But Reid doesn't say what they were.

He goes on to textually mumble about possibly bumping the case to a higher judicial official. Reid also suggests he's still awaiting a further decision from the prosecutor. It's about Litvinenko's death. But he doesn't tell more. He then says he's interested in the outcome of an appeals court matter. It apparently involves some people connected with the Litvinenko case. But Reid doesn't provide the who or the what.

Then, in a Friday-the-13th-weird series of events, (1) Reid calls for MI5 and MI6 to release secret documents about Litvinenko (January 28 -, (2) Reid is hospitalized for appendicitis (January 31 -, and (3) Reid is removed from all cases amidst surprising allegations that he had hired his wife back in 2009 (February 9 - ).

It Adds Up To...

So what we have is a Coroner's office that after five years hasn't been able to make up its mind about what happened to Litvinenko. Then, when Coroner Reid finally gets off the dime and calls for secret files on Litvinenko to be opened, he suddenly is hospitalized for appendicitis. And next, without skipping a beat, supposed dirt on him dating back three years is dug up and he's abruptly removed from the case.

Whatever Reid had started, he wasn't going to be allowed to finish.

After several tries at asking the Coroner's press office to explain what really happened to Reid, no answers were forthcoming. A journalist I know who called seeking to interview Reid was told that he's persona non grata. Indeed!

If the Coroner's office were finally to render a verdict about Litvinenko's death, who would believe it? By its own bumbling actions, the office has earned itself an Inspector Clouseau image. It has indeed contaminated the Litvinenko contamination case. It's hard to imagine how the officials could explain their way out of this one.

Another Contamination Source

The folly of the Coroner's office isn't the only contamination of the case, though. There's also the way in which the media have confounded any attempt by the public to achieve an accurate understanding of what happened.

The media story about Alexander Litvinenko, in a nutshell, is this: Former KGB Spy Litvinenko was murdered by Russian president Vladimir Putin who poisoned him with radioactive polonium.

But if you look for the facts behind those allegations, you come to realize that none of that story may be true. Indeed, it really appears to be a sheer fabrication perpetrated in the media.

Not one aspect of that media story has a basis in fact.

The Real Story

In my research, I found evidence that Litvinenko
--did not work for the KGB, and
--he never was a spy.

I produced a video short about this. It's called The Russian Spy Story Unraveled. It is a free supplement to my book, The Phony Litvinenko Murder ( You can see the video here:

Another troubling media issue concerns who was responsible for Litvinenko's death. First the news named Italian Mario Scaramella as the poisoner. Then it switched to Vladimir Putin. And finally it named Andrei Lugovoi who presumably did it on behalf of Putin.

But the media had earlier described Lugovoi as a "foe of the Kremlin," and an "anti-Putin crusader." Why would Putin have chosen an anti-Putin crusader to do his dirty work? You'll never find out from the media reports. They never sought to reconcile that conflict. That's some reporting, isn't it?

I did another video, this time on that topic. It's called The Who Done It Fraud, again, a supplement to my book. You can see the video here:

The media nonsense about Litvinenko hits another low, and now it's on the widely-reported deathbed statement. You may recall that this was a written statement that mysteriously appeared right after Litvinenko's death. Explosively, it named Russian president Vladimir Putin as his poisoner.

But that was a real switcheroo. Earlier the media reported that Litvinenko believed he was poisoned by Mario Scaramella. Litvinenko disclosed that in a November 11, 2006 interview broadcast by BBC. On American TV, Yuri Felshtinsky who co-wrote with Litvinenko a book about terrorism in Russia, said Litvinenko told him he was sure it was Mario Scaramella that did it.

The switcheroo first surfaced in media reports almost a week before Litvinenko's death. They said Litvinenko had fingered Russian president Vladimir Putin. But, the media weren't quoting Litvinenko. Instead their source was Boris Berezovsky, a British tycoon who is a fugitive from Russia, his former homeland. But no media outlets seemed to have heard this directly from Litvinenko.

The next shoe dropped when Litvinenko died. In the so-called deathbed statement, Litvinenko himself spoke out to the world to accuse Putin. Media accounts said Litvinenko dictated the statement in his own words. But later it comes out that he didn't! The statement was written by someone else and was passed off as something of Litvinenko's.   You can see my video on this slice of the case here:

Are you getting a clearer picture of just how completely contaminated this case is?

It Gets Even Stranger

Just when you think the Litvinenko case couldn't become more contaminated, it does.

Recently Litvinenko's brother, Maxim, challenged the media's non-fact-based claims about polonium. This took place in an interview on Russian TV. Maxim asserts that the lab tests that found polonium in Alexander's urine were rigged. Maxim said that polonium was somehow introduced into Litvinenko's urine specimen that went out for testing. That would mean Litvinenko may not have died of polonium contamination.

But, Maxim didn't offer any facts to back up his story. So I wrote to the Coroner's office seeking clarification: "In a recent interview Maxim Litvinenko, brother of Alexander Litvinenko, suggests that polonium detected in Alexander's urine was a result of deliberate contamination of the urine bag below his bed. Does the Coroner's office have any information that would conflict with that allegation? I'd be grateful for your clarification. Thanks."

The reply?

"We do not have a comment on this. We are awaiting an inquest date."

Oh, another inquest? I followed up: "Thank you. When do you expect the inquest to take place? Who will be convening it?"

The answer?

"The coroner has appointed a legal team of solicitors and counsel. Further hearing dates will follow and properly interested persons and media will be notified in due course."

So Reid has been off the case since February 9, and they're still thinking about what to do next in this November 2006 case! Does this sound as fishy to you as it does to me? Are they trying to hide something?

In any event, the credibility of the Coroner's office seems to have been irreparably damaged regarding Litvinenko. How can the case ever be solved in a way that is believable?

What's more, there are now many entrenched and vested interests with a stake in maintaining the illusions perpetuated by all the nonsensical news stories. Very conspicuous leaders in the UK and the US have taken strong positions based on those fallacious reports. These powerful people will look mighty foolish if no legitimate evidence is ever found and presented to support the "Putin did it" scenario.

Is that a reason why the London Coroner's office seems to be in such disarray? Is it why the officials seem so unwilling to provide clear and responsive answers?

I don't know if it is. But the whole Litvinenko case seems to have become too contaminated by the nonsensical fantasy of the media reports and the folly of the Coroner's office.

Together they've reduced the matter to nothing more than a fantasy adventure with Litvinenko playing the role of Alice in Wonderland and the Coroner's office filling in as Inspector Clouseau .

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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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