Journalist and author John Wight compared the murder of a Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko to the unseemly suicide of Dr David Kelly.
Mr Litvinenko was an agent with Russia’s intelligence agency, the FSB, prior to transferring his loyalties to Britain’s MI6 in London in return for a fee. This is not to say that his murder was anything other than despicable or heinous – or that those responsible should not be brought to justice. It does, however, help to place the crime in its proper context. In the murky world of intelligence agencies and spies bad things happen.
Mr Litvinenko was in about as deep as it gets and had to know there were people out there with an interest in ending his career. Whether some of those people were working for the Russian government remains a matter of conjecture – and now more than ever as a result of Sir Robert Owen’s findings and the deeply flawed legal process that preceded them.
The British legal and political establishment has form when it comes to ‘flawed’ official inquiries, cover-ups, and farcical legal proceedings. Among the most questionable of those concerns the unseemly suicide of Dr David Kelly in 2003. Kelly, a biological and chemical weapons expert with ties to British intelligence, found himself embroiled in controversy when he was revealed as the source of British journalist Andrew Gilligan’s explosive expose of the ‘sexed up’ dossier on WMD in Iraq, which the Blair government had instructed its Joint Intelligence Committee to draw up as part of its argument for the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Kelly revealed to Gilligan, then working at the BBC, that the dossier’s findings had been purposely exaggerated to suit a particular agenda – i.e. in favor of war – and was therefore tainted.
When the story broke, Blair’s press secretary, Alastair Campbell demanded to know the identity of Gilligan’s anonymous source inside the intelligence community.
Dr Kelly’s identify was subsequently revealed, leading to him being questioned by the police and hauled before a House of Commons Select Committee to be grilled by assorted MPs live on national television. A day later, after leaving his home to go for his regular walk in the countryside, he was found dead, reported to have opened up one of his wrists with a pocketknife and taken an overdose of painkillers.
The point in relaying this event in such detail is not to deflect from the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. It is to understand the murky world of intelligence and how a British establishment that likes to present itself as clean and unimpeachable is up to its neck in subterfuge and a record of dodgy legal proceedings that have consistently failed to satisfy the ends of justice.
Returning to Mr Litvinenko, the extent to which the British media has acted as an unquestioning echo chamber for Sir Robert Owen’s assertion that Putin ‘probably approved’ of Litvinenko’s murder has been staggering. It merely adds to the long list of crimes that the Russian President is alleged to have been responsible for over the past few years.