On 22 July 2014 the Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon. Teresa May MP, announced that the Government had decided to establish an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 to investigate the death of Alexander Litvinenko on 23 November 2006. The inquiry was formally set up on 31 July 2014.
Sir Robert Owen, at that time a High Court judge, was appointed to chair the inquiry, having previously acted as Assistant Coroner with responsibility for conducting the inquest into Mr Litvinenko’s death. Sir Robert, who retired from the High Court bench on 19 September 2014, suspended the inquest and opened the inquiry (PDF) having been asked to do so by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice in accordance with paragraph 3 of schedule 1 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.
In his opening address on 31 July 2014 Sir Robert set out the chronology of events which had led up to the decision to hold the inquiry, starting with the opening of an inquest into Mr Litvinenko’s death on 30 November 2006. Although the inquest into Mr Litvinenko’s death is now suspended pending conclusion of the inquiry, information about proceedings in the inquest remains available at the inquest section on this website.
Public hearings took place in court 73 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London between 27 January and 30 March 2015 and will recommence in July 2015 for a limited period.
The Terms of Reference
1. Subject to paragraphs 2 and 3 below, the Chairman is to conduct an investigation into the death of Alexander Litvinenko in order to:
(i) ascertain, in accordance with section 5 (1) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, who the deceased was; how, when and where he came by his death; and the particulars (if any) required by the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 to be registered concerning the death;
(ii) identify, so far as is consistent with section 2 of the Inquiries Act 2005, where responsibility for the death lies; and
(iii) make such recommendations as may seem appropriate.
2. That investigation is to take into account the investigations which have already been conducted by the Assistant Coroner for the Inner North London [Sir Robert Owen].
3. In the light of the Assistant Coroner’s views, expressed in his ruling of 17 May 2013, (see paragraph 13 of the Judicial Review judgment dated 11 February 2014) that there is no material within the relevant documents to suggest that, at any material time, Alexander Litvinenko was or ought to have been assessed as being at a real and immediate threat to his life, the inquiry will not address the question of whether the UK authorities could or should have taken steps which would have prevented the death.