POST MORTEM WAS ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS EVER CONDUCTED

January 28 2015

– The post-mortem examination of poisoned spy Alexander Litvinenko was “one of the most dangerous ever undertaken in the western world”, the public inquiry into his death has heard.

Dr Nathaniel Cary, a Home Office forensic pathologist, said Mr Litvinenko’s radioactive body was “very hazardous” and was transferred to a secure site for tests.

During the post-mortem examination, Dr Cary and his colleagues wore two white safety suits, protective gloves taped at the sleeves and specialised hoods, into which air was piped through a filter.

Mr Litvinenko, 43, a former Russian spy who is thought to have been working for British secret service MI6 during his time in the UK, died at University College Hospital nearly three weeks after he had consumed tea laced with polonium-210 on November 1 at the Millennium Hotel in London’s Grosvenor Square.

Dr Cary told the inquiry: “It has been described as the most dangerous post-mortem examination ever undertaken in the western world and I think that is probably right.”

Mr Litvinenko, who lost all his hair before his death, showed signs of multi-organ failure as a result of acute radiation poisoning, Dr Cary told the inquiry.

His cause of death was recorded as acute radiation syndrome, the pathologist said.

Dr Cary went on: “It appears Mr Litvinenko ingested a large quantity of polonium-210 on or around November 1 2006, largely if not wholly by oral ingestion, rather than by inhalation.”

“The calculated amount absorbed was in far excess of known survivability limits,” he added.

Asked if there was anything in Mr Litvinenko’s clinical history inconsistent with acute radiation syndrome, Dr Cary said: “No. In effect, the polonium-210 detected is the smoking gun in the case. It shows you what happened.”

The pathologist agreed there was no precedent for alpha radiation poisoning in this way.

Another pathologist, Dr Ben Swift, agreed it was the most dangerous post-mortem to have ever taken place and there was no other recorded instance in the UK or overseas.

He said inflammation in the back of Mr Litvinenko’s throat and wind pipe suggested he had swallowed the polonium-210.

An anonymous scientist, who gave evidence from behind a screen and was known only as A1, told the inquiry there was nothing found in traces on the so-called polonium trail in the Litvinenko case that would help identify its source, that is, a specific nuclear reactor.

The scientist, who worked for the Atomic Weapons Establishment for 30 years and is one of the country’s leading nuclear scientists, said there is a legitimate market for polonium-210 in industry for preventing static electricity.

Looking at contamination levels along the so-called polonium trail, the scientist said it was more than probable that the teapot from which he drank tea on November 1 was the “primary source of contamination”.

A series of 3D renderings of the teapot showed high levels of polonium-210 in the spout.

Two men – former KGB bodyguard turned politician Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun – were named as the main suspects in 2007. Both deny any involvement and remain in Russia.

Earlier, a counter-terror officer working on the investigation into the death of the Russian dissident told the inquiry the two main suspects are still wanted for his murder.

Detective Inspector Craig Mascall, who works for Scotland Yard’s counter-terror command, has been working on the probe into Mr Litvinenko’s poisoning since two days before his death on November 23 2006.

Mr Mascall told the inquiry: “It’s still an on going criminal investigation. There are still two people wanted for the murder of Mr Litvinenko and that’s Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun.”

The detective inspector told the inquiry that at its peak there were 100 detectives and 100 uniformed officers working on the investigation.

Ben Emmerson QC, who represents Mr Litvinenko’s widow Marina, told the inquiry that murder suspect Mr Lugovoi gave a television interview to the Echo of Moscow last night in response to the opening day of proceedings.

In the interview, Mr Lugovoi claims the proceedings were resurrected, after being suspended due to the exclusion of secret material, in response to the Ukrainian conflict.

Reading a translation of Lugovoi’s interview, Mr Emmerson said: “When the situation in Ukraine kicked off and the UK geographical interest … they had decided to dust off the moth balls and commences proceedings.”

Mr Lugovoi said he “couldn’t care less about what’s happening” in Britain in response to the start of the inquiry, Mr Emmerson said.

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About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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