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Widow of poisoned Russian ex-FSB agent refused Protective Costs Order by English High Court

Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London in November 2006. It was revealed that he died from drinking tea that had been poisoned with Polonium 210. The police investigation into Mr Litvinenko’s death established 2 Russian citizens to be the main suspects. It is understood the UK government is in possession of further information surrounding his death, which could indicate he was poisoned on the orders of the Russian government.

His widow, Marina Litvinenko and the coroner investigating the death have called for a public enquiry in order to establish the full circumstances behind the poisoning. The Home Secretary has refused to hold such an enquiry before the coroner’s inquest takes place. It is the decision not to carry out such an enquiry that is subject to this judicial review.

Mrs Litvinenko had argued that she could not afford to pay the legal costs of all parties if her case was unsuccessful. Mrs Litvinenko has access to assets worth around £50,000, with an estimate of costs for the respondent in the region of £45,000. Her legal team were acting on her behalf pro bono.

The Court held she had greater means than many litigants. She had the financial means to bring the proceedings if she chose to and it would not be reasonable for her to withdraw proceedings on the basis that she did not have a PCO. It was not fair or just to make a PCO, nor was it an exceptional case.

Mrs Litvinenko has said she will continue with the legal challenge and has asked for donations from the public to meet the possible legal fees in the case.

For discussion around the decision not to grant the PCO, please click here.

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Cost Order