Monday, November 27, 2006

Home Office makes statement on Litvinenko case

Closed - The Itsu sushi bar and several other London premises

As the British media interest in the poisoning of ex-KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko continues, questions were raised today in Parliament. John Reid, the Home Secretary, said, “Tests are continuing at a number of locations” and that, “police are attempting to identify a number of people he [Litvinenko] may have met.” The HPA [Health Protection Agency] has requested that anyone who was at the Itsu or the Millennium Hotel on the 1st of November to contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 [At the time of publication their website was experiencing server problems. A message instead read: We’re sorry, but our server has experienced an unexpected error that prevents it from loading the page you’ve requested. We are aware of the problem, and we’re trying to fix it as soon as we can. Please try again later…]
He went on to say that the NHS Direct had received 500 calls and the Itsu sushi bar, the Millennium Hotel bar and a number of rooms had been closed to the public. He also indicated that a number of other premises had been identified where traces of radioactivity had been found. The Home Secretary said there were a small number of people who had described symptoms which merited further tests adding that the number was less than 5 – the BBC has said that 3 people had been admitted for tests. According the Home Secretary, the Russian Ambassador had been called to the Home Office on the 24th November, but during questions in the open session he refused to be drawn into whether the Russian Federation, nor their secret services, might be involved and emphasised that the Police has said that as yet they were only investigating a ‘suspicious death’. However, David Davis said that if the Russian State Secret Service were not involved “then it raises the issue of availability of Polonium 210 to other criminals.” The Home Secretary did not answer the question directly, but said, “COBRA was convened due to the concerns of public health and security.” COBRA is an acronym for Cabinet Office Briefing Room A, a government body which was established to deal with national or regional emergencies.

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