WATCH: Alexander Litvinenko wife says Theresa May learnt nothing from husband's murder

Posted On: 
11th March 2018

The wife of murdered ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko has blasted Theresa May for failing to learn from her husband’s death as fingers were pointed at Russia over a fresh poisoning scandal.

Marina Litvinenko, the wife of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko
Credit: 
PA Images

Marina Litvinenko revealed a 2016 letter sent to her by the then-home secretary promising to “take every step” to stop a similar case happening again in the UK.

But after Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal was poisoned with a nerve agent in Salisbury last week, Ms Litvinenko said: “It means something was not done.”

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Tensions between London and Moscow have come under strain over allegations that the Russian state was behind the attack on Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Ms May met with Ms Litvinenko and handed her the letter after a public inquiry found in 2016 that Russia was “probably” behind the murder.

It read: “I and this Government am clear that we must continue to pursue justice for your husband’s killing and we will take every step to protect the UK and its people from such a crime ever being repeated.”

But appearing on the Andrew Marr show, Ms Litvinenko said: “Unfortunately it happened again, it means something was not done and a lesson… was not learned.”

Asked whether Russia took the protection of its citizens on UK soil seriously, she said it was viewed as a "big joke".

But speaking on the same show, Chancellor Philip Hammond shot back: "Nobody is laughing at us. This is a very serious investigation."

'TORIES HAVE NOT TAKEN CASH FROM KREMLIN'

Elsewhere, Mr Hammond rejected suggestions the Conservatives should hand back hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations from Russian oligarchs.

An investigation by the Sunday Times found rich Russians have given the Tories more than £820,000 since Mrs May took over as Prime Minister. 

The funds were received despite Mrs May promising to distance herself from Russian cash when she got the job in 2016.

Mr Hammond insisted all the donations were taken and recorded properly under Electoral Commission rules. 

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah also piled in to defended the funds, telling Sky News: “The Conservative party has not accepted money from the Kremlin.”

He added: “There is very careful vetting that takes place of donors but we also have very strict legal rules around donations to political parties in this country and obviously every donation has got to satisfy both tests.”

MAGNITSKY ACT

Meanwhile, Mr Hammond suggested the UK did not require its own version of the US Magnitsky Act to crack down on Russians who could pose a national security threat to the UK.

But he suggested the Government could move to accommodate MPs who have backed a so-called 'Magnitsky Amendment' to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill.

Tory former minister Mark Garnier however contradicted the Chancellor to argue the UK would benefit from passing new powers to crack down on human rights abusers.

He told ITV it was “something which actually we should be looking at more carefully because if there was a Magnitsky Act in place you would have a rule of law”.

OUTRAGE 'HELPFUL' TO PUTIN

Elsewhere, former UK ambassador to Russia Sir Tony Brenton said outrage over the Skripal case and accusations of Kremlin involvement would be “helpful” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He told Pienaar’s Politics on BBC  Radio 5 Live: “Putin has elections at the end of the week. The more he can point to western hostility and aggression the more he rallies the Russian people round him.

“So it may well be counterproductive, the sort of line we’re taking.”