Litvinenko ‘probed Russia minister’

Published: Monday 16th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Poisoned spy Alexander Litvinenko was investigating a Russian minister and an ongoing legal battle over a vodka brand in the months before his death, an inquiry has heard.

Customs officer turned private investigator Daniel Quirke told the public inquiry into Mr Litvinenko’s death that the former KGB officer was tasked with providing intelligence on agriculture minister Alexei Gordiev and his associates.

Mr Quirke, who worked for private security and investigations firm Risc Management, said Mr Litvinenko was specifically looking into Mr Gordiev’s involvement with a row over the ownership of Stolichnaya vodka.

Mr Litvinenko, who held five or six meetings with Mr Quirke from February 2006 onwards, died on November 23 of that year, nearly three weeks after he drank tea laced with a radioactive substance in the company of two Russian contacts in a Mayfair hotel bar.

Mr Quirke told the inquiry that a client of Risc Management wanted information on the intentions of Mr Gordiev over the Stolichnaya row.

He said there was a dispute between a businessman and the Russian state over the ownership of the recipe of Stolichnaya. This was resolved after Mr Litvinenko’s death when The Hague ruled in favour of the Russian government.

Asked by counsel to the inquiry Hugh Davies QC what Mr Litvinenko was asked to do, Mr Quirke said: “Obtain intelligence they could about Gordiev, his associates and the agriculture ministry and any ongoing legal matters they intended to put against Stolichnaya.”

He added: “The client wanted to know what kind of people they would be up against in the courts, were they going to pursue them, could it be stalled, what was going to happen in the long term.

Published: Monday 16th February 2015 by The News Editor

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