Home Office forensic pathologist Dr Nathaniel Cary told the inquiry into Alexander Litvinenko’s death that the post-mortem examination of his body was probably “the most dangerous ever undertaken.”
Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with rare radioactive isotope polonium-210 nine years ago in London’s Millennium hotel. The inquiry heard yesterday two men, Andrei K. Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun poisoned Mr Litvinenko using a laced cup of tea.
The inquiry read a transcript of remarks made by Mr Litvinenko while he was in hospital dying. Describing the hotel meeting, he said: ““Straightaway a waiter came up to us
“There was already a teapot on the table and I poured some tea out of the teapot, although there was only a little left on the bottom and it made just half a cup. Maybe about 50 grams. I swallowed several times but it was green tea with no sugar and it was already cold, by the way.
He added: “I didn’t like it for some reason
“Maybe in total I swallowed three or four times.”
Pathologist Dr Nathaniel Cary told the inquiry Mr Litvinenko’s body was “very hazardous” and that had only ingested the poison orally.
The risks of radiation poisoning during the post-mortem meant Litvinenko’s body had to be transferred to a secure site. Dr Cary said the pathologists wore protective gloves and specialised hoods during the examination.
Litvinenko was buried in Highgate Cemetery in a lead-lined coffin because of the risks associated with the radiation contamination in his body.
On Monday, Sir Robert Owen said the highly deadly toxin could have been used to “kill large numbers of people.”
The barrister for Mr Litvinenko’s wife, Ben Emmerson, went further, saying: “It was also an act of nuclear terrorism on the streets of a major city which put the lives of numerous other members of the public at risk.”