Peter Skelton QC and Robert Wastell are acting as Counsel to the Coroner in the Inquest into the death of Alexander Perepilichnyy.
The Inquest has now opened. Peter said that the Inquest must determine whether Mr Perepilichnyy died of natural causes or was poisoned or conclude that it is not possible to say either way.
The inquest opened in 2014 and there have been a number of pre-inquest reviews in this complex case in which the family, Surrey Police, Legal and General and Hermitage Capital Management are Interested Persons.
Perepilichnyy, 44, died after collapsing near his home in Surrey on 10th November 2012 following a lunch with his wife that day. Richard Travers, Coroner for the County of Surrey, stepped down as coroner after a High Court order upheld a government application to prevent the disclosure of secret documents to him. He was succeeded by the Recorder of London, His Honour Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC.
Mr Perepilichnyy was reportedly helping Hermitage Capital Management and the Swiss authorities to identify the perpetrators of an alleged $230 million Russian fraud. Although the businessman’s death was originally attributed to natural causes, the latest pre-inquest review heard claims that he may have been poisoned and that traces of a chemical that can be found in the poisonous plant Gelsemium (“heartbreak grass”) may have been found in his stomach contents.
The full inquest is scheduled for three weeks and the Coroner is sitting at the Old Bailey.