The Russian political dissident Alexei Navalny is still in an induced coma in a hospital in Berlin after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok on a flight from Siberia to Moscow on the 20th of August. The last time we heard of this lethal organophosphate was two years ago when two Russian residents in Salsibury, Wiltshire, survived an assassination attempt. Dawn Sturgess, who lived eight miles away, was not so lucky. She died after spraying herself with a discarded bottle of the poison which she thought to contain perfume.
At her inquest, the senior coroner declined to extend the scope of his investigation to the involvement of the Russian state in her death as collateral damage to the assassination attempt. Her family took judicial review proceedings to challenge his conclusion. They were partially successful; the court said the although the coroner couldn’t state, in terms, that the Russian state was liable in civil or criminal law, he could still investigate that matter. They reverted the matter to him. Read the judgment of the Administrative Court on the 24th of July here.
The senior coroner, who must now ask if answering how Ms Sturgess died requires him to look at involvement of Russian state. In the latest episode of Law Pod UK Rosalind English discusses the broader implications of this case with Matthew Hill.
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