UK government says international relations a factor in rejecting Litvinenko inquiry

The British government says international relations were a factor in its decision not to hold a public inquiry into the death of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko.

Coroner Robert Owen had asked the government to hold a broad inquiry into the death of the KGB agent turned Kremlin critic, who died in London in 2006 after ingesting radioactive polonium-210.

Owen said an inquiry would be able to consider secret evidence to determine whether the Russian state was involved.

Last week Owen said the government had refused his request. In a letter published Friday, Home Secretary Theresa May spelled out her reasons, among them the cost.

She also said "it is true that international relations have been a factor in the government's decision-making" — although not the deciding factor.