Police invoke public interest immunity to withhold documents relating to dead Russian whistleblower

Surrey Police are seeking to withhold dozens of documents relating to the possible murder of a Russian whistleblower living in Britain, who may have been poisoned, from the forthcoming inquest into his death, a pre-inquest review has heard.

 

Her­mitage Cap­i­tal, represented by Geoffrey Robertson QC and Henrietta Hill QC, are a London-based investment company which was the victim of a £150m fraud.  From 2010 until shortly before his death in late 2012, Alexan­der Perepilich­nyy had assisted Hermitage in exposing the fraud.  He pro­vided evi­dence to Her­mitage and twice tes­ti­fied to the Swiss pros­e­cu­tors.  He sub­se­quently received death threats.  He then died suddenly in December 2012. 

 

Geoffrey Robertson QC told the Coroner at a pre-inquest review on 13 January 2015 that the police’s application to withhold documents was highly unusual, and at odds with the police’s contention that this was a wholly unremarkable death. He told the court that Surrey Police had shown "years of disrespect" with delays to the inquest proceedings. Describing the PII application as  "extraordinary", he added: "There has been a cover up”.

 

Mr Perepilichnyy collapsed and died in the road while running in Weybridge, Surrey, on 10 December 2012.  In June 2013 Surrey Police indicated that they did not consider that there were any suspicious circumstances about his death.  However recent expert evidence suggests the possibility of a toxic plant named Gelsemium being present in Mr Perepilichnyy’s body.

 

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