To do

Another list of suggestions on how to accentuate Britain’s response to the Russian government’s flouting of international legal standards, this time from the Independent‘s Dominic Lawson, in the guise of a “found memo”. Some of the suggestions are likely to be followed at some point. Excerpt:

On the subject of Anglo-Russian business partnerships, we should adopt a much tougher vetting procedure for former servants of the Crown offered money to sell their services to Mr Putin’s friends. It’s not as if they don’t have good public sector pensions (thanks, by the way). I am sorry to have to tell you that Sir Francis Richards, the former head of GCHQ, was recently allowed to join the advisory board of a telecoms company owned by Mikhail Fridman – one of the very oligarchs who have just created such havoc for BP’s oil business in Russia. You can tell the current head of our secret communications centre that Sir Francis is the last GCHQ boss who will be allowed to work for Mr Fridman, or any other Russian billionaire

We are, as you know, sceptical about Germany’s willingness to cause genuine discomfort to Mr Putin’s regime. Nevertheless, Chancellor Merkel is much more open to such a course than her predecessor Gerhard Schröder: he is now the chairman of the Nord Stream gas pipeline project designed to pump Gazprom’s products subsea directly to Germany, thus reducing Russia’s dependence on Poland and Ukraine for transit. We are told that Chancellor Merkel would enjoy making Mr Schröder’s life less pleasurable, and would welcome your support in supplying any regulatory or environmental reasons – even genuine ones – as to why the Nord Stream gas project should be blocked.

Now for the most sensitive matter of all – what our American friends call the ‘short and curlies department’. Our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police have plenty of evidence that the FSB was involved in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. As you know, this was the first time since the death of Georgi Markov that one of Her Majesty’s subjects has been murdered in this country by a foreign intelligence service. You will also know that the Russian Government has refused even to consider extraditing the chief suspect to face trial in the UK.

We therefore suggest that a public inquest is held into the assassination of Mr Litvinenko. We were impressed with the way that Lord Justice Scott Baker conducted the recent inquest into the deaths of Diana Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed. He could be most usefully reemployed: you will recall that he kept the Diana inquest going for many months, with the media given complete access to all documentation, and that we were asked to agree that even MI6 officers should be compelled to give evidence in public.


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