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Birkbeck academic instrumental in Litvinenko court ruling

It was announced today by the European Court of Human Rights that Russia was responsible for the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko. Birkbeck’s Professor Bill Bowring played a crucial role in the case, representing Marina Carter, Alexander’s widow.

Professor Bill Bowring

The European Court of Human Rights has today backed the conclusion of a British inquiry in 2016 that Russia was responsible for the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy who acquired British citizenship in 2006 and became involved in exposing corruption and links to organised crime in the Russian intelligence services. Litvinenko was fatally poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 in London in 2006 by two Russian agents. 

Professor Bill Bowring, Barrister and Professor of Law at Birkbeck, initiated the case in 2007 with solicitor, Louise Christian and drafted the written pleadings. His client, Marina Carter, the widow of Alexander Litvinenko, was also represented before the Court by barristers Sir Keir Starmer QC (in 2007, before he became the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2008)and Mr Ben Emmerson QC (who conducted pro bono the Public Inquiry from 2014 to 2016). 

Professor Bowring commented: “I am so happy for Marina that the Strasbourg Court has vindicated her claim that her husband was horribly murdered in London by agents of the Russian stateSuch a finding against any state is very unusual. Her claim was proved to the Court’s satisfaction.”  

As a practising barrister since 1974, Professor Bill Bowring is well known for his work in the field of human rights. He combines his academic work, at Birkbeck since 2006, with practice at the Bar, and he has acted as a consultant and expert on human rights, minority rights and related issues for the United Nations, Council of Europe, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), European Union and the UK Government. He is President of the European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH), with members in 21 European countries. In 2017, he was awarded a Fellowship of the Academy of Social Sciences for his services to Russian studies. 

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