The unresolved death of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko already had more than a hint of the spy thriller.

Now the case of the poisoned Russian dissident has taken a few more unexpected twists to the extent that it is fast becoming a case worthy of both James Bond and Miss Marple.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Mr Litvinenko was given a lethal dose of radioactive polonium-210 while taking tea at a London hotel. A tea-pot used to serve Mr Litvinenko not only registered positive for radiation, it was so contaminated it “went off the scale” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/russia/article/0,,1999883,00.html).

Investigators were then able to follow the traces of polonium-210 from the hotel, to aircraft and various offices around Europe, before the trail led back to Russia. Scotland Yard has taken the unusual step of naming Andrei Lugovoi, a former bodyguard with the KGB, as the prime suspect.

The radiation trail has allegedly followed Mr Lugovoi, who categorically denies any involvement, after he met with Mr Litvinenko shortly before he was taken ill.

Russia has already indicated it does not believe there is sufficient evidence to extradite Mr Lugovoi, if the UK decides to charge him in relation to the death.

Diplomatic relations between the UK and Russia are already a little strained and if an extradition warrant is issued, it is anticipated that it could spark a tit-for-tat response. Russia is keen to have oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who has been granted asylum in the UK, extradited to face a variety of fraud charges.

The case of the poisoned tea-pot is unlikely to be solved as quickly or as efficiently as either Mr Bond or Miss Marple would manage.

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