The British government continues to stand by its claim that one of its top nuclear scientists found stabbed to death after a trip to Russia committed suicide - a conclusion not all are buying.
The body of Dr Matthew Puncher was found riddled with knife wounds in 2016, weeks after his nuclear research helped a judge determine that the KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko had been poisoned in London by Russia’s secret service – and shortly after he visited the country on separate government business.
Though the government maintains that Puncher was able to stab himself multiple times using two knives before fall unconscious, a Buzzfeed News investigation revealed last year that U.S. intelligence agencies had informed MI6 of evidence that 14 deaths - including Puncher - could be linked to Russian assassins.
The government denied failing in its duty of care towards Puncher in a letter to Lord Rooker, a Labour peer who wrote to Theresa May in November asking why the scientist had been sent to Russia on state business in the immediate aftermath of the Litvinenko verdict. “It was known how explosive the issue was between the UK and Russia, so why was Dr Puncher not withdrawn?” he asked, noting that the prime minister had made public her commitment to “the population being kept safe” and yet “it appears the Government failed in respect of Dr Puncher”.
In his response, Steve Brine, the parliamentary under secretary of state for public health, gave the same basic information already available: that Puncher was not known to be in danger.
To date, there is no evidence that further investigation is expected.