The February issue of Fortean Times has a four page article by Matthew Dentith on conspiracy theory entitled "I'm not a conspiracy theorist but......"
The first page of this is taken up with the death in London in 2006 of the Russian emigre and former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko. Rather unsatisfactorily Dentith describes him as "living in exile in London promoting various conspiracy theories about President Vladimir Putin's rise to power in Russian". That is one interpretation.
Certainly Litvinenko had been employed by the Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky, who had long been in dispute with President Putin. Since 2003 the former FSB spy had switched sides, and had become an informant for the British security services, as reports from the inquiry have detailed. He had also begun assisting the Spanish security services. That was surely important enough for Dentith to mention?
After covering two possible explanations for Litvinenko's murder, and also discussing the murder weapon - Polonium 210 - Dentith concludes "Whatever the case, you cannot help but be a conspiracy theorist when it comes to the death of Alexander Litvinenko; there is no sensible alternative".
Is that correct? If someone accepts the Scotland Yard version of events does that make you a conspiracy theorist? The police view is broadly that Alexander Litvinenko was murdered by two Russians - Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun - who administered poison to him at the Millennium Hotel in London on 1 November 2006. If the police establish that version, to the satisfaction of the public inquiry, is that still a conspiracy theory? And does it remain a conspiracy theory if that version of events is accepted by most members of the public? With the exception of the presence of Polonium 210, the murder of a perceived traitor by a security service whose secrets he was giving up, cannot be that unusual or perverse, can it? We do seem to have motive, method and opportunity here.
After a lot of messing about, the public inquiry into the Litvinenko death began in London on 31 July 2014. It is expected to report to the Home Secretary at the end of the year. The inquiry website may be viewed here. Perhaps this is one 'conspiracy theory' - as opposed to conspiracy - which may be put to bed?