LONDON—Bell Pottinger, the London consultancy headed by former Conservative Party communications strategist Lord Tim Bell, has been handling public relations for friends and family of Alexander Litvinenko, the former Soviet spy who died in mysterious circumstances in the U.K. last week.
Lord Bell has been representing Boris Berezovsky, the Russian billionaire and businessman who was granted asylum in the U.K. in 2001, for four years. Berezovsky was a friend of Litvinenko and both have been fierce critics of the current Russian government and premier Vladimir Putin.
Bell Pottinger has been fielding media inquiries on behalf of Litvinenko and offering advice to relatives of Litvinenko and to Alex Goldfarb, the former spy’s spokesman during his dying days in a London hospital, after apparently being poisoned. According to newspaper reports, Lord Bell also helped with the distribution of a harrowing photograph showing Litvinenko with no hair and physically wasted in his final hours.
Bell denied the suggestion by the Kremlin that Berezovsky was involved in a plot to embarrass President Putin over Litvinenko’s death. “It was inevitable that the Kremlin should try and blame Boris for this, they are always trying to blame him for something. But the idea that Boris did this to embarrass Putin is potty,” he told reporters.