Page last updated at 09:27 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 10:27 UK

Russia labels UK diplomat a spy


Russian security officials have accused a British diplomat based in Moscow of working as a spy.

They said the official, named as Christopher Bowers, was a senior British intelligence officer.

A spokeswoman for the foreign office in London confirmed that a member of the British embassy was accused of spying.

The claim comes after UK government sources told the BBC the Russian state was behind the murder of its former agent Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.

Fraught ties

"I can confirm allegations of spying by the Russian authorities [against] one of the members of the British embassy," a spokeswoman for the foreign office told Agence France Presse.

Mr Bowers worked as a reporter for the BBC before joining the UK Foreign Office in the 1990s.

In Moscow, he was the acting director of an agency providing support to British companies doing business in the country, UK Trade and Investment.

Diplomatic relations between London and Moscow have been fraught since the Litvinenko murder.

Mr Litvinenko died in London from radiation poisoning. UK investigators suspect former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi of the murder, but he has always denied any involvement.

The BBC's James Rodgers in Moscow says it is clear the meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the G8 summit earlier this week failed to end the disputes between the two countries.

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