Alexander Litvinenko in hospital after his poisoning (File Photo)

The murder of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 was “probably” approved by President Vladimir Putin, a public inquiry has concluded.

Mr Litvinenko died aged 43 in London days after being poisoned with radioactive polonium-210, which he is believed to have drunk in a cup of tea.

Chairman Sir Robert Owen said it was likely Mr Putin signed off the killing following a long-running feud.

Mr Litvinenko’s widow Marina said she was “very pleased” with the report.

Speaking outside London’s High Court, she said: “The words my husband spoke on his deathbed when he accused Mr Putin have been proved by an English court.”

Home Secretary Theresa May is due to give the UK government’s response to the findings in a statement to the House of Commons later.

Two Russian men, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, have been accused of his murder. They deny killing him.

Sir Robert said the two suspects were probably acting under the direction of Moscow’s FSB intelligence service.

Singling out then-FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev, alongside Mr Putin, Sir Robert wrote in the 300 page report: “Taking full account of all the evidence and analysis available to me I find that the FSB operation to kill Litvinenko was probably approved by Mr Patrushev and also by President Putin.”

Mr Lugovoi, responding to the report, said the accusations against him were “absurd”, the Reuters news agency reported. (BBC)