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ITV News

"I feel lucky": Irish man who drank from same cup as poisoned Russian spy

Derek Conlon was playing piano in the bar of the Millennium Hotel.

AN IRISHMAN WHO had a cup of coffee on the same day and in the same bar as murdered Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned said the news kept him up at night.

Litvinenko was poisoned in a London hotel in 2006, dying shortly after. A report into the murder in the UK found that Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘probably approved’ the murder of ex-KGB agent Litvinenko, who had been working with MI6, Britain’s secret service.

The Kremlin has dismissed the findings as “a joke”.

Judge Robert Owen’s report says that he is certain Litvinenko was given tea laced with a fatal dose of polonium-210.

RTÉ Radio 1 / SoundCloud

Today, Irishman Derek Conlon told The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio 1 that he had drank a cup of coffee in the Millennium Hotel that day and that the news kept him up at night.

“I was working and playing piano in the bar there, so he was in around an hour before me. Nobody knew anything until a couple of days later when there was police tape across the door.

I found out a week later from Sky News that anyone who was in the bar had to go and get tested. I went along and got tested and found out I had one of the highest levels of radiation poisoning.

“It was a big mystery for a long time.”

Derek Conlon Derek Conlon RTÉ RTÉ

Conlon says he arrived an hour after Litvinenko and two Russian spies had left.

His poisoning, he was told, came about because of a faulty dishwasher.

It turned out that the dishwasher was broken and I had drank from the same cup as him.

“It had spread all over the bar, over the piano, my PA system, my clothes.”

Conlon says that while he didn’t feel any effects of the poisoning, he gets tested every six months and “keeps an eye” on his health.

The entire Millennium Hotel was gutted and Conlon’s PA system buried in copper because of the polonium poisoning.

His home had to be swept by investigators carrying Geiger counters.

“The neighbours were like ‘what’s he done now!?’”

He says that the experience has made him “appreciate his life more” and helped him push on with his songwriting and entertaining.

He told Tubridy that he feels “lucky that I came out the other side”.

“It could have been worse for me and for many, many other people.”

Read: The strange tale of the spy who came in from the cold and drank some tea

Read: Britain to hold public inquiry into fatal poisoning of former Russian spy

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