LONDON (AP) — Britain's High Court has backed a bid by the widow of a former Russian agent to force a public inquiry into his death from radioactive poisoning.

Three High Court judges say Home Secretary Theresa May must reconsider her decision to await the outcome of an inquest before deciding whether to hold an inquiry into the death of Russian agent-turned-Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko.

He died in London in 2006 after drinking tea laced with polonium-210.

A coroner's inquest — the normal method of examining an unexplained death — has been barred from considering secret evidence about the possible role of the Russian state.

The judges said Tuesday that the British government had not given "a rational basis" for rejecting a public inquiry. The government has until Friday to seek an appeal.