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dawn sturgess

Parents of Novichok victim query why UK settled ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury

Dawn Sturgess died after coming into contact with a nerve agent allegedly used in last year’s poisoning of Skripal and his daughter.

Dawn Sturgess. Dawn Sturgess

THE PARENTS OF a British woman who died in an alleged assassination attempt on a Russian double agent have crticised the UK government for settling the ex-spy in Salisbury city.

Stan and Caroline Sturgess, whose daughter Dawn died after coming into contact with a nerve agent allegedly used in last year’s poisoning of Sergei Skripal, have said they believe that British authorities are withholding details of the incident.

“If anyone, I blame the government for putting Skripal in Salisbury,” Stan Sturgess told The Guardian newspaper in the family’s first interview since her death last July.

I want justice from our own government. What are they hiding? I don’t think they have given us all the facts.

Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found on 4 March slumped unconscious on a park bench in the centre of the quiet cathedral city of Salisbury in southwest England.

In September, British security serves named Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov as suspects in the nerve agent attack.

Britain and Western allies have accused Russia of carrying out the poisoning using a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok. Moscow has furiously denied any involvement.

The Skripals survived. Sturgess died after her partner gave her a discarded perfume bottle several months later. Police believe this bottle, which Sturgess sprayed on her skin, was used to hold the toxin.

Salisbury incident Police cordon in the aftermath of last year's Skripal poisoning. PA Archive / PA Images PA Archive / PA Images / PA Images

Sturgess’ father said the family have complicated feelings towards Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence colonel who was found guilty of passing state secrets to Britain and sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2006. 

He was pardoned by then-president Dmitry Medvedev and released as part of a spy swap with the West in 2010, leading a quiet life in Salisbury until last March.

“I don’t know where Skripal is and I don’t know what I’d do if I met him. He’s still got his daughter,” said Sturgess.

Caroline Sturgess, Dawn’s mother, told The Guardian that the former spy’s past made him a more legitimate target than their entirely innocent daughter. “I can’t take it personally,” Sturgess said. 

“It’s sad they ended up in a coma but they weren’t the true victims.

“He [Skripal] took risks. He must have known there was a chance people were still after him.”

- © AFP 2019

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