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Thursday 28 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
PA Wire/PA Images The Skripal house being decontaminated in Salisbury
# salisbury
Home of Sergei Skripal declared safe one year after novichok poisoning
The final site of decontamination in Salisbury, the Skripal home, is safe following extensive cleaning.

THE HOME OF Sergei Skripal has been deemed safe following an extensive clean-up, one-year after the poisoning of the former Russian spy and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury. 

The attempted assassination the Skripals was done using a Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok on 4 March 2018.

Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found last year slumped unconscious on a park bench in the centre of the quiet cathedral city. 

The attack also led to the death of a British woman, Dawn Sturgess, who came into contact with the Novichok, as well as injuring several others including a policeman.

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced today that the final site of decontamination in Salisbury, the Skripal home, is safe and is now in the hands of the South Wiltshire Recovery Coordinating Group.

It was declared safe following extensive cleaning and testing by specialist teams.

Wiltshire Council will begin to coordinate work to refurbish the property, while the residents of Christie Miller Road are expected to be consulted on its future use.

Salisbury incident PA Wire / PA Images Yulia Skripal, who was contaminated with the nerve agent Novichok along with her father Sergei Skripal. PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

“This is a significant moment for Salisbury, Amesbury and south Wiltshire as this property is the final site to be completed as part of the complex and extensive clean-up operation,” Alistair Cunningham, chair of the South Wiltshire recovery coordinating group, said.

Work will begin shortly to reconstruct and refurbish the house so it can return to being a home again. We are continuing to talk to the residents on the future of the property as it is important their views are taken into account on how it is used in the future.

According to Defra, over 190 military personnel from the Royal Air Force and Army supported by specialist contractors, undertook highly specialised decontamination work as part of its precautionary approach to the clean-up across the twelve sites identified in Salisbury and Amesbury.

Since March 2018, the UK  government has committed over £13m to support businesses, boost tourism and meet unexpected costs of the incidents. £9.6m of that is special grant police funding.

‘They weren’t the true victims’

Amesbury incident PA Archive / PA Images Undated handout photo issued by Metropolitan Police of Dawn Sturgess, who died after being exposed to nerve agent novichok. PA Archive / PA Images / PA Images

Earlier this month the parents of Dawn Strugess criticised the UK government for settling Sergei Skripal, the ex-spy, in Salisbury.

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, said they believed British authorities were 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.

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

The Skripals survived but Sturgess died after her partner gave her a discarded perfume bottle several months later that police think had been used to hold the toxin, and she sprayed it on her skin.

Stan Sturgess 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 an apparently 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 of the ex-spy, who has not been seen publicly in Britain since the attack.

Caroline Sturgess, Dawn’s mother and a retired civil servant, told The Guardian the former spy’s past made him a more legitimate target than their entirely innocent daughter.

“I can’t take it personally,” she said of the loss.

“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.

With reporting by © – AFP 2019 

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