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Traces of nerve agent Novichok found in second Salisbury police officer's blood

The attempted assassination the Skripals was done using Novichok in March 2018.

The home of Sergei Skripal on Christie Miller Road in Salisbury, Wiltshire
The home of Sergei Skripal on Christie Miller Road in Salisbury, Wiltshire
Image: Jonathan Brady via PA Images

A SECOND POLICE officer has been found with traces of the Novichok nerve agent in his system following the Salisbury attack last year, Met Police have confirmed. 

The officer from Wiltshire Police, who does not wish to be identified, was involved in the response to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. 

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.

Met Police have confirmed today that the officer displayed signs at the time of the incident that indicated exposure to a very small amount of Novichok. The officer received appropriate medical treatment for this at the time and returned to duties shortly afterwards, according to police. 

Forensic examination of the officer’s blood sample that was taken in March 2018 has since been carried out by scientists on behalf of the investigation team. 

The forensic test – which uses a different method to that used to assess the clinic effects of nerve agent poisoning – has now given detectives confirmation that traces of Novichok were in the blood sample.

The officer in question has been informed and continues to receive support from Wiltshire Police along with other officers and staff affected by the events in Salisbury and Amesbury last year.

Others affected

The officer is the fourth person to be confirmed through forensic testing as a victim of the initial Salisbury attack.

The higher levels of exposure to Novichok suffered by the Skripals and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey led to them falling critically or seriously ill.

Sturgess and Rowley also suffered high levels of exposure to Novichok following the incident in Amesbury in June 2018. Sturgess died some days later, while Rowley also became critically ill.

Detectives have also contacted a small number of other individuals whose blood samples were taken at the time, to seek their consent for forensic analysis to be carried out on the samples.

There is no need for anyone who has not been contacted by police at this time to take any action, Met Police said. 

“The purpose of any such test is to assist the criminal investigation, and confirm whether there are any traces of Novichok in the blood samples, therefore forensically identifying any further victims of the attack,” police said in a statement today. 

“The forensic tests, however, do not have any health implications for either those individuals or the wider public. As the chief medical officer has previously stated, anyone who may have been exposed to short-term or one-off contact with low levels of Novichok and who has not suffered an obvious illness, is not at risk of any long-term health problems and this remains the same,” police said. 

Public health experts have also confirmed that there is no change to the overall public health risk, which remains low. 

Anyone who has any concerns, however, can contact the NHS by calling 111. 

Wanted

Two men known as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov remain  wanted by UK police. 

The Crown Prosecution Service authorised charges against the pair, linked to the attack of the Skripals and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey. 

Met Police believe they were using aliases. A European Arrest Warrant and Interpol Red Notices remain in circulation for the two men. 

Two Russians Charged In Novichok Poisonings Source: Metropolitan Police via PA Images

Police are continuing to appeal to the public for any information regarding the two men while they were in the UK between 2 March and 4 March 2018. 

Anyone who knows them or saw them is being asked to call police in confidence on 0800 789 321 or email salisbury2018@met.police.uk. 

“The investigation remains ongoing, and there are parts of the picture that we are continuing to piece together,” police said.

“We continue to urge anyone who has information that they have not yet passed to police to do so.”

In particular, police are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen the counterfeit ‘Nina Ricci’ perfume box or bottle that was recovered from Charlie Rowley’s address in July 2018.

Police cannot account for the whereabouts of the bottle, nozzle or box between the attack on the Skripals on 4 March 2018 and when Charlie Rowley said he found it on 27 June 2018.

Anyone who saw the pink box or glass bottle during this time is asked to contact police through the phone number or email address above. 

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