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Update on the investigation into the Novichok attack in Salisbury

News   •   Aug 15, 2019 13:28 BST

Update on the investigation into the Novichok attack in Salisbury

Detectives from the Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP) network, who are investigating the Novichok attack in Salisbury, have confirmed that traces of the nerve agent have been found in a blood sample which was taken at the time from a second police officer.

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 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.

Forensic examination of the officer’s blood sample that was taken in March 2018 has since been carried out by scientists at Dstl on behalf of the investigation team. The forensic test – which uses a different method to that used to assess the clinical effects of nerve agent poisoning – has now given detectives confirmation that traces of Novichok were in the blood sample.

These forensic tests were carried out as part of what remains an ongoing investigation, which has been unprecedented in its complexity and scale and has involved thousands of exhibits. Officers continue to work closely with scientists and experts to meticulously and methodically review and examine the evidence available to us.

The officer 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.

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.

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

Detectives from the CTP network 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.

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.

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.

Furthermore, public health experts have confirmed that there is no change to the overall public health risk, which remains low. However, should anyone have any concerns, then they can contact the NHS by calling 111.

As we made clear from the outset, public health and safety has always been a priority for everyone involved in the multi-agency response to the events in Salisbury and Amesbury.

As previously stated, two men known as ‘Alexander Petrov’ and ‘Ruslan Boshirov’ are wanted by UK police after the Crown Prosecution Service authorised charges against the pair, linked to the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey. We believe they were using aliases and a European Arrest Warrant and Interpol Red Notices remain in circulation for the two men.

We continue to appeal to the public for any information regarding these two men whilst they were in the UK between 2 March and 4 March 2018. Anyone who knows them or saw them should call police in confidence on 0800 789 321 or email salisbury2018@met.police.uk

At its height, around 250 detectives from across the CTP network have worked on the investigation into the attack on the Skripals and poisoning of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley in Amesbury.

The investigation remains ongoing, and there are parts of the picture that we are continuing to piece together. We continue to urge anyone who has information that they have not yet passed to police to do so. In particular, we 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.

We 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 this pink box or glass bottle during this time is asked to call police in confidence on 0800 789 321 or email salisbury2018@met.police.uk