LONDON, August 15. /TASS/. The UK’s Metropolitan Police have confirmed that there is a fourth victim of the Salisbury incident — a police officer who arrived at the scene shortly after the poisoning of former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, the Met Police’s press service reported on Thursday.
"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 police informed. "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."
"The officer is the fourth person to be confirmed through forensic testing as a victim of the initial Salisbury attack," the UK police stressed. "The higher levels of exposure to Novichok suffered by the Skripals and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey led to them falling critically or seriously ill."
The Met Police added that within the framework of the investigation, "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." "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 statement reads.
The investigation continues
"The investigation remains ongoing, and there are parts of the picture that we are continuing to piece together," the Met Police noted, urging anyone who has information regarding the incident to contact the UK police. "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," the police stated.
The incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury
On March 4, 2018, Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of the so-called Novichok nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a nerve agent allegedly developed in Russia, London rushed to accuse Moscow of being involved in the incident. The Russian side flatly rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia. Britain’s military chemical laboratory at Porton Down has failed to identify the origin of the substance that poisoned the Skripals.
On June 30, 2018, British citizen Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, were taken to hospital in the city of Amesbury in critical condition. On the evening of July 8, the police reported that Sturgess had died, and the investigators launched a murder case. Rowley regained consciousness on July 10. The London police anti-terrorism department earlier stated that Sturgess and Rowley had come into contact with Novichok — the same nerve agent that had poisoned Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
On September 5, 2019, the then Prime Minister of the UK Theresa May informed the country’s parliament about the conclusions that investigators looking into the Salisbury incident had come to, saying that two Russians, believed to be GRU agents, were suspected of conspiracy to murder the Skripals. According to May, the assassination attempt was approved at "a senior level of the Russian state." The Metropolitan Police published the suspects’ photos, saying their names were Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. In an interview with Russia’s RT TV channel released on September 13, Petrov and Boshirov refuted these allegations.