Former Russian Spy Poisoned By Nerve Agent, UK Investigators Say

The pair were discovered slumped on a bench in the city's Maltings shopping centre on 4 March, and are both still critically ill in hospital.

Former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal continued to provide information to western intelligence agencies after arriving in the United Kingdom in 2010, the Financial Times daily said on Friday citing security officials.

About 180 military personnel have also been called upon by the police to remove evidence in Salisbury potentially contaminated by a deadly nerve agent.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed on Sunday afternoon after being exposed to a nerve agent.

As uncertainty lingered over their fate, police said a total of 21 people had been seen for medical treatment in the aftermath of the incident.

Skripal, who passed the identity of dozens of spies to the MI6 foreign intelligence agency, was given refuge in Britain after being exchanged in 2010 for Russian spies caught in the West as part of a Cold War-style spy swap at Vienna airport.

Wiltshire Police undated handout photo of Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey who rushed to the aid of a Russian ex-spy targeted with a nerve agent.

"This being treated as a major incident involving attempted murder by administration of a nerve agent", Rowley said but did not specifically mention the nerve agent.

On Thursday night, an eyewitness said police had been searching a auto at a vehicle recovery centre close to the Russian victim's home earlier that day.

Police have cordoned off sites including ex-spy Sergei Skripal's house, a vehicle, the cemetery where his wife is buried, a restaurant and a pub.

There is little risk to the wider public, say local health officials.

No Brexit trade deal on financial services - minister
Mrs May herself pointed out that all free-trade deals are bespoke, so they include elements of cherry-picking. He said: "Unless we take back full ownership and control of our waters, Brexit will have been betrayed".

Sergey Lavrov's comments in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa came as British investigators scrambled to unravel the nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Police later said they are treating the incident as "attempted murder".

Skripal, 66, a former colonel in the Russian military intelligence, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were found unconscious in Salisbury on Sunday.

Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts were with Det Sgt Bailey, adding: "The events of Sunday are a stark reminder, if ever one was needed, of the risky situations our emergency services face, and the dedication and courage they display every day in order to keep us safe".

Director of nursing Lorna Wilkinson said Mr Bailey was in a serious but stable condition.

"If Russia's help is genuinely needed, we will be willing to consider this possibility if we have the necessary information", Lavrov said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow was "ready to consider" lending a hand in any investigation, "whether it's [about] poisoning of some British subjects, whether it's rumors about interference in the USA election campaign".

Earlier this year, British government ministers announced they meant to target rich Russians in Britain who couldn't prove where their money came from, and they announced new asset-seizure powers known as unexplained wealth orders.

Asked what options he thinks Britain should be looking at if there is evidence of state involvement, Mr Ellwood said: "We mustn't get ahead of ourselves but we must have a robust response and it's something that we'll be discussing with our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners and with the forthcoming summit in Brussels in July".

"London has certain advantages and Russians have always found London particularly attractive", according to Robert Barrington of Transparency International.

"If it were a standard agent, it would have been identified nearly immediately", says Jean Pascal Zanders, an independent consultant who was previously a senior research fellow at the European Union Institute for Security Studies.

  • Megan Austin