Published: Sun, March 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Spy poisoning is latest in string of suspicious cases in UK

Spy poisoning is latest in string of suspicious cases in UK

The incident has been likened to the case of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who died in London in 2006 after drinking green tea laced with radioactive polonium-210.

Sergei Skripal, who passed Russian secrets to Britain, and his daughter Yulia, have been in intensive care since they were found slumped unconscious on a bench last week in Salisbury.

"In terms of further options, that will have to wait until we're absolutely clear what the consequences could be, and what the actual source of this nerve agent has been", Rudd said after visiting Salisbury and seeing the area around the bench where Skripal was found, now covered by a police forensics tent. Counter-terrorism detectives are leading a vast investigation. One line of inquiry is whether the pair were poisoned at Skripal's suburban house before going out for Sunday lunch and a visit to a pub.

Sky News Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt said police believe all three victims may have been contaminated at Mr Skripal's house in Salisbury and "ingested the poison some hours before they were taken ill".

The grave of Mr Skripal's wife Liudmila, who was buried in 2012, and the memorial stone of his son Alexander, who was cremated previous year, were cordoned off at the London Road cemetery.Apparent fears of chemical contamination have also seen Mr Skripal's home cordoned off while detectives attempt to pin down the origins of the substance used to incapacitate him.

Interior minister Amber Rudd told MPs that the "brazen and reckless" attack was "attempted murder in the most cruel and public way" but declined to single any perpetrator out.

Detectives were retracing the Skripals' movements as they try to discover how the toxin was administered and where it was manufactured.

British authorities have deployed members of the military to assist police in their investigation of the ex-Russian spy was attacked with a nerve agent.

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Skripal's son, Alexander, died in July previous year at the age of 43. The cause is unclear: some reports say he died in a auto accident while on holiday in Russian Federation, others that he died of liver failure.

Officers also sealed off the gravestone of Mr Skripal's wife Liudmila, who was buried there in 2012.

He said: "There obviously are some indications the officer, and I'm very sorry that he has been injured, has actually been to the house, whereas there was a doctor who looked after the patients in the open who hasn't been affected at all".

They remain in a serious condition in hospital, along with Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey who was also exposed to the nerve agent.

Moscow has repeatedly denied it had anything to do with the attack.

"We're accused not only of this, but we are accused of everything that goes wrong on this planet, according to our Western partners", Lavrov said. The military was asked to help as they have "the necessary capability and expertise".

Lavrov has been quoted as saying by state news agency Tass that "whether it's poisoning of some British subjects, whether it's rumors about interference in the USA election campaign, if assistance really is needed, then we are ready to consider its possibility". But suspicions are pointing to Russian Federation.

Information for this article was contributed by Danica Kirka and Jim Heintz of The Associated Press.

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