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Chief Bakes

BBC: Russian spy: Highly likely Moscow behind attack, says Theresa May

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Chief Bakes
  • 5 March 2018
Breaking News image

A man who is critically ill after being exposed to an unknown substance in Wiltshire is a Russian national convicted of spying for Britain, the BBC understands.

Sergei Skripal, who is 66, was granted refuge in the UK following a "spy swap" between the US and Russia in 2010.

Police declared a major incident on Sunday after a man and a woman were reported ill in a shopping centre in Salisbury.

The substance is still unknown.

A number of locations in the city centre were cordoned off and the A&E department was closed.

Skripal, who is a retired Russian military intelligence colonel, was jailed for 13 years in 2006 for spying for Britain.

He was convicted of passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe to the UK's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

Image copyright Associated Press
Image caption Sergei Skripal, pictured here on the day of his sentencing in August 2006, was jailed for 13 years

Russia said Col Skripal had been paid $100,000 for the information, which he had been supplying from the 1990s.

He was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in 2010 in exchange for 10 US spies as part of a swap.

Col Skripal, now believed to be 66, was later flown to Britain.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

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Chief Bakes

Police probe substance as Russian spy 'critical' in hospital

  • 6 March 2018
p0606jw0.jpg
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption"He was doing strange hand movements, looking up to the sky": What we know so far

Police are trying to identify a substance which caused a former Russian agent convicted of spying for Britain to collapse in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Sergei Skripal, 66 - who was granted refuge in the UK in 2010 as part of a "spy swap" - and a 33-year-old woman are critically ill in hospital.

Meanwhile police have closed the city's Zizzi restaurant "as a precaution".

The pair were found slumped unconscious on a bench at the Maltings shopping centre on Sunday.

Wiltshire Police said the pair had no visible injuries and officers were investigating whether a crime had been committed.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden said: "They are currently being treated for suspected exposure to an unknown substance...

"The focus is trying to establish what has caused these people to become critically ill.

"We are working with partners to prioritise this diagnosis and ensure that they receive the most appropriate and timely treatment."

He said the police's "major incident" response was not a counter-terrorism investigation.

But he said multiple agencies were involved and police were keeping an "open mind".

Col Skripal, who is a retired Russian military intelligence officer, was jailed for 13 years by Russia in 2006.

He was convicted of passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe to the UK's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

He was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in exchange for 10 US spies as part of a swap and was later flown to the UK.

He and the woman, who police said were known to each other, are both in intensive care at Salisbury District Hospital.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Police said Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury has been closed "as a precaution"

A number of locations in the city centre were cordoned off and teams in full protective gear have used hoses to decontaminate the street.

Workers in respirators and hazardous material suits searched bins close to the scene where the two collapsed.

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Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTemp Asst Chief Constable Craig Holden: "We are unable to ascertain whether or not a crime has taken place"

On the restaurant closure, police said Public Health England had reiterated there was no known risk to the wider public.

As a precaution, they advised that if people felt ill they should contact the NHS on 111, or ring 999 "if you feel your own or another's health is significantly deteriorating".

Image copyright PA
Image caption A police van remains stationed outside a house in Salisbury believed to be the home of Sergei Skripal

Neighbours at Col Skripal's home in Salisbury said police arrived around 17:00 GMT on Sunday and had been there ever since.

They said he was friendly and in recent years had lost his wife.

Image caption Public Health England has not confirmed what the substance was

An eyewitness to the scene where the pair were found, Freya Church, told the BBC she saw them sitting on the bench: "An older guy and a younger girl. She was sort of leant in on him, it looked like she had passed out maybe.

"He was doing some strange hand movements, looking up to the sky...

"They looked so out of it I thought even if I did step in I wasn't sure how I could help."

Analysis

By BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera

The parallels are striking with the 2006 case of Alexander Litvinenko.

He, too, was a former Russian intelligence officer who had come to the UK and was taken ill for reasons that were initially unclear.

In that case, it took weeks to establish that the cause was deliberate poisoning, and it took close to a decade before a public inquiry pointed the finger of blame at the Russian state.

Officials are stressing that it is too early this time to speculate on what happened here or why.

The police are not even yet saying a crime has been committed, but if the similarities do firm up and Moscow is once again found to be in the frame there will be questions about what kind of response might be required - and whether enough was done in the past to deter such activity being repeated.

The possibility of an unexplained substance being involved has drawn comparisons with the 2006 poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.

The Russian dissident and former intelligence officer died in London after drinking tea laced with a radioactive substance.

A public inquiry concluded that his killing had probably been carried out with the approval of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in the UK, when asked for comment on the Salisbury incident, said: "Neither relatives nor legal representatives of the said person, nor the British authorities, have addressed the embassy in this regard."

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Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWitness: "They looked like they'd been taking something quite strong"

Former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind told BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight the police approach in this case suggested there could be a "very sinister background".

He said: "It could indeed potentially have been the FSB [Russian intelligence services] or the Kremlin could have been behind it.

"It could have been some form of criminal response for other reasons, or it could be some form of personal grievance some individual had against these two people or either of them.

"We don't know at this stage and it is not going to be useful to speculate beyond that," he added.

Were you in the area at the time? Have you been affected by the incident? You can share your experience by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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Chief Bakes
  • 6 March 2018
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UK will respond "robustly" to any evidence of Russian involvement in collapse of former spy, Boris Johnson says

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Chief Bakes

Russian spy: Ministers to be updated on investigation

  • 7 March 2018
Sergei Skripal and his daughter YuliaImage copyright EPA/ Yulia Skripal/Facebook
Image caption Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, are in a critical condition in hospital

The government's emergency committee Cobra is to be updated on the police probe into the suspected poisoning of a former Russian double agent.

Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, have spent a third night in a critical condition in hospital after being found unconscious in Salisbury.

Scientists at the UK's military research facility at Porton Down are examining an "unknown substance".

Met Police counter terrorism officers have extended cordons in the city.

A bridge was shut on Tuesday evening, while Salisbury's Zizzi restaurant and The Bishop's Mill pub remain sealed off.

Mr Skripal and his daughter were found slumped and unconscious on a bench outside the Maltings shopping centre on Sunday afternoon.

Image copyright PA
Image copyright PA
Image caption Cordons have been extended around key locations in Salisbury

The Cobra meeting will be chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. The cross-departmental committee meets to examine government responses to national emergencies.

Scotland Yard, which took over the investigation from Wiltshire Police on Tuesday, said it was keeping an "open mind" and the case had not been declared a terrorist incident.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said: "This investigation is at the early stages and any speculation is unhelpful...

"We would like to reassure members of the public that this incident is being taken extremely seriously and we currently do not believe there is any immediate risk to the wider public."

BBC Newsnight's diplomatic editor Mark Urban said scientists at Porton Down have still not identified the substance the pair are thought to have been exposed to, with one official saying they were being treated for "symptoms rather than causes".

Prof Alastair Hay, from the University of Leeds, said test results could take several days.

He said: "Individuals cannot provide unlimited amounts of blood for testing so investigations will be guided by the clinical team."

Two police officers caught up in the suspected contamination were treated in hospital for minor symptoms, before they were given the all clear.

It is understood their symptoms included itchy eyes and wheezing.

A third member of the emergency services remains in hospital.

Relatives of Col Skripal, who was convicted in Russia in 2006 of spying for Britain, have told the BBC Russian Service that he believed the country's special services might come after him at any time.

His wife, elder brother and his son have died in the past two years, some in mysterious circumstances, the family believes.

Ms Skripal lives in Moscow and has visited her father in the UK regularly, especially during the past two years.

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Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption"He was doing strange hand movements, looking up to the sky": What we know so far

On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told MPs the UK would respond "robustly" to any evidence of Russian "state responsibility" in the case.

He said that could include sanctions and asking UK dignitaries not to attend the World Cup in Russia this summer.

The foreign secretary said he was not pointing fingers, but described Russia as "a malign and disruptive force".

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The possibility of an unexplained substance being involved has drawn comparisons with the 2006 poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko - a public inquiry concluded the killing of the Russian dissident had probably been carried out with the approval of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

Russia has insisted it has "no information" about what could have led to the incident, and says it is open to co-operating with British police if requested.

In a statement, the Russian embassy in London said: "Media reports create an impression of a planned operation by the Russian special services, which is completely untrue."

Who is Sergei Skripal?

Image caption Col Skripal, 66, had been living in Salisbury after being released by Russia in 2010

Colonel Skripal, a retired Russian military intelligence officer, was jailed for 13 years by Russia in 2006.

He was convicted of passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe to the UK's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

In July 2010, he was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in exchange for 10 Russian spies arrested by the FBI as part of a swap. He was later flown to the UK.

According to BBC Newsnight's diplomatic editor Mark Urban, in recent years Col Skripal gave lectures at military academies offering insight into Russia's foreign military intelligence agency, the GRU.

Do you have any information to share on this story? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

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Chief Bakes

Russian spy: Nerve agent 'used to try to kill' Sergei Skripal

  • 7 March 2018
Breaking News image

A nerve agent was used to try to murder a former Russian spy and his daughter, police have said.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon and remain critically ill.

A police officer who was the first to attend the scene is now in a serious condition in hospital, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, head of Counter Terrorism Policing, said.

Mr Rowley would not confirm the exact substance identified.

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Techie1

Thoughts go out to the police officer, who came to help Sergei and Yulia Skripal, and to family, friends and colleagues affected. 

 

A police officer who came to help Sergei Skripal and his daughter is seriously ill. Wishing our colleague well...

https://t.co/E7JYOgAIlb

 

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Chief Bakes

Russian spy: Police seek to identify nerve agent source

  • 8 March 2018
Police outside Zizzi in Salisbury on 7 Mach 2018Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Several locations in the city remain sealed off

Counter-terrorism officers are working to uncover the origin of the nerve agent used in the attempted murder of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury.

The pair were found unconscious and are critically ill in hospital, along with a policeman who went to their aid.

A source told BBC News the chemical used on Sunday was likely to be rarer than Sarin or VX nerve agents.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd is expected to make a statement in the Commons.

Police said government scientists had identified the nerve agent used, but would not make that information public at this stage.

The source familiar with the investigation told the BBC it was likely to be rarer than the Sarin gas thought to have been used in Syria and in an attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995.

And it was said not to be VX - the nerve agent used to kill the half brother of the Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Malaysia last year.

Col Skripal, 66, was convicted of passing secrets to MI6 but given refuge in the UK in 2010 as part of a "spy swap".

It is known that he and his 33-year-old daughter had visited The Bishop's Mill pub and Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury before they were found collapsed on a bench near the Maltings shopping centre.

Image copyright EPA/ Yulia Skripal/Facebook
Image caption Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, are in a critical condition in hospital

But police have yet to say if they know how and where the poison was administered.

Addressing reporters outside New Scotland Yard, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said: "This is being treated as a major incident involving attempted murder, by administration of a nerve agent."

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Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe victims were "targeted specifically" - Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley

"Having established that a nerve agent is the cause of the symptoms... I can also confirm that we believe that the two people who became unwell were targeted specifically."

He added: "Our role now of course is to establish who is behind this and why they carried out this act."

Nerve agents are highly toxic chemicals that stop the nervous system working and shut down bodily functions.

They normally enter the body through the mouth or nose, but can also be absorbed through the eyes or skin.

Mr Rowley said there was no evidence of a widespread health risk to the public.

Police said they want to speak to anyone who was in the centre of Salisbury on Sunday afternoon.

They are particularly keen to hear from people who ate at Zizzi or drank in pub between 13:00 and 16:00 GMT.

Both sites remain closed to the public.

There is also a cordon in place outside Mr Skripal's Salisbury home and part of a business park in nearby Amesbury.

p060dhbb.jpg
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionCCTV has emerged of Sergei Skripal at a shop in Salisbury just five days before he and his daughter collapsed

Hundreds of detectives, forensic officers, analysts and intelligence officers are working on the case, which has drawn comparison with the killing of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium-210 in London in 2006.

A public inquiry concluded his death was probably carried out with the approval of President Putin.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told MPs on Tuesday that the UK would respond "robustly" to any evidence of Russian "state responsibility" in the Skripal case.

Russia has insisted it has "no information" about what could have led to the incident, but is open to co-operating with British police if requested.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said foreign media had used the case as part of an anti-Russian campaign.

Who is Sergei Skripal?

Image caption Col Skripal, 66, had been living in Salisbury after being released by Russia in 2010

Colonel Skripal, a retired Russian military intelligence officer, was jailed for 13 years by Russia in 2006.

He was convicted of passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe to the UK's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

In July 2010, he was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in exchange for 10 Russian spies arrested by the FBI.

After a Cold War-style spy swap at Austria's Vienna airport, Col Skripal moved to Salisbury, where he kept a low profile for eight years.

Do you have any information to share on this story? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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James255
Posted (edited)

It's interesting how Russia Today (RT) are reporting this story. Have they just made up the quote from the former "MI5 agent"? The quote is full of poor English and suggest it was a spice incident  (when it's clearly not).

Quote

Drawing parallels to Litvinenko’s case is premature, to say the least, former MI5 intelligence officer Annie Machon said, noting that many years have passed since Skripal “had been convicted, given up everything he could have given, and been sent back to the UK, effectively on retirement.”

“The Russians would not have handed him over, this guy back to the West if they still felt he could have caused damage. There seems to be little motivation to do anything against him,”Machon told RT.

“This just might be some sort of a drug incident. There have been numerous stories over the last couple of years in the UK of the spread of the synthetic cannabinoid called 'spice' which seems to create the same sort of symptoms that were reported in this case. Or indeed the spread of synthetic opioid problems, particularly across America but also in the UK too, which leads to death. Things like Fentanyl or Carfentanil which is even stronger,” she added, noting that if not for the potential ‘Russian trace’ the story, it “would have been reduced to local news reporting.”

 

Edited by James255

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obsidian_eclipse

If there is an element of revenge on behalf of a foreign power it does make some sense, yes it is true that they could have been dealt with by the KGB or whoever at the time, but it sends a message to others. That at any time it could happen, whether it is 5 days or 50 years, you will be looking over your shoulder where ever you are in the world and we can kill you or your family and there's nothing you can do about it. It keeps people on their toes and dissuades others from straying. The repercussions on the foreign power will be negligible because the proof is tiny and the political ramifications outweigh justice.

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Chief Bakes

Russian spy: Foreign minister says Russia willing to help in inquiry

  • 9 March 2018
Related Topics
Sergei Skripal and his daughter YuliaImage copyright EPA/ Yulia Skripal/Facebook
Image caption Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious

Russia was not involved in the attempted murder of an ex-spy and is willing to help with a UK inquiry, the country's foreign minister has said.

Sergey Lavrov said Russia has not yet been approached by UK authorities investigating the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The pair are critically ill after being exposed to a nerve agent in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd is visiting the city, where cordons are in place.

Counter-terrorism police remain at Mr Skripal's house and parts of the Wiltshire city remain sealed off after the incident.

On Thursday afternoon there was a "flurry of activity" in Salisbury as investigators wearing protective suits went into Mr Skripal's house, as they try to ascertain where the pair were exposed to the nerve agent.

It is known that Mr Skripal and his daughter had visited the Mill pub and Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon, before they were found collapsed on a bench near the Maltings shopping centre.

Police said 21 people had been seen for medical treatment in the aftermath of the incident, but only three people were being treated.

Det Sgt Nick Bailey - who attended the scene on Sunday - is stable and conscious but is "very anxious" about being exposed to a nerve agent.

Former Russian military security colonel Mr Skripal, 66, was convicted by the Russian government of passing secrets to MI6, but given refuge in the UK in 2010 as part of a "spy swap".

Do you have any information to share on this story? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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Chief Bakes

Russian spy: Troops deployed after Russian spy poisoning

  • 9 March 2018
Related Topics
Salisbury contamination suitsImage copyright Getty Images

About 100 military personnel have been deployed to Salisbury to help in the investigation into the attempted murder of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter.

They will include Royal Marines and military personnel who have specialist training in chemical warfare and decontamination, the BBC understands.

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

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has described the attack as "outrageous".

The BBC's Daniel Sandford said the military personnel were "experts in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear warfare".

They will be tasked with removing objects from the scene that may be dangerous.

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Chief Bakes

Russian spy: Rudd to chair Cobra after crime scene visit

  • 10 March 2018
Related Topics
Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard and Home Secretary Amber RuddImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard showed Amber Rudd the bench where Mr Skripal and his daughter collapsed

Home Secretary Amber Rudd is to chair a meeting of the government's emergency committee, Cobra, as the investigation into the attempted murder of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter continues.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal are both in a serious condition in hospital after being exposed to a nerve agent.

Ms Rudd, who visited the crime scene in Salisbury, called the attack "outrageous".

About 180 military personnel have been deployed to the city.

Salisbury's MP John Glen sought to reassure his constituents that a "whole range of tools are at our disposal" once it is established who was behind the attack.

Saturday's Cobra meeting is the second in a week and comes four days after counter-terrorism detectives took over the investigation.

Ms Rudd visited Salisbury District Hospital where Mr Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter are being treated.

The home secretary did not, however, give any further details of the nerve agent used or how it was administered.

Image caption The graves of Mr Skripal's wife and son at a Salisbury cemetery have also been taped off

On Friday, the investigation turned to Salisbury cemetery where the graves of the 66-year-old's wife and son, who died in 2012 and 2017 respectively, were cordoned off.

Members of the military were also seen covering a police car that has been at Salisbury Hospital since Sunday, before men dressed in white hazardous materials suits examined it.

It was later towed away from the hospital, covered by tarpaulin, on the back of an Army truck.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The police car was towed away from the hospital on an Army truck

The Metropolitan Police said the counter-terrorism unit has requested the military's assistance "to remove a number of vehicles and objects from the scene", including ambulances that may have been contaminated while assisting the victims.

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood said the military's presence reflected the "seriousness" of the situation adding that such responses would be discussed with Nato partners at the forthcoming July summit.

He added: "Some big questions arise as to how do you stand up to a clandestine and sinister attack deliberately done to play havoc in our society?"

Those deployed include experts in chemical warfare and decontamination.

There is no evidence to suggest a wide public health risk at this time, the police added.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Military personnel were pictured making preparations at Winterbourne Gunner, Wiltshire, before deployment to Salisbury

Det Sgt Nick Bailey - who attended the scene on Sunday - remains in hospital and is conscious but "very anxious" about being exposed to a nerve agent.

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

Specialist investigators wearing protective suits have been seen examining the bench that Mr Skripal and his daughter collapsed on.

Mr Skripal's house and his car have also been cordoned off.

Image copyright EPA/ Yulia Skripal/Facebook
Image caption Former Russian military security colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious in Salisbury on Sunday

It is known that Mr Skripal and his daughter had visited the Mill pub and Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon, before they were found near the Maltings shopping centre.

Mr Skripal, 66, was convicted by the Russian government of passing secrets to MI6, but given refuge in the UK in 2010 as part of a "spy swap".

Valery Morozov, a Russian exile, told BBC News that Mr Skripal was working in cyber security.

p060m06j.jpg
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAmber Rudd praises Salisbury police response

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has denied his country's involvement in the attempted murder of the ex-spy.

Ms Rudd has refused to speculate on whether the Russian state might have been involved in the attack, saying the police investigation should be based on "facts, not rumour".

Do you have any information to share on this story? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

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If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

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Chief Bakes

Russian spy: Daughter Yulia Skripal didn't deserve poisoning, friend says

  • 10 March 2018
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Undated image taken from social media of Yulia SkripalImage copyright Yulia Skripal/Facebook
Image caption Yulia Skripal, from Moscow, was found on the bench alongside her father

The daughter of an ex-Russian agent poisoned alongside her father in the UK "hasn't done anything to deserve" being targeted, a friend says.

Police are investigating the attempted murder of Yulia and Sergei Skripal after both were found unconscious in Salisbury, Wiltshire on Sunday.

Her childhood friend Irina Petrova told the BBC that the Skripals were the "perfect family".

But she thought people might be afraid to speak publicly about the pair.

"I'm starting to get scared," she said. "No one wants to speak - even her relatives".

Ms Skripal, 33, and her 66-year-old father are being treated in hospital after being exposed to a nerve agent, nearly a week after being found slumped on a shopping centre bench in the city.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd is to chair a meeting of the government's emergency committee, Cobra, as the investigation into the attempted murder of the pair continues.

Ms Petrova, who knows Ms Skripal from school, said relatives "don't want to talk", adding: "There aren't many of them left."

Ms Skripal, who was visiting her father from Moscow, has worked for multinationals, including Nike and PepsiCo, according to friends.

Her mother, uncle and elder brother have all died in recent years.

Life in UK

Ms Skripal lived in the UK for five years, after her father was given refuge there in 2010, but "wasn't drawn to England", her friend said.

Ms Petrova said she enjoyed her time in the UK, where she passed her driving test and intended to apply for citizenship but later changed her mind.

"She told me she liked everything there," she said. "They had an amazing place, and amazing house."

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Russian spy: Traces of nerve agent 'found at Zizzi'

  • 10 March 2018
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A police vehicle near the Zizzi restaurantImage copyright EPA

Traces of the nerve agent used against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, have been found at the restaurant where they ate on Sunday afternoon, the BBC understands.

The substance was found in one part of Zizzi in Salisbury during a continuing forensic examination.

The pair were found two hours after finishing their meal collapsed on a park bench. Both are critically ill.

No-one who was in the restaurant at the same time is thought to be in danger.

There is also no suggestion that anyone dining at the time had anything to do with the nerve agent.

The restaurant is currently surrounded by a large screen while an investigation continues inside.

Zizzi is one of five sites in the small Wiltshire city of Salisbury at the heart of the operation.

Also being investigated are the bench where the couple were found, Mr Skripal's home, the Mill pub - visited by Skripals - and the cemetery where Mr Skripal's wife and son are buried.

More than 250 counter terrorism police are now involved in the investigation, which has yielded 200 pieces of evidence so far and more than 240 witnesses.

Image caption Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are still critically ill in hospital

Earlier, Home Secretary Amber Rudd praised the professionalism of the police, who she said were proceeding "at speed".

She said the government was using "enormous resources" to try to identify those responsible for the attempted murder.

"This investigation is focused on making sure that we keep people safe and also that we collect all the evidence so that when it comes to attribution [of the attack] we will be absolutely clear where it should be,"

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Media captionHome Secretary Amber Rudd says the police investigation is serious and substantial

"The police have said that if anybody thinks they have any additional information they would welcome them coming forward."

She said the police were looking at "substantial amounts" of CCTV footage.

Det Sergeant Nick Bailey, who fell ill attending the pair, remains seriously ill in hospital but has been talking to his family.

In a statement, he said he did not "consider himself a hero" and was "merely doing his job".

As part of the investigation, about 180 military personnel have been deployed to Salisbury to remove vehicles and objects which may have been contaminated.

They include members of the Army and RAF, Royal Marines and others who are specially trained in chemical warfare and decontamination.

On Saturday, police were active at the cemetery where Ms Skripal's brother, Alexander Skripal, and mother, Liudmila Skripal are buried.


The challenge for MI6

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera

Observers say that with Russia, it increasingly looks as if the intelligence agencies are happy with "implausible deniability" - even if it seems obvious they are behind an act, they simply say "prove it" and try to muddy the waters with misinformation as much as possible.

If the theory of Russian revenge and message sending is correct, it raises difficult questions for British intelligence.

MI6 relies on recruiting agents like Skripal in countries like Russia to provide secrets.

It has always prided itself on keeping the identity of those agents secret in order to protect them.

But if the perception emerges that it cannot protect those agents - even if they are in the UK - then it will make it much harder to do its job and recruit agents to gather intelligence.

Poisoning poses major challenge for MI6


Mr Skripal, 66, was convicted by the Russian government of passing secrets to MI6, but given refuge in the UK in 2010 as part of a "spy swap".

Russia has denied any involvement. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said the country will respond "robustly" if Moscow is found to have been behind the incident.

Salisbury's London Road cemetery was cordoned off on Friday, but police confirmed officers were not exhuming a body.

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  • 11 March 2018
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Up to 500 Salisbury pub-goers and diners told to wash possessions as precaution after nerve agent traces found

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

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