Po­lice find source of deadly Novi­chok

Nerve agent that killed woman ‘came from small bot­tle’

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - ROD MINCHIN

Counter ter­ror­ism de­tec­tives in­ves­ti­gat­ing the con­tam­i­na­tion of two peo­ple by Novi­chok be­lieve they have found the source of the deadly sub­stance.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died and her part­ner Char­lie Row­ley, 45, is se­ri­ously ill in hospi­tal af­ter they were ex­posed to the nerve agent last month.

New Scot­land Yard said that on Wed­nes­day a small bot­tle was re­cov­ered dur­ing searches of Mr Row­ley’s home in Ames­bury.

It was taken to the nearby De­fence, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Lab­o­ra­tory at Por­ton Down, Wilt­shire for tests. Fol­low­ing those tests, sci­en­tists have now con­firmed the sub­stance in the bot­tle is Novi­chok.

The UK has in­vited ex­perts from the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons (OPCW) to in­de­pen­dently con­firm the iden­tity of the nerve agent.

Fur­ther sci­en­tific tests will be car­ried out to try to es­tab­lish whether it is from the same batch that con­tam­i­nated Sergei and Yulia Skri­pal in March. This re­mains a main line of in­quiry for po­lice.

In­quiries are un­der way to es­tab­lish where the bot­tle came from and how it came to be in Mr Row­ley’s home.

Ms Sturgess, a mother of three, died in hospi­tal on Sunday night hav­ing been ex­posed to Novi­chok.

A post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tion is sched­uled to take place on Tues­day and an in­quest into her death is due to open and ad­journ in Salisbury on Thurs­day.

Mr Row­ley, who re­gained con­scious­ness this week, re­mains in a se­ri­ous but sta­ble con­di­tion in Salisbury Dis­trict Hospi­tal.

As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Neil Basu, head of UK Counter Ter­ror­ism Polic­ing, said: “This is clearly a sig­nif­i­cant and pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment.

“How­ever, we can­not guar­an­tee that there isn’t any more of the sub­stance left, and cor­dons will re­main in place for some con­sid­er­able time.

“This is to al­low thor­ough searches to con­tinue as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure for pub­lic safety and to as­sist the in­ves­ti­ga­tion team.

“I also ap­pre­ci­ate there is a lot of in­ter­est in this, how­ever, we are not in a po­si­tion to dis­close any fur­ther de­tails re­gard­ing the bot­tle at this stage.

“The safety of the pub­lic and our of­fi­cers re­mains paramount and we are con­tin­u­ing to work closely with Wilt­shire Po­lice, sci­en­tists, health ex­perts from Pub­lic Health Eng­land and other part­ners.”

About 100 de­tec­tives from the Counter Ter­ror­ism Polic­ing Net­work con­tinue to work on this in­ves­ti­ga­tion, along­side col­leagues from Wilt­shire Po­lice.

Pic­ture: PA.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tor in a chem­i­cal suit works be­hind screens on Rolle­stone Street, Salisbury, Wilt­shire.

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