’They’re full of rub­bish, aren’t they?’

The Guardian - - NATIONAL | SALISBURY POISONINGS - Steven Mor­ris

Phil Dar­gan, a tour man­ager, was guid­ing a group of Amer­i­cans around Sal­is­bury’s Cathe­dral Close, do­ing his best not to alert them to the fact that they might – just might – be tread­ing in the foot­steps of the Skri­pal at­tack sus­pects, Alexan­der Petrov and Rus­lan Boshi­rov.

“I try not do dis­cuss it,” said Dar­gan. “If any­thing, I make a lit­tle joke of it. I sug­gest they don’t pick any­thing up. But I think it’s bet­ter not to say too much.

“Not that I be­lieve a word of what that pair say. They’re full of rub­bish, aren’t they? They weren’t here to look at the cathe­dral or Stone­henge. No­body is swal­low­ing that.”

A Bri­tish visi­tor, Jeff Jones, from County Durham, said he had been fol­low­ing the saga with the sort of in­ter­est he usu­ally saves for the spy thrillers he en­joys. “The Rus­sians’ ex­pla­na­tions just don’t stack up. They would be com­i­cal if it was not for the fact that some­one has died. The bare-faced cheek of the pair, and of Putin, is re­ally quite shock­ing.”

The story spun by Petrov and Boshi­rov was greeted with dis­be­lief but also some anger in Sal­is­bury yes­ter­day. The men claimed on Rus­sian state-funded TV they were so keen to visit Sal­is­bury Cathe­dral that they trav­elled to the city on two days in March. They said they got to Sal­is­bury train sta­tion on 3 March but were driven back by the slushy con­di­tions, though less than a mile from the cathe­dral. On 4 March they said they did visit the cathe­dral but also “may” have been close to the home of Sergei Skri­pal, two miles the other way.

Ni­cholas Holtam, bishop of Sal­is­bury, was among those who helped un­der­mine their story. Asked if there was CCTV of their visit to the cathe­dral, he said there was noth­ing to link them to the build­ing.

The facts Petrov and Boshi­rov reeled off may also harm their cred­i­bil­ity. Petrov called it the “cathe­dral of the blessed Vir­gin Mary” and knew its spire was 123 me­tres high. Though he is a tour man­ager, Dar­gan did not know how tall the spire was. And he had never heard any­one call the church by its his­tor­i­cal name. “It’s just Sal­is­bury Cathe­dral.” Wikipedia is be­lieved to have been the source of Petrov’s fact file. But few lo­cals were en­joy­ing the far­ci­cal el­e­ments of the Rus­sians’ ac­count. Matthew Dean, leader of the city coun­cil, said: “Peo­ple are in­cred­u­lous. They feel they’re be­ing taken for fools. There’s also anger. It’s not funny – a per­son has died and four oth­ers have been hurt.”

▲ Sus­pects Rus­lan Boshi­rov (left) and Alexan­der Petrov on Rus­sia To­day

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.