Belfast Telegraph

Troops called in to help police probe poisoning of Russian spy

Sergei Skripal
Sergei Skripal

By David Reed

Troops have been deployed to help police probing the nerve agent poisoning of spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter as attention turned to the cemetery where his wife and son were laid to rest.

A convoy of military vehicles rolled into the car park at Salisbury District Hospital to recover a police car - while a short distance away at the cemetery, officers in hazmat suits were seen putting up a blue forensic tent over his son's memorial stone before appearing to place items in several yellow barrels.

The grave of Mr Skripal's wife Liudmila, who was buried in 2012, and the memorial stone of his son Alexander - who was cremated last year, were cordoned off at the London Road cemetery.

Mr Skripal (66), and Yulia (33), are still in a "very serious" condition five days after they were discovered slumped on a bench in the Wiltshire city centre.

Around 180 troops, including Royal Marines, RAF Regiment troops and chemical warfare specialists, are understood to have been deployed after Scotland Yard requested specialist help to remove vehicles and objects from scenes scattered across the city amid contamination fears.

A Met spokesman said: "The public should not be alarmed and the public health advice remains the same. Military assistance will continue as necessary during this investigation."

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "We have the right people with the right skills to assist with this crucial inquiry."

Home Secretary Amber Rudd earlier visited the city centre and the hospital where Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was part of the initial response by authorities, is in a serious condition.

Police launched an attempted murder inquiry after Mr Skripal and his daughter were exposed to a nerve agent. Ms Rudd declined to reveal any further details about the substance, how it was deployed, or who is suspected of carrying out the poisoning.

Lord Blair, a former Met Commissioner, suggested on the BBC's Today programme the detective attended Mr Skripal's home.

Police said 21 people had been seen for medical treatment since the incident.

Belfast Telegraph


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