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Novichok in perfume bottle, claims victim's brother

By Jane Dalton

The nerve agent that killed a woman in Wiltshire was contained in a perfume bottle, it has been claimed.

Detectives investigating the Novichok poisoning of Dawn Sturgess and her partner have seized hundreds of items they hope will provide evidence.

Search teams say they have recovered more than 400 "exhibits, samples and items", believed to be mostly from the home of Charlie Rowley, in Amesbury, Wiltshire. The items - a significant number of which are "potentially contaminated" - have been sent to the Porton Down defence laboratory.

Mr Rowley's brother Matthew told BBC News that the nerve agent was in a perfume bottle.

The Metropolitan Police have refused to confirm the claim, but previously said that it was found in a "small bottle".

It comes two days after investigators found a bottle that they believe contained the nerve agent which killed mother-of-three Ms Sturgess a week ago.

Police suspect it was discarded after the Novichok attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.

But searches are expected to continue for weeks or months more as officers hunt for other potentially contaminated sites or sources of the nerve agent, in what police say is "one of the most complex and difficult investigations that UK policing has ever faced". Yesterday the Army removed an ambulance used when Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley first fell ill.

Mr Rowley (45) remains in hospital, where he is in a serious but stable condition.

Friends of Ms Sturgess (44) plan a pub gathering and open-air memorial service for her on Friday afternoon, which will be "open to anyone and everyone".

Ms Sturgess's son has called on Donald Trump to raise her case with Vladimir Putin when the US and Russian Presidents meet in Finland.

Ewan Hope (19) told the Sunday Mirror: "I don't share Donald Trump's politics and I'll never be a supporter of his, but I would like him to raise mum's case with the Russian President."

He said he wanted the person or people responsible "to get what they deserve".

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, head of counter-terrorism policing in the UK, said: "It is not an exaggeration to say that the search process linked with both this and the Salisbury investigation has been one of the most complex and difficult that UK policing has ever faced. It is painstaking and vital work, which unfortunately takes a very long time to complete, but I am sure that the public understands why it is absolutely necessary."

The post-mortem, inquest and releasing of Ms Sturgess's body to her family have all been delayed as she was officially a victim of a terror attack.

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