September 25, 2021

UK: Amesbury poisoning: Couple ‘handled contaminated item’

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From BBC

The couple poisoned by Novichok were exposed to the substance after handling a contaminated item, police say.

Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44, collapsed at a house in Amesbury, Wiltshire, on Saturday and remain critically ill.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the nerve agent was the same as that used on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March.

Russia said Theresa May’s government was subjecting them “to hell”.

Mr Javid accused Russia of using Britain as a “dumping ground for poison” after the second incident involving the nerve agent.

But a Russian Embassy spokesman said all allegations of the country’s involvement were “merely speculative”.

The Met said there were around 100 detectives from the Counter Terrorism Network working alongside Wiltshire Police on the “major incident”.

Salisbury District Hospital’s chief executive Cara Charles-Barks said the couple are “extremely unwell” and remain in a critical condition.

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said that because the highest concentration of Novichok was found on the couple’s hands, police believe the item they handled could be a container or receptacle that was used to carry the nerve agent.

He said the most likely hypothesis is that the Novichok was left over from an item discarded after the attack on the Skripals.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said there was nothing in the couple’s background to suggest the pair had been targeted.

The BBC’s home affairs correspondent June Kelly said it has been suggested the item “could be a vial or syringe because of the couple’s lifestyle”.

Chemical weapons expert Richard Guthrie said it was possible that the couple came across the Novichok after it had been disposed of “in a haphazard way”.

Debbie Stark, south west deputy director from Public Health England said the risk to the public of further poisoning incidents “remains low”.

Police have set up a helpline for anyone who needs further advice: 0800 092 0410 or 0207 158 0124.

IMAGE: The couple, Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, fell ill on Saturday

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