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Statement by Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, National Lead for Counter Terrorism Policing, in relation to the Salisbury and Amesbury Investigation:
Today marks the most significant moment so far in what has been one of the most complex and intensive investigations we have undertaken in Counter Terrorism policing; the charging of two suspects – both Russian nationals – in relation to the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal. I would like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service for their independent assessment of the evidence in this case.
This has been a highly complex investigation for UK policing, which would have been impossible without the great staff and abilities of the UK Intelligence Community and the support of the Government.
My thoughts remain with Dawn Sturgess’s family as they come to terms with their loss, the other victims who fell seriously ill after being exposed to a Novichok nerve agent and the people of Salisbury who have shown tremendous resilience throughout.
We said from the start that this investigation would take time as we gathered and assessed all the evidence available to us. Around 250 detectives from across the Counter Terrorism Policing Network have worked on the investigation, brilliantly led by Counter Terrorism Policing South East, and supported by officers from Wiltshire, numerous forces on mutual aid, as well as partners and agencies, ranging from Public Health England to the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory in Porton Down.
Over the last six months we have meticulously followed the evidence, working closely with specialist forensic teams and scientists, as we have investigated both the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, and the poisoning of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley. Let me be clear, we have no doubt these two incidents are connected and now form one investigation.
Today’s announcement by the CPS marks the most significant development in this investigation. We now have sufficient evidence to bring charges in relation to the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury and domestic and European arrest warrants have been issued for the two suspects. We are also seeking to circulate Interpol Red Notices.
However, our enquiries do not stop here; and today, as well as updating you about the progress of the investigation, I am appealing once more to the public for their help, as we continue to build our evidence in this case.
To recap, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury city centre at 4.15pm on Sunday, 4 March, after being poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent.
Both Sergei and Yulia spent weeks critically ill in hospital but thankfully are now making a good recovery. Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, a Wiltshire police officer, was also seriously ill after being exposed to the nerve agent. He continues to make good progress but remains off work. The medical support provided by NHS, Public Health England and expert scientists has been fantastic, particularly given the fact that we have never had to deal with a poisoning by a Novichok nerve agent before in the UK.