Salisbury Incident

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:42 pm on 12th September 2018.

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Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 1:42 pm, 12th September 2018

If I may just set the scene by pressing on a bit, I will happily give way later.

On 3 March, the two individuals travelled to Salisbury before returning to London after a few hours. We believe that the purpose of that was a recce. On 4 March, they returned to Salisbury by train, and they were in the immediate vicinity of the Skripals’ house between 11.58 and 13.00 on that day. We believe that it was at that time they sprayed the deadly Novichok nerve agent on to the handle of the front door. That same afternoon, Sergei and Yulia Skripal left the house and travelled by car to the centre of Salisbury. After a meal and a walk around, they were taken ill at the centre and slipped into unconsciousness at 4.15 pm on 4 March.

As hospital staff and paramedics worked to save the lives of the Skripals, the two suspects left London and travelled to Heathrow, flying back to Moscow at 10.30 pm on 4 March on flight SU2585, leaving behind them a deadly trail. We should not forget that only the brave actions of police and NHS staff on that day ensured that the damage to that community was minimal. Because of the actions of the GRU agents, Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey fell gravely ill, and he ultimately bore the consequence of their reckless action. I am convinced that if it was not for the expertise in the hospital and the bravery of those in our blue-light services, who often acted with disregard for their own safety, we would have been reflecting today on a far worse situation.

Novichok is a deadly chemical nerve agent, and it was used in this attack. We believe that it was brought in in a counterfeit perfume bottle, in the packaging of a Nina Ricci bottle. That bottle was then recklessly discarded on the streets of Salisbury and had the potential to kill or injure dozens or hundreds of people. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has recently reported that, having tested it, it is confident that the liquid within the recovered perfume bottle had a very high level of purity.

Since the incident in March, some 250 detectives, led by SO15, have worked around the clock, trawling through 11,000 hours of CCTV and taking more than 1,400 statements. They have worked painstakingly and methodically to identify exactly which individuals are responsible and the methods they used to carry out the attack.