Salisbury Incident

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. I am trying to be as pragmatic and as accurate as possible about my view. I made it clear what my view was of the particular statement by the Leader of the Opposition. I have also said that I do not characterise that as the collective view of the Labour party. We will see what the statements are, and they may be different from the response that we heard last week. But I want to move on. I said that that was the only political point I was going to make, because it was important, but I want to move on now to where we have got with the investigation.

Following the work of the police and the intelligence services, which identified these individuals, the Crown Prosecution Service concluded that there was sufficient basis on which to bring charges against the two men for the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on that day. The two men identified by police are also the prime suspects in the poisoning of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley. Our world-class experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down and the OPCW have confirmed that the exact same chemical nerve agent was used in both cases. The two incidents now form a single investigation, and there is no other line of inquiry.

The security and intelligence agencies have carried out their own investigations into the organisation behind the attack. Based on that work, the Government have concluded that the two individuals named by the police and the CPS are officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU, which is a highly disciplined organisation with a clear and effective chain of command.

This was not a rogue operation. The attack was almost certainly approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state. Although I cannot go into operational detail about the work of our security and intelligence agencies, I can say that this conclusion is based on a clear body of intelligence.

This was a despicable act in which a deadly and illegal nerve agent known as Novichok was used on the streets of Britain. I know the whole House will join me in recognising the remarkable resilience shown by the people of Salisbury in the face of this act. The Government stand ready to assist Salisbury in getting back to normal. We have released £7.5 million to support business and tourism in the town and a further £5 million to support the cost of policing. I know that, throughout this process, my hon. Friend John Glen has been keenly and eagerly active in making sure that Salisbury, along with the county council, gets the resource and support it needs to deal with this.