Sunday, 18 November, 2018

No guarantees on nerve agent culprits or finding more Novichok

Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess Image Mother of three Dawn Sturgess died after being exposed to novichok
Jeannette Daniel | 13 July, 2018, 15:44

A British man who was poisoned with a nerve agent is no longer in critical condition, an official at the London hospital that is treating the victim said Wednesday.

Hobson said he went to Rowley's house on Saturday as Sturgess was being taken to hospital and stayed with him for several hours until he too began to complain of feeling ill.

Charlie Rowley, 45, a heroin addict, regained consciousness yesterday at Salisbury district hospital, where doctors had seen a "small but significant improvement".

"Our staff will continue to work hard to provide the care that Charlie needs".

Assistant Comissioner Neil Basu said it was still not possible to definitively link the alleged murder of Ms Sturgess and poisoning of Mr Rowley with the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March. Dawn Sturgess, right, died on Sunday from her exposure.

"Dawn will always be remembered by us as a gentle soul who was generous to a fault", they said in a statement released by London's Metropolitan Police.

Those behind nerve agent poisonings in England have not been identified and police can not guarantee there are no more traces of Novichok still in England, Britain's top counter-terrorism policeman said on Wednesday.

The UK government has blamed Russian Federation for the incident, but the country's authorities deny any involvement.

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"That is something that I think the world will unite with us in actually condemning".

Police now believe the pair handled a contaminated item with a high dose of the nerve agent, although they have not been able to confirm whether it was from the same batch used against the Skripals.

However, he said that it was "implausible" for there to be no connection between two incidents.

But, he said, Novichok is a rare substance banned by the worldwide community and for there to be two separate and distinct incidents in one small English county is "implausible to say the least".

"I simply can not offer any guarantees", said Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, who is leading the investigation.

Novichok was invented by the Soviet Union and is one of the most toxic substances known to man, it blocks instructions from nerves to muscles and causes huge pain and death.

Police suspect Mr Rowley and Mr Sturgess handled an item from the first attack, which Britain blames on Russian Federation.

Mr Basu, who was speaking at a public meeting in Amesbury, said his officers were working on the theory that Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley had found a container housing the nerve agent. They have not found any evidence that they visited any of the sites which were decontaminated following the Skripal poisoning.

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