UK has 'no current plans' for more Russia sanctions despite new novichok victims, says Sajid Javid

Home secretary says he will not 'jump to conclusions' over the latest incident during visit to Amesbury

Alina Polianskaya
Sunday 08 July 2018 19:22
Emergency services converge in Amesbury following Novichok poisoning

There are “no current plans” to enforce a new set of sanctions on Russia after a couple were left critically ill by exposure to nerve agent, the home secretary has said.

Days after accusing the Russian state of using the UK as a “dumping ground” for novichok, Sajid Javid said he would not “jump to conclusions” over how Dawn Sturgess and her partner Charlie Rowley were exposed.

Police are tracing a "contaminated item" the pair are believed to have handled, four months after former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in an assassination attempt.

During a visit to Amesbury, where the two latest victims fell ill, Mr Javid met with Angus Macpherson, the Conservative police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire and Chief Constable Kier Pritchard.

The home secretary insisted that the risk to public “remains low”, amid widespread concern over the continued presence of novichok in Salisbury following months of decontamination efforts.

Mr Javid said: “Clearly what we have already determined, what our expert scientists have determined, is that the nerve agent in this incident is the exact same nerve agent as was used back in March [when the Skripals were poisoned].

“We know back in March that was the Russians. We know it was a barbaric inhuman act by the Russian state. Again, for this particular incident we need to learn more and let the police do their work.”

Russia has denied any involvement in the novichok attack on the Skripals and the Kremlin expressed well-wishes for Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley's recovery.

Asked if secrecy had been prioritised over public safety, Mr Javid said: “No, I think the advice both from the first incident and now was absolutely correct.

“There is no evidence at this point that the two individuals hurt by this incident visited any of the areas that the Skripals visited.

“That said, I think everyone would want to listen to the advice of the professionals and make sure we take some precautions.”

Although the home secretary met some residents in the area, others felt he did not give them as much time as they would have liked.

Carol Gibson, who recently moved to the area from London, said: “Even if he’d just come over for a minute it would have been nice.

“The MP [John Glen] made the point of coming to speak to us and said these visits are managed for him. But the man has a brain as well, he could have come over to say a sentence.”

Mr Glen, Conservative MP for Salisbury, said the latest novichok incident was “very, very frustrating”.

He said: “We need to establish quickly what they came into contact with and where. The sentiment in the city is frustration, we want to get back to normal. We were beginning to recover significantly.”

As the latest novichok incident increased diplomatic tensions, the Russian embassy responded to Mr Javid’s comments by accusing the government of trying to “muddy the waters” and “frighten its own citizens”.

Mr Javid called the original novichok attack on the Skripals “callous” and “reckless”, but the Russian state denied any involvement.

As the investigation continued, detectives wearing camouflage protective clothing entered the John Baker House assisted-living accommodation in Salisbury, where mother-of-three Ms Sturgess lives, after they took a sample from the outside of the building on Friday.

People in the area were told by health authorities that the risk to the public was low, but were still warned not to pick up unknown objects from the ground.

Lucy Pickford, who also lives in the area, said that police had been “approachable” and had helped put her mind at ease, as well as posting information leaflets through letterboxes on the new estate.

Last night it was confirmed a police officer who attended hospital over concerns he may have been exposed to novichok has been given the all-clear.

Press Association contributed to this report

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in