Russian spy: Poisoned Sergei Skripal's wife and son were murdered, alleges Conservative MP

Putin determined to ensure 'those who betray him know there is a cost to betrayal', warns chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 08 March 2018 18:02 GMT
Salisbury attack: Timeline of events

The wife and son of stricken Russian double agent Sergei Skripal were murdered, a senior Conservative MP has alleged.

Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said all the evidence pointed to the nerve-agent attack on the former spy having been ordered by the Kremlin.

And he added: “It looks likely that his wife was murdered a year or so ago. His son was also murdered in 2017.”

Mr Tugendhat pointed to “threats” made by Vladimir Putin against Colonel Skripal and said the method of the attack was “remarkably similar” to the killing of Alexander Litvinenko.

“We are beginning to see, not only a very strong pattern, but a very strong centre to that pattern - and that centre appears very strongly to be the Kremlin,” he said, in a podcast for The Spectator magazine.

The Russian President was determined to “make sure that those who betray him know there is a cost to betrayal”, the MP suggested.

Both Colonel Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in intensive care in hospital and the authorities have not said whether they can recover.

However, a police officer who was also poisoned by the nerve agent in the attack is talking in hospital as the hunt continues for the culprits.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, told the House of Commons that both the former spy and his daughter remained unconscious, in a critical but stable condition.

“The officer was one of the first responders on Sunday, acting selflessly to help others,” the Home Secretary said.

“The latest update from the hospital is that the officer remains serious but stable and is conscious, talking and engaging.”

Ms Rudd said the nerve agent used was “very rare” but declined to name the precise chemical and emphasised that the risk to the public was low.

“Samples from the victims have been tested by experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down,” she added, referring to the secretive military facility where nerve agents have been developed and tested.”

The Russian government jailed Mr Skripal for “treason” in 2006. He was given refuge in Britain in a 2010 Cold War-style swap for Russian agents caught in the West.

In the interview, Mr Tugendhat demanded tough action from the Government, saying: “I think seeing nerve agents used on British streets really does demand a response.”

On Boris Johnson’s threat to prevent dignitaries attending this summer’s football World Cup in Russia, he said: “I don’t think that is the extent of our capabilities.”

If Britain “really wanted to hit” Russia, it would freeze the assets of “people who are coming here with suitcases of cash to pay for everything from town houses to Eton”, Mr Tugendhat added.

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