Second officer was poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury incident, police reveal 

Members of the emergency services in green biohazard encapsulated suits afix the tent over the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found on March 4, 2018, in a critical condition at The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury. 
Members of the emergency services at the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found in a critical condition on March 4, 2018 Credit: BEN STANSALL/AFP

A second police officer was poisoned with Novichok in the Salisbury incident, police have revealed. 

Counter Terrorism Detectives, who are investigating the nerve agent attack in 2018, have confirmed that traces of Novichok have been found in a blood sample which was taken at the time from a second police officer.

The officer from Wiltshire Police, who does not wish to be identified, was involved in the response to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. 

The Telegraph understands the male officer displayed signs at the time of the incident that indicated exposure to a very small amount of Novichok. 

He received appropriate medical treatment at the time and returned to duties shortly afterwards.

A police spokesman told the Telegraph the officer was part of the initial response. 

Alexander Petrov (left) and Ruslan Boshirov the two Russian Nationals wanted in connection with the Novichok poisoning attack. The men were later revealed to be Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga.  Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

Forensic examination of the officer’s blood sample, taken in March 2018, has since been carried out by scientists at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. 

The forensic test – which uses a different method to that used to assess the clinical effects of nerve agent poisoning – has now given detectives confirmation that traces of Novichok were present.

The officer, the fourth person to be confirmed through forensic testing as a victim of the initial Salisbury attack, has been informed and continues to receive support from Wiltshire Police along with other officers and staff affected by the events in Salisbury and Amesbury last year. 

The spokesman said: “some of the other police officers that attended the scene may have been exposed, but it is possible to find forensic traces [of Novichok] in blood that have no health implications at the time”.

A small number of other individuals whose blood samples were taken at the time have been asked to give their consent for forensic analysis to be carried out on the samples.

The higher levels of exposure to Novichok suffered by the Skripals and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey led to them fall critically ill soon after the attack in March last year.

Two other local people, Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, also suffered high levels of exposure to Novichok following a second incident in Amesbury in June 2018, which led to the death of Ms Sturgess some days later. Mr Rowley became critically ill but survived the poisoning. 

Specialist officers in military protective suits search the John Baker House for homeless people on Rollestone Street in Salisbury. July 6, 2018. Credit: Matt Dunham/AP

The UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and the US expelled 60 more in retaliation for poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March last year, blaming the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU, for the botched assassination attempt.

Counter-terror police working with the intelligence services were able to piece together the plot to murder Colonel Skripal, a former GRU officer who had sold secrets to MI6, using CCTV, including footage from the streets close to the Col Skripal’s home in Salisbury, and from passenger flight manifests and immigration data at the time of the attempted hit.

The GRU agents travelled under the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov but were later humiliatingly unmasked as Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga, two senior GRU officers, both of whom had been in receipt of the Hero of the Russian Federation medal, the country’s highest honour, bestowed by Mr Putin. It is thought they were given the awards for their actions in Ukraine in 2014.