UK police ‘unable to say if Novichok from latest incident same as used on Skripals’

The UK’s top counter-terrorism officer says police are unable to confirm whether the Novichok nerve agent to which a couple was exposed in Amesbury was from the same batch used to poison the Skripals in Salisbury last March.

“We are police officers and we need to work on evidence so I would need a clear forensic link,” Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism chief Neil Basu said on Monday.

Basu gave a press statement following the death of Dawn Sturgess, 44, from exposure to a nerve agent. She and her partner Charlie Rowley were hospitalized after both fell seriously ill in what was initially believed to be a drug-related incident. Last week Scotland Yard announced that scientists at Porton Down had established that Novichok was the cause of their sudden illness.

Speaking after Sturgess passed away on July 8, Basu told the media he “cannot offer any guarantees” and urged people to follow Public Health England advice to avoid picking up discarded containers or syringes.

Police are still following the line of inquiry that the Novichok used in both incidents was from the same batch, but have no evidence to support this as of now.

In March, former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia fell critically ill after exposure to the nerve agent. A police officer who attended the pair after they were found unconscious in a Salisbury park was also treated for exposure to the agent. All recovered and were later released from hospital.