Novichok suspects did reconnaissance in Salisbury day before attack

Salisbury spy suspects Train Station

Published by Faye Tryhorn at 12:23pm 5th September 2018. (Updated at 12:30pm 5th September 2018)

Police have revealed Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov visited our city on March 3rd ahead of targeting a former Russian spy.

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu has released more details of their movements in the run up to the poisoning on the 4th March.

At 3pm on Friday 2nd March, the suspects arrived at Gatwick airport, having flown from Moscow on Aeroflot flight SU2588.

Salisbury spy suspects Gatwick

Borishov (pictured top) and Petrov passing through Gatwick Airport

From there it is believed that they travelled by train into London, arriving at Victoria station at approximately 5.40pm.

They then took public transport to Waterloo station and were in the area between approximately 6pm and 7pm. They travelled to the City Stay Hotel in Bow Road, East London, where they stayed on Friday, 2 March, and Saturday, 3 March.

On Saturday, 3rd March, they left the hotel and took the underground to Waterloo station, arriving at approximately 11.45am, where they caught a train to Salisbury, arriving at approximately 2.25pm.

Salisbury spy suspects Train Station
The pair at Salisbury train station

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov left our city just under two hours later at 4.10pm, arriving back in Bow around 8.05pm

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu explains more:

"We assess that this trip was for reconnaissance of the Salisbury area and do not believe that there was any risk to the public from their movements on this day."


On Sunday, 4 March, the pair made the same journey from the hotel, again using the underground from Bow to Waterloo station at approximately 8.05am, before continuing their journey by train to Salisbury.

CCTV shows them in the vicinity of Mr Skripal's house and we believe that they contaminated the front door with Novichok.

Salisbury Spy Suspects Fisherton Street
The pair were pictured on CCTV on Bridge Street at 1.05pm on Sunday March 4th
Salisbury spy suspects Fisherton Street
They were pictured a few minutes later on Fisherton Street walking towards the train station

They left Salisbury and returned to Waterloo Station, arriving at approximately 4.45pm and boarded the London Underground at approximately 6.30pm to London Heathrow Airport.

From Heathrow Airport, they returned to Moscow on Aeroflot flight SU2585, departing at 10.30pm on Sunday, 4 March.

Salisbury spy suspects Heathrow
The suspects left the UK from Heathrow Airport that evening

Police have no evidence that they re-entered the UK after that date.


Police say they've taken advice from Public Health England and are confident that there was no risk to members of the public who were on the same flight, trains or public transport used by the suspects.

On 4 May 2018, tests were carried out in the hotel room in East London where the suspects had stayed.

A number of samples were tested at DSTL at Porton Down.

Whilst two swabs did show the nerve agent WAS present Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu insist there is is no cause for concern:

"Two swabs showed contamination of Novichok at levels below that which would cause concern for public health. A decision was made to take further samples from the room as a precautionary measure, including in the same areas originally tested, and all results came back negative. We believe the first process of taking swabs removed the contamination, so low were the traces of Novichok in the room.

"Following these tests, experts deemed the room was safe and that it posed no risk to the public.

"In terms of those who stayed in the room between 4 March and 4 May; to-date, we have had no reports of any persons falling ill. It is likely, given what we have learnt from this investigation, that anyone exposed to Novichok will have experienced symptoms within 12 hours of exposure.

"The levels of Novichok we found in the room at the time of police sampling in May were such that they were not enough to cause short or long-term health effects to anyone exposed to it, at that point or thereafter. We will continue to work closely with Public Health England as new information comes to light."

There's now a renewed witness appeal for anyone who might have seen the pair in Salisbury during this time.

If you recognise them, know who they are or saw them please contact police in confidence on 0800 789 321 or email the investigation team

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