Wiltshire police chief 'was unaware ex-spy Sergei Skripal lived in Salisbury'

Kier Pritchard

Published by The Spire FM News Team at 7:24am 4th March 2019.

Kier Pritchard says he had no idea the former spy was living in our city.

Wiltshire's Chief Constable has now asked to be told of any other VIPs who could be at risk.

The poisoning happened a year ago, hours before Mr Pritchard began his first day in the job.

"I had no prior knowledge at all, this is a governmental issue, in terms of where former spies would be housed. Why would I know? No. I had no previous knowledge at all."

It's a core duty of police to protect the public. That includes spies such as Mr Skripal who was poisoned with his daughter Yulia when suspected Russian military intelligence officers sprayed Novichok on the front door handle of his home in Christie Miller Road.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal
Sergei and Yulia Skripal

Mr Pritchard said:

"As soon as I am aware of people and there is information and intelligence then I will do all that I can to protect the people in our community. It is a fundamental duty of my office as a constable, I can only know what I know. There was clearly a decision made not to inform the force and not to inform the chief constable and I respect that decision."

He added:

"I have certainly made it clear that it would be helpful to be aware if there are persons of public prominence who may face risk, that it would be helpful for chief constables to be aware of that information."

The Russian former double agent and his daughter were left critically ill after the attack, but recovered and are now under police protection in hiding.

Sergeant Nick Bailey, a police officer sent to Mr Skripal's home to investigate, was also contaminated and although he is back at work, he is still recovering.

Nick Bailey
Nick is running a marathon to raise funds for the Stars Appeal and specifically Radnor Ward which cared for him.

He is training to run the Salisbury marathon to raise funds for Salisbury District Hospital which saved his life.

The chief constable said:

"Nick is making great progress in terms of any physical health. Psychological impact are ones that Nick has been really open about and that is going to take a long time for him and his family.

"We aren't yet clear and nobody can be clear on the long-term implications but we are doing everything we can to do what we can for Nick and his family."

Around 100 other police officers, more than 10% of the Wiltshire force, reported trauma concerns.

Some were first responders, others guarded suspected contaminated sites around the city and elsewhere. Some are still being treated for emotional issues.

Four months after the attack mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess died from novichok poisoning after her partner Charlie Rowley found a contaminated bottle discarded by the attackers.

Mr Rowley is recovering from being poisoned.

Dawn and Charlie
Victims Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley.

Police can't rule out the possibility that there may be another discarded, contaminated container and Public Health England continues to warn the public not to pick up anything suspicious.

Mr Pritchard said:

"I would like to say to you I am 100% confident. We have had no further reports of any concern or illness, so I can only be as confident as to say that presents a positive picture but the impact, the concerns and the deep seated worries of people are still there.

The government named two Russian military intelligence officers as suspects for the poisoning. They deny involvement and so, too, does President Vladimir Putin.

Scotland Yard said it had enough evidence to charge the men, but if they stay in Russia they are beyond the reach of UK justice.

The chief constable said:

"Of course all of us would like to see those individuals and any of their associates brought to justice for the crimes that they committed and the devastation they caused. Will we see that day? We will hope for that."

 

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