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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 15 October 2018

UK will not jump to conclusions after second nerve agent poisoning, says minister

Sajid Javid visited the towns of Amesbury and Salisbury to reassure residents after the latest incident

Britain's Home Secretary Sajid Javid visited Amesbury and Salisbury in southwestern England to reassure residents after the recent poisoning of two people exposed to a deadly nerve agent. Ben Birchall/PA via AP
Britain's Home Secretary Sajid Javid visited Amesbury and Salisbury in southwestern England to reassure residents after the recent poisoning of two people exposed to a deadly nerve agent. Ben Birchall/PA via AP

Britain’s home secretary has said the UK will not jump to conclusions after two people were exposed to the same deadly nerve agent used in an attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter.

Mr Javid was speaking on a visit to the towns of Salisbury and Amesbury, the homes of the victims, on Sunday in which he reassured residents that the risk to the public remains very low.

“Clearly, what we have already determined, what our expert scientists have determined, is that the nerve agent in this incident is the exact same nerve agent as was used back in March,” he said.

“We know back in March that was the Russians. We know it was a barbaric, inhuman act by the Russian state. Again, for this particular incident, we need to learn more and let the police do their work.”

The poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4 prompted a diplomatic row between Russia and the UK after London pointed the finger at the Kremlin. Moscow has consistently denied any involvement.

Speaking in parliament on Thursday, Mr Javid said that it was time for Russia to explain "exactly what has gone on".

"It is completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets, or for our streets, our parks, our towns to be dumping grounds for poison," he said.

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Read more:

Amesbury poisoning: UK police officer given all clear after Novichok tests

Britain demands explanation from Russia after second Novichok incident

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Officials believe the latest poisoning of a couple named locally as Dawn Sturgess and Charley Rowley was caused by a small vial of Novichok, which had been discarded after the Skripal attack.

Ms Sturgess, 44, and Mr Rowley, 45, remain in a critical condition in hospital after being taken ill last week.

A counter-terrorism operation has been launched to investigate the new poisoning and officers have been scouring through 1,300 hours of CCTV footage to find out exactly what happened to the couple.

Mr Javid said that Amesbury, the residence of Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley, and Salisbury, the site of the Skripal attack, were both open for business.

John Glen, the Conservative Party representative for the area, said residents were concerned about their safety as well as the economic consequences the second poisoning might have on the region.

"We need to establish quickly what they came into contact with and where," he said. "The sentiment in the city is frustration, we want to get back to normal."