Portsmouth police help officers investigating Russian spy poisoning in Salisbury

A policeman next to a cordon near to a bench in the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, as police and members of the armed forces probe the suspected nerve agent attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal. Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
A policeman next to a cordon near to a bench in the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, as police and members of the armed forces probe the suspected nerve agent attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal. Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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HAMPSHIRE police have been assisting officers in Salisbury investigating the poisoning of a Russian spy.

A number of officers – including one from Portsmouth – spent a ‘long weekend’ supporting Wiltshere Police after a former Russian spy and his daughter, and a British police officer, were left in a critical condition by a nerve agent just over a week ago.

The incident has led to an increased police presence while investigations are carried out to trace the origins of the substance, which poisoned Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.

After returning to his patch, Hampshire PC Mark Walsh, from Portsmouth, said on Twitter: ‘Home from a long weekend supporting colleagues in Wiltshire Police.

‘Had countless interactions with the communities of #Salisbury all of whom were friendly, supportive, appreciative & kind so would like to take the opportunity to say #ThankYou Salisbury. Best wishes #ProudToServe.’

Five sites have been identified as possible sources for the poison – including a shopping centre bench where the pair were found unconscious, Mr Skripal’s home, the cemetery where his wife and son are buried and the Bishop’s Mill pub and Zizzi restaurant, where the pair visited before they fell ill.

In a message to the Hampshire officers who supported Wiltshire Police, Supt Chris Cummings from Salisbury said on Twitter: ‘Thanks for your amazing help, policing has stepped up again and I am so grateful to you all.

‘I am trying to meet as many as poss in person, but for everyone I miss THANK YOU.’

While Russia has denied any role in the poisoning, Tory MP and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, has said the situation is ‘looking awfully like it was state-sponsored attempted murder’.