Tuesday 23 July 2019

Russian attack led to death of woman from Novichok nerve agent - UK defence minister

British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson
British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson

Alistair Smout

Russia has committed an attack that resulted in the death of a Briton, UK defence minister Gavin Williamson said on Monday, linking Russia to the incident after a 44 year-old woman who was poisoned by nerve agent Novichok died.

Mr Williamson was asked in parliament about the threat facing people in Britain after the death of Dawn Sturgess on Sunday.

"The simple reality is that Russia has committed an attack on British soil which has seen the death of a British citizen," Mr Williamson said.

"That is something that I think the world will unite with us in actually condemning."

Police have said Ms Sturgess handled an item contaminated by Novichok, a few miles from where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were attacked with the same poison in March.

It was unclear if Mr Williamson was referring to the attack on the Skripals or a new attack. Britain has blamed Russia for the poisoning of the Skripals, but Russia has denied involvement.

Earlier on Monday, Britain's top counter-terrorism officer said detectives were unable to say if the Novichok that poisoned Ms Sturgess and a man who is in critical condition in hospital was from the same batch that struck down the Skripals.


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