Skripal house undergoes decontamination work

Decontamination work is continuing at the home of a former Russian spy who was poisoned by deadly nerve agent Novichok.

Military teams are dismantling parts of Sergei Skripal’s house in Salisbury as the property undergoes a deep clean.

Men in military fatigues, wearing face masks, gloves, safety glasses and hard hats, could be seen in pictures throwing breeze blocks down a chute into a skip.

Scaffolding and white sheeting has been erected over the house in Christie Miller Road, which enables the roof of the property and adjacent garage to be removed.

People dressed in British Army fatigues remove bricks and rubble from Sergei Skripal's house in Salisbury
People dressed in British Army fatigues remove bricks and rubble from Sergei Skripal's house in Salisbury

Last month, Wiltshire Council wrote to neighbours warning them that the deep clean and construction work would last several months.

The clean-up has been taking place ever since Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed on March 5 last year, but work was paused over Christmas.

Detectives believe the pair first came into contact with the poison when it was sprayed on the door handle of the property.

Mr Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter survived the attack, which Prime Minister Theresa May said had “almost certainly” been approved by the Russian state.

Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey is also thought to have come into contact with the poison when he searched their home.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, fell ill in Amesbury months after the incident and died in hospital in July after coming into contact with a perfume bottle believed to have been used in the attack on the Skripals and then discarded.

Dawn Sturgess
Dawn Sturgess

Her partner, Charlie Rowley, 45, was also exposed to the same nerve agent but was treated and discharged.

Two Russian nationals have been accused of travelling to the UK to try to murder Mr Skripal with Novichok.

Evidence gathered by intelligence agencies led the Government to conclude that the men were officers from the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU.

The two suspects – known by their aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – were caught on CCTV in Salisbury the day before the attack.

A counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle, which Ms Sturgess handled, is thought to have contained the substance.

The decontamination project is being led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) but military teams will carry out the work, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said.

This will be the same team involved in the clean-up so far, from the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear unit, he added.

Defra said focusing on removing the roofs was just part of its “highly precautionary”, extensive and meticulous work on the property.