Novichok one year on: Salisbury ready to move on, but public want justice

Salisbury is ready to move on from the Novichok poisoning but residents are frustrated the perpetrators have not yet been brought to justice, it is claimed.

Matthew Dean, the former leader of the city council who was in post at the time of the attack, said it was a “source of frustration” among members of the public that the suspects had not yet been caught.

Speaking one year on from the attack on March 4 2018, he said the city was eager and ready to “get back to normality”.

Prime Minister Theresa May hailed Monday as “an important milestone” for the city as it emerges from the “shadow” cast by the chemical attack.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were targeted with the nerve agent and left seriously ill.

Dawn Sturgess, who died after being exposed to nerve agent Novichok
Dawn Sturgess, who died after being exposed to nerve agent Novichok (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was also treated after coming into contact with the substance when he tried to help the pair.

Charlie Rowley and his partner Dawn Sturgess, 44, fell ill in nearby Amesbury months after the incident.

Ms Sturgess 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.

Mr Dean’s comments come after Mr Rowley demanded answers.

Speaking to ITV News on Friday, the 45-year-old said he wanted “justice to be served and someone to pay for what they’ve done.”

He said the case was an “open book” and “nothing really has changed” in the year, adding: “I’d like there to be answers rather than questions all the time.”

The parents of Ms Sturgess previously called on the Government for answers and justice.

As the city was declared officially “safe” and fully decontaminated of Novichok after an extensive military clean-up, police re-issued an appeal for information as the investigation continues.

Mrs May on Monday said that now the clean-up had been completed, Salisbury will once again “be known for being a beautiful, welcoming English city” and not for the events of last year.

The Prime Minister praised the “spirit of the people”, and thanked everyone involved in the recovery effort.

She added: “Today is an important milestone for Salisbury as it emerges from the shadow cast by the use of chemical weapons on the streets of our country.

“Now, 12 months on, we see this historic city welcoming thousands of visitors and tourists as it plans for a positive and prosperous future.

“The fact Salisbury and the wider region has fought back so well from such a devastating and reckless incident is testament to the resolve, forbearance and positivity of the community.

“My thoughts today are very much with the victims, their friends and families, both in Salisbury, Amesbury and further afield. They have shown remarkable strength, resilience and fortitude in the last year and I have no doubt will continue to do so.”

Counter-terrorism police said they still do not know what happened to the container which held the deadly nerve agent – a counterfeit bottle of Nina Ricci perfume – between March 4 and when Mr Rowley said he found it on June 27.

Salisbury incident
The Skripals’ house in Salisbury after the Novichok attack (Ben Birchall/PA)

Salisbury MP John Glen said the attack was the most “horrendous and bewildering” event but he found residents were accepting of the challenges the investigation faces.

Recalling the attack on the anniversary, Mr Glen told Press Association: “As the hours and days unfolded from the original incident, it became even more complex for residents of the city to understand how and why this had happened.

“We were also trying to ensure sufficient support for businesses which were literally shut down as cordons were put up.”

He said the Prime Minister clearly setting out the evidence in September was “very reassuring and comforting” for residents.

Mr Glen said he thinks the city is ready to “get back to normal” and everyone wants to “put the matter behind them”.

He added: “I have extreme sympathy for Dawn Sturgess’s family.

“I think it will be very difficult to have anticipated how events could have happened. It was an unprecedented event.

“I’m extremely sympathetic to how they feel about the loss of their daughter, which is a tragedy.”