An incident involving the poisoning of two people in Amesbury is currently unfolding. I will be updating information on this incident here as it emerges over the next few days. There are daily summaries at the top of this document and you can scroll down for more in-depth coverage of events. This is a live document, extra care has been taken with sources and factual accuracy- however there will likely be many typos.
This page will now be updated more periodically. I keep a more up to the minute twitter thread going at @bwiedwards
*Daily summaries *
Home Secretary Visits Amesbury
Death of Dawn Sturgess, one of the two victims of the Amesbury incident.
A Police officer attends hospital in relation to the incident, but is given the all clear.
Last night the Metropolitan police confirmed that they suspected the couple had handled a poisoned item. Throughout the day there is discussion of this issue. A more detailed picture of the movements of the Victims in the lead up to the incident emerges.
On the morning of the 5th of July the Amesbury story would make headlines in UK newspapers. Late the previous evening it had been confirmed by the Metropolitan Police that Novichok has been involved. Although aspects of the UK press had been tipped of some hours earlier. There would be appearances from a number officials on UK morning Breakfast news programmes.
At lunch time we would see statements from the Home Secretary and PM. The Home Secretary addressing the Commons following a second COBRA meeting confirmed that the Chief Medical Officer has confirmed that the risk to the public remained low- and asked public to follow precautionary measures suggested by local services. The guidance would be similar to guidance given following the initial Salisbury incident. He also called on Russia to explain the incident. He confirmed that Porton had not only confirmed Novichok- but also that this was the same type employed in the Salisbury incident ( how ever Porton were still working to see if they could match source batch, which might not be possible). He also stated that the strong working assumption is that the couple affected had come into contact with a new site of contamination, previously not identified. All previously decontaminated sites were safe. The incident did not look like cross-contamination from places that the Skripals may have visited. Further more any sites visited by the couple recently effected, as well as suspected sites of contamination have also been cordoned off. He also noted that the UK government were keeping an open mind, but the strong working assumption was that is incident was related to the Skripal attack- which it is believed that Russia orchestrated.
A multi-agency press conference took place around 5pm in Amesbury. Prepared statements here. This included prepared statements and fielded questions from Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, Deputy Director for Public Health England in the South-West Debbie Stark and Chief Executive of Salisbury District Hospital Cara Charles-Barks.
At around 5.30PM there are reports that counter-terrorism police are focusing their attention of identifying and recovering a contaminated item which they suspect was handled by the victims. This is linked in the press to reports of investigations at a hostel.
The Russian MFA also released its first major statment on the incident today
This incident has attracted attention because of it’s apparent similarities to the Skripal incident. However, it is clear at this point that there are perhaps other much more likely explanations for both the poisonings and the precautionary actions taken by the local police in the Amesbury case – with illicit drug use remaining a likely explanation. This is not only because it is one of the most commonly seen causes of poisoning in adults, but also because illicit drug use has increasing involved exotic and increasing toxic compounds. It is also worth remembering that many overdoses involve combinations of intoxicants.
Powerful opiates such as Fentanyl are increasingly prevalent on the illicit drug market, and can be highly toxic in minute quantities; which can pose risks to first responders in particular ( you can get some of the background on the UK spread of such drugs here, and can also find out about some of the challenges posed to first responders here) . The increasing prevalence of such drugs, in part explains early speculations that the Skripals may have ingested such an agent; before it was eventually confirmed to be a nerve agent by the global chemical watchdog. It also explains why drug abuse related incidents can spark major responses. Public Health England and other relevant agencies had also appeared satisfied publicly with the clean up operation.
At the same time, suggestions of links to the Skripal incident have been prevalent- especially on Wednesday following official designation of this as a major incident, the involvement of the Metropolitan police counter-terrorism unit in investigations, as well as claims from unnamed officials that samples had been sent to Porton Down.
As of 7pm on Wednesday evening my view was that a key parallel here with the Skripal incident is that vague statements are emerging from officials quite slowly. Where as the story has (only today) ramped up very quickly and suddenly in the media. This was creating an information void which is allowing for multiple interpretations of events to be sustained. However, it seemed likely that many steps taken by relevant agencies had been precautionary- with no real expectation that Nerve agent would be found. However, by 8pm on the same evening earlier unconfirmed suggestions that the Police were investigating the possibility that nerve agent was employed appeared to be supported by claims in the Independent that Porton Down had confirmed Novichok. There would be over an hour between the Independent breaking this story and either official confirmation or denial from the government. The Metropolitan Police would confirm exposure to Novichok just before 10pm.
More detailed narrative.
Early reporting ( Saturday 30th June to Wednesday 4th July)
Early reports suggested a suspicion that two people had been involved in a a drug related incident. Local news reported:
The next day the local police service also issued a statement which confirmed there was no risk to the public, and that their efforts had been precautionary. Local news reported that
‘A South Western Ambulance Trust spokesperson told Spire FM News they were called at 6.20pm.
One patient has been taken to Salisbury District Hospital by land ambulance.
They also tell us the response from the emergency services has been ‘precautionary‘.
Wiltshire Police have told us they are ‘certain there’s no risk to the public’ following the ‘drug-related incident.’
There was also a tweet by the Swindon Fire service decontamination unit which confirmed that they had attended the scene but that the incident was ‘not serious’ and that their ‘decontamination shower’ was not required. (this tweet was deleted at some point on the 4th July between 10am and 11.26.am)
News of this incident would attract some attention over Sunday and Monday. There would be minimal discussion of the issue on Twitter locally, as the incident was being treated as drug overdose. However, by Wednesday, a statement from Metropolitan police (apparently issued in the early hours of Wednesday morning) brought the issue to broader national attention. In this statement:
‘Wiltshire Police and partners have this evening declared a major incident after it is suspected that two people might have been exposed to an unknown substance in Amesbury.
Emergency services were called to an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury on Saturday evening (June 30) after a man and woman, both in their 40s, were found unconscious in a property.
They are both currently receiving treatment for suspected exposure to an unknown substance at Salisbury District Hospital. They are both in a critical condition.
It was initially believed that the two patients fell ill after using possibly heroin or crack cocaine from a contaminated batch of drugs. However, further testing is now ongoing to establish the substance which led to these patients becoming ill and we are keeping an open mind as to the circumstances surrounding this incident.
At this stage it is not yet clear if a crime has been committed. A police investigation has been established. In addition, a full multi-agency response has been co-ordinated.
A number of scenes, believed to be the areas the individuals frequented in the period before they fell ill, will be cordoned off overnight in and around the Amesbury and Salisbury area as a precautionary measure.
The public can expect to see an increased police presence in and around Amesbury and Salisbury.
Salisbury District Hospital is open as usual and is advising people to still attend routine appointments unless they are contacted to state otherwise.
Wiltshire Police and partners will update the public as soon and as regularly as possible.
A Public Health England (PHE) spokesman said: “The current advice from PHE England, based upon the number of casualties affected, is that it is not believed that there is a significant health risk to the wider public. This will be continually assessed as further information becomes known”.
If anyone has any information concerning the circumstances surrounding this incident, they should call Wiltshire Police on 999 immediately.”
This announcement, led to increased national and international press coverage- as it appeared to open up the possibility that this incident- which appeared in close proximity to Salisbury was not in fact a drug related incident. In response a number of national and international newspapers ran stories, making links between this incident and the Skripal attack which occurred in the near by town of Salisbury.
This in turn led to an uptick in speculation on social media about the incident- and would see a number of claims about the proximity of the incident to Porton Down emerge- especially from accounts which had been active in relation to the Skripal incident ( for example ). Recent experiences with the Skripal affair also led to the speculation about whether the issue might be passed to the Metropolitan police, as had happened in the Skripal case- something which might have indicated suspicion of something else apart from a drug overdose. However, BBC were reporting that:
‘.A government spokesman said ministers were “being kept up to date about the incident in Amesbury”.
but that ”Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said the police had worked hard at “containing any risk that might be there” and further to this “There’s no reason to think it’s connected with matters of last month,” “I haven’t seen anything in this incident yet that I would consider to be an overreaction in terms of previous incidents, it all seems fairly textbook.”
There would be no response from the UK Russian Embassy on on this matter via its social media accounts initially- which had continued to be very active on the Skripal matter.”’
It was been indicated by the local police to press by 11.30am on the 4th July that individuals may have been known to police.
At around 12 pm on the 4th July, Sky News report that samples have been sent to Porton Down and that Anti-terror police are investigating. In the context of the recent Skripal incident this will be taken by some to suggest that there is now suspicion of a terrorist incident.
However, it is also worth remembering that a number of considerations drive responses to such incidents, in the wake of the Salisbury case- precaution as much as suspicion may be a key factor which has driven the emergence of a coordinated response. It is also clear that the UK has an incentive to demonstrate it has the ability to rapidly distinguish different forms of incident.
As updates from the Independent have also noted here anti-terrorism police are working jointly with the local police force. It was anonymous Defence sources who have confirmed that Porton Down has been involved in sample analysis
Russia Today posted its first piece on this issue at around 6am on the 4th July. As of 12.52 pm the State television organization were focusing on the idea that this incident may have involved a drug overdosed ( based on earlier Wiltshire Police reports) as well as previous denials and accusations in relation to the Skripal case- the piece also pointed to the paucity of evidence presented by the UK in relation to that case.
Still mixed messages coming from the Press ( 13.49pm 4th/7). While it is clear the incident is being downplayed- the ‘Major incident’ narrative is leading to further speculation and further parallels to be drawn between this incident and the Salisbury case. For example:
Worth noting once again that launching of such an operation does not confirm prevailing suspicion of terrorism within leadership https://t.co/BvMQ8TVfxL
— Brett Edwards (@bwiedwards) July 4, 2018
Press clearly have ready access to back catalogue on info and infographics on the Skripal case, which is leading to the rapid generation of content. Results from Porton are apparently expected this evening. However, it is clear to me at least that once info on patients starts to circulate it will give the public a clearer sense of the incident; either pointing back to initial drug overdose narrative- or justifying press speculation about connections to Salisbury incident.
At just after 2.30pm (4/7) ITV publishes a short clip of first interview with friend of the victims. A local man ( identified as Sam Hobson) states that he has also been checked over. The interview is ambiguous. It is not clear whether the man is referencing to drug use or something else. Is also not clear if he is referring to the Salisbury incident or some previous incident.
A friend of the couple who are in a critical condition after being exposed to a mystery substance in Amesbury has told ITV News what he thought may have happened https://t.co/BcOgAEeBlYpic.twitter.com/Wlu9vor9wo
— ITV News (@itvnews) July 4, 2018
At this point, ITV news is still running an article which refers to the absence of information available to local people on the incident:
‘Neighbours living near the scene were keen to find out more about what had happened to the couple.
College student Chloe Edwards described seeing police cars, fire engines and people in “green suits” on Saturday night.
“We saw everything,” said the 17-year-old, who lives near the cordoned-off flat.
“We were just eating our dinner and all these emergency vehicles turned up.
“They were putting on these green suits and we thought it was the gas as our electricity was turned off as well.”
She said the vehicles arrived at about 7pm and she and her family were told to stay inside their home until about 10pm.
“We wanted to know what happened and, with the Russian attack happening not long ago, and we just assumed the worst,” she said.
“I am not sure how long they were in there but we couldn’t get out of the house for two-and-a-half hours.”
A live local twitter search ( of tweets giving a location within 15 miles of Amesbury), performed at 15.00pm, showed some local discussion of the incident- however, other issues such as Love Island and the football results were appearing much higher in searches. There were however a number of posts from locals discussing the incident, which had began to emerge throughout the day.
— Nicola Trowell (@Nicola_Trowell) July 4, 2018
Indeed, one of the tweets which was most prominent in the area in relation to the incident was a warning issued by police to local drug users:
We are issuing an urgent warning to drug users in the south of Wiltshire after two people fell seriously ill in #Amesbury over the weekend. Read more: https://t.co/npm3b7spskpic.twitter.com/T6319jGiYi
— Amesbury Police (@AmesburyCPT) July 2, 2018
Through-out the afternoon further reports of interviews with locals would emerge, reflecting the high number of journalists on the ground ( ITV News, Idenpendent, Heart, Spire among others)
— Jack Sheeran (@JWSheeran) July 4, 2018
— Jack Sheeran (@JWSheeran) July 4, 2018
Just after 3pm a newspaper first puts names and faces to the victims of being treated in hospital. It is clear that these individuals are known locally, and that it would be highly unlikely that they had links to espionage. Despite this parallels and links with the Skripla incident are still being explicitly made and implicitly inferred in the coverage.
There is also some reference to symptoms in this piece. First it is claimed that one of the victims presented several hours before the other. And that
“Charlie and I went back to his home four hours later ( after Dawn was hospitalized) and he started showing symptoms
“We were preparing clothes to take to Dawn in hospital.
“He felt ill and went for a shower. Then his eyes went bloodshot and like two pin pricks, he began garbling incoherently and I could tell he was hallucinating.
“He was making weird noises and acting like a zombie. It was a zombie-like state. He slumped against the wall.”
He added: ”This doesn’t make any sense – I can’t see why they’d be targeted.
“It’s completely random.”
Such symptoms ( including pin-prick pupils, respiratory distress, hallucination etc)would be consistent to exposure to a wide range of poisonous substances- however, would narrow down the range of substances involved. Medics would have used symptoms to initially help identify the class of poison involved, while they attempted to stabilize the patients. They then may have chosen to conduct a range of tests in house to confirm what broad class of poison they were dealing with. They also had the option of sending samples to poisons specialists to give a more specific identification. This information is available in hospital incident response guidelines which are available publicly.
At around 4pm (4/7) the Wiltshire Police issues a further statement
The statement confirmed that:
‘It was initially believed that the two patients fell ill after possibly using drugs from a contaminated batch. However, further testing is now ongoing to establish the substance which led to these patients becoming ill.
At this stage it is not yet clear if a crime has been committed.
Our enquiries, supported by local partner agencies and the Counter Terrorism Policing Network, are ongoing and a full multi-agency response has been co-ordinated, which currently consists of around 12 partners.
We are keeping an open mind as to the circumstances regarding this incident and will continue to work closely with partners to progress our enquiries.
A number of scenes, believed to be the areas the individuals frequented in the period before they fell ill, remain cordoned off in and around the Amesbury and Salisbury area as a precautionary measure.
• Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury
• A property at John Baker House, Rolleston Street, Salisbury
• A property on Muggleton Road, Amesbury
• Boots the Chemist, Stonehenge Walk, Amesbury
• Amesbury Baptist Centre on Butterfield Drive, Amesbury
The public can expect to see an increased police presence at these locations and in and around the Amesbury and Salisbury areas. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the public for respecting these cordons and for their ongoing patience and support.’
What is interesting is that UK based media appears to be focusing on two very different narratives at the same time. On the one hand there is continued referral to the idea that illicit drugs are involved. On the other hand, some journalists are still emphasizing the link the Skripal case and the link to Salisbury- with reference to claims made by the Victim’s friend. This coverage is quite at odds.
One BBC journalist, BBC’s diplomatic editor ( and author of a forthcoming book on the Skirpal incident) tweeted that ‘The #Amesbury couple had visited Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury – now cordoned off. Investigators are trying to ascertain whether #Skripal Novichok was prepared there, and Amesbury couple came in contact with residue https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-44707052 …
Yet this statement appears to contradict the low police presence being reported at this site in Salisbury by local journalists. Preparation, in this scenario must also be a particularly minimal process- because as chemical weapons expert JP Zanders has noted in a tweet : ‘Bear in mind that the public
@OPCW analytical report states that the agent recovered had as good as no impurities. A park is not the type of environment where one would prepare such pure nerve agent.’ (There would be later reference to purity of Agent on BBC Newsnight, as a factor which can guarantee persistence of an agent of this type).
Images are now starting to emerge of initial paramedic response to incident. Which supplement images of cordons and so on which have been circulating the internet over the past few days. As might be expected, different levels of hazmat PPE were being used at this point by police and medics. This was four hours (approx) after first patient had presented with suspected drug overdose.
Video emerges of a man – exposed to a mystery substance in Wiltshire – being taken into an ambulance. Counter-terrorism police are investigating the incidenthttps://t.co/BcOgAEeBlYpic.twitter.com/ar9cMOCCtq
— ITV News (@itvnews) July 4, 2018
At around 7pm The Independent breaks the story that DSTL have confirmed Novichok ( just after DSTL presented findings to the Government). There would be at least two hours before confirmation or denial of this apparent leak.Journalists from the Independent had apparently been at the scene all day- and there seemed to be little reason to doubt at least some truth in the claims. Although it did not appear clear at this point how the specific agent would have been identified ( assuming Porton had blood samples alone in this case) suggesting that any confirmation from the government at his point ( if it was forthcoming) might only confirm a broad agent class. It has been announced that a second Cobra meeting is planned tomorrow to discuss findings in a statement from the Home Secretary.
— Brett Edwards (@bwiedwards) July 4, 2018
At just before 10pm the Metropolitan police issued a statement which confirmed that:
This evening we have received test results from Porton Down that show the two people have been exposed to the nerve agent Novichok.
At approximately 10:15hrs on Saturday, 30 June, the South West Ambulance Service was called to a residential address in Amesbury, where a 44-year-old woman had collapsed. She was subsequently taken to hospital.
At around 15:30hrs that day, the ambulance service was called back to the same address, where a 45-year-old man had also fallen ill. The man was taken to hospital and Wiltshire Police were informed.
From initial assessment it was thought that the two patients had fallen ill after using drugs from a potentially contaminated batch.
However, on Monday, 2 July, due to concerns over the symptoms the man and woman were displaying, samples from both patients were sent to Porton Down laboratory for analysis.
Following the detailed analysis of these samples, we can confirm that the man and woman have been exposed to the nerve agent Novichok, which has been identified as the same nerve agent that contaminated both Yulia and Sergei Skripal.
The latest update we have from the hospital is that both patients remain in a critical condition. Both are British nationals and are local to the area. Officers are still working to identify their next of kin.
At this stage, no-one else has presented with the same symptoms linked to this incident.’
Later that evening, the story would be given in-depth coverage in local and national news. On BBC Newsnight, Jerry Smith ( former OPCW inspector) and BBC Diplomatic Editor would be interviewed. Jerry Smith suggests likely scenario at this point is that incident is an unintended consequence of Skripal incident. Further more that pure agent of this type degrades slowly. Also suggests binary agent may conceivably of been employed -and that mixing/preparation or delivery materials may have caused contamination.
Thursday 5th July
The mornings main developed were outlined in timelines produced by the Independent and Evening Standard, and BBC news which are synthesized and supplemented here. The morning’s developments would come before and during the announcement of the outcome of the 11am COBRA meeting.
In the early hours of the morning the Independent is reporting on it’s time-line that ‘Government source has said the poison was part of the batch used in the Salisbury poisonings.It is understood investigators are working on a theory that the pair came into contact with the deadly substance in a part of Salisbury city centre that was. Further reference is also made to a government source expressing concern about the clean up:
‘”Novichok doesn’t evaporate. It exists forever,” the source added.
“Incineration is the most effective method.
“But they are not going to burn Salisbury down.”
It is also quoted an unnamed government source as saying: ‘Police are desperately trying to find the source of the potentially deadly nerve agent amid fears other areas of Salisbury may not have been fully decontaminated following the attack in March’
Over the morning breakfast and drive time news a number of interviews were also given to the press by government officials. This included interviews by security Minister Ben Wallace MP, on a number of outlets. In these interviews he stated that it was a working assumption that this event was a secondary exposure related to the Skripal incident. In addition, PHE medical director Paul Cosford gave an interview to Sky need in which he discussed precautions that the local population might take ( such as not picking up objects they find). However, he reiterated throughout the morning that public health scientists maintained that areas already decontaminated were safe, there was still a low risk to the public. With the independent quoting him as “We are giving a low risk, but take some precautions.”’’
At around 11am local MP The MP for Salisbury has said he believes the couple came into contact with the nerve agent after it was discarded from the Skripal incident in March.
At around 11am local Tory MP John Glen also made a statement to the press
‘I am extremely concerned as the constituency was just returning to normal after a considerable effort from the local authority and the Government to deal with the contaminated sites from the Skripal incident and also put in measures to boost the local economy. This news is extremely unwelcome and my first thoughts are with the two individuals who are critically ill in hospital. My strong instinct is that they have somehow encountered some discarded paraphernalia from the Skripal incident, and certainly there is no reason to believe they would have been targeted in any separate way, but nonetheless the uncertainty of how that happened is concerning and that’s why the five sites on a precautionary basis have been cordoned off. The real issue is that we can’t know where it was or what it was because it was so recklessly and outrageously administered in the first place. This is a prohibited weapon of war that is banned in all countries. “The way it was administered was outrageous and the way it was administered was totally irresponsible and reckless, and hence we are in a situation where we cannot answer some of the questions because I don’t who did it, how they did it and where they went before and after they did it. “What I am given to understand is that before this reached the public domain Russian sources were aware of what was going on and there was interesting stories from Russia being planted. It is quite clear to me that the core roots of these two incidents lie with Russia. They are denying that and seeking to use it for propaganda. “What I have to remain focused on is the security and safety of my constituents, and to achieve that we need to know as much as we can about what happened to these two individuals and once and for all limit speculation about future risk, which is obviously what has arisen now because of it.’
At Around 11am first statement from the Kremlin on the matter was also made, picked up by TASS. At this point the real diplomatic games will begin. Statements from the UK are already pointing to OPCW involvement- however, Russia and UK have fundamental disagreements on OPCW which can be traced back through the Skripal affair and the Syria issue. The UK has a number of options in can pursue in terms of OPCW involvement- all carry political risks (domestically and diplomatically). These will likely be explored in coming days.
Russian State Media outlets, as well as offical social media will continue to raise public suspicions about Porton Down, push for Russian involvement in any investigation, and and also try and prevent the UK using the newly established attribution system within the OPCW ( which Russia has strongly apposed). Indeed, these perspectives are now being reflected in early statements from official Russian sources. This means the UK ( and likely OPCW) will receive continued criticsm from Russia if the UK does take any of her prefered options on this issue.
At lunch time, following the COBRA meeting Theresa May also made her first public statement on the matter. This was accompanied shortly after by a statement in the House of Commons by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
BREAK – UK will be consulting with international partners in wake of likely accidental #novichok poisoning of British couple in #Amesbury that follows deliberate attack on #Skripals, blamed on Russia, @sajidjavid says
— Deborah Haynes (@haynesdeborah) July 5, 2018
In his statement The Home Secretary addressing the Commons following a second COBRA meeting confirmed that the Chief Medical Officer has confirmed that the risk to the public remained low- and asked public to follow precautionary measures suggested by local services. The guidance would be similar to guidance given following the initial Salisbury incident. He also called on Russia to explain the incident. He also stated that “It is now time that the Russian state comes forward and explains exactly what has gone on.” He confirmed that Porton had not only confirmed Novichok- but also that this was the same type employed in the Salisbury incident ( how ever Porton were still working to see if they could match source batch, which might not be possible). He also stated that the strong working assumption is that the couple affected had come into contact with a new site of contamination, previously not identified. All previously decontaminated sites were safe. The incident did not look like cross-contamination from places that the Skripals may have visited. Further more any sites visited by the couple recently effected, as well as suspected sites of contamination have also been cordoned off. He also noted that the UK government were keeping an open mind, but the strong working assumption was that is incident was related to the Skripal attack- which it is believed that Russia orchestrated.
Full statement here:
We are once again also seeing technical discussions of agent emerge on twitter. In the sense of parity, it is also worth noting that we are still waiting for further technical details on the Skripal agent to be made officially public by the UK Government.
We saw fomer soviet scientists come out of the woodwork previously. With conflicting insights. If only Russian officialdom would be as forhcoming https://t.co/1recvWZM3J
— Brett Edwards (@bwiedwards) July 5, 2018
A search of local social twitter activity in Amesbury presents a contrast to the minimal attention the issue received on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. There is continued discussion of the intense media attention, evacuations and cordons. A
quick skim suggests that the while there is some concern and annoyance, there is not panic.
— Rebecca Hudson (@journalrebecca) 5 July 2018
— Martin Starke (@martinstarke) 5 July 2018
— James Holland (@James1940) 5 July 2018
— James Holland (@James1940) 5 July 2018
Throughout Thursday further cordons would be erected and a number of fresh evacuations would take place, which were picked up by local news.
— Spire FM (@SpireFM) July 5, 2018
— Spire FM (@SpireFM) July 5, 2018
Further background information on the Amesbury victims would also continue to emerge throughout the day.
At around 5.30PM the Metropolitan police confirm that they are focusing thier attention of identifying and recovering a contaminated item.
Breaking – Counter terrorist police investigating Amesbury nerve agent poisoning say:
‘Following further tests of samples from the patients, we now know that they were exposed to the nerve agent after handling a contaminated item.’
— Gordon Corera (@gordoncorera) July 5, 2018
The highest concentration of nerve agent found on the hands of two Amesbury victims. Likelihood is that this would have been after they picked up some kind of container or receptacle they may have found. Investigators still looking for whatever this was
— Gordon Corera (@gordoncorera) July 5, 2018
Friday 6th of July
Profiles, family’s concerns about victim treatment, as well as further details of medical complications appear in The Daily Mail and other publications
As the hunt for the source of contamination intensifies, discussion on social media and in the press of how the Amesbury couple came into contact with the nerve agent is rife. Last night the Metropolitan police confirmed that they suspected the couple had handled a poisoned item. Various experts would quickly point to the possibility that the couple had picked up some form of container (this would also explain the long environmental persistence of the agent). However, some of the UK news headlines would be more spurious, with this headline based on speculation from an acquaintance:
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) July 5, 2018
In addition, there would be continued discussion of the question of agent persistence and broader public risk. With some individuals claiming that there was significant differences in expert opinion on the environmental persistency of these agents. .However, while there is scarcity of information on this group of compounds in open scientific and hazmat literature- some of disagreements appeared to stem from discussions at cross purposes. This would also reflect the public facing expertise landscape around this issue. Much public information on these agents appears to be sourced from a range of former Soviet Scientists who came forward following the initial Salisbury incident- as well as other independent CBRN experts- as well as other forms of experts and commentator with claims to relevant knowledge on these agents. The absence of public information on these issues from state governments, scientific bodes or the OPCW Technical Secretariat- may be one factor which added to the continued reluctance of government experts (with more clearly defined credentials) to speak on these matters in relation to the Amesbury incident.
Several issues were especially apparent. The first was that the term ‘Novichok’ has been used in the press with reference to the broad class of agents ( which have a wide range of characteristics) as well as the specific sub-type of the agent which was used.
Second, is that the term ‘persistence’ is a relative term which mean little without context. Both of these issues allowed commentators to point to apparent inconsistencies. In addition is is clear that the potential role of a container could greatly effect degradation rate.
Comment to @BBCNews by HMG scientist that #novichok can be degraded by sun/rain contrasts to @OPCW in May: “analysis of samples collected by OPCW Technical Assistance Visit team concluded chemical substance found was of high purity, persistent & resistant to weather conditions.” pic.twitter.com/eur0i4K6HZ
— Deborah Haynes (@haynesdeborah) July 6, 2018
In addition, we saw reference to the idea that Public Health advice to wash clothes with water and detergent sat at odds with claims about the possibility of environmental persistency or even the claimed toxicity of the agent. Something which does not really hold up to scrutiny- washing of objects which may theoretically have had micro levels of contamination appears a sensible precaution.
Throughout the day there would also be increased activity on this issue from Russian diplomats
At this point there have been quite a few tweets on similar lines from various Russian embassies. Notably UK embassy. At this point two statements from RU UK embassy from yday available here https://t.co/Litb5LmP6a
— Brett Edwards (@bwiedwards) July 6, 2018
This (along with Russian Media coverage) was also being picked up by western media outlets In an article appearing on the Independent website it was claimed that :
‘Russian media has acted with incredulity at the recent novichok poisonings, with several saying the UK has orchestrated the attack to fuel anti-Russian sentiment.
Newspapers in the country have entertained other conspiracy theories and vehemently denied Russia was involved in the poisoning of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley in Amesbury.
Russia Today, which is funded by the Russian government, claimed the Amesbury incident was fuelling “another wave of anti-Russian hysteria”
In the early morning Detectives from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network, released
RU contends that other countries have produced at least micro amounts of these agents (for example PPE equipment testing). As I understand it RU has never admitted publicly working with these agents even for def. purposes since 1993…which would be oddhttps://t.co/9veqSQVAUG
— Brett Edwards (@bwiedwards) July 7, 2018
“https://www.wiltshire.police.uk/article/2947/Update-from-Metropolitan-Police-on-Amesbury-incident”>further details of their movements prior to them falling ill on Saturday, 30 June.
Police have released further details of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley’s movements before they fell ill. They are likely to have handled the contaminated item in Salisbury on Friday pic.twitter.com/3Jvenajeuv
— Lizzie Dearden (@lizziedearden) July 6, 2018
There continued to be reports of an unknown number of people having attended local hospitals with concerns in local news.
— Spire FM (@SpireFM) July 6, 2018
There would also be continued police activity throughout the day.
— Spire FM (@SpireFM) July 6, 2018
— Brett Edwards (@bwiedwards) July 6, 2018
Late Saturday evening it was reported that a Police officer had attended Swindon Hospital before been transferred to Salisbury. https://twitter.com/bwiedwards/status/1015686215809617920 Press quickly started appearing at both Hospitals. It was later confirmed that this had been precautionary.
Salisbury District Hospital has issued the following statement regarding an attendee at the Great Western Hospital in connection with the on-going incident in Amesbury pic.twitter.com/vCezvzXIUA
— NHS England Media (@NHSEnglandMedia) July 7, 2018
Home Secretary spent this morning in Salisbury and Amesbury.
Home Secretary @sajidjavid spent this morning in Salisbury and Amesbury. He met with first responders from the police, @DWFireRescue, @swasFT, and @SalisburyNHS, as well as visiting the cordons in Amesbury and speaking with some of the residents affected by the major incident. pic.twitter.com/jIQRemxNf2
— Wiltshire Police (@wiltshirepolice) July 8, 2018
Late in the evening reports emerge of the death of Dawn Sturgess
Twitter thread updates here