Police officer injured in Skripal poisoning discharged from hospital

Judge permits Skripal blood samples so tests can be made by chemical weapons experts

Wiltshire Police  handout  photo of Det Sgt Nick Bailey, who fell ill after tending to poisoned spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia. He has been discharged from hospital. File photograph: Wiltshire Police/PA Wire

Wiltshire Police handout photo of Det Sgt Nick Bailey, who fell ill after tending to poisoned spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia. He has been discharged from hospital. File photograph: Wiltshire Police/PA Wire

 

A British police officer who was exposed to the same Novichok nerve agent used to attack former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia has been discharged from hospital.

Cara Charles-Barks, chief executive of Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, said Det Sgt Nick Bailey had been discharged.

A second police officer is being treated in hospital for suspected poisoning after the chemical attack on the former double agent, but the symptoms are minor, it was reported on Thursday.

British prime minister Theresa May blamed Russian president Vladimir Putin for the incident last week and expelled 23 diplomats from the Russian embassy in a move which was reciprocated by Moscow.

Russia denies any involvement in the attack on ex-spy Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who have been in a critical condition in hospital since they were found unconscious on March 4th on a bench in the city of Salisbury.

Meanwhile, a judge has given doctors permission to take blood samples from Mr Skripal and his daughter so that tests can be carried out by chemical weapons experts.

Mr Justice Williams made the ruling after a hearing in the court of protection, where issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions are considered. The Skripals are both in a coma in hospital.

The judge, based in the family division of the high court in London, announced his decision on Thursday after analysing the case at a private hearing earlier this week.

The ruling came as it emerged that police in Salisbury had realised they were dealing with a possible terrorism attack within hours of the Skripals becoming ill when the pair had failed to respond to antidotes.

Wiltshire police got in contact with the counter-terrorism network on the night of the attempted murder, the force’s chief constable, Kier Pritchard, said on Thursday.

Going through ‘horror’

Mr Pritchard said the condition of Det Sgt Bailey was improving each day but described what his wife and children were going through as “horror”.

He said the recovery process following the nerve agent attack would be prolonged. Careful decontamination would also be needed before some areas of the city can be returned to the public.

Mr Pritchard said Det Sgt Bailey was receiving occupational therapy and psychotherapy. “We’ve extended occupational health support to his wife, Sarah, and their children. They <WC1>[THE FAMILY] are solid and strong.”

He said 80 police officers were guarding cordoned-off areas to ensure evidence could be gathered in the Salisbury area. Once this had been done, decontamination would take place so the cordoned-off areas were “fit to to return to the public”. He added: “It may take days, weeks, who knows? It will be a fairly slow inquiry.”

He continued: “Our role is to ensure we return the community, Salisbury, the UK, back to normality.” – Guardian/Reuters