Chemical weapons watchdog confirms Novichok killed Dawn Sturgess

Analysis of substance that caused the death of an Amesbury resident in July tallied with that of the UK government

FILE PHOTO: Forensic investigators, wearing protective suits, emerge from the rear of John Baker House, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
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The British government has welcomed a report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that confirms their initial assessment of the death of Dawn Sturgess in Amesbury on July 8.

It identified the nerve agent used as Novichok, the same substance used earlier in the year in the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the nearby Wiltshire town of Salisbury.

Initial analysis for the British government took place at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down. The OPCW then visited the scene of Ms Sturgess’s death and took samples twice, which returned equally conclusive results.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We are grateful to the OPCW for the independent, expert work in confirming the type of nerve agent used in Amesbury, and once again pay tribute to the high standards set by our world-leading scientists.


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“The recklessness of the Russian state in bringing a nerve agent into the UK, and total disregard for the safety of the public, is appalling and irresponsible. Our thoughts are with the family of Dawn Sturgess, and with Charlie Rowley.”

Mr Rowley was found in the same house as Ms Sturgess and was found to have been poisoned by the same substance as her. He initially recovered enough to leave hospital but has since been readmitted with meningitis, although it is not known if this is related to Novichok.

“This is another reminder of the importance of the international community standing together to uphold the global ban on all use of chemical weapons, and ensure that the rules-based international order is respected so we can all keep our citizens safe,” Mr Hunt said.

The British government has asked that the OPCW publish the executive summary of their report and share it with all state parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.