The son of Salisbury novichok attack victim Dawn Sturgess has urged Vladimir Putin to hand over the Russian hitmen suspected of killing her.
On the eve of the first anniversary of the incident, Ewan Hope appealed directly to the Russian president ‘as a human being’ to afford his mother the justice she deserves and allow British investigators to speak to the suspects.
His call for cooperation from Russia in the murder probe comes after Ms Sturgess’s partner, Charlie Rowley, said he wants ‘someone to pay for what they’ve done’.
Ewan Hope has appealed directly to the Russian president ‘as a human being’ to afford his mother (pictured right) the justice she deserves and allow British investigators to speak to the suspects
Police are hunting two Russian GRU agents, named as Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga, over the chemical weapons attack
Celebrating: Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in 2016 at their favourite restaurant, Zizzi – the last place they visited before falling ill that fateful Sunday last year
The pair fell critically ill in June after handling a perfume bottle believed to have been used to transport the chemical weapon used in the botched assassination attempt on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4 2018.
Ms Sturgess, 44, never recovered and died in July, while Mr Rowley, 45, says he continues to suffer from the long-term effects of exposure to the nerve agent.
In his open letter to Mr Putin published by the Sunday Mirror, Mr Hope said: ‘The British police believe at least two Russian citizens were responsible for her death but it appears they are being protected by your state.
‘I am appealing to you as a human being to allow our officers to question these men about my mother’s murder. The least she deserves is justice.’
On Friday Mr Skripal’s house and 11 other potentially contaminated sites were ruled safe after a 355-day clean-up operation.
Wiltshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills said: ‘Whilst (it) marks an important landmark in relation to the decontamination process, it does not however mark the end to the police investigation.’
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his meeting with Russian participants of the 29th Winter Universiade at Platinum Arena on March 3, 2019 in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Dawn Sturgess’s son has appealed directly to the Russian president ‘as a human being’
The procession of Salisbury city councilors and other representatives of Salisbury City Council make their way from Guildhall Square to St Thomas’s Church today. A service was held at the parish church for the city this morning by Reverend Kelvin Inglis to remember the victims of the attacks and how Salisbury has moved on since
The police presence outside Zizzi’s restaurant on Wednesday March 7, 2018. And pictured today with no police and the wall has been painted white
A police cordon at the grave of Sergei Skripal’s son Alexander pictured on March 8, 2018. But today the police cordon is no longer in place
Police cordon at the Maltings shopping centre on Marfch 6, 2018. In the present day shoppers are happily getting on with their day
Some 250 detectives have worked on the investigation, collecting 11,000 hours of CCTV footage, seizing 3,700 exhibits and taking 1,702 statements.
Counter Terrorism Policing senior national co-coordinator, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, said officers were ‘determined to bring to justice’ those responsible.
In September, Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service said there was sufficient evidence to charge two Russian nationals named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov with offences including conspiracy to murder over the Salisbury nerve agent attack.
Britain to boost chemical defence
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced a new pot of funding to prepare for more chemical-style Salisbury poisoning attacks.
The money will be spent on deploying drones into potentially hazardous areas, as reported by The Daily Telegraph.
Mr Williamson said: ‘After the Novichok attack in Salisbury a year ago, the nation turned to the Armed Forces and expert scientists. From the investigation to the clean-up, the military and everyone involved in the operation have worked tirelessly to decontaminate the streets of Salisbury.
‘Britain and its allies have also demonstrated that they will take a stand against the use of chemical weapons, from the sanctions enforced on Russia following the reckless use of Novichok to the strikes against the chemicals used by Syrian regime.’
It was subsequently reported by Bellingcat that Mr Boshirov was actually highly decorated Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, and Mr Petrov was a military doctor called Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin.
Despite assertions from the police that efforts are continuing to bring those behind the attack to justice, Mr Hope said he feels ‘betrayed and let down by the Government’.
The Skripals have been under police protection since they were discharged from hospital, while Ms Sturgess’s family have not had the support they need, he told the paper.
He added: ‘I feel the Government just wants to move on, but we can’t because we haven’t got justice for Mum. Until we do, we can’t get closure.’
A Defra spokesman said: ‘The completion of clean-up work at Christie Miller Road, Salisbury marks a significant milestone in south Wiltshire’s return to normality following the sickening Novichok nerve agent attack last year.
‘The property was declared safe following extensive cleaning and testing by specialist teams. Wiltshire Council will shortly begin to co-ordinate work to refurbish the property, with residents of Christie Miller Road consulted on its future use.’
Alistair Cunningham, chairman of the south Wiltshire recovery co-ordinating group, said this was a ‘significant moment’ for the area which can now ‘look to the future’.
He added: ‘Work will begin shortly to reconstruct and refurbish the house so it can return to being a home again. We are continuing to talk to the residents on the future of the property as it is important their views are taken into account on how it is used in the future.
Environment minister Therese Coffey said the ‘professionalism’ of all those involved in the clean-up had been ‘exemplary’.
Timeline of the Salisbury attack
2010 – Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer jailed for spying for Britain, is released and flown to the UK as part of a swap with Russian agents caught in the United States. He settles in Salisbury.
March 3 – Yulia Skripal arrives at Heathrow Airport from Russia to visit her father in England.
March 4, 9.15am – Sergei Skripal’s burgundy BMW is seen in suburban Salisbury, near a cemetery, where his wife and son are commemorated.
March 4, 1.30pm – The BMW is seen driving toward central Salisbury.
March 4, 1.40pm – The BMW is parked at a lot in central Salisbury.
March 4, afternoon – Sergei and Yulia Skripal visit the Bishops Mill pub.
March 4, 2.20pm to 3.35pm – Sergei and Yulia Skripal have lunch at the Zizzi restaurant.
March 4, 4.15pm – Emergency services are called by a passer-by concerned about a man and a woman in Salisbury city centre.
Officers find the Skripals unconscious on a bench. They are taken to Salisbury District Hospital, where they remain in critical condition.
GRU agents Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin are shown smiling in Salisbury on the day they unleashed the novichok chemical weapon
March 5, morning – Police say two people in Salisbury are being treated for suspected exposure to an unknown substance.
March 5, afternoon – Wiltshire Police, along with Public Health England, declare a ‘major incident’
March 7 – Police announce that the Skripals were likely poisoned with a nerve agent in a targeted murder attempt.
They disclose that a police officer who responded to the incident is in serious condition in a hospital.
March 8 – Home Secretary Amber Rudd describes the use of a nerve agent on UK soil was a ‘brazen and reckless act’ of attempted murder
March 9 – About 180 troops trained in chemical warfare and decontamination are deployed to Salisbury to help with the police investigation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow might be willing to assist with the investigation but expresses resentment at suggestions the Kremlin was behind the attack.
March 11 – Public health officials tell people who visited the Zizzi restaurant or Bishops Mill pub in Salisbury on the day of the attack or the next day to wash their clothes as a precaution.
March 12, morning– Prime Minister Theresa May tells the House of Commons that the Skripals were poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
March 12, afternoon – Public Health England ask everyone who visited Salisbury town centre on the day of the attack to wash all of their clothes and belongings.
A bench where the Skripals collapsed became the focus of the investigation
March 14 – The PM announces the expulsion of 23 suspected Russian spies from the country’s UK Embassy.
March 22 – Nick Bailey, the police officer injured in the attack, is released from hospital.
March 26 – The United States and 22 other countries join Britain in expelling scores of Russian spies from capitals across the globe.
March 29 – Doctors say Yulia Skripal is ‘improving rapidly’ in hospital.
‘Unknown time in the spring’ – Dutch authorities expelled two suspected Russian spies who tried to hack into a Swiss laboratory
April 3 – The chief of the Porton Down defence laboratory said it could not verify the ‘precise source’ of the nerve agent.
April 5, morning – Yulia Skripal’s cousin Viktoria says she has received a call from Yulia saying she plans to leave hospital soon.
April 5, afternoon – A statement on behalf of Yulia is released by Metropolitan Police, in which she says her strength is ‘growing daily’ and that ‘daddy is fine’.
April 9 – Ms Skripal is released from hospital and moved to a secure location.
May 18 – Sergei Skripal is released from hospital 11 weeks after he was poisoned.
June 30 – Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley fall ill at a property in Amesbury, which is eight miles from Salisbury, and are rushed to hospital.
July 4 – Police declare a major incident after Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley are exposed to an ‘unknown substance’, later revealed to be Novichok.
July 5 – Sajid Javid demands an explanation over the two poisonings as he accuses the Russian state of using Britain as a ‘dumping ground for poison’.
July 8 – Mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess, 44, dies in hospital due to coming into contact with Novichok.
July 10 – Mr Rowley regains consciousness at hospital, and later tells his brother that Dawn had sprayed the Novichok onto her wrists.
July 19 – Police are believed to have identified the perpetrators of the attack.
August 20 – Charlie Rowley is rushed to hospital as he starts to lose his sight, but doctors can’t confirm whether it has anything to do with the poisoning.
August 26 – Charlie Rowley admitted to intensive care unit with meningitis
August 28 – Police call in the ‘super recognisers’ in bid to track down the poisoners
September 4 – Charlie Rowley’s brother says he has ‘lost all hope’ and doesn’t have long to live.
Independent investigators, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, confirm the toxic chemical that killed Ms Sturgess was the same nerve agent as that which poisoned the Skripals.
September 5 – Scotland Yard and CPS announce enough evidence to charge Russian nationals Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov for conspiracy to murder over Salisbury nerve agent attack.
September 13 – Britain’s most wanted men speak to RT and claim to be humble tourists
September 26 – The real identity of one of the two assassins, named by police as Ruslan Boshirov, is reported to be Colonel Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga.
October 9 – The real identity of the second assassin, who used the name Alexander Petrov, is revealed to be Alexander Mishkin, a military doctor working for Russian intelligence.
March 1 – Salisbury is declared decontaminated.