The James Bond-style perfume bottle Russian hoods used to carry novichok into Britain contained enough nerve agent to kill 4,000, police revealed today.
Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov’s bungled attempt to murder Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March could have caused ‘significant loss of life’
Four months after the first assassination bid, Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after she and partner Charlie Rowley, 45, found the discarded Nina Ricci bottle.
Ms Sturgess is said to have sprayed it on her wrist believing it was genuine perfume at Mr Rowley’s home in in Amesbury – Mr Rowley survived.
A specially made model of the counterfeit ‘Nina Ricci’ perfume bottle that carried enough the novichok to kill 4,000
The perfume bottle full of Novichok (left), which Russian agents Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov (right) are accused of using in the attack, could have killed up to 4,000 people
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon said the ‘significant amount’ of novichok and the way it was applied was ‘completely reckless’.
He said: ‘When we found it, there was a significant amount of novichok contained within the bottle.’ When asked how many people it could have killed, he told BBC’s Panorama: ‘It’s difficult to say, you know, possibly into the thousands.
‘The amount that was in the bottle and the way it was applied to the Skripals’ home address was completely reckless.’
His probe named Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov as suspects. They have since been unmasked as officers with Russia’s military intelligence service.
Boshirov is Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, while Petrov is Alexander Mishkin, a military doctor.
They smuggled the novichok into the UK disguised as a sample bottle of Nina Ricci Premier Jour perfume.
Counter-terrorism sources last night confirmed the bottle could have killed as many as 4,000.
Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by the chemical agent novichok in Salisbury in March
Dawn Sturgess, left, who died following exposure to the nerve agent, and her partner Charlie Rowley, right
The Russians spent a fortune on the tiny James Bond-inspired perfume bottle used to carry novichok including developing new technology to ensure it wasn’t a suicide mission for their agents, experts revealed.
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, one of Britain’s top chemical weapons experts, says the fake sample vial of Nina Ricci Premier Jour could only have been produced by Putin’s top scientists in their most sophisticated and top secret lab.
He told MailOnline: ‘They needed to ensure that the men carrying out the attack did not kill themselves while doing it. It would be deeply embarrassing if their agents died on foreign soil’.
The two assassins, using the aliases Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, carried the bottle of Novichok into the UK unhindered before spraying it on Sergei Skripal’s front door in suburban Salisbury in March.
Experts believe the botched hit came after up to three months of development and testing probably sanctioned at the highest levels of the Russian state.
The lab, branded ‘Q-ski’ after the research and development division of the British Secret Service in James Bond, made the bottle and ‘one-way’ applicator nozzle so it was impossible for novichok to leak out in transit.
It was also made of special toughened glass, plastic or ceramic sure not to smash, crack or degrade while carrying one of the world deadliest weapons.
Alexander Petrov (pictured right) has now been revealed as Dr Alexander Mishkin. Ruslan Boshirov (pictured left) was revealed two weeks ago as Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga
Revealed: How ‘assassins’ faked a Nina Ricci perfume bottle full of toxic nerve agent then ‘recklessly threw it away’, leading to the death of British woman
Russian agents suspected of carrying out the novichok attack used a glass container made to look like a perfume bottle.
Charlie Rowley, 48, told police he found a box he thought contained perfume in a charity bin on Wednesday June 27.
The box and bottle were labelled as Premier Jour by Nina Ricci – but Scotland Yard has confirmed that they were counterfeits and had been specially adapted.
Inside the box was a bottle and applicator, and police said Mr Rowley tried to put the two parts together at his home address in Amesbury on Saturday June 30. In doing so, he got some of the contents on himself.
He said his partner, Dawn Sturgess, 44, had applied some of the substance to her wrists before feeling unwell.
After he told police where he found the box, cordons were put in place and two bins behind shops in Catherine Street, Salisbury, were removed.
Previously, during a search of Mr Rowley’s home in Muggleton Road, Amesbury, on July 10, a small box labelled as Nina Ricci Premier Jour was recovered from a rubbish bag in the kitchen.
The deadly chemical weapon is thought to have been smuggled around Britain disguised as perfume in this box
On July 11, a small glass bottle with a modified nozzle was found on a kitchen worktop.
Tests undertaken at the Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory established that the bottle contained a ‘significant amount of novichok’, Scotland Yard said.
The novichok container was designed to look like a bottle of Premier Jour by Nina Ricci. File photo
Ms Sturgess died in hospital in July, just over a week after she and Mr Rowley fell ill.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said the manner in which the bottle and packaging was adapted made it a ‘perfect cover’ for smuggling the weapon into the country.
He added: ‘We have carried out numerous inquiries in relation to the bottle and are now able to release an image of it with the nozzle attached.
‘We are also releasing an image of the box that the bottle and nozzle were in.
‘We have spoken to Nina Ricci and undertaken further inquiries. Nina Ricci and our inquiries have confirmed that it is not a genuine Nina Ricci perfume bottle, box or nozzle.
‘It is in fact a counterfeit box, bottle and nozzle that have been especially adapted.
‘I’d like to reassure anyone who has bought Nina Ricci perfume from a legitimate source that they should not be concerned. It is safe.
‘We cannot account for the whereabouts of the bottle, nozzle or box between the attack on the Skripals on March 4 and when Charlie Rowley said he found it on Wednesday June 27.’