Novichok In Salisbury: Secret Agents & Nerve Agents In Britain

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There was 'unusual activity ' at the Russian embassy, including 'unprecedented' and 'frantic' comings and goings, prior to the poisoning of the Skripals. That smoking gun is looking even smokier.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news...an-embassy-novichok-attack-skripal-poisonings
It would be interesting to read a signal intelligence report on that period as well. GCHQ could probably safely report on whether or not there was an increase in messages to the Embassy in that period.
 

hunck

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A small update:

Skripal poisoning suspects received mystery phone call following attack

Speculation that it was to confirm success of the operation.

A third GRU man, Denis Sergeev, using the cover name Sergey Fedotov, flew in to London hours ahead of his 2 colleagues, flying out the same day as them.

Travel records obtained by the investigative website Bellingcat suggest that all three GRU officers were involved in previous operations. In 2014, Sergeev and Mishkin spent eight days together in Prague. In April 2015, Sergeev visited Bulgaria at the same time a Bulgarian arms dealer was mysteriously poisoned.

Mishkin and Chepiga were booked on two sets out flights back to Moscow – the Aeroflot flight they took after their Salisbury weekend, and an identical flight the next day, Monday 5 March.
Still a mystery about the Novichok which poisoned Dawn Sturgess almost 4 months later - found in a bin which was emptied regularly.
 

hunck

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Emergency services spent £900k replacing vehicles after Salisbury attack

Police and ambulance services had to destroy 24 cars, vans and 4x4 vehicles following the attack

The ambulance service was forced to discard eight vehicles, while Wiltshire police had to destroy and replace 16.

A spokesman for the ambulance service said: “The costs involved in the destruction of these vehicles, including staff overtime, have been covered by NHS England with funds from central government. The vehicles have all been replaced at no additional cost to SWASFT.”
 

Eponastill

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Yes you can't be too careful. Though by the same token everyone in Salisbury should probably get a new car and a new wardrobe and a new house, because they trod near the scene at some point. Twenty-four vehicles exposed seeming like quite a large number?

How many ambulances does it take to transport 2 Russians, one amesbury resident and one policeman maybe, to hospital? And the police vehicles... oh it's not like I'd understand is it. I'd have just thought when they were investigating they might wear protective suits and boots, and protect the cars and vans they then sat in, rather than smearing toxic chemicals all over the place. No I have no idea what goes on.

Sorry to be a cynic. Have a new police car. I don't care. You deserve it for all the trouble. Better safe than sorry. Etc.
 

Schrodinger's Zebra

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Yes surely if the argument is that the police cars were driving near the scene and therefore could be contaminated, then the same could apply to any residents cars (or non-residents driving through, even) that were in the vicinity?

I accept that it is somewhat ridiculous to suggest that every single car in Salisbury should be replaced, but it is perhaps equally ridiculous that only the "important" (i.e. police) cars are deemed in danger of contamination. (Ambulances, transporting the actual contaminated people, is fair enough).

Either the stuff is that contagious, or it isn't. I doubt if novichok picks and chooses which cars it attacks...
 

blessmycottonsocks

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A small update:

Skripal poisoning suspects received mystery phone call following attack

Speculation that it was to confirm success of the operation.

A third GRU man, Denis Sergeev, using the cover name Sergey Fedotov, flew in to London hours ahead of his 2 colleagues, flying out the same day as them.


Still a mystery about the Novichok which poisoned Dawn Sturgess almost 4 months later - found in a bin which was emptied regularly.
The charity shop would, presumably, vet items donated to them and discard items they didn't regard as sellable, in their bin. Rowley and Sturgess had a habit of going through bins, including that particular one, for anything they could scavenge.
The Novichok in the fake perfume bottle could have ended up on a shelf in the charity shop instead.
 

hunck

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My understanding is that it was the shop's waste bin but I'd assume someone else put it in, not a shop worker. Obviously don't know for sure but it seems unlikely the shop would throw it away if it looked like a legit unopened perfume bottle..
 

hunck

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Revealed: anti-nerve agent drug was used for first time in UK to save novichok victim

Paramedics saved the life of one of the Wiltshire novichok victims by administering an anti-nerve agent drug at the scene that had never been used on a patient before in the UK, it can be revealed.

Having been to the flat to deal with Dawn Sturgess in the morning, When they were called again to the same flat later that day to tend to Rowley, a lead paramedic who had been present when the Skripals fell ill suspected that nerve agent was again involved. Rowley was given an anti-nerve agent drug that British crews began to carry at the height of the al-Qaida threat but had not used until then.

Instinct told him that a second nerve agent poisoning may have taken place and Rowley was given the drug. Speaking in detail for the first time about its role responding to the poisonings a year ago, South Western Ambulance Service NHS foundation trust (SWASFT) said it believed this saved Rowley’s life.

Wayne Darch, the head of emergency preparedness, resilience and response at SWASFT, said: “There wasn’t a plan on the shelf for what we were dealing with. We were writing the book as we were dealing with the situation put in front of us. It was intense.” SWASFT believes the actions of its staff tending to the Skripals at the scene and in ambulances on the way to Salisbury district hospital also saved them.

“The crew that attended Charlie took a particular course of treatment,” said Darch. “When that wasn’t effective, they suspected that it may be nerve agent.”

Though there was no information or intelligence that Rowley had been the victim of a nerve agent, the paramedics donned protective clothing – Tyvek suits, face masks, gloves and aprons – and treated Rowley as if there had been a second attack. Darch said: “They did a fantastic job under difficult circumstances and undoubtedly saved Charlie’s life.”

Rowley had not been aware that he was treated for nerve agent in Amesbury. When the Guardian told him what SWASFT has revealed, he said: “I don’t remember it at all but I’m very grateful for the way they treated Dawn and me. I have to take my hat off to everyone who helped us.”
 

Eponastill

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So it's said that Mr Rowley was given some anti-nerve agent at his house when the paramedics came to pick him up. By a paramedic who was there when the Skripals got ill. "British [ambulance] crews began to carry [the drug] at the height of the al-Quaida threat but had not used [it] until then."

I can't help thinking that every nerve agent would require a different antidote, would that not be right? (Like I was watching a programme about snake bites, and every species requires a different antidote). Could you carry just one antidote for every eventuality? Wouldn't that totally ruin the dastardly plans of al-Quaida and the Russians? And every ambulance in the country has some of this stuff? Isn't that what is implied? That it wasn't some stuff they had specifically around Salisbury because that had had the Skripal incident. But stuff that was widely carried because of al-Quaida??

Also. Presumably they couldn't have connected Ms Sturgess's problems with a nerve agent, earlier in the day? Or otherwise they'd have rushed back to her house to make sure Mr Rowley was alright?? Or conversely, once they'd connected his symptoms with a nerve agent, they'd have connected them to her, and given her some of the antidote too? (I'm getting all confused).

Also, on another different tack, in the article it's said: "SWASFT also confirmed that staff had reported symptoms including headaches, sore throats and eye problems, and that some remained concerned about the possible long-term effects on their health."
One has to wonder (forteanly) whether if you knew you'd been near someone apparently attacked by a nerve agent, whether you wouldn't start feeling a bit queasy as well - psychologically you'd surely have to, even if you hadn't absorbed any of it at all. So quite difficult to judge how much exposure there would have been. "Staff underwent blood tests and were judged all clear for novichok, the trust has said. Asked if he was confident the tests have shown nobody was affected by nerve agent in any way, Darch replied: “At an acute level, yes, absolutely.” "

Also, finally, it says "Rowley had not been aware that he was treated for nerve agent in Amesbury. When the Guardian told him what SWASFT has revealed, he said: “I don’t remember it at all but I’m very grateful for the way they treated Dawn and me. I have to take my hat off to everyone who helped us.” " He wasn't aware they'd treated him for a nerve agent? Why is this being "revealed" to him and everyone else, as though it's something that couldn't be said before? (Poor chap btw).
 
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maximus otter

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Twenty-four vehicles exposed seeming like quite a large number?

How many ambulances does it take to transport 2 Russians, one amesbury resident and one policeman maybe, to hospital? And the police vehicles... oh it's not like I'd understand is it. I'd have just thought when they were investigating they might wear protective suits and boots, and protect the cars and vans they then sat in, rather than smearing toxic chemicals all over the place.
Cross-contamination: Normally it’s just a way of losing cases (“The only reason the deceased’s blood was on my client’s clothing is that he was taken to the police station in the same car as the true assailant, and he picked up the blood from the car’s upholstery!”); here it might ge a way of losing one’s life.

Duty of care; precautionary principle, blah, blah.

maximus otter
 

Schrodinger's Zebra

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So it's said that Mr Rowley was given some anti-nerve agent at his house when the paramedics came to pick him up. By a paramedic who was there when the Skripals got ill. "British [ambulance] crews began to carry [the drug] at the height of the al-Quaida threat but had not used [it] until then."

I can't help thinking that every nerve agent would require a different antidote, would that not be right? (Like I was watching a programme about snake bites, and every species requires a different antidote). Could you carry just one antidote for every eventuality? Wouldn't that totally ruin the dastardly plans of al-Quaida and the Russians? And every ambulance in the country has some of this stuff? Isn't that what is implied? That it wasn't some stuff they had specifically around Salisbury because that had had the Skripal incident. But stuff that was widely carried because of al-Quaida??

Also. Presumably they couldn't have connected Ms Sturgess's problems with a nerve agent, earlier in the day? Or otherwise they'd have rushed back to her house to make sure Mr Rowley was alright?? Or conversely, once they'd connected his symptoms with a nerve agent, they'd have connected them to her, and given her some of the antidote too? (I'm getting all confused).

Also, on another different tack, in the article it's said: "SWASFT also confirmed that staff had reported symptoms including headaches, sore throats and eye problems, and that some remained concerned about the possible long-term effects on their health."
One has to wonder (forteanly) whether if you knew you'd been near someone apparently attacked by a nerve agent, whether you wouldn't start feeling a bit queasy as well - psychologically you'd surely have to, even if you hadn't absorbed any of it at all. So quite difficult to judge how much exposure there would have been. "Staff underwent blood tests and were judged all clear for novichok, the trust has said. Asked if he was confident the tests have shown nobody was affected by nerve agent in any way, Darch replied: “At an acute level, yes, absolutely.” "

Also, finally, it says "Rowley had not been aware that he was treated for nerve agent in Amesbury. When the Guardian told him what SWASFT has revealed, he said: “I don’t remember it at all but I’m very grateful for the way they treated Dawn and me. I have to take my hat off to everyone who helped us.” " He wasn't aware they'd treated him for a nerve agent? Why is this being "revealed" to him and everyone else, as though it's something that couldn't be said before? (Poor chap btw).
Those are very good points, and yet again I feel we have more questions than answers. I do find it hard to believe, straight off the bat, that all ambulance crews carry this anti-nerve-agent in case of... whatever; but indeed that is what the article implies. I mean... surely they don't carry everything they need for every single illness or contamination, so one has to wonder why this, of all things (especially when, to my knowledge, there have not been that many nerve-agent attacks in the UK?)

Are they trying to explain away something, perchance? Questions have been asked, and the answer is "oh yes, we just happened to have the anti-nerve-agent..."

But then again... would ambulance crews not be able to deny the fact that this anti-nerve-agent is routinely carried?

Finally yes... if they connected Mr Rowley with needing this anti-nerve-agent then they should have connected this to the illness of Ms Sturgess - from the same flat - earlier that day. I say should have, because... playing devil's advocate here, the NHS do make mistakes from time to time and so that could be the simple explanation for that part of it.
 

hunck

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My reading of the article is that they attended Dawn Sturgess in the morning & didn't suspect nerve poison - remember this was 4 months after the Skripals. She was ill & they took her to hospital.

Then when they were called to the same address for Charlie Rowley later the same day, it was unusual & the paramedic putting two & two together & suspecting it could be another case, took the nerve agent antidote with him. I don't suppose every ambulance carries a supply routinely.

She sprayed the stuff on her wrists so contamination was much worse than Rowley. I think she died fairly soon so whether, if they'd used the stuff on her it would've saved her, who knows.

Maybe they did but her contamination was too bad.
 

Schrodinger's Zebra

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My reading of the article is that they attended Dawn Sturgess in the morning & didn't suspect nerve poison - remember this was 4 months after the Skripals. She was ill & they took her to hospital.

Then when they were called to the same address for Charlie Rowley later the same day, it was unusual & the paramedic putting two & two together & suspecting it could be another case, took the nerve agent antidote with him. I don't suppose every ambulance carries a supply routinely.

She sprayed the stuff on her wrists so contamination was much worse than Rowley. I think she died fairly soon so whether, if they'd used the stuff on her it would've saved her, who knows.

Maybe they did but her contamination was too bad.
Yep you're right, there was no reason to suspect really that Ms. Sturgess had nerve poisoning when they brought her in... but once they suspected that of Mr Rowley, that's when they should have thought about Ms Sturgess... perhaps they did, it isn't clear from the article. (Or, as you say, maybe it was too late by then).

With regards to the ambulance though, the article does seem to hint that they carry it routinely:
Rowley was given an anti-nerve agent drug that British crews began to carry at the height of the al-Qaida threat but had not used until then.
... which of course could just be sloppy journalism, as it could also be read as "... an anti-nerve agent drug that British crews used to carry
at the height of the al-Qaida threat..." which would make more sense, but again it's not clear from the article, because of this:
“The crew that attended Charlie took a particular course of treatment,” said Darch. “When that wasn’t effective, they suspected that it may be nerve agent.”
... which infers that the anti-nerve-agent was a spur-of-the-moment thing and therefore not something they just thought to take with them before they went to the flat.

But... who knows, as always we the viewing public are left to pick holes in journalistic articles and try and make sense of the world... :)
 

EnolaGaia

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... I can't help thinking that every nerve agent would require a different antidote, would that not be right? (Like I was watching a programme about snake bites, and every species requires a different antidote). Could you carry just one antidote for every eventuality? Wouldn't that totally ruin the dastardly plans of al-Quaida and the Russians? And every ambulance in the country has some of this stuff? Isn't that what is implied? ...
Most nerve agents work via the same organophosphate poisoning that can occur with herbicides and pesticides. There is no antidote in the sense of an all-in-one cure eradicating or nullifying the poison itself. There is, however, a commonly used medication that can serve as a temporary antidote in the sense of alleviating the poison's effects for immediate first aid purposes - atropine.

Atropine is used for certain cardiac and other medical emergencies, so it would be more surprising to find first responders weren't equipped with it.

My theory is that the vague news accounts' references to "antidote" are simply allusions to atropine.
 

hunck

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Most nerve agents work via the same organophosphate poisoning that can occur with herbicides and pesticides. There is no antidote in the sense of an all-in-one cure eradicating or nullifying the poison itself. There is, however, a commonly used medication that can serve as a temporary antidote in the sense of alleviating the poison's effects for immediate first aid purposes - atropine.

Atropine is used for certain cardiac and other medical emergencies, so it would be more surprising to find first responders weren't equipped with it.

My theory is that the vague news accounts' references to "antidote" are simply allusions to atropine.
It sounds a bit rarer than that. According to the report 'it had never been used on a patient in the UK before'..
 

hunck

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There's now questioning about the amount of time - 3 days - between the paramedics suspicion of Novichok & use of antidote, & the public announcement of another major incident.

Despite the actions of the paramedics, police worked on the theory that Rowley and his partner, Dawn Sturgess, who later died, had collapsed after taking heroin or crack cocaine from a contaminated batch and it was not until overnight on the following Tuesday/Wednesday that a major incident was announced.

Only after that were some scenes that could have been infected with novichok sealed off, which potentially exposed more people to danger.

It was not until 4 July that some areas visited by Rowley after he was poisoned such as a Baptist church in Amesbury were cordoned off. It was only on Thursday 5 July that police evacuated the hostel in Salisbury where Sturgess lived, John Baker House.

The police and public health officials maintain they had to follow the evidence and intelligence before taking action.
 
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