Charges authorised against third suspect in Salisbury investigation
A third Russian national has been accused of involvement in the 2018 Salisbury poisonings that killed one person and left three others, including a police detective, critically ill.
Counter Terrorism Policing has today (September 21) confirmed that charges have been authorised against a man known as Sergey Fedotov in connection with the Novichok attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey in Salisbury in March 2018, as well as the murder of Dawn Sturgess and poisoning of Charlie Rowley in Amesbury in June 2018.
In September 2018, charges were authorised against two other Russians known as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. These names are believed to be aliases for ‘Anatoliy Chepiga’ and ‘Alexander Mishkin’ respectively and that these individuals are members of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency.
Police inquiries uncovered evidence to show that ‘Sergey Fedotov’ is an alias for ‘Denis Sergeev’ and that he too is a member of the GRU.
He is believed to have entered the UK at approximately 11am on Friday, March 2, 2018, on flight from Moscow to London Heathrow. This was around four hours prior to Petrov and Boshirov arriving from Moscow into Gatwick.
Detectives identified that Fedotov stayed at a hotel in central London between March 2 and March 4, 2018. Tests were carried out in the room Fedotov is believed to have stayed in, but no traces of Novichok and no risk to the public were identified from these.
Evidence gathered by the investigation team suggests that Fedotov met with Petrov and Boshirov on more than one occasion in central London over the course of the weekend. Fedotov left the UK on Sunday, March 4, 2018, on a flight to Moscow departing from Heathrow at approximately 1.45pm.
Further inquiries by the investigation team identified evidence to suggest that Petrov, Boshirov and Fedotov also previously worked together, for the GRU, as part of operations outside of Russia. As is the case with Petrov and Boshirov, detectives believe that Fedotov was using an alias when visiting the UK and has been identified as Denis Sergeev.
All three men are now wanted by UK police and arrest warrants are in place. The process of applying for Interpol notices will commence for Fedotov today, with Interpol Notices already in place for both Petrov and Boshirov.
Nick Price, head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: “We are working closely with the police to ensure that, where possible, those responsible for this attack are brought to justice. Our specialist prosecutors have considered the additional evidence against the third suspect and have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and that it is clearly in the public interest to charge Sergey Fedotov, who is a Russian national, with a number of offences including conspiracy to murder, attempted murder and the use and possession of a chemical weapon.
“We will not be applying to Russia for the extradition of Sergey Fedotov as the Russian constitution does not permit extradition of its own nationals. Russia has made this clear following requests for extradition in other cases. Should this position change then an extradition request would be made.
“A realistic prospect of conviction means that the CPS is satisfied on an objective assessment that the evidence can be used in court and that an objective, impartial and reasonable jury hearing the case, properly directed and acting in accordance with the law, is more likely than not to convict Sergey Fedotov of the charges. It is of course for a jury to decide whether the evidence is enough for them to be sure of the suspect’s guilt.”
Fedotov has been charged with the following offences:
- Conspiracy to murder Sergei Skripal;
- Attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal and Nick Bailey;
- Causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Yulia Skripal and Nick Bailey; and,
- Possession and use of a chemical weapon, contrary to the Chemical Weapons Act 1996.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, who has been leading the Counter Terrorism Police investigation into the Salisbury and Amesbury attacks, said: “This marks another significant development in our investigation. Ever since these terrible incidents occurred, we were clear that we would be relentless in our investigation and our pursuit of justice for the victims of the attacks and their families.
“Whilst public attention gradually moved away from what happened in Salisbury and Amesbury, the investigation team has remained absolutely focused, meticulously poring over the evidence and building our case. This has been one of the most complex investigations ever undertaken in Counter Terrorism policing and the skill, professionalism and dedication shown by everyone involved has been remarkable.
Philip Wilkinson, police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire, said: “My thoughts, and those of my office, remain with Dawn Sturgess’ family and friends, alongside the other victims who have had their lives devastated by this incident.
“While today’s announcement is important, it is vital we remember a member of our community was killed and others left changed and traumatised by the barbaric use of a nerve agent on UK soil.
“Our community has rebuilt and those other victims are coming to terms with the long-lasting implications, so my hope now is the perpetrators will have their appalling crimes levelled against them and all of the victims will see justice served in their names.
“I am democratically elected to hold our police force to account, it would be widely welcomed if some foreign security services demonstrated that same accountability.”
Wiltshire Police chief constable Kier Pritchard said he welcomed the development. “I know this announcement by the Counter Terrorism Policing Network today will affect many people – the victims, their families and the communities of Salisbury and Amesbury,” he said.
“These shocking incidents had a significant impact on all involved and my thoughts, and those of Wiltshire Police, remain with Sergei and Yulia Skripal, Charlie Rowley, the family of Dawn Sturgess, who tragically died, and former Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant, Nick Bailey.
“The Counter Terrorism Policing Network investigation team continues to work tirelessly to seek to bring those responsible to justice and Wiltshire Police will continue to offer our full and ongoing support in this investigation.”