The daughter of a Russian spy at the centre of a poison plot may have unwittingly brought a nerve agent with her from Moscow in a gift, it has been claimed.
Investigators are said to be probing whether Yulia Skripal, 33, could have brought the toxin with her from Russia as a present from friends for her father Sergei, 66.
She could have then opened it when the pair were out together in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon – at either a pub, Zizzi restaurant or the city’s shopping centre.
Police said a nerve agent was used to deliberately poison the Skripals – and both are in comas fighting for their lives along with a policeman who was first on the scene.
Mr Skripal and his daughter are in a critical condition after they were ‘specifically targeted’ with a deadly substance in the middle of Salisbury city centre in Wiltshire.
Sergei Skripal (left, in 2006) and his daughter Yulia (right) continue to fight for their lives after they were ‘targeted’ with a deadly substance in the middle of Salisbury town centre
Police seen putting on protective suits and gas masks in preparation to carry out further investigation work, in Salisbury
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley (right) and Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies give a statement
It is also been revealed that a police officer who was among the first on the scene and found the pair slumped on a bench is in a ‘very serious’ condition in hospital.
All three are believed to be in comas in intensive care following exposure to the nerve agent on Sunday.
Last night a source told The Times that the feeling was Mr Skripal ‘was not going to make it’, while the prognosis for his daughter was slightly better and the policeman was less seriously ill.
It also emerged last night that Whitehall officials were drawing up a list of Russian officials they could expel from the country if it emerged Moscow was behind the assassination attempt.
Nerve agents are highly toxic chemicals that attack the nervous system and shut down bodily functions.
Russia ‘could cripple the UK’ with cyber-attacks, military intelligence chief warns
Russia has developed the capacity to cripple Britain with cyber-attacks, a military intelligence chief warned last night.
Sir Chris Deverell said Kremlin agents could shut down power supplies, hijack air traffic control and even disable air conditioning.
The general, who oversees the UK’s military intelligence, cyber and special forces, said Moscow ‘did not care’ about civilian lives.
His warning came after it emerged that a policeman who dealt with the poison attack on a Russian double agent in Salisbury is in intensive care.
Scotland Yard said a nerve agent was used in what is seen as a Kremlin-backed attempt to assassinate Sergei Skripal.
Speaking at a new cyber school at Shrivenham defence academy in Wiltshire yesterday, General Deverell said there was ‘no limit’ to President Putin’s methods of attack.
‘What they seek to do is to steal, plant, manipulate, distort, destroy our information,’ he said. ‘It’s part of their doctrine.
‘Every single system we have in our lives is in some way controlled by systems that have ones and noughts in them. If you can get them then you can affect us.
‘That would stretch to power, it would stretch to traffic systems, it would stretch to air traffic control systems, it would stretch to air conditioning systems, it would stretch to just about anything you can imagine.
‘In doing that it could have very, very serious consequences for a lot of people.
‘Do we believe they are capable of it? Yes. Have we seen other things being done that are damaging? Yes. They being Russia.’
Asked why Moscow would want to carry out such attacks, he replied: ‘They care only about what is in the interests of their elites. They don’t care about innocent people going about their lives. They are quite honestly capable of anything.’
General Deverell said Britain had previously named Russia as being behind cyber-attacks and the death of Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB spy who was killed in London in 2006.
Speaking outside Scotland Yard on Wednesday, head of counter terrorism policing, Mark Rowley revealed government experts have identified the specific nerve agent that was used, but would not be making that information public.
Establishing the substance’s origins will be an urgent priority as authorities attempt to track down the person or people responsible.
‘Having established that they were exposed to a nerve agent, we are now treating this as a major incident involving an attempted murder by the administration of a nerve agent,’ he said.
‘Sadly, in addition, a police officer who was one of the first to attend the scene and respond to the incident is now also in a serious condition in hospital.
‘Wiltshire Police are, of course, providing every support to his family.
‘Whilst we are now in a position to confirm that their symptoms are as a result of exposure to a nerve agent, I will not be providing further information at this stage about the exact substance which has been identified.’
Yesterday afternoon’s press conference was held as it was also revealed that:
- A fellow Russian exile said he met Mr Skripal several times and claims he was still working and in regular contact with intelligence officers at the Russian Embassy
- Police still want to question a couple that were caught near the scene on CCTV, who were initially believed to be Mr Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter
- The investigation is currently being investigated as ‘attempted murder’, but could change to murder should any of the victims die in hospital
- The former spy and his daughter had enjoyed a risotto dinner at popular chain Zizzis and had argued with staff over the bill before leaving
- Mr Skripal was seen on CCTV chatting and joking with a shopkeeper just days before he and his daughter were found ‘catatonic’ in a park
- His daughter Yulia, a businesswoman based in Moscow who was visiting her father, is not thought to have been the main target
- She remarked ‘nice’ on a letter posted on Facebook which said Putin is ‘the worst president in the world’ and should be jailed.
Former British ambassador to Russia Sir Andrew Wood told the Telegraph that the ‘assassination attempt’ was more serious given a policeman was among the injured.
However the former diplomat, who served in Moscow between 1995 and 2000, said the injuries suffered by the double agent’s daughter and the officer should not take attention away from the attempt on Mr Skripal’s life.
He told the paper: ‘If it is true that this is, in some fashion, the Russian state, it obviously makes it even harder to believe the Russian state is worth anything or is to be trusted.
‘The fact they targeted his daughter, and that a policeman is seriously ill, makes it emotionally difficult, but it does not alter the fact that this was an attempted assassination on British soil.’
He added that the diplomatic ways forward now could even involve expelling the Russian ambassador to Britain.
The paper also reported that the nerve agent may have been created in the notorious Yasenevo laboratory near Moscow, which is used by Russia’s foreign intelligence service.
And a Whitehall source was quoted saying there was now widespread thinking within the UK Government that ‘Putin’s hands are all over this’.
Police are mounting a massive investigation to establish how the former Russian double agent and his daughter were targeted and who was responsible.
Mr Rowley reiterated his appeal for anyone who was in Salisbury city centre on Sunday to come forward to help with the ‘missing pieces’ in the case
It is also been revealed that a police officer who was the first on the scene and found the pair slumped on a bench is also in a ‘very serious’ condition
Police and emergency services suddenly took over an office building next to the Zizzi’s where a former Russian double agent ate before he was found ‘catatonic’ from suspecting poisoning
People in protective clothing and face masks outside the ambulance station in Salisbury
Hundreds of officers are working round the clock on the probe – one of the most politically sensitive for years.
Head of counter-terrorism Mark Rowley’s full statement
‘Having established that they were exposed to a nerve agent we are now treating this as a major incident involving an attempted murder by the administration of a nerve agent.
‘Two people remain in hospital in a critical condition. A police officer who was among the first responders also remains in hospital in a serious condition and is continuing to receive intensive care. We are keeping the Chief Constable in Wiltshire regularly updated in relation to our investigation.
‘Clearly people will be concerned. We continue to monitor the situation with our partners, including Public Health England. If you are feeling unwell and believe you may have been in the area where this incident happened then please seek medical advice, but we’d like to reiterate we are not seeing any evidence of a wide spread issue. We are also closely working with a range of agencies, including Public Health England to ensure public safety and wellbeing.
‘We are carrying out extensive inquiries to establish exactly the circumstances behind this incident and would like to hear from anyone who has information about the incident. In particular we are keen to hear from anybody who visited the area close to the Maltings shopping centre where these two people were taken ill on Sunday afternoon, and may have seen something that could assist the investigation.
‘The two people taken ill were in Salisbury centre from around 13:30hrs. Did you see anything out of the ordinary? It may be that at the time, nothing appeared out of place or untoward but with what you now know, you remember something that might be of significance. Your memory of that afternoon and your movements alone could help us with missing pieces of the investigation. The weather was poor that day so there were not as many people out and about. Every statement we can take is important.’
Anyone with information should call police on 101. In emergencies always call 999.
Investigators are trawling CCTV as they attempt to piece together a detailed timeline of events leading up to the discovery of Mr Skripal and his daughter on Sunday.
‘Our role now is to establish who is behind this and why they carried out this act,’ Mr Rowley said.
‘To that end we have hundreds of detectives, forensic specialists, analysts and intelligence officers working together around the clock on the case, for example examining hundreds of hours of CCTV and building a detailed timeline of events.’
Mr Rowley also reiterated his appeal for anyone who was in Salisbury town centre on Sunday to come forward to help with the ‘missing pieces’ in the case.
He also urged anyone who is feeling ill to seek medical advice.
‘Clearly people will be concerned. We continue to monitor the situation with our partners, including Public Health England,’ he said.
‘If you are feeling unwell and believe you may have been in the area where this incident happened then please seek medical advice, but we’d like to reiterate we are not seeing any evidence of a wide spread issue.
‘We are also closely working with a range of agencies, including Public Health England to ensure public safety and wellbeing.
Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, said the incident posed a ‘low risk’ to the public and advised that all the sites the par were known to have visited had been ‘secured’.
Wiltshire Police’s temporary chief constable Kier Pritchard issued a statement confirming a responding officer is in intensive care.
‘As you are aware, the Counter Terrorism Policing network are leading the investigation concerning a man and a woman who were taken seriously ill in Salisbury on Sunday,’ he said.
‘This has now been declared as a major incident involving attempted murder by the administration of a nerve agent.
‘We continue to support our colleagues from the counter terrorism network as their investigation progresses
‘Both people remain in a critical condition and our thoughts are still with their families during this difficult time.
‘In addition to this, we can also confirm that a Wiltshire police officer, who was part of the initial response, is also in a serious condition and receiving intensive care.
Police still want to question a couple that were caught near the scene on CCTV, who were initially believed to be Mr Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter
This letter was posted on Facebook, appearing to be a child’s school work criticising Putin
Yulia was among those who responded to the post, commenting ‘nice’ (pictured) beneath it
Yulia Skripal is understood to be a businesswoman who has worked for Nike and Pepsico
‘Our thoughts are also with him, his family and friends. I recognise colleagues in Wiltshire Police will be deeply affected by this and we will provide support to those affected.’
It came as a fellow Russian exile Valery Morozov told Channel 4 News he met Sergei Skripal several times and claims he was working – not retired – and was in regular contact with military intelligence officers at the Russian Embassy.
Mr Morozov said felt the company Mr Skripal was keeping was dangerous for any Russian exile and decided to keep clear of him.
Mr Morozov also said that he didn’t believe Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind the Salisbury attack, adding: ‘Who is Skripal? He is nobody for Putin.’
He said: ‘If you have a military intelligence officer working in the Russian diplomatic service, living after retirement in the UK, working in cyber-security and every month going to the embassy to meet military intelligence officers – for me being political refugee, it is either a certain danger or frankly speaking, I thought that this contact might not be very good for me because it can bring some questions from British officials.’
‘What is the meaning political refugee if I have a contact, rather strange especially with cyber-security because cyber-security and his background, they look very strange for me, let us put it like this.
‘So that’s why I thought it’s better not to call him. It will be better to be aside.’
Mr Morozov also explained why he didn’t believe Putin was behind the attack.
Who is Russian double agent Sergei Skripal? How ‘Spy with the Louis Vuitton bag’ narrowly avoided execution after selling secrets to MI6
Sergei Skripal (pictured) unmasked dozens of secret agents and gave information to MI6
Sergei Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence, was considered by the Kremlin to be one of the most damaging spies of his generation.
He was responsible for unmasking dozens of secret agents threatening Western interests by operating undercover in Europe.
Col Skripal, 66, allegedly received £78,000 in exchange for taking huge risks to pass classified information to MI6.
In 2006, he was sentenced to 13 years in a Russian labour camp after being convicted of passing invaluable Russian secrets to the UK.
A senior source in Moscow said at the time: ‘This man is a big hero for MI6.’
After being convicted of ‘high treason in the form of espionage’ by Moscow’s military court, Col Skripal was stripped of his rank, medals and state awards.
He was alleged by Russia’s security service, the FSB, to have begun working for the British secret services while serving in the army in the 1990s.
He was sentenced to 13 years in a Russian labour camp when he was convicted of passing secrets to Britain
He passed information classified as state secrets and was paid for the work by MI6, the FSB claimed.
Col Skripal pleaded guilty at the trial and co-operated with investigators, reports said at the time. He admitted his activities and gave a full account of his spying, which led to a reduced sentence.
In July 2010, he was pardoned by then Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and was one of four spies exchanged for ten Russian agents deported from the US in an historic swap involving red-headed ‘femme fatale’ Anna Chapman.
Mrs Chapman, then 28, was a Manhattan socialite and diplomat’s daughter, who had lived and worked in London during a four-year marriage to British public schoolboy Alex Chapman.
After the swap at Vienna airport, Col Skripal was one of two spies who came to Britain and he has kept a low profile for the past eight years.
He moved into a £350,000 home in Salisbury and collapsed outside a shopping centre in the city centre
He is understood to have been debriefed for months before being given a home and a pension.
The former spy was living at an address in Salisbury, Wiltshire, when the suspected poisoning took place in the city centre.
Reports in Russia suggested that Mr Skripal was originally recruited by MI6 in Tallinn, Estonia, and may have lectured on the KGB tactics since moving to Britain.
He often went to his local shop to buy a particular type of Polish sausage and spent up to £40 a time on lottery scratch cards and was described as a ‘polite’ and ‘kind’ customer who often won money.
Adam Blake who owns local firm A2B Taxis, said he ‘fairly regularly’ used to pick up Mr Skripal, who is fighting for his life after being exposed to a mystery substance.
Mr Blake told the Daily Mirror: ‘He had a black-faced ring with an animal on it, a wolf I think, and would kiss the ring and ask if you wanted to kiss it.
‘Then he would look each way, as if joking, and say, “I’m a Russian spy”. He would say it to all the drivers and nobody ever believed him.
‘I would often see him standing around town in doorways too, looking around suspiciously as if he was really trying to portray the spy image.’
He also joined the £10-a-year Railway Social Club in the city and neighbours said they did not know him well, although he organised a house-warming party shortly after moving in, inviting people by dropping notes through doors.
It was also revealed how he had suffered two bereavements within just five years when his wife Lyudmila died aged 59 in 2012, before his son Alexandr passed away aged 43 in 2017.
His neighbour Blake Stephens, 24, said: ‘He used to live with his wife but unfortunately she died in a car accident a while ago.’
Col Skripal was turned by MI6 when he was posted abroad as a GRU military intelligence agent in Europe in the mid-1990s.
During his years working for MI6, the balding spy unmasked dozens of agents threatening Western interests.
Col Skripal was so well-connected that even after his retirement from his spy service in 1999 he continued to pass exceptional secrets to London by staying in touch with his former colleagues as a reservist officer.
He was nicknamed ‘the spy with the Louis Vuitton bag’ after grainy pictures showed him carrying a bag at an airport en route to a meeting with his handlers.
He may finally have been snared by the FSB after passing his intelligence to MI6’s infamous James Bond-style ‘spy rock’ – a fake stone packed with receiving equipment in a Moscow park.
Russian secret services exposed the ploy in 2006, revealing how British agents transmitted their data to the rock via a hidden hand-held device while walking past it.
Russian president Vladimir Putin (pictured yesterday) once hinted at how his country deals with spies by insisting that ‘traitors always end in a bad way’
After Col Skripal’s conviction, one official said: ‘His activities caused a significant blow to Russia’s external security.’
Chief military prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky said: ‘It is impossible to measure in roubles or anything else the amount of harm caused by Skripal.’
State-run TV in Russia even compared him to the legendary Soviet double agent Oleg Penkovsky, who spied for Britain and the US during the height of the Cold War.
Penkovsky was shot by a firing squad in 1963 and is regarded as one of the most effective spies of all time.
Neighbours at Skripal’s £350,000 semi-detached home said police arrived at the property at around 5pm on Sunday.
He bought the property in 2011, a year before his wife Liudmila died.
His neighbour Mr Stephens added: ‘He lived there with his Russian son and his son’s partner.
‘We didn’t speak to them much, I’m not sure what the family he did. He used to live with his wife but unfortunately she died in a car accident a while ago.’
Mark Medhurst, 43, said the former spy drove a BMW and kept the house lights off, adding: ‘He lived there with his son and a younger dark-haired girl.’
‘The problem is that immediately British officials, British press, British mass media started blaming Putin himself,’ he said.
‘And frankly speaking, it is not only not true from my point of view and not correct but it puts real refugees in danger, more than anything else.
‘Because Putin from my point of view can’t be behind this simply because I know how Kremlin functions. I worked in Kremlin.
‘First I work in Soviet time I work in analytical service and then in the main organ of information warfare and I ended as chief editor of analytical service.
‘I know how it functions and I know that the only rule, the main rule there is you should not create problem for Kremlin. That’s how I survived personally.
‘For Putin it is very important not to create scandal around him, to keep situation calm. I can’t imagine that somebody has given this task.
‘Who is Skripal? He is nobody for Putin, absolutely. Some man who officially betrayed the country. That’s all. He’s nobody.
‘Putin doesn’t think about him. There is nobody in Kremlin who is thinking about former military intelligence officer who was nobody. What is the reason?’
The investigation has triggered a diplomatic row and prompted crisis talks in Whitehall but Home Secretary Amber Rudd said police must respond to ‘evidence, not to rumour’.
She said: ‘We must let the police carry on their work, they will share what they can but I’m sure there will be more updates as the investigation continues.
‘This is likely to be a lengthy and ongoing process.
‘We need to keep a cool head and make sure that we collect all the evidence we can, and we need to make sure that we respond, not to rumour, but to all the evidence that they collect, and then we need to decide what action to take.’
On Twitter on Wednesday evening, she added: ‘I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the emergency services for their bravery and professionalism in continuing to deal with the incident in Salisbury.
‘My thoughts are with all those affected, including the police officer who is being treated in hospital.’
Police in protective suits and gas masks appear to be rehearsing techniques near Salisbury
Officers donned protective suits and gas masks to practice search and evidence gathering techniques
CCTV shows Russian former spy buying milk, sausages and scratchcards from a cornershop
CCTV shows the former Russian double agent at the centre of a poisoning probe chatting and joking with a shopkeeper just days before he and his daughter were found ‘catatonic’ in a park.
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are still critically ill in hospital after they were found fitting and being sick in a Salisbury park in an incident which has further heightened tensions between Britain and Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Footage obtained by ITV shows the former spy in his local corner shop last Tuesday buying milk, sausages and scratchcards.
Locals say Mr Skripal often went to his local shop to buy a particular type of Polish sausage, and spent up to £40 a time on lottery scratch cards. He was described as a ‘polite’ and ‘kind’ customer who often won money.
Footage obtained by ITV shows Sergei Skripal chatting with a shopkeeper just days before he collapsed in a park in a suspected poisoning which has taken on international significance
A woman was later escorted out of the office block and taken into a waiting ambulance
A cordon was widened around a pub and restaurant at the centre of the investigation. Emergency services have also taped off the park where the Skripals were found. His home in the west of the city is being investigated, as is an ambulance station in nearby Amesbury. Salisbury District’s hospital declared an incident that day after the pair were found
The cordon in Salisbury was extended after a Zizzi restaurant and a pub called The Mill were closed, suggesting Mr Skripal and his daughter visited multiple locations
Police sealed off the restaurant in relation to the suspected poisoning of a former Russian spy and were continuing investigations
Fresh CCTV, obtained by ITV News, has emerged showing Mr Skripal chatting to a shop attendant while shopping for milk, scratchcards and food five days before he and his daughter were found unconscious on a bench.
It comes as counter-terror officers extended the cordons in Salisbury city centre, and also sealed off part of a business park in nearby Amesbury.
Theresa May, echoing Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, confirmed during Prime Minister’s Questions the Government will look at whether ministers and dignitaries should attend the World Cup in Russia if investigators find links to the Kremlin.
Police are still to reveal the ‘exact substance which has been identified’ in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33 — but the most common types of nerve agent are VX and Sarin.
Sarin is a liquid that is clear, colourless, tasteless and odourless. VX is one of the deadliest chemical weapons ever created, and just 10 milligrams is enough to kill.
It comes after Amber Rudd hinted the police know what the poison used in an assassination attempt was.
WHAT ARE NERVE AGENTS AND WHAT IS THE ANTIDOTE? JUST 10MG OF THE HUMAN-MADE SUBSTANCES CAN KILL IN JUST 10 MINUTES
What are nerve agents?
Nerve agents are a group of human-made substances that target a certain part of the body’s nervous system.
Chemical weapons that use nerve agents like tabun, sarin and VX are known to kill people with gruesome efficiency.
Just 10mg of VX, for instance, can kill a human in just 10 minutes. A smaller dose can take up to an hour to be lethal.
Any nerve agent can affect a person through the skin, breathing, ingestion, or all three routes, depending on the substance and how it’s used.
Special bombs can weaponise the agents as a liquid, firing them out as a breathable gas.
What effect does it have on the body?
One of the most terrifying things about nerve agents is that you may never see, hear or smell them coming.
The first thing that will happen to you is your mucous membranes will go into overdrive.
This means your mouth will create more saliva, you’ll begin drooling, your eyes will begin to water and your nose will run. You’re likely to start foaming at the mouth.
Your pupils will then become pin pricks and won’t react to light. You may lose your vision entirely, or at the very least it will go blurry.
There will quickly be a major disconnect between your brain and your body. You won’t be able to move and may become paralysed.
You’ll find it hard to breathe and you are likely to vomit violently and begin to sweat all over.
You’ll have seizures, uncontrollable bowel movements, an erratic heart rate and excruciating pain all over.
This is because the chemicals lock the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, which breaks down a key messenger signal in our muscles that tells them to stop contracting.
This means the body’s muscles cannot relax, causing convulsions and death by asphyxiation due to a loss of control of the respiratory muscles.
The messenger chemical, known as acetylcholine, also builds up in the brain causing it to rapidly shut down.
At high enough doses a nerve agent can kill within 10 minutes.
What is the antidote?
Nerve agents are damaging to the human body because they cause a build-up of acetylcholine.
This causes constant triggering of the neurons and therefore, constant contraction of muscles.
These spasms can be treated with antidotes that shut-off acetylcholine receptors in the brain.
Usually, two antidotes (atropine and pralidoxime chloride) are used which interfere with the acetylcholine binding to the neuron receptors.
These antidotes work in the exact opposite way of anti-depressants which encourage the uptake of neurotransmitters through the synapse.
Chemicals like Prozac encourage neurons responsible for feelings of happiness (such as dopamine and serotonin) to be transmitted through these receptors.
To work, these drugs must be administered immediately – within minutes of exposure.
What happens if you are exposed to a nerve agent but don’t die?
People who have been exposed to very small levels may not die, but they will suffer life-long problems.
Previous research has revealed a bewildering array of debilitating conditions associated with nerve gas exposure including chronic fatigue, widespread pain, memory problems, skin rashes, gastrointestinal and respiratory difficulties.
Many of these problems can persist for decades.
Even at small doses, it is possible to suffer permanent severe nerve or brain damage. However, the exact long-term effects of nerve agents remain uncertain.
Who is the daughter of Russian spy Sergei Skripal? ‘Ex-Nike and Holiday Inn employee’ Yulia moved to London seven years ago and was visiting her father when pair were taken ill
The critically-ill daughter of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal is a businesswoman who supported jailing Vladimir Putin on Facebook.
Yulia Skripal, 33, moved to London in 2010 – the same year her father was granted refuge in Britain – and relocated to Southampton, Hampshire.
She also worked for Nike in the Russian capital and is currently employed by PepsiCo.
According to her Facebook page she lived in Malta in 1985 and started high school in Moscow six years later.
Yulia Skripal (pictured) moved to London in 2010 after she left her job working for Nike in Moscow
She also lived in Malta in 1985 and started high school in the Russian capital six years later
This letter was posted on Facebook, appearing to be a child’s school work criticising Putin
Yulia was among those who responded to the post, commenting ‘nice’ beneath it
In 2008, she started her role as a Customer Operations Representative at Nike after she graduated from Moscow State Humanities University.
Two years later she quit the job and moved to London before relocating to the south coast when she worked for Holiday Inn in Southampton.
It is unclear whether she lived with her father or if she had a boyfriend or partner in London.
In 2012, her father later moved into a £350,000 four-bedroom home in Salisbury – just 20 miles west of Southampton – and the house was paid for in cash.
It was previously owned by Wiltshire Police and neighbours described her father as being a ‘happy man’ who drove a BMW 3 Series.
And it has now emerged that she wrote ‘nice’ when a friend said he hoped the Russian President would be jailed in his anti-Putin letter.
Yulia (left) reported the death of her father’s wife to Wiltshire Police when she died in 2012
She remains in a critical condition after she collapsed in Salisbury city centre with her father
His letter read: ‘I want to put in to jail Vladimir Putin, because I think that he is the worst president in the world. He stole so much money that they can feed a small starving country.’
It is understood Yulia had moved back to Russia and was visiting her father when they were taken ill.
Mr Skripal’s housekeeper said she had been asked to clean Yulia’s bedroom before her arrival.
In 2012, her mother Liudmilla died and Yulia reported the death to Wiltshire Council.
She recorded her father’s occupation as a ‘retired local government planning officer’.
Following a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee, the Home Secretary said the police would give a further update about the substance used in a bid to kill Mr Skripal.
She said ‘we do know more about the substance’ following yesterday’s meeting of senior ministers and officials, which was due to receive a briefing from counter terrorism police.
At Prime Minister’s Questions Theresa May paid tribute to the emergency services who responded to the incident and told MPs about the continuing police investigation.
Yesterday’s meeting came less than 24 hours after Mrs May convened a meeting of her National Security Council, thought to include the heads of the intelligence services.
Detectives to probe cancer and ‘liver failure’ deaths of wife and son
Sergei Skripal suffered a triple family tragedy in five years when his wife Lyudmila died aged 59 in 2012, before his older brother passed away in Russia in 2016.
His son Alexandr died in St Petersburg aged 43 last year – and relatives held suspicions since the deaths that they were in mysterious circumstances.
Now, the deaths of his wife and son will be considered by Scotland Yard as they investigate the possible poisoning of Mr Skripal, according to The Times.
Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, remain fighting for their lives in hospital after being exposed to a mystery substance on Sunday in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Lyudmila died in 2012, with her death certificate recording the cause of death as cancer – specifically disseminated endometrial carcinoma.
As for Mr Skripal’s son, he was said to have been killed in a car crash in St Petersburg last year – but the family’s cleaner said he had actually died from liver problems.
The BBC claimed Alexandr died on holiday in Russia with his girlfriend after being taken to hospital with liver failure, and that his family was suspicious about his death.
Meanwhile confusion surrounded Lyudmila’s cause of death when neighbour Blake Stephens, 21, suggested she had actually ‘died in a car accident a while ago’.
Ministers met amid claims former Russian double agent Skripal may have been ambushed by attackers who sprayed him with poison in the street. Skripal remains in a critical condition following the attack on him.
Investigators suspect the Russian army colonel collapsed so quickly because he inhaled the deadly chemical.
Following the Cobra meeting, Ms Rudd said: ‘This is likely to be a lengthy and ongoing process. We need to make sure that the police and the other services have the space to continue that investigation.
‘We need to keep a cool head and make sure that we collect all the evidence we can, and we need to make sure that we respond, not to rumour, but to all the evidence that they collect, and then we need to decide what action to take.
‘We do know more about the substance and the police will be making a further statement.’
The Home Secretary said the police must be given time to get on with their work.
Ms Rudd added: ‘We’ve taken all the action necessary to ensure that the public are safe and I’d like to reassure the public that we have the ability and the wherewithal and the knowledge to keep them completely safe.’
‘I want to make sure that this investigation responds to evidence, not to rumour, but I can reassure the public and your viewers that all action is going to be taken to keep everybody safe.’
One line of inquiry for the police investigation is that Skirpal’s daughter Yulia is ‘collateral damage’, coming into contact with the substance as she attempted to help him.
Another line of inquiry investigators are looking into is the possibility Mr Skripal’s drink was spiked at a pub he and is daughter visited shortly before they collapsed.
CCTV is believed to show the father and daughter walking through Salisbury moments before they were found collapsed in a park.
However, some witnesses have suggested the blonde woman in the footage may be a third person.
Theresa May left Downing Street yesterday morning to head to PMQs (pictured) as senior minister met in the Cobra committee on the poisoning of a Russian spy
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (left) and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (right) were among the first to arrive for the Cobra meeting yesterday (pictured)
Forensic teams examined the scene in Salisbury last night as investigators suspect the Russian army colonel Sergei Skripal collapsed so quickly because he inhaled a deadly chemical
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson yesterday told MPs Britain would not hesitate to impose new punishment on Russia if it was found to be responsible for the suspected attack on Skripal, 66, in Salisbury on Sunday.
He suggested Britain could partially boycott the World Cup in Russia this summer by refusing to send officials or diplomats alongside players.
Mr Johnson said: ‘If things turn out to be as many members suspect that they are… I think we will have to have a serious conversation about our engagement with Russia.
‘And for my part I think it will be difficult to see how, thinking ahead to the World Cup this summer, I think it would be difficult to imagine that UK representation at that event could go ahead in the normal way.
‘We will certainly have to consider that.’
Sources close to Mr Johnson later insisted he was referring to officials and dignitaries attending the tournament and not footballers.
Russia president Vladimir Putin, whose country is suspected to be behind the incident, appeared untroubled as he toured a sweet and cake factory in the Samara region yesterday
Russia has said it wasn’t involved in Skripal’s collapse, with papers loyal to the Kremlin calling accusations ‘Russo-phobic’
Former KGB man Putin, pictured yesterday, has not commented on the incident himself
The World Cup begins in Russia in June. England are the only UK team to have qualified to take part.
Mr Johnson hinted at a range of new sanctions as he insisted any attempt to kill on British soil ‘will not go unsanctioned or unpunished’.
WHAT SANCTIONS COULD BE IMPOSED ON RUSSIA?
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has hinted at a new range of sanctions if it is proven Russia is behind a suspected assassination attempt in London.
The intervention came after Tory MP Tom Tugendhat revived calls for a ‘Magnitsky List’ to be set up in Britain.
It would mirror US laws imposing travel bans on senior Kremlin officials responsible for the death of Russian accountant Sergei Magnitsky in a prison in 2009.
UK ministers have repeatedly refused to pass a similar law, but has imposed financial sanctions on several senior Russian figures.
Further sanctions could see UK assets owned by Kremlin officials seized and travel bans on more individuals imposed.
The intent is to stop the ruling elite in Moscow travelling freely and keeping money abroad while Putin operates with little restraint.
The Foreign Secretary told MPs the Government would stand up for the ‘lives, values and freedoms’ of people in Britain.
He branded Russia a ‘malign and disruptive’ force in the global community and said Britain would continue to stand up against it, even if the nation is force to ‘pay a price’ for doing so.
Mr Johnson was summoned to the Commons after Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, secured an emergency debate on Russia’s ‘soft war’ against the West.
Mr Johnson told the Commons: ‘Police, together with partner agencies, are now investigating. MPs will note the echoes of the death of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
‘And while it’d be wrong to prejudge the investigation, I can reassure the House that should evidence emerge that implies state responsibility, then Her Majesty’s Government will respond appropriately and robustly.’
‘It is too early to speculate as to the precise nature of the crime or attempted crime that has taken place in Salisbury.
‘But I know members will have their suspicions.
Boris Johnson (pictured in the Commons yesterday) has vowed ‘robust’ action if it is proven Russia was behind a suspected poisoning attack on a former spy
The Foreign Secretary (pictured yesterday responding to an urgent question) told MPs the Government would stand up for the ‘lives, values and freedoms’ of British people
‘And what I will say to the House is that if those suspicions prove to be well-founded then this Government will take whatever measures we deem necessary to protect the lives of the people in this country, our values and our freedoms.
‘Though I am not now pointing fingers, I say to governments around the world that no attempt to take innocent life on UK soil will go either unsanctioned or unpunished.’
Mr Johnson said it may be that the UK will ‘continue to pay a price’ for standing up to Russia, adding he hopes MPs from all parties will support the Government’s approach.
He said: ‘I’m afraid that the events in Salisbury may very well – and again we must be very careful in what we say because it is too early to prejudge the investigation – but if the suspicions that I know on both sides of the House prove to be well-founded then it may very well be that we are forced to look again at our regime, our sanctions regime and other measures that we may seek to put in place.’
It was suggested last night that Vladimir Putin (pictured yesterday) would never have forgiven Mr Skripal following his treason conviction
A spokesman for the Russian Embassy said on Wednesday: ‘Unfortunately, we have so far received no details on the substance of the case, which is rather worrying.
‘Meanwhile, the Foreign Secretary’s strongly anti-Russian statement in Parliament yesterday looks more like an attempt to send the investigation upon a political track.
‘Although absolutely no facts were provided to the public, we see the issue being translated into the domain of Russia-UK relations, with an active support by the media.
‘The parliamentary debate as well as the Government stance are a testament of London’s growing unpredictability as a partner in international relations, whose policy towards Russia is inconsistent and looks rather miscalculated, not least in the eyes of the Russian public.’
Mr Tugendhat said that if Russian involvement was proved, the Skripal case would amount to a further salvo in a ‘soft war against the UK’ conducted by Mr Putin’s administration.
‘It is too early to say whether it is certain or not, but it certainly bears all the hallmarks of a Russian attack,’ Mr Tugendhat said.
‘If it is, then I am calling for a whole-of-Government response.
‘Too much of this has been left to the Foreign Office or the Home Office separately.
‘What needs to be done is for the whole Government to get involved in responding to what amounts to a soft war against the UK, taking in the cyber-hacking they have done and the various aggressions they have been involved in.’
‘Poisoned spy case’ echoes fate of Alexander Litvinenko – Putin critic killed by polonium-laced tea
Relations between Britain and Russia have been strained since the murder of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, a killing which a judge said was probably approved by President Vladimir Putin.
The defector died after two agents slipped radioactive polonium 210 into his tea pot at a Mayfair hotel in central London, according to an inquiry headed by former high court judge Sir Robert Owen.
The inquiry found two Russian men – Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun – had deliberately poisoned Litvinenko by putting polonium-210 into his drink at a London hotel, leading to an agonising death.
Alexander Litvinenko died after two agents slipped radioactive polonium 210 into his tea
It said the use of the radioactive substance – which could only have come from a nuclear reactor – was a ‘strong indicator’ of state involvement and that the two men had probably been acting under the direction of the FSB.
Possible motives included Litvinenko’s work for British intelligence agencies, his criticism of the FSB, and his association with other Russian dissidents, while it said there was also a ‘personal dimension’ to the antagonism between him and Putin.
International arrest warrants issued for Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun remain in force although Russia continues to refuse their extradition.
The Millennium Hotel in Mayfair, where he is said to have been poisoned
In a statement to mark the 10th anniversary of his death, Marina Litvinenko said her husband – who she called Sasha – had been an ‘extraordinary man’ whose courage in speaking out against the Russian security service, the FSB, had left an enduring legacy.
While she acknowledged Mr Putin had refused to accept the inquiry’s findings, she said it remained open for other world leaders to take action against the Russian state and that she hoped her struggle to find the truth had not been in vain.
‘It has taken 10 long years for the truth to be established and for Sasha’s dying words that President Putin was responsible for his death to be proved to be true,’ she said.
‘I know that Mr Putin’s Russia does not accept the findings of the British public inquiry and will continue to deny the truth in the face of overwhelming evidence.
‘But those findings are now part of history and the rest of the world understands the difference between truth and propaganda. And that is what matters to me.
‘What action world leaders will take against the ever vengeful Russian state in these dramatic times remains to be seen. I hope and pray that my struggle has not been in vain.’
Last year the scandal took a new twist when Scotland Yard detectives who investigated the Litvinenko case revealed they too had been poisoned by the Russians in an extraordinary attempt to thwart the inquiry.
The inquiry found Andrei Lugovoi (left, in 2007) and Dmitri Kovtun (right, in 2006) – had deliberately poisoned Litvinenko
Detective Inspector Brian Tarpey, who flew to Moscow to investigate, says: ‘I remember one evening my officer [a colleague who travelled with him] was complaining of stomach cramp and not being very well.
‘Next morning I accompanied him to the general prosecutor’s office. We were offered tea. I had no hesitation in accepting.
‘After we left, I started to feel a little bit uncomfortable. Not wanting to put too fine a point on it, I had the s***s.
‘I have no doubt in my mind that someone poisoned us with something like gastroenteritis.’
Ms Abbott told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme yesterday: ‘I will be writing to Amber Rudd to say if it does prove to be the case the Russian state is involved in thus latest death what assurances can she give about the rigour of the investigation and where we go from here.
‘I don’t like defaulting to a red menace analysis but we can’t allow London and the Home Counties to become a kind of killing field for the Russian state.’
Ms Abbott’s intervention came as the Government remained tight lipped about the circumstances surrounding Skripal.
Julian Lewis, the chairman of the Commons defence committee, told MailOnline: ‘If a second Russian former spy has been targeted in the UK, after the reckless use of polonium to kill Mr Litvinenko, it shows that the Kremlin has not the slightest interest in a positive relationship with the West and has learned nothing from the outrage caused by its previous public act of murder.’
The pair were taken to hospital after they collapsed inside The Maltings shopping centre after coming into contact with an unknown substance. Pictured, emergency crews at the centre
Last night police shut down a Zizzi Restaurant in Salisbury ‘as a precaution’ in connection with the incident
Labour MP Chris Bryant, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Russia, called for a Government minister to come to the despatch box to update the Commons on what is known about the Skripal case.
Mr Bryant said: ‘We have got to be a little careful about establishing the facts – and I very much hope a Government minister will come to the chamber later today (Wednesday) to explain what we do know – but we know Putin’s record of using excessive violence.
‘There is a long list of Putin opponents who have been bumped off around the world. The fact that this happens just before presidential elections, I would suspect, is not circumstantial.
‘We can’t be having Russian operatives bumping people off in the UK. I was very critical of both David Cameron and Theresa May in the 2010 Parliament because they kept refusing to allow a full investigation of the Litvinenko murder. It was years before Theresa May finally allowed one to happen.
‘If something similar has occurred in this situation, then we shouldn’t let the grass grow under our feet.
A poisoned umbrella tip and radioactive tea: How Russian spies have died in the UK
It was one of the most audacious acts of the Cold War which could have come straight from the pages of a spy novel.
In 1978, Georgi Markov was jabbed with an umbrella which fired a poison pellet into his leg as he crossed Waterloo Bridge in London while he waited for a bus.
He died three days later – and for almost 40 years, mystery has surrounded the whereabouts of his killer.
Georgi Markov was jabbed with an umbrella which fired a poison pellet into his leg
A replica of the umbrella that a KGB agent used in 1978 to kill the Bulgarian dissident
Ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London in 2006, a killing which a judge said was probably approved by President Vladimir Putin.
The defector died after two agents slipped radioactive polonium 210 into his tea pot at a Mayfair hotel in central London.
The 43-year-old had been an officer with the Federal Security Service (FSB), but he fled to Britain where he became a fierce critic of the Kremlin.
He died after an agonising six-day battle in hospital.
Ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London in 2006 when a radioactive substance was poured into his tea pot at a Mayfair hotel
Alexander Perepilichnyy, a key witness in a £140million tax fraud investigation, collapsed while jogging outside his £3million mansion in Weybridge, Surrey, in November 2012.
The Russian had ingested gelsemium – a very rare toxic plant found only in China, a coroner heard.
Tests carried out by leading botanist Professor Monique Simmonds of Kew Gardens found a chemical in Mr Perepilichnyy’s stomach that could come only from a variety of gelsemium – a known method of assassination by Chinese and Russian contract killers.
Alexander Perepilichnyy collapsed while jogging outside his £3million mansion in Weybridge, Surrey, in November 2012
A radiation expert who investigated the ‘assassination’ of Alexander Litvinenko was found dead in a mysterious suicide five months after a trip to Russia.
Matthew Puncher, 46, bled to death at his home from multiple stab wounds inflicted by two knives in his home in Drayton, Oxfordshire in May 2016.
A pathologist said he could not ‘exclude’ the possibility that someone else was involved in the death – but concluded the injuries were self-inflicted.
Radiation expert Matthew Puncher, who investigated the ‘assassination’ of Alexander Litvinenko, was found dead in a mysterious suicide in May 2016
Boris Berezovsky, was found dead in his in Berkshire bathroom with a ligature round his neck in March 2013.
His friends in the secret service say he planned to give Putin evidence of a plot involving oligarchs to topple the strongman in a coup.
Theory has it that the exiled Russian tycoon was slain by Western secret services linked to the plan to overthrow the Kremlin leader.
A coroner recorded an open verdict saying he either took his own life or he was killed and the scene was staged to look self-inflicted.
Boris Berezovsky, was found dead in his in Berkshire bathroom with a ligature round his neck in March 2013 but the coroner recorded an open verdict
Bankrupt property tycoon Scot Young was the fifth member of a close circle of friends to die in unusual circumstances.
The 52-year-old suffered fatal injuries after falling from a window on to railings after being hounded over debts by Russian mafia members.
They had previously dangled him out of a window at the Dorchester Hotel, in Park Lane, threatening to drop him next time if he did not pay up, his close friend alleged.
Mr Young, who was once worth an estimated £400m, claimed to have lost his fortune when a vast Russian property deal, known as Project Moscow, collapsed in 2006.
Bankrupt property tycoon Scot Young (pictured right) suffered fatal injuries after falling from a window on to railings after being hounded over debts by Russian mafia members
Meanwhile in 2012, German Gorbuntsov survived despite being shot several times with a sub-machine gun on the Isle of Dogs in East London.
The Russian banker allegedly had evidence relevant to the attempted murder of Russian billionaire Alexander Antonov.
In 2016, former Russian double agent Colonel Alexander Poteyev, who exposed glamour spy Anna Chapman, died in the US.
Mr Poteyev had overseen the Russian sleeper agents in the US as a deputy head of the ‘S’ department of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service.