Former Russian Spy Sergei Skripal discharged from Salisbury hospital

The Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, who was exposed to a nerve agent, has been discharged from Salisbury district hospital, health officials have said.

Skripal’s release follows that of his daughter, Yulia, and DS Nick Bailey, who were also exposed to novichok in March. Both Yulia and Sergei are being cared for in a secret location. It has not been made clear if they are together.

The hospital said: “While these patients have now been discharged, their right to patient confidentiality remains and limits us from giving detailed accounts of the treatment these individuals received.

“However, treating people who are so acutely unwell, having been poisoned by nerve agents, requires stabilising them, keeping them alive until their bodies could produce more enzymes to replace those that had been poisoned.”

The Salisbury district hospital chief executive, Cara Charles-Barks, said it was good news that Skripal was well enough to be discharged.

“That he, Yulia and DS Bailey have been able to leave us so soon after coming into contact with this nerve agent is thanks to the hard work, skill and professionalism of our clinicians, who provide outstanding care to all our patients, day in and day out,” she said.

“This has been a difficult time for those caught up in this incident – the patients, our staff and the people of Salisbury. I want to thank the public for their support, and I want to pay a special tribute to both the clinical staff here at the trust and those who work so hard behind the scenes. They’ve demonstrated the very best of the NHS.”

Counter-terrorism police, who continue to lead the criminal investigation, said they would not be discussing the security arrangements put in place around the Skripals. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Detectives from the UK’s Counter Terrorism Policing network continue to investigate the attempted murders of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March this year.

“They are both making good progress and we are pleased that Mr Skripal has now also been released from hospital, which was announced by the NHS earlier this morning.

“This is a complex investigation and detectives continue to gather and piece together all the evidence to establish the full facts and circumstances behind this dreadful attack.

“In the interests of Sergei and Yulia’s safety, we will not be discussing any protective or security arrangements that are in place.”

The Skripals’ recovery has been unexpected. They collapsed on a park bench in Salisbury on 4 March after being exposed to novichok, most likely at Sergei’s home on the outskirts of Salisbury. The British government has blamed Russia but Moscow denies involvement.

In March, a high court judgment emerged suggesting they had little chance of recovery.

The judgment from Mr Justice Williams said they remained “heavily sedated”. It added: “The precise effect of their exposure on their long-term health remains unclear, albeit medical tests indicate that their mental capacity might be compromised to an unknown and so far unascertained degree.”

Williams said Sergei Skripal was unable to communicate in any way and his daughter could not communicate in any meaningful way. He added: “It is not possible to say when or to what extent Mr or Ms Skripal may regain capacity. Both are currently in a physically stable condition which is not expected to change in the immediate or near future.

“They are both being treated on the basis that they would wish to be kept alive and to achieve optimal recovery and the treatment currently being given is aimed to achieve that. The hospital has not been approached by anyone known to the patients to inquire of their welfare.”

However, their recovery has been helped by the proximity of the hospital to the defence research laboratory at Porton Down.

Possibly because she suffered less exposure to the nerve agent or because she is younger and fitter, Yulia made a swifter recovery.

She was discharged from hospital last month. However, doctors emphasised that treatment would continue.

The hospital’s medical director, Christine Blanshard, said: “We have now discharged Yulia from Salisbury district hospital. Yulia has asked for privacy from the media and I want to reiterate her request.

“I also want to take this opportunity to wish Yulia well. This is not the end of her treatment but marks a significant milestone.”

Yulia Skripal’s departure from hospital came nearly three weeks after Bailey was discharged.

On his release, Bailey said he did not expect “normal’ life” to resume. Nor will normal life resume for the Skripals. Sergei’s home remains a sealed-off crime scene.

Both will be offered protection for the rest of their lives. There have been reports that they may ultimately be granted settled status in other countries such as the US or Australia – though the Russian embassy has claimed this would amount to an abduction or forced isolation.

Decontamination work on scenes linked to the attack is continuing.


Source: The Guardian, Reuters

Adriana Murolo
The Kootneeti Europe Team

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