Wiltshire

Locating Novichok in Salisbury was like finding 'invisible ink'

Group Captain Jason Davies Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Gp Capt Jason Davies said it was a tremendous honour to be appointed OBE

The RAF officer in charge of decontaminating Salisbury following the Novichok attack has said it was like "trying to find invisible ink".

Gp Capt Jason Davies, appointed OBE for his role in the military response, was speaking after going to Buckingham Palace to receive the honour.

Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with the nerve agent in March 2018.

Gp Cpt Davis said dealing with it was "novel" but "there was no fear".

"We are trained to operate in a battlefield, not downtown Salisbury," he said.

The 48-year-old, from Hawarden in Flintshire, was the commanding officer of the Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Task Force, which was responsible for removing the deadly nerve agent, destroying contaminated objects and making the city safe.

After being conferred with the honour by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace, he said of Novichok: "You can't see it, you can't smell it, you don't know where it is."

Image copyright Reuters/BBC
Image caption Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia survived the attack

Four months after the attack, Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley fell critically ill in nearby Amesbury, and Ms Sturgess later died.

Mr Davies said the death was "really quite pivotal".

"It meant the contamination spread was far wider than we thought," he said. "This was a new ball game."

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley fell critically ill in Amesbury and Ms Sturgess later died

He added it was "a tremendous honour" to be appointed OBE.

"I'm only one part of the team, but being part of the team was an honour," he said.

Two Russian nationals have been accused of travelling to the UK to try to murder Mr Skripal with Novichok.

The two suspects - known by their aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - were caught on CCTV in Salisbury the day before the attack.

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