The ICU doctor who treated the novichok poisoning victims has revealed he feared assassins might come to the hospital to kill them.
Consultant James Haslam said there were armed guards placed at the ward where Yulia and her father Sergei Skripal – a Russian double agent – were being treated and that this was a source of worry for the medical team.
Mr Skripal and his daughter were found ill on a bench near Salisbury Cathedral on March 4, 2018 after being poisoned with nerve agent novichok.
Speaking for the first time since the incident in 2018, Dr Haslam said: ‘We had armed guards at the end of our ICU. Is anybody going to come back and finish our patients off?
‘Could we get caught in the cross fire?
‘That was certainly something that we worried about. Having been chucked in the deep end, I had to learn on the job how these evil toxic substances work.
James Haslam the ICU doctor who treated the novichok poisoning victims revealed he feared assassins might come to the hospital to kill them while they were trying to save their lives
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found on a bench together close to Salisbury Cathedral on the afternoon of March 4 having been poisoned with nerve-agent novichok
‘That’s why I didn’t sleep much that first week, every sinew was straining for that.’
Dr Haslam said that the pair were initially treated as though they were suffering from opioid toxicity but that he knew in his gut this wasn’t right, the Mirror reports.
He said: ‘They were severely critically ill, developing multiple organ failure. I thought at this stage it was likely to be as assassination attempt.’
Dr Haslam said he contacted the UK’s Chemical Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Regiment who confirmed the symptoms were consistent with poisoning by a military-grade nerve agent.
The efforts of Dr Haslam and the medics at Salisbury District Hospital form part of Discovery Plus documentary Secrets of the Salisbury Poisonings, to be screened on Boxing Day, which delves into the attack.
During the 90-minute show, it delves into the work Dr James Haslam carried out to nurse DS Bailey and the Skripals back to health.
Dr Haslam says that armed guards were on duty at Salisbury District Hospital (pictured)
Officer Nick Bailey (pictured) who came into contact with the military-grade chemical after he was sent to the Skripals’ home in the city – where it had been sprayed on the front door handle
The programme also features the poisoning and recovery of officer Nick Bailey who came into contact with the military-grade chemical after he was sent to the Skripals’ home in the city – where it had been sprayed on the front door handle.
Mr Bailey said he said he returned home after a 16-hour shift sweating and exhausted. The following day he woke hallucinating and sweating in what he calls ‘a tsunami of pure heat and fire’ following which he was admitted to A&E.
Four months later, Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after she found a discarded perfume bottle containing novichok and sprayed it on her wrist. Her boyfriend, Charlie Rowley, fell critically ill but recovered.
Dr Haslam told the Mirror: ‘Dawn dying was a real heartbreaking moment for the whole team.
‘I went into intensive care as a profession partly because my dad was critically ill when I was a kid and the ICU guy saved his life. So that’s what I wanted to do for my patients.’
Mr Bailey’s wife Sarah and the couple’s two children have had to leave the family home after traces of novichok were found in almost every room in the house. He added: ‘They lost everything that meant something to them.’
Pictured: CCTV image issued by the Metropolitan Police of Russian Nationals Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov (right) on Fisherton Road, Salisbury at 13:05hrs on March 4 2018
While Mr Bailey has since made a full physical recovery, he has been haunted by flashbacks and after attempting on three occasions to return to his policing career, he retired on ill-health grounds in October 2018.
The suspected assassins – Russian intelligence officers Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin – were caught on CCTV as they travelled from Moscow to the Wiltshire cathedral city.
A third suspect, senior Russian agent Denis Sergeev, was believed to be the on-the-ground commander. All three fled back to Russia after their failed murder attempt.
Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that the inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess would become a public inquiry to probe the depth of Russian involvement in the plot.
The inquiry would be likely to be held in both Salisbury Guildhall and at venues in London, and be established ‘as soon as is reasonably possible in 2022’, Ms Patel said.
In her letter to the coroner Baroness Heather Hallett, Ms Patel said: ‘I hope this inquiry will bring comfort to (Ms Sturgess’s family and others affected) through a greater understanding of the circumstances of Ms Sturgess’ death and recognise the bravery and resilience of those who responded.’
Last month Priti Patel (right) confirmed a public inquiry will be held looking at the extent of Russian involvement in the death of Dawn Sturgess (left), who was unwittingly poisoned by Novichok brought to the UK by Russian agents sent to murder Sergei Skripal in Salisbury
Ms Sturgess’ father, Stan Sturgess, said he was pleased at the development.
He said: ‘We welcome the decision. Our legal team has worked tirelessly on our behalf and hopefully in the near future we will finally have closure’.
Police previously said there was enough evidence to charge two Russians, known as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with offences including conspiracy to murder, over the attack on the Skripals.
But the men denied any involvement and gave a much-derided interview to state television in which they said they were only in Salisbury for a sightseeing tour of the cathedral.
Russia repeatedly denied any involvement, with President Vladimir Putin claiming the two suspects were merely civilians, not military officers.
Timeline of Salisbury horror that shocked the world and the hunt for Putin’s Novichok agents
Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia and police officer Nick Bailey were poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury in March 2018. Here is a timeline of how events unfolded:
– March 4 2018: Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, are found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
– March 7: Police say a nerve agent was used to poison the pair and the case is being treated as attempted murder.
– March 12: Then-prime minister Theresa May tells the House of Commons the nerve agent Novichok is of Russian origin and the Government has concluded it is ‘highly likely’ Russia is responsible for the poisoning.
– March 22: DS Bailey is discharged from hospital but says life will ‘probably never be the same’.
– March 26: Britain’s allies announce more than 100 Russian agents are being sent home from 22 countries, in what Mrs May calls the ‘largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history’.
– April 10: Ms Skripal is discharged from hospital, followed by her father just over a month later.
– June 30: Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley fall ill at a flat in Muggleton Road in Amesbury, eight miles from Salisbury, and are taken to hospital.
– July 4: Police declare a ‘major incident’ after revealing Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley have been exposed to an ‘unknown substance’, later confirmed to be Novichok.
– July 8: Ms Sturgess dies in hospital after exposure to the nerve agent and a murder investigation is launched.
– July 10: Mr Rowley regains consciousness and is discharged from hospital later that month.
– September 12: Russian President Vladimir Putin says there is ‘nothing criminal’ about Petrov and Boshirov. Downing Street insists they are GRU officers ‘who used a devastatingly toxic illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country’.
– September 13: Petrov and Boshirov are interviewed by Russian state-funded news channel RT in which they claim they were tourists visiting Salisbury.
– March 2021: Three years on from the attack, UK counter-terrorism police say they ‘remain as determined and committed as ever’ to bring those responsible to justice.
– September 2021: Investigators say they have sufficient evidence to charge a third man over the poisonings – Russian spy Denis Sergeev, also known as Sergey Fedotov.
– November 2021: A public inquiry will be held following the death of 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess, who was poisoned by Novichok in Amesbury, Wiltshire, in 2018, Home Secretary, Priti Patel has confirms
Source: Daily Mail UK