British police confirm source of Novichok poisoning

British Secretary of State for Defense Gavin Williamson

Detectives investigating the fatal Novichok poisoning case have found a small bottle believed to be the source of the nerve agent.

In a statement, police said: "On Wednesday 11 July, a small bottle was recovered during searches of Charlie Rowley's house in Amesbury".

'It was taken to the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, Wiltshire, for tests.

Rowley, 45, and his partner Dawn Sturgess, 44, collapsed at his house within hours of each other on June 30. Her partner, Charlie Rowley, initially was in critical condition, but has regained consciousness.

They are working on the theory that Mr Rowley and Ms Sturgess found a discarded batch, which then contaminated them.

Further tests on the bottle are now being carried out in the hope of establishing whether it is from the same batch of the nerve agent used to poison former Russian agent, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.

Moscow has strongly denied any involvement in the poisoning.

'Inquiries are under way to establish where the bottle came from and how it came to be in Charlie's house'.

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"However, we can not guarantee that there isn't any more of the substance left", said Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, head of United Kingdom counter-terrorism policing. "However, we can not guarantee that there isn't any more of the substance left", police said. "This is to allow thorough searches to continue as a precautionary measure for public safety and to assist the investigation team", he said.

The British Foreign Office said Britain had invited independent technical experts from the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog to travel to the United Kingdom early next week to independently confirm the identity of the nerve agent.

The samples will be analysed at "highly reputable worldwide laboratories designated by the OPCW", a spokesman said.

Today's discovery has been called "significant and encouraging" by Wiltshire Police.

About 100 detectives from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network continue to work on this investigation, alongside colleagues from Wiltshire Police.

Police said they had spoken "briefly" with him and will interview him further to establish how he and Sturgess came to be contaminated.

He said private security guards would join officers on some of the cordons from next week, as the investigation continued.

"As a precaution Public Health England continues to advise the public not to pick up any odd items such as syringes, needles, cosmetics or similar objects made of materials such as metal, plastic or glass".

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