By John Helmer, Moscow
The Wiltshire county coroner David Ridley admitted this week that he held a 14-minute hearing into the death of Dawn Sturgess, alleged victim of a Russian Novichok attack last July, but after six months of further investigations by police, military, intelligence and toxicology experts, he still cannot hold a formal inquest and decide what caused her death.
This admission by the coroner, the scheduling of a new coroner’s court hearing on April 15, and the likelihood that this too will be adjourned, now threaten the British Government’s narrative that a Russian-produced nerve agent, sprayed on to a door handle last March, was an attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, and that four months later, a bottle containing the same poison killed Sturgess.
The admissions from Coroner Ridley on Monday were made as the European Union, prodded by the British Government, has announced new travel bans against the Russian military intelligence agency accused of the nerve agent attacks. “Today’s new sanctions,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Monday, “deliver on our vow to take tough action against the reckless and irresponsible activities of the Russian military intelligence organisation, the GRU, which put innocent British citizens in serious danger in Salisbury last year.”
Coroner Ridley acknowledges there is no substantiation for Hunt’s allegations in a court of law. Not now, not yet.
There has been no physical evidence of Sergei Skripal since the afternoon of March 4, 2018, when he and his daughter Yulia Skripal, fell ill on a park bench in the centre of Salisbury, and were hospitalised with what the local police and medical personnel first suspected to be food, alcohol or drug poisoning. The British authorities then announced that the Skripals were suffering from nerve agent poisoning. Ten days after the incident, on March 14, Prime Minister Theresa May (lead image) announced that “the Russian State was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter.” The murder weapon was, she said, “a Novichok, a military grade nerve agent developed by Russia.”
The Skripals recovered and were released from hospital, Yulia on April 10; Sergei on May 18, according to the official announcement. There is independent evidence confirming this for Yulia Skripal,