Labour deputy Tom Watson says fresh evidence proves Salisbury attack ‘ordered personally’ by Vladimir Putin
The chemical attack in Salisbury was "ordered personally" by Vladimir Putin, Tom Watson has claimed.
Labour's deputy leader said fresh proof that one of the men accused by the UK of carrying it out is a Russian military officer showed that it was authorised by the Kremlin.
According to the investigative website Bellingcat, Ruslan Boshirov's real name is Anatoliy Chepiga, a colonel who was personally given the Hero of the Russian Federation award by President Putin in the past.
Boshirov and his alleged accomplice Alexander Petrov have claimed they were in Salisbury as tourists shortly before former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned by the nerve agent Novichok.
Writing on his Facebook page, Mr Watson said: "The revelation that one of the Skripal poisoning suspects is a highly-decorated Russian colonel - and not an innocent Cathedral spotter - is fresh proof that Britain is now at the sharp end of an assault ordered personally by Putin.
"Clearly we now need overhaul of national security strategy to protect our democracy from Putin's 'hybrid warfare'."
Mr Watson also called on Theresa May to mount a probe similar to the Mueller investigation into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 United States presidential election.
He said: "We now need the FULL picture on Russian interference - from murder on the streets to meddling in votes.
"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty’. That means it's time for eyes wide open. Our investigating authorities have done their job in identifying the Salisbury assassins, now we need a Mueller-style probe into Russian interference in our democracy."
His remarks are the strongest attack yet on Russia by a senior Labour figure in response to the Salisbury attack.
In his speech to the Labour conference yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn said the evidence "painstakingly assembled by the police now points clearly to the Russian state", but stopped short of naming President Putin.