Theresa May 'shocked and appalled' at death of woman exposed to Novichok

Posted On: 
9th July 2018

Theresa May has said she is "appalled" after a woman exposed to nerve agent Novichok died in hospital.

Officers are still trying to find the source of contamination
PA Images

Officials believe that 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess and her partner came into contact with a contaminated item that may have been used during the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia earlier this year.

The mother-of-three died in Salisbury District Hospital on Sunday evening after falling ill on 30 June, and the Metropolitan Police last night confirmed that the death of Ms Sturgess was being treated as a murder inquiry.

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The UK and its allies blamed Russia for the targeted attack on the Skripals, leading to the expulsion of 23 diplomats from the UK and a boycott of the World Cup by British officials and the Royals.

In a statement, Mrs May said: "I am appalled and shocked by the death of Dawn Sturgess, and my thoughts go to her family and loved ones.

"Police and security officials are working urgently to establish the facts of this incident, which is now being investigated as a murder.

"The Government is committed to providing full support to the local community as it deals with this tragedy."

Home Secretary Sajid Javid - who visited Amesbury and Salisbury over the weekend, said the "desperately sad news only strengthens our resolve to find out exactly what has happened".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile said he was "shocked", adding: "A full and thorough police investigation must now establish the facts, provide support to the local community and bring those responsible to justice."

Police are still hunting for the possible source of contamination, as Ms Sturgess’ partner Charlie Rowley, remains seriously ill in hospital.

The investigation is being undertaken by about 100 officers from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network, alongside Wiltshire police force.

Met Police assistant commissioner Neil Bassu said: "This is shocking and tragic news. Dawn leaves behind her family, including three children, and our though and prayers are with them at this extremely difficult time."

"This terrible news has only served to strengthen our resolve to identify and bring to justice the person or persons responsible for what I can only describe as an outrageous, reckless and barbaric act.

"Detectives will continue with their painstaking and meticulous work to gather all the available evidence so that we can understand how two citizens came to be exposed with such a deadly substance that tragically cost Dawn her life."