Amber Rudd to chair Cobra meeting as Russian spy mystery grows
Home Secretary Amber Rudd will today chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra committee on the investigation into the suspected poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal.
The 66-year-old was exchanged as part of a “spy-swap” and has been living in the UK since 2010. He was found slumped unconscious on a bench in Salisbury alongside his 33-year-old daughter, after they were both exposed to an unknown substance.
The assembly of the emergency Cobra committee is a further escalation in the case after it was announced yesterday that the Metropolitan police would be handing over the lead on the investigation to its counter-terrorism unit.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that the case had ‘echoes’ of the Alexander Litvinenko case, the former Russian spy murdered by radiation poisoning in 2006, as he told MPs: “If things turn out to be, as many members on both sides of the House suspect they are, I think we will have to have a serious conversation about our engagement with Russia”.
He added: "If those suspicions prove to be well founded, this government will take whatever measures are necessary to protect the lives of people in this country, their lives and their freedoms.”
The Russian embassy responded to Mr Johnson saying that he had spoken in a manner which suggested that Russia had already been found responsible for the incident.
“We regret that instead of a proper official clarification on the issue, the Foreign Secretary chose to threaten Russia with retribution”, an embassy spokesperson said.
They went on to blame the media for a “new phase of the anti-Russia campaign” which would lead to the “vilification of Russia”.
“Although UK law enforcement agencies have not given any substantive comments on this incident, media reports create an impression of a planned operation by the Russian special services, which is completely untrue."
Salisbury MP John Glen said that a “terrible human tragedy” had taken place as he updated constituents on the incident.
“No stone will be left unturned in the investigation and bringing those responsible to justice.”