Diane Abbott: UK must not become 'killing field for the Russian state'

Posted On: 
6th March 2018

Diane Abbott has warned that Britain must not become a "killing field for the Russian state and its enemies" after a former spy became seriously ill after being exposed to a mystery substance.

Diane Abbott is to write to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
PA Images

Sergei Skripal, 66, who was granted refuge in Britain eight years ago as part of a "spy swap" with Russia, is critically ill in hospital.

He and a 33-year-old woman were found unconscious at the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury on Sunday.

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Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden said: "They are currently being treated for suspected exposure to an unknown substance...

"The focus is trying to establish what has caused these people to become critically ill."

Russia has denied any involvement in the incident, and Shadow Home Secretary Ms Abbott said it was "important not to speculate without knowing everything about it".

But speaking on Radio Four's Today programme, she said the incident "does bear a striking similarity" to the death of Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 in London after being poisoned with radioactive polonium. He was killed by Russian agents Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun.

Ms Abbott pointed to an investigation by the Buzzfeed website, which suggested the Kremlin could be linked to the deaths of 14 Russians on UK soil.

She said: "It shows a disturbing pattern and certainly I will be writing to (Home Secretary) Amber Rudd to say that if it does prove to be the case that the Russian state is investigating this latest death, what assurances can she give both about the rigour of the investigation and where we go from here.

"I don't like defaulting to a red menace analysis but we can't allow London and the Home Counties to become a kind of killing field for the Russian state and its enemies."

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in the UK said: "Neither relatives nor legal representatives of the said person, nor the British authorities, have addressed the embassy in this regard."