Fears UK policeman exposed to nerve agent

Police are trying to locate a small vial believed to have contained the nerve agent Novichok

A British police officer is in hospital amid concerns he may have been exposed to Novichok.

The officer, believed to be with Wiltshire Police, is being treated at Salisbury District Hospital, a short distance from Amesbury where Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, fell ill last Saturday.

They remain in a critical condition in hospital after exposure to Novichok by handling a contaminated item.

It is believed the officer initially attended Great Western Hospital in Swindon before being transferred to Salisbury.

The force is dealing with the second major investigation involving the nerve agent this year, after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.

A Salisbury District Hospital spokesperson said: "A police officer attended Great Western Hospital this evening for medical advice in connection with the ongoing incident in Amesbury. There is nothing to suggest there is any wider risk to anyone at the hospital.

"The individual is now being taken to Salisbury District Hospital which has the ability to carry out the appropriate specialist tests."

Forensic investigators are continuing to comb for clues in Wiltshire after the latest Novichok poisonings.

Investigators wearing camouflage protective clothing entered the John Baker House assisted-living accommodation in Salisbury, where mother-of-three Sturgess lives, after they took a sample from the outside of the building on Friday.

Other sites visited by the couple in the lead-up to their hospitalisation are also being looked at, as detectives piece together a timeline of their movements.

Officers have spoken to several key witnesses and are trawling through more than 1300 hours of CCTV footage which has been collected so far.

Those in camouflage at John Baker House were followed in by two others, one of whom was taking pictures, as they began combing for the deadly substance.

They took a swab from the exterior of the building on Rollestone Street, which is now under a heavy cordon and lined by forensic tents.

There was also a heavy operational presence at Rowley's flat, where they were both taken ill.

Incident response vehicles and fire engines joined police at his Amesbury home.

Police have been unable to locate the source of the contamination and have not ruled out the possibility of more people falling ill from coming into contact with the substance left over after the Skripals were targeted.

One theory understood to be under investigation is whether the pair inadvertently found the container used to transport the nerve agent in the Skripal attack.

Rowley has been described as having foraged for goods to fix and sell, and is known to have collected discarded cigarettes.