With your leave, Mr President, I would like to make a statement on today’s announcement by the Counter Terrorism Police that the Crown Prosecution Service has authorized charges against a third person in connection with the Salisbury attack in 2018 – a terrible event that shook the whole country and united our allies in condemnation.
Mr President, I would like to thank the opposition for their courtesy and support in allowing part of their parliamentary time to be used for this statement and the Assembly will of course understand that this is an ongoing investigation. and that we are therefore limited as to what can be said about these 3 individuals.
In March 2018, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia, commonly known as “Novichok”.
Two Wiltshire Police officers involved in the search of the victims’ homes were also poisoned along with the same officer.
In July 2018, 2 other members of the public were found ill in Amesbury, both having been exposed in Novichok. And tragically, one of them died and that’s Dawn Sturgess.
An investigation into his death is underway. I know that the thoughts of the whole House will be with those close to Dawn today.
Mr President, This House has deep differences with Russia.
By annexing Crimea in 2014, igniting the flames of conflict in eastern Ukraine and threatening Western democracies, including interfering in their elections, Russia has challenged the fundamental bases of order international.
While such attacks are rare, this is not the first time that Russia has made a brazen attack on the UK.
Today, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia was responsible for the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko. This confirms the findings of the independent Litvinenko investigation.
However, as the government of the day made it clear in 2018 and I repeat today, we will not tolerate such malicious activity here in the UK.
The United Kingdom, under successive governments, has responded with strength and determination,
As my right honorable friend, the Member of Parliament for Maidenhead, then Prime Minister, announced in 2018, 250 detectives were involved in the Salisbury murder investigation, working tirelessly to find out who was responsible.
On September 5, 2018, the Independent Director of Public Prosecutions announced that there was sufficient evidence to lay charges against 2 Russian nationals for:
- plot to assassinate Sergei Skripal
- the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal and Nick Bailey
- intentionally causing grievous bodily harm to Yulia Skripal and Nick Bailey
- possession and use of a chemical weapon, contrary to the Chemical Weapons Act 1996
The 2 Russian nationals were called Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, but the police believed they were pseudonyms.
The then Prime Minister announced that the government concluded that the 2 men were members of the Russian Military Intelligence Service, the GRU – and that the operation had almost certainly been approved outside the GRU at a higher level in the Russian state.
I would like to salute the exemplary work of our emergency services, our intelligence agencies, the armed forces and the police who carried out the first response to this despicable attack.
I also pay tribute to the work underway to bring the perpetrators of this outrageous attack to justice. We will not let that go.
As Assistant Deputy Commissioner Dean Haydon has said, this investigation has been extraordinarily complex and our country is very fortunate that so many good people are doing such an outstanding job to keep us safe.
Thanks to these efforts, the police can now prove that Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are pseudonyms for Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga, and that both are members of the GRU.
The CPS has now cleared charges against a third individual, known as Sergey Fedotov.
The CT Policing investigation identified that Fedotov entered the UK on a Moscow-London Heathrow flight and stayed in a central London hotel between March 2-4, 2018, before returning to Moscow.
While in the UK, he met Petrov and Boshirov on several occasions in central London.
The CT Policing investigation established that Fedotov is in fact Denis Sergeev, that he is also a member of the GRU, and that the 3 individuals have previously worked together for the GRU in additional operations outside of Russia.
The 3 men are now wanted by the British police. Arrest warrants are in place for all 3. Police have requested an Interpol notice against Fedotov, mirroring those already in place against the other 2 suspects.
Russia has repeatedly refused to have its nationals tried abroad. This was also the case after the murder of Alexander Litvinenko when a British extradition request was refused. This has only added to the sorrow of those who have been injured by these attacks and, Mr. President, inevitably has further damaged our relations with Russia.
As was made clear in 2018, should any of these people travel outside of Russia, we will work with our international partners and take all possible steps to detain and extradite them to bring them to justice.
Mr President, after the attack on Salisbury my very honorable friends, the members of Parliament for Maidenhead, Uxbridge and South Ruislip, put in place the toughest measures the UK has imposed on any other state since over 30 years, including diplomatic, legislative and economic measures. .
We continue to take decisive action to counter the threat posed by the Russian state.
In 2018, 23 undeclared Russian intelligence officers were immediately deported from the UK. In solidarity, 28 other countries and NATO joined us, resulting in the largest collective expulsion on record – of more than 150 Russian intelligence officers.
This fundamentally degraded Russian intelligence capability for years to come.
The government will continue to provide security services and law enforcement with all the additional tools they need to deal with the range of state threats, which continue to evolve.
In direct response to the Salisbury attack, we have introduced new powers to allow police to arrest, interrogate, search and detain individuals at the UK border to determine if they are ‘a spy or other hostile activity.
These vital powers are already helping security and law enforcement protect the UK from a very real and serious threat posed by states seeking to undermine and destabilize our country.
In July 2020, we published a full and comprehensive response to the report of the Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee on Russia. It addressed point by point all the key themes and recommendations raised by the Committee.
But we are taking it one step further and are committed to introducing new legislation to counter state threats to protect the UK.
Earlier this summer, we held a public consultation on government proposals, to improve our ability to detect, respond to and prevent state threats, keep our citizens safe, and protect sensitive data and intellectual property. .
Responses to this consultation are currently under review and we will come back with full legislation.
Another crucial part of this work is the fight against illicit financing. Bringing dirty money and money launderers out of the UK to ensure our global prosperity is our priority.
We are at the forefront of the international fight against illicit financing, fighting the threat from source to destination.
We have introduced a new global human rights sanctions regime and a global anti-corruption sanctions regime.
The National Crime Agency continues to lead the UK’s efforts to bring the full power of law enforcement to bear on serious criminals, corrupt elites and their assets, including through increased checks on private thefts, customs and freight travel.
In July and September 2020, together with the EU, we announced sanctions against Russian intelligence services for cyber attacks against the UK and its allies.
We have also taken strong action in response to the poisoning and attempted murder of Alexei Navalny – imposing asset freezes and travel bans against 13 people and a Russian research institute implicated in the case. .
The government will continue to respond extremely vigorously to the persistent and significant threat from the Russian state.
We continue to make tremendous progress to counter this threat and to increase our resilience and that of our allies to Russian malicious activity.
Mr. President, we respect the Russian people, but we will do whatever it takes, whatever it takes, to keep our country safe. We will actively work on deterrence and defense against the full range of threats emanating from Russia until relations with its government improve.
Mr President, I would like to end by paying tribute to the resilience of the people of Salisbury, who have suffered a sickening and despicable act in their community, and the people of Amesbury, who have lost one of their own in the most dire circumstances. appalling.
Our government will be relentless in its quest for justice for the victims of these attacks and will continue to do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of our people.
I commend this statement to the House.