Friday, 23 March 2018

Salisbury Nerve agent attack - Court of Protection decision

On 21st March, in the Court of Protection, Mr Justice Williams made a number of declarations relating to Mr Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, both victims of the Salisbury attack on 4th March.

Evidence presented to the court by a Porton Down Chemical and Biological Analyst stated that they had been affected by "a novichok class nerve agent or closely related agent."

On 22nd March, the judgment of Williams J was published and may be read via the Judiciary website - HERE.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had been invited to send a team of experts to the UK to assist in the technical evaluation of unscheduled chemicals in accordance with Article VIII 38(e) of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  This was to independently verify the analysis carried out by Porton Down and to do this the OPCW wished to collect fresh blood sample from Mr and Ms Skripal so that could undertake their own analysis and conduct DNA analysis to confirm that the samples originally tested by Porton Down are from Mr and Ms Skripal.  OPCW also sought access to their medical records setting out their treatment since 4th March.

Mr Skripal and Ms Skripal are incapacitated and therefore unable to consent to the taking of further blood samples for those purposes.  Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust properly confirmed to the UK Government that a court order would be required to authorise the samples to be taken.

Williams J made the following declarations - (para 37 of the judgment) - Declarations pursuant to Mental Capacity Act 2005 section 15 and orders pursuant to section 16:

i)  Mr Skripal lacks capacity to make a decision as to the provision of blood samples, the testing of blood samplesand disclosure of medical notes

ii)  Ms Skripal lacks capacity to make a decision as to the provision of blood samples, the testing of blood samples and disclosure of medical notes

iii)  That it is lawful for Salisbury NHS Trust to take blood samples for provision to OPCW and to provide copies of medical notes to OPCW

iv)  That it is in the best interests of Mr Skripal and Ms Skripal for the samples to be taken, tested and the notes provide.

Obviously, the precise nature of the material used in the Salisbury attack has yet to be identified.  Nevertheless, the UK government maintains its view that there are only two plausible explanations for what happened in Salisbury - Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against the UK or the Russian government lost control of the nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others - Prime Minister's Statement 12th March.  Russia has denied any involvement in the attack and stated that it would co-operate with the OPCW investigation.

Previous Post:

A serious attack within the UK

Other developments:

In a separate development, the European Union recalled its Ambassador to Russia.  This is said to be "for consultation" - BBC News 23rd March.

Also, the following appeared on the website of No. 10 Downing Street:

Statement - Sir Mark Sedwill on the Salisbury Attack - he is the UK National Security Adviser

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