Authorities have denied giving mixed messages on public safety following the Salisbury nerve agent attack after an official said “toxic” levels of the chemical were still present.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) insisted the city was safe after its chief scientific adviser, Ian Boyd, told a public meeting novichok could still be harmful in “very specific locations” where it remains in high concentrations.
He claimed that a classified report by international inspectors said novichok found in the victims’ blood samples showed little sign of decomposition, even though the agent would normally be expected to react with naturally occurring chemicals inside the body.
“This is strange, given that 18 days passed between the poisoning and the arrival of the OPCW in the UK,” said Mr Yakovenko.
The class of nerve agents was created by the former Soviet Union, but Vladimir Putin’s government has denied ever developing it – and also said all chemical stockpiles were destroyed.