LONDON (AP) — The Latest on British investigation into ex-Russian spy’s poisoning (all times local):
A former head of London’s Metropolitan Police force says there should be further inquiry into the deaths of 14 Russians in the U.K. amid suggestions they were targeted by the Russian state.
Former Commissioner Ian Blair has backed calls from a senior Labour Party lawmaker to re-examine the deaths in light of the attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the city of Salisbury. The pair are critically ill after being attacked with an undisclosed nerve agent.
Blair, who led London’s police when ex-Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko was fatally poisoned, has told the BBC it is important to find out “whether there is some pattern here.”
A BuzzFeed News investigation says that U.S. spy agencies had linked 14 deaths to Russia — but U.K. police shut down the cases.
Russia’s foreign minister says the country could help Britain investigate the poisoning there of an ex-Russian spy, but expressed resentment of suspicions cast on Moscow.
Sergey Lavrov’s comments in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa came as British investigators scrambled to unravel the nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer, was convicted in 2006 of spying for Britain and released in 2010.
Lavrov has been quoted as saying by state news agency Tass that “whether it’s poisoning of some British subjects, whether it’s rumors about interference in the U.S. election campaign, if assistance really is needed, then we are ready to consider its possibility.”
Lavrov added: “But in order to conduct such cases, it is necessary not to immediately run out on TV screens with unfounded allegations.”
The British official in charge of public safety is visiting the area in the English city of Salisbury where a former Russian spy collapsed after he was targeted with an undisclosed nerve agent.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd is in Salisbury on Friday following the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, who were found slumped on a park bench. Both remain in critical condition at a local hospital.
The U.K. has vowed to take strong action against whoever was responsible for the “brazen and reckless” attack.
Wiltshire County police say that “around 21 people,” including the Skripals, have received treatment following the attack. But British health authorities say there is little risk to the wider public.