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Sergei and Yulia Skripal are 'desperate to start a new life in Australia' following two years in an MI6 safe house after surviving a novichok poisoning attack

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 1/03/2020 Mark Nicol Defence

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who have spent two years in an MI6 safe house after surviving a novichok poisoning attack – want to start a new life Down Under, according to security insiders.

Just days before the second anniversary of the poisoning in Salisbury, Wiltshire, The Mail on Sunday has been told the father and daughter are desperate to leave the UK for either Australia or New Zealand after effectively living under house arrest since the attack.

They were found unconscious on a park bench on March 4, 2018, after Russian agents smeared the deadly chemical on the door-handle of Mr Skripal’s home. 

a man holding a glass of wine: It remains a mystery why two agents were sent to the UK to target Sergei Skripal, pictured above with daughter Yulia, given he had been pardoned for sharing Russian secrets with MI6 and had been permitted to start a new life in Britain © Provided by Daily Mail It remains a mystery why two agents were sent to the UK to target Sergei Skripal, pictured above with daughter Yulia, given he had been pardoned for sharing Russian secrets with MI6 and had been permitted to start a new life in Britain

The pair were rushed to hospital and put in induced comas to prevent the poison damaging their organs. 

Yulia left hospital in April that year and was taken by police to a secret location where she has been guarded by British intelligence agents ever since.

Her father had sufficiently recovered by the following month to join her in hiding.

Mr Skripal, a former double agent who arrived in the UK as part of a spy-swap deal between Britain and Russia in 2010, and his daughter would apparently be offered new identities in another country and would still receive protection, say sources.

The Mail on Sunday has also received unconfirmed reports that Mr Skripal, 68, and his daughter, 35, may have already travelled to Australia and New Zealand to scout possible locations.

a police car parked in a parking lot: They were found unconscious on a park bench on March 4, 2018, after Russian agents smeared the deadly chemical on the door-handle of Mr Skripal¿s home. The pair were rushed to hospital and put in induced comas to prevent the poison damaging their organs © Provided by Daily Mail They were found unconscious on a park bench on March 4, 2018, after Russian agents smeared the deadly chemical on the door-handle of Mr Skripal¿s home. The pair were rushed to hospital and put in induced comas to prevent the poison damaging their organs

Last night, British chemical weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said: ‘I’m sure Yulia especially will want to return to some sort of normality and a remote Commonwealth country may be an option.

‘The Government continues to have a duty of care and the Russians seem unconcerned with any collateral damage they caused around this assassination attempt. So security arrangements would in all certainty continue.’

It remains a mystery why two agents were sent to the UK to target Mr Skripal, given he had been pardoned for sharing Russian secrets with MI6 and had been permitted to start a new life in Britain.

a person wearing a blue dress: Yulia left hospital in April that year and was taken by police to a secret location where she has been guarded by British intelligence agents ever since. Her father had sufficiently recovered by the following month to join her in hiding © Provided by Daily Mail Yulia left hospital in April that year and was taken by police to a secret location where she has been guarded by British intelligence agents ever since. Her father had sufficiently recovered by the following month to join her in hiding

He was not thought to have been active in the intelligence field and there was no evidence of Yulia ever being a spy.

The novichok attack claimed the life of Dawn Sturgess, 44, after she handled a perfume bottle containing the poison.

It has been estimated that the incident has cost taxpayers £30 million – but that figure does not include the expense of guarding the Skripals.

The MoD spearheaded the clear-up effort apparently after the security services expressed concerns over companies on a Government-approved list of contractors with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear capabilities.

The Mail on Sunday has been told that spies ruled out using any of these companies over fears that sensitive information would be passed to Russia.

Last night, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs refused to answer questions about apparent Russian ownership of firms on the list.

A spokesman said: ‘Due to the nature of the substance, the military were best equipped to lead the clean-up.’


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