Ex-Cambridge University fellow jailed for sending fake poison to Theresa May

5 September 2020, 16:38

Christopher Doyle has been jailed for two years and 10 months for sending fake poison to Theresa May
Christopher Doyle has been jailed for two years and 10 months for sending fake poison to Theresa May. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A former Cambridge University research fellow has been jailed for making indecent images of children and sending fake poison to Theresa May.

Christopher Doyle, 54, from Widnes, Cheshire, sent the white powder to the then prime minister in 2018, just a month after former Russian spy Sergei Skripal was poisoned.

The letter, addressed to Theresa May, c/o The Nazi Party, enclosed a cartoon poster showing her decapitated as well as the powder, which was later found to be harmless, a picture of former spy Alexander Litvinenko and a message criticising her policy on Russia.

The mail was examined on April 5 2018 at a Swiss Post screening facility which had to be evacuated, the court heard.

Judge Anil Murray said: "Sergei Skripal had been poisoned just about a month before this letter was opened and so the issue of poisoning was high in the nation's consciousness.

"This was a serious offence intended by you to induce fear of danger to human life."

He sent the letter to Theresa May while she was Prime Minister in 2018
He sent the letter to Theresa May while she was Prime Minister in 2018. Picture: PA

Doyle had denied sending the powder but was convicted following a trial.

Doyle, who had a PhD in neuroscience and said he previously worked at Government facility Porton Down, suffered from bipolar affective disorder, the court was told.

He told police he had also written a letter to Boris Johnson criticising his attitude to Russia and a letter to then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in which he praised him.

The court heard he told officers he believed the powder may have been planted in the letter by MI5 or MI6.

Mark Pritchard, defending, said Doyle had been living with agoraphobia since 2013 following the death of a friend.

He said: "He has gone from being a successful research fellow at Cambridge University to living in almost isolation.

"He has been in a bubble of pro-Russian Facebook groups to which he has been a member."

Judge Murray told the defendant: "You are a highly intelligent man.

"You know the effects your condition has.

"These were not spur of the moment offences."

Doyle pleaded guilty to making indecent photographs of children but Judge Murray said he did not accept his claim that he did not have them for his own sexual gratification.

Doyle was also ordered to sign the sexual offenders' register and made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order.