Cop poisoned in Salisbury attack quits force after struggling with aftermath

17 October 2020, 15:49 | Updated: 18 October 2020, 11:04

Police in hazmat suits at the site of the poisoning in April 2018
Police in hazmat suits at the site of the poisoning in April 2018. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A brave police officer who was poisoned with Novichok in the Salisbury attack has made the heart-wrenching decision to quit the job he loves.

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who has served in Wiltshire Police for the past 18 years, cited the 2018 poisoning as the driving force behind his decision to leave.

He said on Twitter he "had to admit defeat" and is leaving the force after 18 years, adding the incident in March 2018 "took so much from me".

He was the first person to enter the home of Sergei Skripal after the Russian former double agent and his daughter Yulia were found poisoned on a park bench in the city.

The Wiltshire Police officer was exposed to Novichok after going into the property, where the deadly nerve agent had been smeared on a door handle.

He said in a statement on Twitter: "After 18 years in the Police Force I’ve had to admit defeat and accept that I can no longer do the job. I wanted to be a Police Officer since I was a teenager, I couldn’t envisage doing anything else, which is why this makes me so sad.

"Like most Police Officers, I’ve experienced my fair share of trauma, violence, upset, injury and grief. We deal with it, take it on the chin and keep going because that’s our job. But we’re still human and the impact this has shouldn’t be underestimated. The events in Salisbury in March 2018 took so much from me and although I’ve tried so hard to make it work, I know that I won’t find peace whilst remaining in that environment.

"Policing will remain in my heart and I feel honoured and privileged to have been part of Wiltshire Police. I am so grateful for the opportunities that they’ve given me, and the support that I’ve received. We’ve all seen that the ‘Policing family’ very much exists and in the current climate it’s more important now than ever.

"To all those in the Police, I salute you. Keep fighting the good fight, I’m just sorry that I’ve made the thin blue line that little bit thinner. Be proud of what you do and know that you make a positive difference to so many people. But for me, it’s time for a change. 1772: off duty. #policefamily #thinblueline #joblikenoother #MentalHealthMatters"

Mr Bailey almost lost his life in the poisonings, in which former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were targeted with nerve agent Novichok.

Although Mr Bailey, Mr Skripal and his daughter survived, Dawn Sturgess, who came into contact with Novichok in the July of that year, sadly died.

Her partner, Charlie Rowley, was left seriously ill but recovered.

Two Russian nationals have been accused of travelling to the UK to try to murder Mr Skripal with Novichok.

The suspects - known by aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - were caught on CCTV in Salisbury the day before the attack.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement, with President Vladimir Putin claiming the two suspects were civilians.

More to follow...