Novichok survivor says latest attack 'gives Russia strength to get away with it'

4 September 2020, 09:38 | Updated: 4 September 2020, 16:22

Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, Germany has said
Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, Germany has said. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

A Novichok survivor said the latest alleged chemical attack has "given Russia some strength to carry on and get away with it", adding he feels "devastated" it happened again.

Charlie Rowley was exposed to the substance in the 2018 attack targeting former double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Mr Rowley said he felt "devastated" the nerve agent had been used again in the alleged Novichok poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

He told ITV News: "I felt devastated that it had happened again.

"I thought it was over, but it clearly isn't.

"I think it gives the Russians some strength that they can do their business and get away with it.

"It's made me feel that it could happen again any time and it's made me feel that they could get away with almost anything."

Mr Skripal and daughter Yulia were two of five people exposed to the substance in Wiltshire, both spending weeks in hospital recovering.

But Dawn Sturgess, 44, of Amesbury, Wiltshire, died in July that year after coming into contact with a perfume bottle thought to originally contain the poison, while her partner Mr Rowley spent nearly three weeks in hospital.

Charlie Rowley was exposed to the substance in the 2018 attack
Charlie Rowley was exposed to the substance in the 2018 attack. Picture: ITV News - PA

Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was also exposed to the substance while responding to the attack, and almost died.

Mr Rowley said that since coming into contact with Novichok he had suffered from a range of health issues.

He added: "I suffered with memory, my eyesight was affected, and my general health, physical and mental.

"I lost the ability in my left arm for best part of a year and a half.

"Luckily my arm is better.

"I'm still left feeling lost and confused."

Mr Rowley said that he still does not feel that "justice has been served" but hopes the latest incident will lead to "some truth".

He added: "I feel justice hasn't been served and I hope this new incident will bring on more news and we will get some truth.

"I don't think I'll actually ever get over it because I don't know the outcome of what's to come to be honest.

"I'm not the same guy I used to be. It's taken a toll on me.

"I'd feel so much better if we could find out the truth as to who's behind it all."

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