Salisbury novichok attack: Police officer quits after 18 years in job due to impact of poisoning

17 October 2020, 19:58 | Updated: 17 October 2020, 23:12

A police officer who was poisoned in the Salisbury novichok attack more than two-and-a-half years ago has quit because he "can no longer do the job".

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was contaminated with the nerve agent at the home of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the targets of the poisoning operation.

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

In a series of tweets posted on Saturday, he said: "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."

He made three attempts to return to work, the last in June, but admitted he "couldn't deal with being in a police environment" after earlier unsuccessful efforts in September 2018 and January 2019.

DS Bailey, who was the first person to enter the Skripals' home, spent two weeks in intensive care after he was poisoned, during which time his wife and two daughters feared he would die.

He and two Wiltshire Police colleagues were sent to the property in March 2018, after the former Russian spy and his daughter, who was staying with him, were found seriously ill on a bench in Salisbury.

He was contaminated when he touched the door handle of Mr Skripal's home.

The Skripals survived the attack, but Dawn Sturgess, who came into contact with a perfume bottle believed to have been used in the attack, died.

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

Angus Macpherson, police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire, where DS Bailey worked, said throughout his career the officer has symbolised "dedication and a sense of public duty".

Mr Macpherson thanked Det Sgt Bailey for his "service and dedication to Wiltshire Police".

"Nick found himself at the centre of an international, criminal incident which not only affected his health but I am certain changed the course of his family's lives too," he said.

"The events in Salisbury and Amesbury back in 2018 remain unprecedented and Nick, himself, has found himself in a situation that no other police officer in this country has been through.

"I know that the force has offered as much welfare support to Nick as possible but I hope today brings Nick and his family some sense of closure and allows them to start to look to the future."

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.

They denied any involvement, famously insisting in an interview with Russia Today that they had only been in Salisbury to visit its cathedral and nearby Stonehenge.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied being behind the attack on the former Moscow agent.

Novichok re-entered the public consciousness earlier this year when it was used to poison the notable Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.