Novichok inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess could be a public inquiry

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The inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess, who died after unwittingly spraying herself with a perfume bottle containing the deadly nerve agent Novichok, could turn into a large-scale public inquiry, it turned out today.

A coroner also said the hearing on Miss Sturgess’s death in Wiltshire three years ago will investigate whether the Kremlin was responsible for the chemical attack and where the substance used to poison her came from.

Coroner Baroness Hallett told a preliminary investigation at the Royal Courts of Justice in London today that looking at Miss Sturgess’s death separately could lead to an “ incomplete and potentially misleading investigation. ”

Dawn Sturgess died after coming into contact with a perfume bottle with Novichok

Dawn Sturgess died after coming into contact with a perfume bottle with Novichok

Demolition work on the former home of Novichok victim mr.  Rowley in Amesbury last October

Demolition work on the former home of Novichok victim mr.  Rowley in Amesbury last October

Demolition work on the former home of Novichok victim mr. Rowley in Amesbury last October

The counterfeit perfume box Mr. Rowley found in June 2018.  Mrs. Sturgess died after being exposed to the nerve agent thrown away in a perfume bottle after the attack

The counterfeit perfume box Mr. Rowley found in June 2018.  Mrs. Sturgess died after being exposed to the nerve agent thrown away in a perfume bottle after the attack

The counterfeit perfume box Mr. Rowley found in June 2018. Mrs. Sturgess died after being exposed to the nerve agent thrown away in a perfume bottle after the attack

The former court of appeal judge also vowed to conduct a “ fair, fearless and thorough ” investigation into the 44-year-old’s death.

Miss Sturgess collapsed at her partner Charlie Rowley’s home in Amesbury, 8 miles from Salisbury, on June 30, 2018, when she came into contact with a perfume bottle containing Novichok.

She died in hospital on July 8, leaving Mr. Rowley seriously ill but recovered.

Her death followed the attempted poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, who were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury four months earlier.

They were both released from the hospital before Miss Sturgess and Mr. Rowley fell ill.

Baroness Hallett today outlined the preliminary scope of the inquest: death of Dawn Sturgess without examining how Novichok ended up in Salisbury and then Amesbury, how or why it was brought to this country, who brought it and who led them – this could be a incomplete and potentially misleading research. ‘

Police said earlier that there was enough evidence to charge two Russians, known as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder, for the attack on the Skripals.

Miss Sturgess' death followed the attempted poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia

Miss Sturgess' death followed the attempted poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia

Miss Sturgess’ death followed the attempted poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia

Police are conducting an investigation outside Mr Rowley's house in Amesbury in July 2018

Police are conducting an investigation outside Mr Rowley's house in Amesbury in July 2018

Police are conducting an investigation outside Mr Rowley’s house in Amesbury in July 2018

But the men denied any involvement and gave a much-derided interview to state television saying they were alone in Salisbury for a sightseeing tour of the cathedral.

Russia repeatedly denied any involvement, with President Vladimir Putin claiming that the two suspects were only civilians, not military officers.

Mr O’Connor said the defendants had not participated in the inquest so far and called for an investigation to investigate broader issues of Russian state involvement.

He said: “We argue that the investigation … should include not only the behavior of Messrs Petrov and Boshirov, but also the source of the Novichok and the broader responsibility of the Russian state.

Where did the Novichok come from? Who sent those two men to Salisbury and with what instructions? And at what level was that decision approved? ‘

Police are conducting fingertip searches in Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury in July 2018, where Mrs. Sturgess visited her before falling ill after coming into contact with Novichok

Police conduct fingertip searches in Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury in July 2018, where Mrs. Sturgess visited her before falling ill after coming into contact with Novichok

Police are conducting fingertip searches in Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury in July 2018, where Mrs. Sturgess visited her before falling ill after coming into contact with Novichok

The Maltings in Salisbury took photos last month, three years after the chemical weapons attack

The Maltings in Salisbury took photos last month, three years after the chemical weapons attack

The Maltings in Salisbury took photos last month, three years after the chemical weapons attack

He said there was “very strong public interest in uncovering the full facts of these cases,” adding, “This is probably the only opportunity to do this forensics in a legal forum.”

The coroner said a decision on whether or not to convert the inquest into a public inquiry would be made at a later date.

The hearing was postponed to another review ahead of the June or July inquiries. The coroner also said the inquest may still be held in Wiltshire.

She said, “It would be very important to reassure the people of Wiltshire and the family that we are doing everything we can to investigate this matter.”

Neither Mr. Rowley nor members of Miss Sturgess’s family were in court for Tuesday’s hearing, which was held with the additional use of a video link for stakeholders and their legal representatives.