Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Novichok nerve agent use in Salisbury: UK government response
- Also published by:
- 10 Downing Street
This page sets out the government's response to the Salisbury incident, where a military-grade nerve agent was deployed in the UK on 4 March 2018.
On Sunday 4 March Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.
Prime Minister Theresa May gave a statement to Parliament on 14 March. Russia has provided no explanation as to how this agent came to be used in the UK, and there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter. This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister stated that the UK government will:
- expel 23 Russian diplomats who have been identified as undeclared intelligence officers
- develop proposals for new legislative powers to harden our defences against Hostile State Activity
- enhance our efforts to monitor and track the intentions of those travelling to the UK who could be engaged in activity that threatens the security of the UK and of our allies
Read the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament.
On 8 March the Home Secretary Amber Rudd gave an initial statement on the investigation into events in Salisbury. This followed Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s response to an Urgent Question in Parliament on 6 March.
On 12 March Prime Minister Theresa May gave a statement in Parliament. Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country, or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others. The Foreign Secretary spoke to the BBC and reiterated the Prime Minister’s message.
The Prime Minister has spoken with world leaders about the ongoing investigation. Each expressed their solidarity with the UK:
- call with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau
- call with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg
- call with US President Trump
- call with German Chancellor Merkel
- call with French President Macron
The Foreign Secretary also called for a united response with our international counterparts.
Find out more about the international response in our Twitter Moment.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office also raised this issue in international forums:
- Ambassador Jonathan Allen gave a briefing to the United Nations Security Council
- Peter Wilson, UK Permanent Representative gave an update to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) following his statement to the OPCW on 13 March
- in the 37th Human Rights Council session Julian Braithwaite, the UK Permanent Representative, gave a statement to the United Nations in Geneva
Advice and guidance
Latest News from
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Looking to the new year for progress to peace in Afghanistan18/12/2018 12:25:00
Statement given yesterday by Ambassador Karen Pierce, UK Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council Debate on Afghanistan.
Investigating crimes and seeking justice for victims in Darfur17/12/2018 15:10:00
Statement given recently (14 December 2018) by Susan Dickson, UK Legal Advisor at the UN, at the Security Council Briefing on the International Criminal Court – Sudan.
Steps towards peace in Yemen17/12/2018 14:25:00
Statement given recently (14 December 2018) by Ambassador Karen Pierce, UK Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council Briefing on Yemen.
Speech by Minister for Asia and the Pacific: disinformation - democracy and social stability at risk?17/12/2018 12:20:00
Mark Field, Minister for Asia and the Pacific, recently (14 December 2018) gave a speech at the Club of Venice second seminar on 'Strategic Communication: Truth, Tech and Trends'.
Preventing further conflict in Cameroon and the Lake Chad Basin14/12/2018 16:20:00
Statement given yesterday by Ambassador Jonathan Allen, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council Briefing on UNOCA.
Foreign Secretary statement on Yemen Peace Talks14/12/2018 14:25:00
On 13th December the Foreign Secretary travelled to Sweden for the final day of UN Yemen peace talks.
Alistair Burt's speech at the UK-Lebanon Business and Investment Forum13/12/2018 16:37:00
The Minister for the Middle East was speaking at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London on 12 December 2018.
Finding a peaceful resolution to tensions in Haiti13/12/2018 15:25:00
Statement given yesterday by Stephen Hickey, UK Political Coordinator at the UN, at the Security Council Briefing on Haiti.
Participating in the JCPoA and ending Iran's destabilising regional behaviour13/12/2018 14:10:00
Statement given yesterday by Ambassador Karen Pierce, UK Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council Briefing on Nuclear Non-Proliferation