Zizzi closed after Russian MI6 spy left critically ill in Salisbury

Andy Hayes, News Reporter

A restaurant has been closed after a former Russian spy was found unconscious in a shopping centre following exposure to an unknown substance.

Wiltshire Police said Zizzi, in Castle Street, Salisbury, had been closed "as a precaution".

Sergei Skripal, 66, and a woman in her 30s were found "unconscious on a bench" at The Maltings shopping centre on Sunday afternoon, officers said.

Both are in a critical condition in intensive care at Salisbury District Hospital.

:: Who is Russian double agent Sergei Skripal?

Mr Skripal was convicted in Russia of spying for MI6 in 2006. It was alleged that he disclosed the names of several dozen Russian agents working in Europe.

He was later given refuge in the UK as part of a spy swap.

Sky News' defence correspondent, Alistair Bunkall, said it was fair to assume the security services were "involved" in the investigation.

He said toxicology tests were not expected back on Monday night.

Neither Mr Skripal nor the woman had any "visible injuries", Wiltshire Police's temporary Assistant Chief Constable, Craig Holden, said.

While a major incident has been declared and "extensive inquiries" are under way, detectives are as yet "unable to ascertain whether or not a crime has taken place", Mr Holden said.

He said the incident was not being treated as terror-related but that officers were keeping an open mind.

Mr Holden said a risk to the wider public does not "currently" exist.

Mr Skripal, a former colonel within Russian military intelligence, was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2006.

He was one of four convicts given a pardon, and one of two sent to Britain after a spy swap in July 2010 - described as the largest since the Cold War.

As part of the deal, 10 Russian sleeper agents were expelled from the United States.

A spokesman for the Russian embassy said: "Neither relatives nor legal representatives of the said person, nor the British authorities, have addressed the embassy in this regard."

Anyone exposed to the unknown substance has been decontaminated, "as is standard practice in situations like this", a spokesman for Public Health England (PHE) said.

"Scientists from PHE's Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards will continue to assist the response and review information as it becomes available," he added.

In 2006, Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko died after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium-210 at a London hotel.

In 2016, a public inquiry concluded that his killing had "probably" been carried out with the approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin.