Officer poisoned in novichok attack sues Wiltshire police

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Wiltshire Police/PA</span>
Photograph: Wiltshire Police/PA

The police officer poisoned in the Salisbury novichok attack has lodged papers in the high court suing Wiltshire police over the trauma he continues to suffer three years after being exposed to the nerve agent.

Nick Bailey was critically injured after coming into contact with novichok when he entered the house of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in March 2018.

Bailey, who was a detective sergeant, spent 17 days in hospital and retired from Wiltshire police in October 2020, explaining that the impact of the ordeal meant he could no longer do the job.

Bailey’s lawyer, Patrick Maguire, a partner at the law firm Horwich Cohen Coghlan, said on Wednesday: “It has been a challenging three years for everyone affected by the events of March 2018.

“Our client experienced a trauma, which had a devastating effect on his family and forced him to leave the job he loved after more than 18 years of loyal service.

“We hope to come to a resolution very soon with Wiltshire police so that Mr Bailey and his family can continue the process of healing and move forwards with their lives.”

It is understood that Bailey’s legal team served a “letter before action” to Wiltshire police about a year ago but is still waiting to hear whether the force accepts liability.

Bailey’s lawyers are planning to serve the full particulars of the claim to the high court this summer if there is no resolution.

Maguire represents people who have suffered “serious or catastrophic injury and families who have lost a loved one”.

The personal injury claim is filed under “accidents at work” and comes five months after Bailey’s wife, Sarah, tweeted that he was still “fighting for part of his pension”.

Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, also survived the novichok attack but at the end of June 2018 a Wiltshire woman, Dawn Sturgess, and her partner, Charlie Rowley, were poisoned in Amesbury, eight miles north of Salisbury, after Rowley found a fake perfume bottle containing novichok. Rowley recovered but Sturgess, 44, died on 8 July.

The role the Russian state played in Sturgess’s death is to be investigated in detail at her inquest.

Speaking to Wiltshire College for a podcast last month, Bailey told how he felt “overwhelming guilt” after his family were forced to leave their home because he had contaminated it with the nerve agent.

He said: “The trauma for me was a prolonged trauma. I remember feeling pure panic and fear of the unknown because I had been poisoned by this nerve agent and you just don’t know where that is going to end.”

Bailey added: “There was a lot of fear and a lot of guilt because later on down the line while I was in hospital my family were basically told they had to leave our house because I had accidentally taken nerve agent back and contaminated the house.”

He said he initially struggled to do simple day-to-day tasks and is still on medication three years later.

Bailey is planning to write a book and is also offering himself as a keynote speaker on crises, resilience and mental health.

A Wiltshire police spokesperson said: “As a matter of policy it would be inappropriate of us to comment on private or potential legal matters relating to a former police officer.”