Nerve agent attack: Detective exposed to novichok discharged from hospital

The police officer treated for exposure to the nerve agent used in the Salisbury spy attack has been discharged from hospital.

Detective sergeant Nick Bailey was part of the initial response to the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, who were found unresponsive on a park bench on 4 March.

DS Bailey, 38, fell seriously ill at the scene and was taken to Salisbury District Hospital.

In a statement read out by Wiltshire chief constable Kier Pritchard, DS Bailey thanked medical staff for their "phenomenal" care and said the attention surrounding the case was "really overwhelming".

He said: "People ask me how I am feeling - but there are really no words to explain how I feel right now.

"Surreal is the word that keeps cropping up - and it really has been completely surreal.

"I have been so very overwhelmed by the support, cards and messages I have received - everyone has been so incredible."

Asking for privacy, the police officer said he was "just a normal person with a normal life, and I don't want my wife, children, family or I to be part of that attention".

His wife, Sarah, also released a statement that said their world had been "turned upside down" and the attack was "the most traumatic event of our life".

"Nick doesn't like the term 'hero', but he has always been a hero to me and our children," she said.

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Following the police officer's discharge from hospital, chief constable Pritchard said thoughts were now with the Skripals and their family.

Earlier, a court heard the mental capacity of the former double agent and his daughter may be compromised to an unknown degree.

The Court of Protection in London said it was "not possible to say when or to what extent" they may "regain capacity".

"The precise effect of their exposure on their long term health remains unclear albeit medical tests indicate that their mental capacity might be compromised to an unknown and so far unascertained degree," said a judgment by Mr Justice Williams.

The pair remain stable in hospital and under heavy sedation after the Salisbury attack, an unnamed consultant told the court.

They said Mr Skripal "is unable to communicate in any way" and Ms Skripal "is unable to communicate in any meaningful way".

While their health is "not expected to change in the immediate or near future", the judgment added that "it is not inconceivable that their condition could rapidly deteriorate".

The court also confirmed that blood samples from the Skripals had been analysed by experts at Porton Down, with findings indicating exposure to novichok or a closely related nerve agent.

The judgment, which will allow experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to obtain samples of the Skripals' blood, said the Russians were being treated on the basis "they would want to be kept alive".

The Court of Protection makes rulings for people who lack the required mental capacity to decide for themselves.

Britain has blamed the Russian state for the attack - claims the country and its leader strongly deny.

The diplomatic row between the two countries continues to grow, with Russia's ambassador hitting back after Boris Johnson suggested Vladimir Putin will "glory" in this summer's World Cup in a similar way to Adolf Hitler the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Alexander Yakovenko held a news conference during which he called the Foreign Secretary's comments "unacceptable and totally irresponsible".

"Nobody has the right to insult the Russian people, who defeated Nazism and lost more than 25 million people, by comparing our country to Nazi Germany," he said.

On Tuesday, 23 Russian diplomats, accused of working as spies, were expelled from Britain over the poisoning row.

Russia has said it will kick out the same number of staff from the British embassy.