Counterfeit designer perfume bottle filled with ‘significant’ amount of Novichok

The counterfeit perfume box found by Charlie Rowley on June 27 (Metropolitan Police/PA)

A counterfeit bottle of designer perfume picked up by a victim of the Salisbury nerve agent attack contained a “significant” amount of Novichok.

Charlie Rowley, 45, told police he found a box he thought contained perfume in a charity bin on Wednesday June 27.

The box and bottle were labelled as Premier Jour by Nina Ricci – but Scotland Yard has confirmed that they were counterfeits and had been specially adapted.

Inside the box was a bottle and applicator, and police said Mr Rowley tried to put the two parts together at his home address in Amesbury on Saturday June 30.

In doing so, he got some of the contents on himself.

He said his partner, Dawn Sturgess, 44, had applied some of the substance to her wrists before feeling unwell.

After he told police where he found the box, cordons were put in place and two bins behind shops in Catherine Street, Salisbury, were removed.

Previously, during a search of Mr Rowley’s home in Muggleton Road, Amesbury, on July 10, a small box labelled as Nina Ricci Premier Jour was recovered from a rubbish bag in the kitchen.

On July 11, a small glass bottle with a modified nozzle was found on a kitchen worktop.

Tests undertaken at the Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory established that the bottle contained a “significant amount of Novichok”, Scotland Yard said.

Ms Sturgess died in hospital in July, just over a week after she and Mr Rowley fell ill.

A perfume bottle and applicator recovered by police from Novichok victim Charlie Rowley’s address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said the manner in which the bottle and packaging was adapted made it a “perfect cover” for smuggling the weapon into the country.

He added: “We have carried out numerous inquiries in relation to the bottle and are now able to release an image of it with the nozzle attached.

“We are also releasing an image of the box that the bottle and nozzle were in.

“We have spoken to Nina Ricci and undertaken further inquiries. Nina Ricci and our inquiries have confirmed that it is not a genuine Nina Ricci perfume bottle, box or nozzle.

“It is in fact a counterfeit box, bottle and nozzle that have been especially adapted.

“I’d like to reassure anyone who has bought Nina Ricci perfume from a legitimate source that they should not be concerned. It is safe.

“We cannot account for the whereabouts of the bottle, nozzle or box between the attack on the Skripals on March 4 and when Charlie Rowley said he found it on Wednesday June 27.”