Novichok victim Charlie Rowley questions Russian ambassador over partner’s death

  • Video report by ITV News Reporter Martha Fairlie

Novichok victim Charlie Rowley has said he “didn’t really get any answers” after meeting with Russia’s ambassador in London to question him about the death of his partner Dawn Sturgess.

Mr Rowley said he still believed Russia was responsible for the Salisbury attack and that he was fed “Russian propaganda” during the 90-minute discussion.

Charlie Rowley said he 'didn't really get any answers' over Dawn Sturgess' death. Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA/ITV News

The 45-year-old was exposed to the same nerve agent used to attack ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia last March.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal became seriously ill after they were exposed to the nerve agent Novichok. Credit: PA

Mr Rowley and Ms Sturgess, 44, fell ill in Amesbury months later after coming into contact with a perfume bottle believed to have been used in the poisonings and then discarded.

Mr Rowely believed he had found a bottle of designer fragrance and presented it to his partner.

Ms Sturgess died in hospital in July.

Russian ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko speaking about the Salisbury attack last year. Credit: PA

Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Mr Rowley said Alexander Yakovenko had seemed “genuinely concerned” about his situation when they met at the Russian embassy in Kensington, but had not changed his view on Russia’s involvement in the poisonings.

“I went along to ask them ‘Why did your country kill my girlfriend?’, but I didn’t really get any answers,” he said.

“I liked the ambassador, but I thought some of what he said trying to justify Russia not being responsible was ridiculous.

“I’m glad I met him and feel I did find out some things I didn’t know before. But I still think Russia carried out the attack.”

The meeting was organised by a UK newspaper. Credit: AP

Mr Rowley, who says he continues to suffer from the long-term effects of exposure to Novichok, said he had asked the ambassador “more than a dozen questions in all”, including asking him about his claims that Britain was behind the attack.

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

He said Mr Yakovenko told him the substance used had not come from Russia and that the country only had small amounts of Novichok.

Speaking to the Sunday Mirror after the meeting, Mr Yakovenko said he and Mr Rowley were “on the same page” and wanted to see a report into the investigation published.

“It is important for Russia, but also for Charlie Rowley,” he said.

“I’ve seen a normal person who has really suffered a lot and who has suffered a tragedy in his life. If he asked for it, I would give him support.”

In September, Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service said there was sufficient evidence to charge two Russians – known by their aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – with offences including conspiracy to murder over the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

Alexander Petrov (left) and Ruslan Boshirov Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

They are accused of being members of the Russian military intelligence service the GRU.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement, with president Vladimir Putin claiming the two suspects were civilians, adding that there was "nothing special and nothing criminal" about them.

During an interview, the pair said they were tourists visiting Salisbury – particularly its famous cathedral.

Mr Yakovenko said he and Mr Rowley were 'on the same page' and wanted to see a report into the investigation published. Credit: AP

Later, the investigative group Bellingcat released several reports which claimed to reveal the real names of the suspects, Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, and that both were officers from Russia's GRU foreign intelligence agency.