A police officer who almost died after investigating the Salisbury poisonings said he is still trying to pick up the pieces of his life.
Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey has made a third attempt to return to work this week, two years after being poisoned by Novichok.
Det Sgt Bailey was the first person to enter the home of Sergei Skripal after the Russian former double agent and his daughter Yulia were rushed to hospital after being poisoned by the deadly nerve agent on a park bench in Salisbury.
The case that led Britain to accuse Russia of attempted murder and charge two Russian intelligence agents with the poisoning in absentia, has now been turned into a BBC drama series, The Salisbury Poisonings.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Det Sgt Bailey, 40, has detailed the torment he and his family endured after he was accidentally poisoned at the Skripals’ home after grasping the door knob.
Det Sgt Bailey had worn a protective suit and latex gloves, but was later told his glove was “saturated” by the powerful nerve agent.
What followed was a two-week stay in intensive care – during which his wife and two daughters feared he would die – as well as the loss of the Bailey’s family home and possessions due to contamination fears.
“The world has moved on, but I’m still trying to pick up the pieces,” he told the paper.
“I’m not ashamed to say it has had a massive impact psychologically. It really pulled the rug from under my feet.”
Although Det Sgt Bailey was discharged from hospital within three weeks, he could not then go home, since he had unknowingly carried Novichok into the residence from the Skripal’s house.
While he was in hospital, police had seized Det Sgt Bailey’s home and its contents, fearing the risk of contamination too high. They moved his wife Sarah and daughters Eloise and Annabel, then 14 and 10, into a bed and breakfast.
While Sarah had packed some belongings into four suitcases, police took the decision to buy the house and destroy all its contents.
They had done the same to the Skripal’s house and had removed the park bench where they had sat when poisoned, as well as burying no fewer than 20 emergency services vehicles used in the case.
“It was heartbreaking,” said Det Sgt Bailey. “We scrimped and saved for that house. It was our forever home, but we only lived there for two years.”
While the Baileys have now bought a new home, the policeman suffers with depression and memory loss, The Daily Telegraph said.
He attempted to return to work in September 2018, and in January 2019, but both times “couldn’t deal with being in a police environment”.
He returned again on Monday, joining a neighbourhood police team to build his confidence. If that also proves unsuccessful, he will look for a different job.
The Skripals, like Det Sgt Bailey also recovered and, after more than a year in an MI6 safe house, moved to New Zealand.
But local woman Dawn Sturgess, 44, died months after the incident, having picked up the discarded perfume bottle used by Russian agents to hold the Novichok.
Russian agents going by the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov have been charged in absentia over the poisonings, with Interpol Red Notices and European Arrest warrants issued.
Meanwhile, Det Sgt Bailey has defended his wife against criticism for her actions as portrayed in the series.
He tweeted: “I’ve seen quite a bit of negativity towards my wife regarding episode 2 and the way she handled it. Those scenes with Sarah could never truly reflect the extreme emotion and trauma she went through that day. Cut her some slack and be kind.”
In the episode, Sarah – played by Annabel Scholey – is seen to angrily tell a police liaison officer at the family home to “piss off” and pours herself a glass of white wine.
Critical tweets were also posted by viewers pointing out Mrs Bailey did not change the bed sheets after her husband had slept in them.