Key site in Salisbury nerve agent attack has reopened

A police cordon was in place around The Maltings in Salisbury

One of the key sites at the centre of the nerve agent attack in Salisbury has reopned this weekend.

The Maltings shopping centre was closed to the public after a small amount of the Novichok substance was thought to have been used to target Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs carried out a multimillion-pound decontamination operation centring on nine areas where experts thought traces could still remain. However, following 11 weeks of tests, they have concluded The Maltings area was safe and could be open for business.

Alistair Cunningham from the Salisbury Recovery Group says the city is ready to get back on track as the summer approaches.

Government officials sought to allay concerns by saying the city was still safe for residents and visitors, and there was no additional risk to the public.

This week the Salisbury recovery co-ordinating group - in conjunction with Wiltshire Council, Salisbury City Council, and The Maltings Shopping team -will repair and clean the area with work including repairs to brickwork, grass cutting and some refurbishment ahead of the site being reopened to the general public.

Yulia Skripal was discharged from Salisbury District Hospital on Tuesday 10th April, while her father, Sergei, was released from hospital on Friday 18th May. They have been taken to a secret location in the UK.

Yulia Skirpal and her father Sergei Skirpal pictured before the suspected poisioning

Yulia Skripal, the daughter of Russian spy Sergei Skripal, has said she wants to return to her country “in the longer term”, despite being poisoned with a nerve agent.

Moscow has denied being responsible for the poisoning of the Skripals but the incident has plunged diplomatic relations between Russia and the West into the deep freeze.

Despite the denials the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats, with more than 25 countries following suit in a show of solidarity against Moscow.

In tit-for-tat fashion Russia declared 23 British diplomats persona non-grata, and responded to US measures by expelling 60 of their diplomats and closing a consulate in St Petersburg.