8 Jun 2020

Sergei and Yulia Skripal reportedly in New Zealand

From Morning Report, 7:16 am on 8 June 2020

Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the former Russian double agent spy and his daughter who were poisoned with the deadly nerve agent Novichok, are now reportedly living in New Zealand.

Two years ago the pair were found unconscious on a park bench in the English city of Salisbury after Russian agents smeared the deadly chemical on the door-handle of the former spy's home.

Senior UK government sources have told The Sunday Times the Skripals have been given new identities to start a life here after a year in an MI6 safe house.

However, according to Sputnik news, the niece of Sergei Skripal, Viktoria, says she doesn't have any information to corroborate the story.

We asked the Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway for a reponse, but he declined to comment saying he can't comment on individual cases.

His department is working on getting a response, but that has not yet reached us. Sir Tony Brenton, a former UK Ambassador to Russia told Corin Dann the publicity around the Skripals whereabouts is cause for concern.

"The worrying factor is that it has become public that he's in New Zealand, which ought not to have happened if the point of him going there is to conceal himself," he said.

Viktoria Skripal, niece of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, says she does not have any information to corroborate the story that her uncle and cousin Yulia have left the UK for New Zealand, or any reason to believe media reporting on the matter.

"I don't know anything about this. But I don't believe it. Their participation in a witness protection programme and relocation is something that has been discussed for a long time.

"New Zealand, the USA and Australia were previously mentioned. But I think that they're still in Porton Down. It's cheaper for the British government to support them there than in New Zealand, and they don't have so much money to support themselves there," Viktoria Skripal said.

The relative believes the Skripals require medical supervision that can be provided to them only in Porton Down, the Wiltshire, England science park which contains some of Britain's most advanced military biodefence facilities.

"I think the information in the media about them moving is just a distraction," she insisted.