Russia and Dorset: an unlikely connection

The fallout of the attempted murder of an ex-Russian spy has reached Dorset – in more ways than one.

Yesterday morning several media outlets – such as the Bournemouth Echo and the Daily Mirror – reported that the army had arrived in Gillingham at around 11am.

The forces were there to take away a breakdown truck that was used to move the car of former agent Sergei Skripal.

Mr. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain critically ill in hospital being poisoned in Salisbury last Sunday.

Police set up cordons across parts of Gillingham with a large number of army personnel visible at Hyde Road, which was sealed off.

People in protective suits were seen entering a house on the quiet road and a recovery vehicle was removed.

The forces then left the north Dorset town, which is 30 miles west of Salisbury, at just after 4pm on Wednesday afternoon.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday Simon Hoare – who is the MP for North Dorset – said: “This morning residents in Hyde Road in Gillingham, in my constituency, saw the Metropolitan Police and the army in place, the street in lockdown and vehicles and items linked to the Salisbury incident removed.”

Officials have said no members of the public were at risk.

‘Espionage thriller’

This news follows the announcement by Home Secretary Amber Rudd that there will be an inquiry into the deaths of 14 people who had ties to Russia – including that of a Dorset businessman.

Stephen Curtis and Bournemouth-based pilot Max Radford both died in a helicopter crash in 2004.

Ms. Rudd confirmed that the police and MI5 would be looking into several former cases but declined to specify which they would be.

The Home Secretary agreed to re-examine the deaths after she received a letter from Yvette Cooper MP, chair of the Home Affairs select committee.

An article published by the news website Buzzfeed first alleged the links between Russia and the deaths.

The coroner who examined the deaths of Mr. Curtis and Mr. Radford said at the time the case had all the ingredients of an ‘espionage thriller‘.

It is also believed that Alex Chapman, the now deceased ex-husband of a Russian spy turned TV personality, was a resident in Bournemouth at the time of his death.

Anna Chapman was sent back to Russia in 2010 as part of swap deal for Mr. Skripal.

There is no suggestion that there was anything improper about the circumstances in which Mr. Chapman died.

He was 36-years-old at the time of his death.


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