MPs urge Home Office to compensate charity for Novichok incident costs

11 Mar 2020 News

Credit: Fergus Burnett

MPs have written to the home secretary’s office to ask that Wiltshire Air Ambulance be compensated for costs associated with attending the Novichok incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury in 2018.

On 4 March 2018 Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the UK's intelligence services, and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned in Salisbury, England, with a Novichok nerve agent.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance asked its local MPs for their support in securing compensation from the government, relating to costs in excess of £100,000.

The charity said that its helicopter was grounded and the charity’s airbase was closed for two weeks as a precautionary measure to check for cross-contamination. There were “a series of unutilised costs as a result, including pilots being unable to fly, paramedic cover costs and staff relocation.”

A Wiltshire Air Ambulance spokesperson said: “We also incurred subsequent charges for medical screening, compensation for staff personal belongings and counselling in the wake of attending the incidents.

They added: “With the airbase locked down, events had to be cancelled due to the lack of access to fundraising equipment, such as marquees and collection tins and buckets.

“Despite providing evidence of our losses, totalling in excess of £100,000, we have been unable to secure any central or local government grant funding.

“We are very grateful to our Wiltshire MPs for taking this matter up on our behalf and await the response from the home secretary’s office.”

In a letter addressed to Priti Patel, home secretary, the MPs said: "They had been confident of reclaiming this money, as was the case for other local organisations who were also badly affected by the Novichok incident. 

“However, they have now been advised that there is no money left for compensation and are therefore facing a strain on finances as a result. This, to us as Wiltshire MPs, does seem extremely unfair."

MPs who signed the letter include Michelle Donelan, Danny Kruger, Robert Buckland and John Glen.

Donelan said: “Wiltshire Air Ambulance played a key role as part of the response by Wiltshire’s brilliant emergency services.

“Unfortunately, they have not been able to recover the costs which this and the Amesbury emergency operations cost them and as a long-standing supporter of the great work they do, I was incredibly disappointed”.

A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

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