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Parents of poisoned officer slam plans for TV drama on Salisbury Novichok attack

The Maltings in Salisbury where Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found on a bench after they were attacked with the nerve agent Novichok (Jonathan Brady/PA)
The Maltings in Salisbury where Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found on a bench after they were attacked with the nerve agent Novichok (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The parents of a police officer poisoned in the Salisbury Novichok attack have criticised plans for a TV drama about the incident.

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey’s parents, Steve and Sue, said producing the film is “inappropriately premature” and they “don’t need this reminder”.

Former Russian GRU agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed on a bench at The Maltings shopping centre in the town on March 5 last year.

The Wiltshire Police officer was contaminated after going to the Skripals’ home, where the nerve agent had been sprayed on a door handle.

Salisbury incident
Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was contaminated by Novichok at the Salisbury home of Sergei and Yulia Skripal (Ben Birchall/PA)

The Skripals survived the attack, which Prime Minister Theresa May said had “almost certainly” been approved by the Russian state.

However, the incident later claimed the life of Dawn Sturgess, who died after coming into contact with a perfume bottle believed to have been used in the attack on the Skripals and then discarded.

Her partner, Charlie Rowley, was left seriously ill but later recovered.

Salisbury incident
Dawn Sturgess died after being exposed to the nerve agent (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Announcing the drama earlier this month, the BBC said the two-part series would tell “the story of how ordinary people reacted to a crisis on their doorstep, displaying extraordinary heroism as their city became the focus of an unprecedented national emergency”.

In a letter to the Salisbury Journal, Mr and Mrs Bailey criticised the decision to make the drama.

“We read with interest Annie Riddle’s comments in Journal Opinion when she remarked on the insensitivity of the BBC in producing a drama on the nerve agent attack in Salisbury only a year after the event itself,” they wrote.

“We totally agree that this is inappropriately premature for the people of Salisbury and in particular for the victims and their families.

“As the parents of Det Sgt Nick Bailey, who was poisoned by the nerve agent, we fully agree that our family, as well as the families of the other victims, don’t need this reminder at a time when we are all still trying to come to terms with what happened last year.

Salisbury incident
Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was poisoned while investigating the Salisbury Novichok attack (Wiltshire Police/PA)

“The BBC Panorama programme, broadcast last year, on the Salisbury nerve agent attack was informative and a well-balanced documentary and it’s disappointing that they want to follow it up with a drama.”

Mr and Mrs Bailey added: “The people of Salisbury deserve a proper break from this and the BBC producer’s promise to ‘focus on the extraordinary heroism with which ordinary people reacted to the crisis’ is just an excuse to sensationalise an episode in our lives and in the lives of the people of Salisbury which is still very raw.”

A cast for the new BBC Two drama, which is being written by Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn, is yet to be announced.

Despite the incident, Salisbury was named the best place to live in the UK in the Sunday Times 2019 list.

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