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Watchdog confirms United Kingdom findings on Russian-made nerve agent

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The highest concentration of Novichok was found at Mr Skripal’s house in Salisbury More

Sir Mark also alleged Russian agents had practised assassinating victims by putting the nerve agent Novichok on doorhandles - the method Britain says was used against the Skripals.

The letter from Mark Sedwill set out in clinical terms why Russian Federation had the means, the experience and the motive to carry out the attempted murders of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

In the 2000s, Sedwill said Russian Federation had trained military personnel in using these weapons, including on door handles, and Russian Federation "has a proven record of conducting state-sponsored assassination".

The findings were welcomed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said they backed Britain's assertion that only Russian Federation could have carried out the attack in March.

The daughter of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, who was poisoned along with her father with a deadly nerve agent in the United Kingdom last month, has rejected help from Moscow's embassy in London. Sergei Skripal was imprisoned in Russian Federation for selling secrets to British intelligence in the 1990s but was exchanged in a spy swap in 2010.

She said she had been made aware of the Russian embassy's attempts to contact and offer her assistance by "at the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services".

"It is highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent global chemical weapons controls", Sir Mark wrote.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said the chemical used against Sergei and Yulia Skripal was "of high purity", without mentioning the exact name of the substance which will be reserved for the complete classified report it has prepared.

He said only has the "technical means, operational experience and the motive" for the attack.

"This finding massively increases the pressure on Moscow to fully explain the exact course of events and background of the first nerve agent attack on European soil", he said. "This lack of transparency is here for a reason and this reason is highly likely not protecting the Russian citizens". "So far, we doubt it much", an embassy statement said.

"Russia's chemical weapons programme continued after the collapse of the Soviet Union".

"This is a fact of life".

In response to the claims, he said: "The British Government still hasn't produced any evidence in support of its position that would confirm their official version".

The posting was made three days after the Salisbury attack - when Miss Skripal, 33, pictured, was heavily sedated in hospital - leading to suspicions her account may have been hacked. Yulia has been discharged and is reportedly being kept at an MI5 "safe house". A police officer was also taken ill after attending the scene.

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