The British paper quoted “senior sources” it did not name as saying that they are convinced the Novichok nerve agent was hidden in the luggage of Yulia Skripal, the Russian double agent’s 33-year-old daughter, “before she left Moscow.”
Both Skripal, 66, and his daughter were severely hurt in the suspected attack in Salisbury, southern England, in early March, according to reports.
They are reported to be in intensive care, fighting for their lives in a local hospital.
A former agent with Russia’s FSB security service, Colonel Skripal arrived in Britain in 2010 as part of a prisoner exchange; prior to that he was jailed in Moscow for spying for Britain, according to The Telegraph.
Spy's daughter targeted to get at her father?
Investigators are “working on the theory that the toxin was impregnated in an item of clothing or cosmetics or else in a gift that was opened in Skripal’s house in Salisbury, meaning Miss Skripal was deliberately targeted to get at her father,” The Telegraph said.
The newspaper also quoted a UK police officer -- Paul Mills, deputy Chief Constable of Wiltshire police – as saying that 131 people could have potentially come into contact with the deadly nerve agent, and that they are being monitored by health authorities over the phone on a daily basis.
Mills told a public meeting on Thursday evening that “46 people have attended hospital expressing concerns since the incident, and that cordons around areas where traces of the nerve agent have been found or could yet be found may remain in place for months,” The Telegraph reported.
Russia in hot seat
Politicians including US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have all declared support for the British government amid a dispute with Russia over the Salisbury attack.
Donald Tusk, the head of the European Council, the EU’s top political authority, has said he will put the issue on the agenda for a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels next week.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Wednesday that those responsible for the suspected nerve gas attack in Britain “should be identified and punished.”
In a statement for the PAP news agency, Duda said that “the use of chemical weapons on the territory of our strategic ally cannot be left unanswered.”
He also said that Poland would “work closely with the United Kingdom on this issue within the UN Security Council and as part of NATO, the European Union and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.”
A senior aide to the Polish prime minister said on Wednesday that Poland was ready to help the UK solve the case of the suspected poisoning.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said it is “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for the March 4 attack in Salisbury.
Moscow has denied allegations of Russian involvement.
May on Wednesday announced the expulsion from Britain of 23 Russian diplomats believed to be involved in espionage-related activities. Speaking to Parliament, she also announced a series of other measures against Moscow over the Salisbury attack, including a halt to meetings with senior Russian officials.
Meanwhile, NATO, the Western defence alliance, has "expressed deep concern at the first offensive use of a nerve agent on Alliance territory" since the organisation was founded in 1949.