A Russian TV crew has been condemned for an “appalling” report filmed within the hospital treating poisoned spy Sergei Skripal.
A reporter for REN TV – one of Russia’s largest privately owned networks – mocked the nerve agent attack and questioned nurses after entering Salisbury District Hospital early on Wednesday morning.
The crew were later kicked out of the hospital after being approached by security staff, who called police.
A spokesperson for Salisbury District Hospital described the stunt as “appalling”, adding that the crew “approached staff in the middle of the night with no warning and without asking for any permission”.
“Our staff, who have been rightly lauded for their recent efforts, working tirelessly to give all of our patients high quality care, deserved better,” they told Sky News.
“We would like to reiterate that any attempt to harass, intimidate or cause distress to any of our staff or patients is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
In scenes Sky News has chosen not to show, the Russian reporter can be seen roving the corridors of the hospital.
Talking to the camera, he highlights the lack of security and people receiving treatment at the hospital – details he suggests cast doubt on news Mr Skripal is being treated there.
In an incongruously dramatic depiction of an NHS hospital, the correspondent narrates lingering shots of coffee machines and deserted waiting rooms.
He soon reaches the microbiology department, which he says is behind a “securely locked” door with a sign saying “do not enter, stay away”.
“Most likely this is the door behind which Sergei Skripal is located,” he says.
When the camera zooms in, however, the sign on the door can be seen to read: “Danger, slippery floor surface”.
Later, the reporter approaches two nurses who are walking the corridors, asking them how Mr Skripal is feeling.
“I am sorry, we don’t know anything, we just take care of babies in this hospital,” they reply.
The reporter concludes there are “strange inconsistencies are everywhere,” noting with suspicion that staff are wearing ordinary clothes.
According to the video, security arrived after about 15 minutes and stopped filming – forcing the crew to escape with a “technical copy” of the video.
Wiltshire Police told Sky News they were called by security staff at the hospital shortly after 5am and officers spoke with two men, who they believed to be news reporters, in the reception area.
“They were asked to leave the hospital and did so,” a spokesperson said. “No arrests were made.”
Former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were attacked with novichok, a potentially deadly nerve agent, in what the Government has said was “highly likely” a Russian state hit.
Mr Skripal’s condition is now “improving rapidly” and it is hoped he will be discharged in “due course”.
Yulia Skripal was discharged from the same hospital on Monday and moved to a secure location.
Much Russian coverage of the case – which prompted the UK and its allies to impose diplomatic sanctions against the state – has followed a similarly sceptical tone to the TV report, disputing the British explanation that Yulia and Sergei were poisoned by novichok.
Both private outlets and official channels have presented accusations of Russian involvement as unfounded, suggesting official information has been withheld or claiming authorities have not taken precautions that would fit with a nerve agent attack.
Sky News has contacted REN TV for comment.