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Police officer Nick Bailey, who was poisoned by the novichok nerve agent, has revealed that he was accused of being the Salisbury assassin.
The former detective sergeant was accused of attempting to kill Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
Mr Skripal and his daughter were found ill on a bench near Sailsbury Cathedral on March 4, 2018 after being poisoned with nerve agent novichok.
Mr Bailey, 41, then came into contact with the military-grade chemical after he was sent to the Skripals' home in the city – where the nerve agent had been sprayed on the front door handle.
Four months later, Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after she found a perfume bottle containing novichok and sprayed it on her wrist. Her boyfriend, Charlie Rowley, fell critically ill but recovered.
The suspected assassins – Russian intelligence officers Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin – were caught on CCTV as they travelled from Moscow to the Wiltshire cathedral city.
A third suspect, senior Russian agent Denis Sergeev, was believed to be the on-the-ground commander. All three fled back to Russia after the failed murder attempt.
Bailey's revelations were made in a Discover Plus documentary, 'Secrets of the Salisbury Poisoinings' which is set to be screened on Boxing Day.
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The documentary delves into details of the attack. During the 90-minute show, Mr Bailey said: "I was just a normal guy, normal police officer doing his job, and Sunday, March 4, 2018 happened and it changed my life forever."
He said he returned home after a 16-hour shift sweating and exhausted, saying: "I remember as well, my pupils were quite small but didn't think any more of it."
Bailey was unwell on Monday, and the following day he woke up hallucinating and sweating in what he calls "a tsunami of pure heat and fire" following which he was admitted to A&E.
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He said: "Even the staff at the hospital were scared about how this was going to work and what was going on. It was pure terror.
"I cried a lot because I was so scared. I thought it's only a matter of time before I slip into a coma and die."
He was in hospital for 17 days, remaining conscious throughout.
Against a backdrop of wilder conspiracy theories claimed by Russian authorities, Mr Bailey said his reputation was smeared as part of a disinformation campaign.
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"At one point I was accused of being the assassin. I was accused of being Sergei's handler. I was accused of working for MI6."
The documentary did not elaborate on who made the accusations against Bailey.
The former detective sergeant also recalled his frustration and anger when the team discovered Mr Skripal was a former Russian spy – and a former double agent working for MI6.
Bailey said: "He chose Salisbury, or MI6 chose Salisbury for him. And I did think, why was the former Russian spy living in Salisbury and how we did not know that he was there?
"Surely, we should have been made aware? By all accounts no one knew."
Mr Bailey's wife Sarah and the couple's two children had to leave the family home after traces of novichok were found in almost every room in the house. He added: "They lost everything that meant something to them".
While Bailey has since made a full physical recovery, he has been haunted by flashbacks and after attempting on three occasions to return to his policing career, retired on ill-health grounds in October 2018.
He joined Wiltshire Police in 2002 and was a key player in taking down Salisbury rapist Arthur Bonner, who had been at large for some 40 years before his conviction and imprisonment in 2016.
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