Hello, children! It's time for a story! Are you ready? If you are, let's start!
Once upon a time, there was a man whose name was Sergei Skripal. He lived in a country far away, called Russia. He was a spy.
Spies like to find out things. They like to find out about other people's secrets. They like to find out about secrets like what other people are doing, or what the other people are trying to find out about them instead of minding their own business.
It was all very complicated, this world of spying! When Sergei was able to find out some secret or other, he would tell his boss, and his boss would tell the government, and everyone would be very happy, and they would all link arms and sing and dance around in a circle whilst drinking copious amounts of vodka until they all passed out.
But if he wasn't able to find out any new secrets, his boss would wear a frown, and fold his arms, and threaten to send him to a place called Siberia, a very cold place with no internet or KFC, so that Sergei could 'freshen up' his finding-out skills. It was all very complicated.
One day, Sergei did something naughty. I can't tell you what he did, because it's classified. Whatever it was, Sergei was put in a prison, where lots of naughty people are kept. It's very cold and dark, and every meal is Cabbage Soup. He was very sad. A few years later, though, he was very lucky: he was able to get out of the prison, and went to live in England. Before he went, he told his old boss he was very sorry, and that he wouldn't be naughty again. In fact, he said, he'd decided to give up spying, and look for a new career. Maybe gardening, or something like that.
When Sergei's boss heard this, he was very sceptical about his old employee. He was 'sceptical about Skripal'. He didn't trust Sergei, and he decided to pay him back for his treachery. He had a plan!
Some time later, Sergei's daughter Yulia decided to visit him in England. Sergei's old boss had her followed. During Yulia's visit, she and her father decided to go shopping in Salisbury. They went to the Maltings, a shopping centre in the town. After they had looked around the shops for a while, they decided to have a sit down on a bench.
Whilst they were sitting on the bench, they heard a whirling sound. They looked around, but couldn't see anything, but then Sergei looked up to the sky, and there, as plain as the nose on your face, was a drone hovering just above them! The drone then dropped something onto Sergei and his daughter, and then flew off in the direction of Russia.
A few minutes later, a lady saw Sergei and his daughter on the bench. They looked ill. The lady, whose name was Freya, said that Yulia had turned white, and had foam all around her mouth, as if she had been cleaning her teeth rather too enthusiastically, and had got the toothpaster bubbles all around her chops. Sergei, she told the police, was making hand signals towards the sky. He was trying to tell her about the drone which had dropped something! She left the scene, because it looked 'well dodgy'.
Next, a doctor and a nurse came the same way. They looked at the couple, puzzled, and decided to ring for assistance.
When the police arrived, they were bewildered at the lack of clues. There was no blood, no weapon, no suspect or anything else, just Sergei and his daughter foaming at the mouth. (There was no blood or weapons or suspects because the drone was on its way back to Russia by now). The police sent Sergei and Yulia to hospital, and, after lots and lots and lots of tests, it was found that they had been attacked with weapons grade Novichok, a dangerous substance.
Sergei and his daughter spent a long time in the hospital getting better, but they knew that, if they ever went out on their own again, the drone could be waiting for them somewhere, and this made them very nervous.
In a darkened office back in Russia, Sergei's old boss poured himself a vodka and smiled to himself. He and his drone had won this game.