Police quiz dad over Novichok spy attack after finding science experiment in his shed he used to make SOAP

Science enthusiast David James with a home-made colouromete which was mistaken for a bomb.

A dad-of-two was quizzed by police over the Salisbury Novichok attack after chemicals were found in his shed – which turned out to be a science experiment for making SOAP.

David James, 36, was held in custody for nine hours after officers discovered dozens of test tubes and laboratory equipment during a search of his home.

Residents living nearby were evacuated and the bomb squad were scrambled following the discovery at his home in Bron y Wern, Bagillt, Flintshire, Wales, on April 4 this year.

Detectives even quizzed him over the attempted murder of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia who were poisoned with the deadly nerve agent Novichok in March.

David James home-made colourometer which was mistaken for a bomb.

During the interrogation they demanded to know why Mr James had documents with
Russian writing on which later turned out to be the ingredients for a chemical he used to perfume homemade soap.

He was finally released after the chemicals turned out to be a harmless experiment David had set up to encourage his daughters, aged eight and 13, to get interested in science.

This week David was contacted by North Wales Police informing him they were not taking any further action.

Science enthusiast David James with an Arduino Uno microprocessor like this was seized in the raid.

David, who is due to start a science degree at Wrexham Glyndwr University in September, said: “It’s been months of hell and uncertainty.

“I was making bars of soap with ingredients like coconut oil and posted the results on Facebook.

“I had been taken to hospital by the police because of ongoing issues I was having at the time but when the police went to my home to check it was ok for me to return they found the chemicals.

“After that I found myself arrested on suspicion of making explosives, they must have
thought they’d stumbled on a bomb factory of illegal chemical lab.

“I was in custody for nine hours and found myself answering questions about the Salisbury nerve gas attack.

“I just remember thinking to myself ‘do they think I’m some kind of assassin?’

“I was feeling pretty terrible during the whole investigation.

“They asked if I knew what was going on in Salisbury.

“I had a copy of a newspaper which featured the story about the poisoning and they held it up to me and asked me if I had heard about it.

“I said that I did, but it was only because it was an interesting story, it had nothing to do with me.

“They also asked if I knew what the writing on the Russian certificate was and I said I couldn’t because it was in Russian.

“They showed me a picture of the Vanadium Oxide and asked me to explain more about it which I did.

“They also thought a substance I had was Nitric Acid, which is banned because it goes into making high explosives but I giggled when I told them it wasn’t, it was Ammonia.

“Since this all happened there have been all sorts of rumours going around but I just want people to know I am not a terrorist.

Science enthusiast David James.

“I had various chemicals, electronic devices and laboratory glassware, none of this was illegal and are available to anyone.

“The chemicals were general solvents like methylated spirit and drain cleaner.

“I usually keep them in my shed but the lock was broke so I felt it better to keep them in the house.

“My main aim was to teach my daughters’ about science so they would be able to make things like soap.

“I even have the three different sized lab coats here for each of us including the rest of the personal protective equipment.

Police at the time of the arrest of David James.

“I only wanted to teach them science, like I’m teaching them maths.

“I have always had a chemistry set ever since I was a young child but you can’t buy things like that nowadays.”

Police confirmed the investigation into Mr James has officially been closed and no further action is to be taken.


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