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British police examining authenticity of new poisoning claims

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
Police officers stand guard outside a Prezzo restaurant in Salisbury, Britain, on Monday after a couple became sick and sparked fears of a possible nerve agent attack. Photo by Tolga Akmen/EPA-EFE
Police officers stand guard outside a Prezzo restaurant in Salisbury, Britain, on Monday after a couple became sick and sparked fears of a possible nerve agent attack. Photo by Tolga Akmen/EPA-EFE

Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Police are looking into the possibility that a poisoning scare last weekend -- which sparked fears of another possible nerve gent attack -- might have been a hoax.

Detectives in Salisbury said they are questioning Alex King and Anna Shapiro, the pair who told police they were sickened at the Prezzo restaurant on Sunday.

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Authorities treated the case as another possible nerve agent attack, similar to that of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal earlier this year. In an interview with Britain's The Sun, Shapiro said she believed they had been targeted by the Russian government.

Tests, however, have revealed that the couple weren't poisoned by any nerve agent and the hospital said Wednesday the pair had been discharged. Now, investigators say they're trying to determine the authenticity of the claims.

Detectives said they have interviewed Shapiro and planned to talk to King on Thursday.

The scare at the restaurant Sunday solicited a large police response because of Skripal's poisoning in Salisbury in March, and that of another couple in June. In the second case, a woman died from the Soviet-era agent novichok.

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Shapiro and King are friends with Edward Davenport, who goes by the nickname "Fast Eddy" and is known for hosting parties with rock starts and actors. King once was Davenport's press representative.

Davenport described King as a "fun guy" who once snuck into a film premiere and shook hands with Prince Charles to win a bet.

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