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On-the-run Salisbury Novichok hoaxer jailed

A drug dealer who sparked fears of a Novichok attack similar to that which hospitalised a former Russian spy and his daughter has been jailed.

Alex King went on the run in December after claiming he had been poisoned at a Prezzo restaurant in Salisbury.

The hoax in September came six months after the nerve agent was used against Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

King, 42, was found guilty of selling drugs, including cocaine and ecstasy and sentenced in January to 11 years.

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He was arrested on Wednesday, admitted breaching his bail, and was jailed at Southwark Crown Court for a further four months.

‘Glamorous, seedy existence’

King claimed he had been poisoned in a branch of Prezzo, where he had been dining with his Russian-born wife, Anna Shapiro, last September.

It sparked a major incident and the area was sealed off in echoes of the aftermath involving the Skirpals, who fell ill shortly after leaving Zizzi, another Italian dining chain in the city.

King was last seen leaving a flat near Harley Street, with his wife, on 17 December.

He was arrested about half a mile away at an address in Chiltern Street, in Marylebone, west London.

Scotland Yard said a 30-year-old woman who was arrested for assisting an offender remains in police custody.

King’s lifestyle was laid bare in court earlier this year when he was convicted of two charges of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, one charge of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs and one charge of conspiracy to supply Class C drugs.

Sebastian Gardiner, defending one of King’s associates, described King in court as a “very bizarre” character who lived a “glamorous, albeit seedy, existence”, making money from arranging parties, selling drugs and supplying high-class escorts to his VIP clients.

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