LONDON: Blood samples from former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia can be taken for testing by the world chemical weapons body (OPCW), an English judge ruled Thursday.
The Skripals, victims of a nerve agent attack that Britain has blamed on Russia, are in a coma in a critical but stable condition in hospital in Salisbury, southwest England.
Russia denies all responsibility and the poisoning has plunged relations between London and Moscow into crisis.
Judge David Williams ruled it was lawful for doctors "to take blood samples for provision to OPCW (the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) and to provide copies of medical notes to OPCW".
The judge concluded that it was in the best interests of the Skripals, who are unconscious and therefore unable to give their consent.
He made the ruling following a hearing in the Court of Protection in London, where issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions are considered.
The High Court judge examined the case at a private hearing earlier this week.
He said doctors at the Salisbury hospital where they are being treated could not only provide blood samples but also provide copies of medical notes to the OPCW.
"Both Mr and Ms Skripal remain in hospital under heavy sedation," Williams said in his ruling, published online by the English judiciary.
"The precise effect of their exposure on their long term health remains unclear albeit medical tests indicate that their mental capacity might be compromised to an unknown and so far unascertained degree.
"It is not inconceivable that their condition could rapidly deteriorate," he added.
The ruling said it was the OPCW's wish to collect fresh blood samples, undertake their own analysis in relation to evidence of nerve agents, and conduct DNA analysis to confirm the samples originally tested in Britain's defence laboratories as being from the Skripals.
They also want to analyse their medical records and re-test the samples already analysed by the British labs.
Skripal, 66, and his daughter, 33, Yulia were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury after visiting a pub and a restaurant on March 4.