News | World News | Husband of Russian model who claims Putin tried to kill her is friends with notorious conman

Husband of Russian model who claims Putin tried to kill her is friends with notorious conman

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Russian model who claimed she was the victim of new Salisbury poison plot worked as a £4,000-a-night escort and her husband helped stage sex parties, it's revealed as police probe whether incident was a HOAX

  • Alex King taken ill along with his 30-year-old lingerie model wife Anna Shapiro
  • Shapiro claimed in newspaper interview she was the target of assassination plot 
  • In 2006 King was able to evade tight security and gate-crash a Royal event

By Paul Thompson and Sarah White and Will Stewart for MailOnline and Sebastian Shakespeare for the Daily Mail

Published: 17:10 EDT, 19 September 2018 | Updated: 20:16 EDT, 19 September 2018

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The Russian model who claimed she was the victim of a new Salisbury poison plot has worked as a a £4,000-a-night escort, and her husband who was also taken ill has helped stage sex involving prostitutes.

Alex King was taken ill along with his 30-year-old lingerie model wife Anna Shapiro while eating at a restaurant in the city where former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with the deadly nerve agent Novichok.

Shapiro claimed in a newspaper interview that she was the target of an assassination plot as she was critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Anna Shapiro moved to London in 2008 and tied the knot with her partner Alex King last month
Anna Shapiro moved to London in 2008 and tied the knot with her partner Alex King last month

Anna Shapiro moved to London in 2008 and tied the knot with her partner Alex King last month

She suggested rat poison could have been used to try and kill her at the Italian restaurant Prezzo on Sunday night.

Police have dismissed her claims of a poison plot and now want to speak to Shapiro and her 42-year-old husband to see if they are behind an elaborate hoax.

King, who was discharged from hospital on Tuesday afternoon having been declared medically fit, is to meet with detectives along with his wife.

A police source said a hoax carried out by the pair is one line of inquiry which led to the city being placed on lockdown and emergency crews wearing hazmat suits searching the restaurant amid fears of another nerve agent attack.

'We will be talking to the couple involved and one line of inquiry is that this was all a hoax,' said a police source.

'Now Mr King has left hospital we will interview him. We have already taken a statement from the female involved and will talk to her again.'

King (left), who was discharged from hospital on Tuesday afternoon having been declared medically fit, is to meet with detectives along with his wife
King (left), who was discharged from hospital on Tuesday afternoon having been declared medically fit, is to meet with detectives along with his wife

King (left), who was discharged from hospital on Tuesday afternoon having been declared medically fit, is to meet with detectives along with his wife

Anna Shapiro, 30, and her husband Alex King, 42, fell ill while dining in the city's Prezzo last Sunday

A claim by Shapiro in The Sun newspaper that she was under 24-hour police guard in fear of her life was also dismissed as 'nonsense' by the source.

Mail Online can reveal King is an ex-business partner of convicted conman Eddie Davenport, known as 'Fast Eddie', and together they staged orgies involving Russian prostitutes at his London home.

In 2006 King was able to evade tight security and gate-crash a Royal event and shake hands with Prince Charles for a £100,000 bet.

Eton educated King sneaked into a line up of celebrities at a premiere for the film 'The History Boys' in London. He was unwittingly introduced to Charles and his wife Camilla.

He said at the time: 'A friend of mine bet me that I couldn't get to meet Prince Charles and I thought it would be a cool thing to do.

Ms Shapiro said she denounces Putin's policies, which has angered her family

'I could see the line of people waiting to be introduced to him, so I just walked up as if I knew what I was doing and stood on the end of it. No-one thought to challenge me for a second.'

'It was only when the Prince left that the police jumped on me.'

'But after giving me an official caution they let me go and I went in to watch the film.

'Obviously I did it for a dare but I have to admit that it raises a whole number of questions about royal security. I am astonished that no-one rumbled me earlier.'

King had previously been exposed by a newspaper as an 'ambassador of perversion' and supplied £500 a day prostitutes for orgies taking place at Davenport's London home.

He ran a model agency called 007 and met Shapiro, who models under the name Anna Webb, when she moved to London in 2008.

The couple are said to have only married last month and Shapiro's address is listed in public records as 32 Portland Place – the home owned by Davenport and venue for his seedy sex parties.

Davenport had previously lived across the street at 33 Portland Place which was used for scenes in the Oscar winning film 'The King's Speech'.

He was forced to sell the 24-room mansion in 2015 for £14million after his release from an eight year prison sentence for fraud in 2011.

Anna Shapiro, 30, and her husband Alex King, 42, fell ill while dining in the city's Prezzo last Sunday

Davenport, who made his name organising the Gatecrasher Balls for public school teens, served three years after falling ill following a kidney transplant.

Shapiro claimed she was the victim of a Putin-led attack and that her father was a general in the Russian army. 

She said in an interview yesterday, she said: 'I'm sure the Russians think I'm a British spy. People make assumptions about me but I publicly renounce Putin and the country of my family.'

Anna claims she worked for Mossad after moving to Israel from Russia in her teens before fleeing and claiming asylum in the UK to study law.

She told friends: 'I spied on my own friends and even used my looks to seduce men. I was too young to know that what I was doing was wrong

'After I travelled to England I studied law and started a new life - now I work as a model and an escort.'

King and Shapiro were unavailable for comment.

The model had claimed in The Sun newspaper that she found her husband foaming at the mouth shortly after arriving at Prezzo restaurant in Salisbury city centre.

As the Italian themed restaurant was less than 300 yards from where the Skripals had eaten when they fell ill last March and King's symptoms were similar to that caused by the deadly nerve agent Novichok a full-scale emergency was launched and part of the city put into lockdown.

Witnesses had described the scenes at the restaurant as like 'armegeddon' as police and emergency services, some wearing protective Hazmat suits, rushed to the scene on Sunday evening as a major incident was declared.

Shapiro, 30, was discharged from hospital after an overnight stay and told The Sun newspaper she believed President Putin wanted her dead.

She said because she had turned her back on her country by taking Israeli citizenship Putin wanted her dead. The model also said she had fled London after receiving death threats.

Kremlin officials in Moscow dismissed the claims as absurd.

President Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: 'I don't think there is any sense in commenting on such reports.'

'The absurdity of the most part of information coming from Salisbury is evident.'

Shapiro had claimed the owner of a rented £55 a night farmhouse in the village of Landford where she was staying had recommended she and her 42 year old husband visit Prezzo for a meal.

Owners of bed and breakfast lodgings in the village, about 11 miles from Salisbury, said they were not aware of any farmhouse in the area that can be rented for £55.

They also said with numerous country pubs in the vicinity no local hotelier would have recommended a chain restaurant in Salisbury.

'It is just laughable that anyone living in Landford would suggest an Italian chain restaurant as the best place to eat,' said one B&B owner.

'It just does not make sense. Why would anyone recommend an 11 mile drive when there are far closer places with much better food and atmosphere.'

Another B&B owner said Shapiro's claim of renting a £55 a night farmhouse was unrealistic.

'There is nowhere around here or the New Forest where it is so cheap, said the B&B owner who asked not to be named.

The part-time model believes she was the target of a Kremlin hit
The part-time model believes she was the target of a Kremlin hit

The part-time model believes she was the target of a Kremlin hit

Prezzo restaurant – which is less than quarter of a mile from where the Skripals dined at the Zizzi restaurant before falling ill – remained closed on Wednesday with two police officers at the entrance.

A forensic team could be seen inside the restaurant but Wiltshire Police have said the incident was 'not suspicious' and the couple were not exposed to any kind of nerve agent.

The spokesman added:' Enquiries into what caused the pair to become unwell are still ongoing.'

In the interview with The Sun it was claimed that the model and her husband could have been affected by rat poison.

A spokesman for Prezzo said the chemical strychnine – used in rat poison – was not used at the restaurant.

A spokesman said: 'Responding to a report published by The Sun this morning, we wish to confirm that the chemical 'strychnine' is not used in Prezzo in Salisbury. This has been verified through independent technical support.

'We have been informed that Wiltshire police are not linking the event on Sunday evening to the recent nerve agent poisonings in Salisbury and Amesbury and have made no suggestion that the illness was a result of anything present in our restaurant.

'Based on the information we have received, this is an isolated incident. We can also confirm that none of our team suffered any related illness, and all are well and keen to return to duty when the restaurant re-opens. They dealt with the circumstances of Sunday evening in an admirable manner and our thanks go to each of them. At Prezzo our sole aim is to care for our customers and the events of Sunday evening have shocked us all.

'Our Salisbury branch remains closed, as a precautionary measure only, while the police complete tests into the cause of the illness. We await information from the police and as soon as we have that, we will issue a further statement.

Emergency services outside the Prezzo restaurant in Salisbury on Sunday, where police have closed streets as a 'precautionary measure'
Emergency services outside the Prezzo restaurant in Salisbury on Sunday, where police have closed streets as a 'precautionary measure'

Emergency services outside the Prezzo restaurant in Salisbury on Sunday, where police have closed streets as a 'precautionary measure'

King was discharged from Salisbury District Hospital after being declared medically fit.

Lorna Wilkinson, Director of Nursing at Salisbury District Hospital said:

'On Sunday night, we admitted two people to Salisbury District Hospital following an incident in the city centre. These two people have now been discharged.

'Given recent events, we tested both individuals for the presence of nerve agents such as Novichok. Tests on both patients came back negative.

'Both patients are now medically fit and there is no need for them to be in hospital.

'While this incident did not involve nerve agents, it was still clearly very stressful for our staff who, once again, demonstrated the very best of the NHS. I want to thank them for rising to the occasion yet again.'

'For reasons of patient confidentiality we will not be commenting any further.'

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By Shawn Arnette 19/09/2018 20:16:00