TWO men claiming to be those named as the prime suspects for the Salisbury nerve agent attack have denied any wrongdoing, saying they were simply tourists, visiting the “wonderful” English town to marvel at its cathedral spire.

The men, named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, appeared on the Russia state-funded RT channel and resembled the suspects shown on CCTV stills, which were released by police investigating the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy, and his daughter Yulia.

They claimed they were now victims and were in fear of their lives.

Petrov said: “Our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town.”

He went on: "Well, we went there on March 2, then went to a railway station to see the timetable. We arrived in Salisbury on March 3 and tried to walk through the town but we lasted for only half an hour because it was covered in snow.

"Of course, we went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn't do it because there was muddy slush everywhere. The town was covered by this slush. We got wet, took the nearest train and came back [to London]."

Boshirov said: “There’s the famous Salisbury Cathedral, famous not just in Europe, but in the whole world. It’s famous for its 123-metre spire, it’s famous for its clock, the first one[of its kind] ever created in the world, which is still working.

"We spent no more than an hour in Salisbury, mainly because of the lags between trains. Maybe we did[approach] Skripal's house but we don't know where it’s located."

He claimed his life had been turned "upside down" and added: "We're afraid of going out, we fear for ourselves, our lives and lives of our loved ones."

The two men denied transporting the Novichok nerve agent.

When asked by RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan whether they had a counterfeit bottle of designer perfume, which the police said contained the nerve agent, Borishov replied: "Is it silly for decent lads to have women's perfume? The customs are checking everything, they would have questions as to why men have women's perfume in their luggage. We didn't have it."

The men’s comments were published on RT’s webpage. The station said it would air more of the interview later. Ms Simonyan made clear the two men, “the real (as far as I can tell) Petrov and Boshirov,” had contacted her offering an interview.

On Wednesday, Vladimir Putin called for the two men to speak with the media during an economic conference in Vladivostok. The Russian President insisted they were innocent and “civilians”, contradicting accusations by Scotland Yard that they were agents of Russian military intelligence, the GRU, which Mr Skripal used to be a member of.

Asked about the RT interview, Downing St declined to give any new comment.

Detectives believe it is likely the two Salisbury suspects, thought to be aged around 40, travelled under aliases and that Petrov and Boshirov are not their real names.

Officers formally linked the attack on the Skripals to events in nearby Amesbury where Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, were exposed to the same nerve agent.

Ms Sturgess died in hospital in July, just over a week after the pair fell ill.

A police officer who visited the home of the Skripals shortly after the attack, Nick Bailey, was also left critically ill from exposure to the substance.