Former UK ambassador Craig Murray has released the following information on his blog regarding Theresa May’s claims in parliament on Wednesday that Russia must be held responsible for the alleged poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter (our emphasis):
I have now received confirmation from a well placed FCO source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve gas as being of Russian manufacture, and have been resentful of the pressure being placed on them to do so. Porton Down would only sign up to the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” after a rather difficult meeting where this was agreed as a compromise formulation.
…Until this week, the near universal belief among chemical weapons experts, and the official position of the OPCW, was that “Novichoks” were at most a theoretical research programme which the Russians had never succeeded in actually synthesising and manufacturing. That is why they are not on the OPCW list of banned chemical weapons.
Porton Down is still not certain it is the Russians who have apparently synthesised a “Novichok”. Hence “Of a type developed by Russia”. Note developed, not made, produced or manufactured.
It is very carefully worded propaganda. Of a type developed by liars.
Such an admission from such a source is damning, and devastating for the government’s bid to create momentum for fresh international action against Russia. We can doubt it’s a full admission, and it may well leave out much information that would even further reduce the credibility of the government’s position (it is, after all an internal Foreign Office source), but as such it is still enough to be sure Theresa May was effectively lying to the British parliament.
It’s an indication, if any more were needed, that extreme scepticism is required here. An undisclosed agenda is driving things and driving them so hard even members of the political establishment are concerned.
Until we know what the true aims are we simply can’t accept anything told to us at face value. Everything should be open to question.
So, what do we currently know with reasonable certainty?
1. We can be fairly sure a man called Sergey Skripal really exists. He has a well-documented history in Russia and in the UK prior to this event. We can equally assume he had a wife who died in 2012, a son who died in Russia, and a daughter called Yulia, who lives in Russia most of the time.
2. We can be fairly sure Yulia really was in Salisbury at the time of the incident and has been unable to communicate with the outside world since that time. If she had been in touch with friends/family in Russia they would have said so and the Russian media would have broadcast the fact even if ours didn’t.
3. We can be fairly sure two people were found in a state of distress and collapse on a public bench in Salisbury at the approximate time stated. Occam’s Razor would suggest it’s most probable these two people were indeed Sergey and Yulia Skripal, though with no photographic or film evidence that remains simply an informed assumption.
4. We know that neither Skripal has made any public appearance or statement since that time, and that they are currently alleged to be in Salisbury hospital ICU suffering from the effects of a “poisoning”. The complete lack of information about them has even led to suggestions by Yulia’s friends in Russia that she may be dead.
5. We know, thanks to a letter to the Times from a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Salisbury Hospital on March 14, that “no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning.” This statement, not only completely destroys the media claims of “21” or “34” or even “4” members of the public needing treatment, it also appears to suggest that the poisoning in question is not a nerve agent at all.
6. We know the third, and only other, person to have been contaminated by the same “poison” is an alleged local policeman, named as Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey. Considering how many people had been in proximity to the Skripals before, during and after their collapse on March 4, the fact Bailey is the only other person to become ill is obviously highly significant. Why has everyone else, including all the first responders, all the police, everyone at the restaurant, and all passers-by in the street, not only escaped becoming ill but shown no sign of contamination at all, even in their blood tests?
The paramount question would seem to be how and where did Bailey become poisoned? Unfortunately this seemingly easily answered question has become confused and at least two conflicting versions of how it happened have been offered.
a)A story from March 8 alleges he had been one of the first on the scene at the bench where the Skripals were discovered, and had been contaminated while trying to assist them.
b)A story from March 9 suggests Bailey became contaminated while visiting Skripal’s home.
Given the fact Bailey is allegedly a detective in the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) and not a uniformed officer, the claim he was a first responder on the scene seems to make little sense. CID detectives are dispatched to investigate known crimes and crime scenes. They don’t do patrol duty and are not sent as emergency responders.
The story that Bailey became contaminated while investigating the Skripal home seems to fit better with the claim that he is an officer in the CID, however the hard evidence for either version is completely lacking.
Bailey’s condition has also been conflictingly reported.
He was described as “seriously ill” by Home Secretary Amber Rudd on March 10.
But two days earlier, March 8, the “temporary Chief Constable for Wiltshire” said of Bailey “he’s well, he’s sat up.”
Can someone be described as both “well” and “seriously ill” at the same time?
And if Bailey has been awake and alert since at least March 8, is it not a little unusual that there has been no direct interview with him yet published anywhere?
Bailey allegedly has a wife, Sarah, who has been visiting him in hospital, though there does not appear to have been any published interview with her either at this stage.
No other family member of Bailey’s appears to have been interviewed either, apart from, his alleged father-in-law who has come forward on March 16 (12 days after the alleged attack) to criticise Jeremy Corbyn for asking for evidence before blaming Russia. No photographs of or filmed interviews with said father-in-law have yet been published.
7. We know that almost immediately upon this incident occurring a media campaign of almost unprecedented intensity began to generate what looked like a pre-prepared story that the Skripals had been poisoned by Russia. This claim has been “supported” by untruths and manipulations so questionable even anonymous FCO sources are worried about the wisdom and ethics on display. It has also been used to promote a number of agendas including:
a) finally ditching Brexit (because being in the EU would allegedly protect the UK from further “Russian aggression”).
b) closing down RT in the UK
c) moving/postponing the World Cup
d) imposing fresh sanctions on Russia
e) giving Theresa May her “Falklands moment” in a bid to revive her tanking popularity.
f) putting pressure on Trump to be more pro-active in condemning Russia.
8. We know Russia has completely denied any involvement in the Skripal poisoning. And the lack of obvious motive for them to initiate such an attack has been acknowledged even by members of the Uk establishment.
9. We know the UK has refused Russia’s request to give them samples of the alleged “novichok” for analysis. No specific reason for denying the request has yet been given.
10. We know the UK has blocked Russia’s Resolution in the UN calling for a “co-operative international investigation in line with OPCW standards”. Again no specific reason or this obstruction has yet been given.
11. We know, as of March 16, that “information” about the alleged Novichok used is now being “studied” by the OPCW. Exactly what that means is unclear at present.
Can we draw any conclusions?
Clearly we currently are in no position to know what really happened to the Skripals, how it happened, where it happened or who was responsible.
Just as clearly the government and media are lying, leaping to conclusions and propagandising. Their claims about novichoks are unsubstantiated and seem to fly in the face of all published research. There is no basis in their claim that “only” Russia could produce them and no evidence that, whoever produces them, they are even effective. Their statement about this seems to be nothing but an attempt to sensationalise and to blame Russia without the delay of due process.
In addition the media are trying to work up a jingoistic anti-Russia hysteria that has no parallel in recent times. Not even the 2003 media frenzy to get pubic opinion behind the illegal war on Iraq reached these heights.
The obvious conclusion from this, if Russia were not a nuclear power, would be that the British state machine is trying to prepare the people for war with Russia. Unless the entire British government has lost its mind this specific aim would seem unlikely. However that something fairly major in terms of escalation in the “New Cold War” is being planned seems a reasonable inference at this point.
It may well be that in future days or weeks Porton Down scientists will announce they finally do have proof of Russia’s involvement in creating this still largely mythical “novichok”.
We suggest taking any such future declaration with a great deal of scepticism.