Updated to correct erratum in citation regarding the claim made by David Collum
I have asked a lot of questions in relation to the Skripal case and many, if not most, are still unanswered. However, I want in this piece to go further than asking questions, and to start to join a few dots together. There is much to say, and rather than doing it in one long piece, which only three people will have the attention span to sit through, I want to do it over a number of articles. Probably four or five. We shall see.
When I say that I am hoping to join some dots together, please note that what I am not attempting to do is state anything conclusively. Rather, I am simply advancing a theory, based on what I have observed so far, and I do so in the full knowledge that there may well be things I have missed, facts which I am as yet unaware of, and other facts which are still to be revealed. These things may well blow any theory I advance apart.
But before I get to that, there is a question that must first be asked: Why is a theory needed in the first place? It’s not as if there isn’t an official one out there. Indeed there is. In which case, why the need for another theory to explain what happened?
The reason is that the official story, put forward by the British Government, is wholly lacking in credibility. It has actually come as a surprise to me just how many people there are out there who don’t buy the official story. Anecdotally, I would say that those looking at the official narrative and wondering how on earth it stacks up includes many who would perhaps not normally question the official line on things.
And so attempting to come up with another theory of what happened has nothing to do with advancing what is usually called a “conspiracy theory”. If the claims of the official story did match the facts, then advancing an entirely different theory could well be seen as a conspiracy theory. But since the claims made by the British Government and in the compliant media do not stack up, this is simply a case of seeking an alternative theory that tries to make more sense of the known facts.
What is it about the Government story that makes it lack credibility? There are a number of things, but let’s just keep this simple. Let’s begin by looking at what it alleges. This can best be summed up by the words of the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, in the statement she made to the House of Commons on 14th March 2018:
Mr Speaker, on Monday I set out that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a Novichok: a military grade nerve agent developed by Russia. Based on this capability, combined with their record of conducting state sponsored assassinations – including against former intelligence officers whom they regard as legitimate targets – the UK government concluded it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for this reckless and despicable act. And there were only two plausible explanations.
Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country. Or conceivably, the Russian government could have lost control of a military-grade nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.
Leaving aside Mrs May’s allegations for a moment, any impartial observer would immediately notice something odd about this. Her statement was made on 14th March. This was just 10 days since the Skripals were poisoned. At that time, the investigation had hardly begun, and had not yet established any of the following basic facts:
- Where the Skripals were poisoned
- When the Skripals were poisoned
- How they were poisoned
- Who it was that poisoned them.
In other words, she reached conclusions before the establishing of facts, and it goes without saying that this is the very opposite of a rational approach. Indeed, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle warned us through his most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes:
It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
But what of her actual claims? The statement that Russia has a record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations is entirely irrelevant to establishing guilt in this case. Past behaviour can be useful evidence to support a case, but guilt must always be proved on the basis of the facts and evidence in the case at hand, and on them alone. Anything else is simply dangerous and wrong.
Which means that the Government’s case essentially relies on just two parts:
- That Mr Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, along with Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, were poisoned by the military grade nerve agent, A-234 (one of the so-called “Novichok” nerve agents).
- That because this substance was developed in Russia (actually the Soviet Union), it therefore must have originated from that country.
However, both of these apparent facts are demonstrably untrue.
To take the second point first, it has now been proven beyond any doubt whatsoever that a number of other countries have either produced the substance, or know how to produce it. The Czech Government has admitted producing a small quantity of the closely related substance, A-230; Iran has produced Novichok, which it registered with the OPCW; The German Intelligence Agency, BND, was given the formula back in the 1990s, and they shared it with a number of other NATO countries, including the US and UK. The Edgewood Chemical and Biological Defense Command in Maryland, USA, recorded the formula back in 1998.
What is more, as the Moon of Alabama website points out, David Collum, Professor of Organic Chemistry at Cornell University has stated that any credible organic chemist could make Novichok nerve agents.
All of which means that the claim that the poison must have come from Russia is demonstrably untrue.
But if analysis of that second claim shows the British Government’s theory to be somewhat dodgy, scrutiny of the first shows it to be entirely false. Given the toxicity of A-234, being around 5-8 times more toxic than VX (some reports state it as being 10 times more toxic), had the Skripals come into contact with it on the door handle of Mr Skripal’s house, as is alleged, one of two things would have occurred:
a) They would either have died within a few minutes of coming into contact with it or
b) In the remote possibility that they had survived, they would have suffered for the rest of their short lives from irreparable damage to their central nervous system, with a number of chronic health issues, such as cirrhosis, toxic hepatitis, and epilepsy (see here for details of what I understand to be the only known survivor of poisoning by this substance, Andrei Zheleznyakov).
What they would not have done is spent the next four hours swanning around Salisbury, going for a drink and then for a meal in a restaurant. What they would not have done is to exhibit symptoms closer to having been poisoned by a hallucinogenic than a military grade nerve agent. And they most certainly would not have collapsed at exactly the same time as each other, four hours later, after showing no previous signs of illness in the restaurant.
Yet as it is, not only are the Skripals and D.S. Bailey still alive, but none have suffered irreparable damage to their nervous system. In fact, in her conversation with her cousin, Viktoria, on 5th April, Yulia Skripal specifically made mention that “everyone’s health is fine, there are no irreparable things“.
Given that this is so, it is entirely rational to come to the following conclusion:
The claim that Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal and D.S. Bailey were poisoned by A-234, which is one of the most deadly nerve agents known to man, and which either kills or leaves its victims with irreparable damage, is demonstrably untrue.
Having dealt with the official story, I want in Part 2 to deal with what I believe to be some of the most interesting clues in this case, each of which is being ignored or swept under the carpet.