I have now asked a total of 50 questions around the Skripal case, which you can find here and here. Having gone back through these questions, as far as I can see only three have been answered by the release of public information or events that have transpired. These are:

  • Are they (Sergei and Yulia Skripal) still alive?
  • If so, what is their current condition and what symptoms are they displaying?
  • Can the government confirm that its scientists at Porton Down have established that the substance that poisoned the Skripals and D.S. Bailey was actually produced or manufactured in Russia?

On the first two points we are now told that Yulia Skripal’s condition has significantly improved to the point where she is said to be recovering well and talking. However, although this provides something of an answer to these questions, it also raises a number of others. Is she finally being allowed consular access? Is she being allowed to speak to her fiancé, her grandmother, or her cousin by telephone? Most importantly, how does her recovery comport with the claim that she was poisoned with a “military-grade nerve agent” with a toxicity around 5-8 times that of VX nerve agent?

On the other point, we do now have a definitive answer from none other than the Chief Executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, Gary Aitkenhead: No, Porton Down was not able to identify the substance as being produced or manufactured in Russia.

It is important that reasonable questions continue to be raised, as they not only help clarify the actual issues, but the answers — or lack thereof — are also a good barometer as to how the official narrative stacks up. As a keen observer of the case — especially since it took place just a few hundred yards from my home in Salisbury — I have to say that the official narrative of the British Government has not stood up to even the most cursory scrutiny from the outset. In fact, there are three crucial issues that serve to raise suspicions about it, and to my mind these issues are the most important aspects of the case so far:

  1. The absurd speed at which the British Government reacted to the incident
  2. The British Government’s ignoring of legal frameworks and protocols
  3. The large number of discrepancies between events and the official narrative

Let’s just look at these in turn.

1. The absurd speed at which the British Government reacted to the incident

I remain astonished at the manner and the speed with which the British Government reacted to this incident. There was the speed with which the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, first pointed the finger of culpability, less than 48 hours after the incident, and before any investigation or analysis of the substance had taken place. There was the speed with which Porton Down was apparently able to analyse and identify the substance, even though it is set to take the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at least three weeks to carry out a similar identification. There was the speed with which the British Government officially accused the Russian Government of being behind the incident, and the 36-hour ultimatum given to it to prove its innocence without being given any of the evidence that apparently showed its culpability. There was the speed with which the British Government, armed with evidence that looked like it was put together by a rather dull 14-year-old on work experience, managed to convince a number of other countries to expel diplomats, including 60 from the United States.

Why, if it was so sure of its claims, did the British Government feel the need to act so hastily and recklessly, rather than await the results of the investigation?

2. The British Government’s ignoring of legal frameworks and protocols

Not only has the British Government acted with lightning speed, it has also ridden roughshod over a number of international legal agreements and protocols.

Firstly, there is the involvement of the OPCW. What ought to have happened is the British Government should have invited the OPCW in as part of the investigation immediately upon suspicion of the use of a nerve agent. However, according to the British Government’s own timeline, it wasn’t until March 14th – the day that Mrs May formally announced the culpability of the Russian State to Parliament – that she actually wrote to the OPCW to involve them in the case. This is, I understand, contrary to the obligations Britain has as a member of the OPCW, and signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

In addition, the British Government has refused to provide evidence to the Russian Government. Again, my understanding is that this is contrary to the protocols set out in the CWC.

The British Government has also refused to grant the Russian Embassy in London consular access to two Russian nationals, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, which it is legally obliged to do under Articles 36 and 37 of the 1963 Vienna Convention and Article 35 (1) of the 1965 Consular Convention.

Why, if it was so sure of its claims, did the British Government feel the need to ignore international agreements to which it is a signatory, and instead act in this opaque and frankly suspicious manner?

3. The number of oddities and discrepancies in the official narrative

The speed of apportioning blame and the ignoring of international legal agreements might not have looked nearly as suspicious had the narrative presented by the British Government and the facts on the ground been in harmony with one another. But they have not been. Instead, many of the actual events that have transpired over the weeks since the incident was first reported simply do not fit the overarching explanation given. Below are five of the most important:

1. As mentioned above, the Chief Executive of Porton Down, Gary Aitkenhead has confirmed that the laboratory was unable to identify the origin of the substance used to poison the Skripals. This is in direct contradiction to the claims made by the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, who said the following on the Andrew Marr Show on 18th March:

“Obviously to the best of our knowledge this is a Russian-made nerve agent that falls within the category Novichok made only by Russia, and just to get back to the point about the international reaction which is so fascinating…”

If it’s made only by Russia, as Mr Johnson claimed, then it must have originated in Russia. Right? Yet Mr Aitkenhead says they were unable to identify where it was made.

Then in an interview with Deutsche Welle two days after his above comments, Mr Johnson was categorical about the source of the nerve agent as being Russian. Here’s the exchange:

Interviewer: You argue that the source of this nerve agent, Novichok, is Russia. How did you manage to find it out so quickly? Does Britain possess samples of it?

Johnson: “Let me be clear with you … When I look at the evidence, I mean the people from Porton Down, the laboratory …”

Interviewer: “So they have the samples …

Johnson: “They do. And they were absolutely categorical and I asked the guy myself, I said, ‘Are you sure?’ And he said there’s no doubt.”

Who “the guy” is, perhaps we’ll never know. The cleaner perhaps? I suppose a politician of Mr Johnson’s calibre will happily try to weasel his way out of the implications of what he said. But to us lesser mortals, it does rather look like he was deliberately misleading, doesn’t it

2. Much of the investigation initially concentrated on where the Skripals were poisoned. Amongst the suggestions made were the bench on which they collapsed, the Zizzi restaurant where they had eaten, Ms Skripal’s luggage or Mr Skripal’s car. Then, some 24 days after the incident, it was announced that a high concentration of the “military-grade nerve agent” had been found on the front door, and that this was the likely place of poisoning. Yet it is known that after leaving the house, Mr Skripal and his daughter drove into the City Centre, went to the Mill pub, and then to the restaurant where they ate a meal together. In other words, according to the door theory, the two of them were poisoned by a military grade nerve agent, which then took over three hours to have any effect. Odd, wouldn’t you say?

3. Furthermore, it has been stated that the two of them became ill at the same time on the bench in the Maltings. Therefore, if they were poisoned at the front door, this would mean that not only did the two of them feel little or no effects for the three hours or so that followed, but it would also mean that a large 66-year-old man and an averagely built 33-year-old woman, of different height, weight and metabolism, somehow succumbed to the effects of poisoning at exactly the same time, some three hours or so later. Again, is that not very odd?

4. The claim that they were poisoned by a military grade nerve agent, of a type said to be 5-8 times the toxicity of VX nerve agent, is itself surely open to question. Both Mr Skripal and his daughter not only survived, but Yulia Skripal is now said to be sitting up and talking just weeks later. Perhaps it is possible to survive a miniscule dose of such a nerve agent. The problem with this is that according to many earlier claims, there were significant traces of the substance in various parts of the City of Salisbury, which indicates that it cannot have been a very miniscule amount that they came into contact with at the door. Which means that we are being asked to believe that they were poisoned by “more than a miniscule amount” of this deadly poison, but both somehow survived, despite neither receiving an antidote (a fact now confirmed by Gary Aitkenhead). Does that not seem improbable?

5. The official explanation – that this was planned and authorised at the highest level within the Russian Government – would lead one to believe that the action was carried out by top level agents of the FSB. Yet the mode of attack – nerve agent apparently smeared or sprayed on the door – has to be one of the least effective methods that could be used to assassinate anyone. For a start, it rains a lot in Salisbury, and it did indeed rain on the day of the poisoning. If the substance was left at the front door (assuming it was the outside), the attacker(s) could have had no guarantee that it would not be washed off before Mr Skripal touched it. Nor could they have had any guarantee that he, as opposed to his daughter or perhaps a delivery person etc, would come into contact with it. And of course there is the fact that Mr Skripal is still alive. Does any of this seem consistent with the narrative of a professional, Kremlin-authorised hit-job.

Conclusion

Where does this leave us? The official narrative would have us believe that the Russian Government authorised the killing of a has-been (former?) MI6 spy, who it had freed in 2010 and who presumably posed no threat to it, just a week before the Russian election and weeks before the World Cup, using a nerve agent with an exclusively Russian signature, in a way (on the door) that could not guarantee the intended target would touch it. This would be difficult enough to swallow by itself, but the British Government’s rush to judgement, disregard for law, and the many discrepancies in the actual events themselves make this scenario absurdly implausible.

Another possibility – that the British Government or intelligence services were behind the incident – has been given great credibility by the British Government itself, in its absurdly quick reaction to the incident and its blatant ignoring of legal protocols. These actions were bound to fuel suspicions about the possibility of its own involvement, and I have to say that such suspicions are absolutely legitimate precisely because of the way it has behaved. However, it must be said that the oddities and discrepancies in the case don’t lend themselves very well to the idea of a carefully planned false flag. If British intelligence had planned a hit job on Mr Skripal using a military-grade nerve agent “of a type developed by Russia”, in order to then pin the blame on the Russian Government, I doubt very much that Mr Skripal and his daughter would still be alive, or that the explanation for where the poison was administered would be changing on a daily basis, or that the British Government’s evidence to other countries would have been as risible as it was (unless of course our intelligence agencies are as incompetent as such a scenario would require them to be, that is).

My hunch — and it is just that — is that Mr Skripal himself was perhaps still working for British intelligence, and may have been in possession of a nerve agent. Somehow, this involvement went wrong, and he ended up accidently poisoning himself and his daughter on the bench in The Maltings. The Government then scrambled to concoct a story in order to cover up the real story of a Russian working for MI6 and handling nerve agents, and so quickly decided to point the finger at that most convenient scapegoat, the Russian Government.

The reason that I’m attracted to this possibility is that it explains all three aspects I have described above, and which I think are the most important aspects of the case. The rush to judgement — which looked like panic-mode to me — could have been an attempt to divert attention away from the investigation looking at the possibility of Mr Skripal having military grade nerve agent in his possession. The ignoring of international legal protocols, at least for a time, could have been done to ensure that the case was not probed by any outside body, which may well have exposed discrepancies. And it could also explain many of the oddities mentioned above, such as traces of nerve agent apparently being found in various places in Salisbury, since these could have come about because Mr Skripal was in possession of some sort of nerve agent when he left his house that day.

As I say, this is just a hunch and purely speculative. I am probably wrong. But unless the British Government is able to produce far better evidence than it has so far produced, to back up the claims it has made, I shall consider it a more credible possibility than the one they have sold to the British public.

17 thoughts on “The Three Most Important Aspects of the Skripal Case so Far … and Where They Might be Pointing

  1. Excellent work – thank you for performing a public service in this manner. I happened to read this article due to a link to it from Boom Finance and Economics and will be following you in future.

  2. Have you looked into former ambassador Craig Murray’s leads pointing to the possible involvement of Skripal in Christopher Steele’s dodgy dossier on Trump? The MSmedia is carefully concealing the fact that Steele lives in Salisbury, and Pablo Miller, Skripal’s MI6 recruiter and handler, also lives there and works for Steele’s company, Orbis Business Management. Skripal and Miller are known to have met up again when he moved there. It is almost certain Miller worked on Steele’s dossier about Trump and Moscow prostitutes allegedly being filmed by the FSB to give Putin some hold over Trump — the key allegation at the root of Mueller’s Russia probe. Skripal may well have been asked by his old handler Miller to check over the Russian spellings, the names, the places, the FSB methods, to give some authenticity to the Steele dossier since the British agents had long since left Russia. Skripal may know exactly how fake that dossier is. Given that Yulia is rumoured to be going out with an FSB agent (her cousin Victoria’s insinuation) there might be some family pressure on her father to come back again, see his old mother and tell the FSB what he knows about the Steele dossier. Blowing that open would help Russia’s relations with Trump. It would also leave Steele facing charges of perjury in the USA. This gives Steele (possibly working alone or with MI6) enormous motivation to silence Skripal and his daughter, to stop Skripal going back to Russia. There is the refutation of the constant UK government refrain: nobody else had a motive but Putin. Yes, they did. Steele did. Could the elements of incompetence you have raised be due to an ageing ex-agent Steele using novichok obtained from his CIA friends (the US dismantled the one factory, in Uzbekistan, known to have produced it) and trying to do it all himself without the operational skills? And could the Uzbek novichok be so old it no longer works too well? They had to follow the Skripals about and when they didn’t succumb to the dose on the front door handle they gave them another dose in the centre of town? (Any physical approach, spraying it on their clothes as you pass, could work.) Could 2 successive doses of ageing novichok be the answer to your questions? I think the very clear motivation of MI6 to stop Skripal going back to Russia (where he had been pardoned, and where the FSB was keen to talk to him, and where his mother is dying) is what we should be emphasising to counter the official lies. And getting Yulia to tell the truth publicly will be key: by no means an easy task as she is surrounded by people trying brainwash her with the UK narrative and terrorise her into not going back to Russia. The next UK step will be allowing the Russian consul in to see her and her mysterious death that night. Then another round of warmongering hysteria.

    1. Hi Michael,

      Yes, I’ve very much considered this possibility. In fact, I hinted at it as a possibility in the last of my 30 questions journalists should be asking:

      http://www.theblogmire.com/30-questions-that-journalists-should-be-asking-about-the-skripal-case/

      The thing that makes me hesitate about this particular line, is that it was first hinted at by the mainstream media. The Telegraph was the paper that first mentioned that Skripal’s handler was living in Salisbury, although they didn’t mention him by name, and that he had a connection with Christopher Steele:

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/07/poisoned-russian-spy-sergei-skripal-close-consultant-linked/

      The Daily Mail then mentioned that the two of them used to meet regularly in Cote Brasserie:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5484855/Sergei-Skripal-met-MI6-handler-month-Salisbury-restaurant.html

      And CNN actually named him:

      https://edition.cnn.com/2018/03/08/world/sergei-skripal-spy-war/index.html

      This is very odd, as the MSM has marched in tune with the UK Government every step of the way. So I find it odd that they let this particular cat out of the bag.

      So whilst it is a very interesting line of inquiry, and one which proper journalists would be following up, I wonder whether they revealed the connection as a bit of a red-herring to get all the “conspiracy theorists” out there going down a rabbit hole.

      Then again, perhaps not!!!

      Rob

    1. It does indeed. I felt the same was true of the statement put out by/on behalf of Nick Bailey. And what’s even stranger about that is that he has been out of hospital for more than two weeks, and the press, who are not normally so respectful of privacy, don’t seem to have made any attempt to contact him.

      All too weird.

  3. Excellent work. Well done. Simple, clear and relevant questions and a necessary and healthy dose of scepticism, which in situations like this is an absolute requirement.

    What I find disturbing and shocking, is why all this work a analysis, thinking and investigation, has been left up to you? What about the combined resources of our mass-media, highly trained and often lavishly salaried professional journalists with international reputations… where have they all been for the last month? I find their lack of curiosity, their unwillingness to examine or scrutinize the Salisbury Affair, extremely odd; given how transparently absurd the government’s narrative was from the very beginning. I mean, this whole thing isn’t exactly ‘rocket science’ is it? Just the ability to ask simple, straightforward questions and think a bit. How can these qualities be in such short supply in our media?

    And accepting uncritically the government’s word about these events, after Tony Blair and Iraq, dodgy dossiers and non-existent WMD’s, is extraordinary. Have the combined army of journalists learnt absolutely nothing from recent history? A history of governments using brazen lies and propaganda to ligitimize and perpare the country for war once the enemy was designated and the facts fitted around the policy, and this seems to be what’s happening all over again.

    1. Thanks Michael,

      I completely agree. I simply have no other explanation for the media’s behaviour over this than that all the papers are owned by people who are in cahoots with the people who really run this country (whoever they are), and curiosity, questioning and healthy scepticism is simply not allowed. Ought to be very eye opening to those who continue to believe we have something called a “free press”.

      Best wishes,

      Rob

    2. I was close to 2 assassinations of Central Asians from Georgia in the 2000’s. Zviad Zhvania and Badri Patarkatsishvili. I believe both of them were killed with KGB originated agents by former KGB, but I don’t think either one had anything to do with Russia. After the USSR breakup, knowledge and materials were all over. One was definitely an injection, and I believe the other was as well. I won’t name the agent, but it has no forensic trail at all. It is 100% metabolized, kills in minutes, and is irreversible in a few seconds. Today’s FSB is rebuilt and professional. There is no chance at all Skripal would have survived. There is no motive to kill him, and every motive not to.

      The obvious party that has motive is Eastern Ukraine’s gangster government. They need to incite the West against Russia to get weapons, and more than that, more loans and aid money to steal. Note that Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son kicked out of the Navy Reserve for cocaine has been in Ukraine from shortly before the coup until today. He got a seat on Burisma and has been reported to be worth around $1 billion today. There’s that high level connection.

      Note also that it was the rocket factory held by the East Ukrainians (our revolutionary coup friends) that supplied the ICBM technology to North Korea so they can now hit New York and Miami. That got buried in a hurry. Nobody asked why that is. I really don’t think that was something anyone in the West intended to happen.

      There are plenty of ex-oligarchs in the UK today. They have been cultivating politicians for quite a while. They would be obvious candidates for helping put together a botched little op like this.

      Skripal may have been part of it too. I’m friends with the former head of the USA’s chemical weapons testing program. I’ve studied his archive. The guys at Edgewood used to play with VX by sticking a finger in, letting it sit for a bit, then dipping in alchohol and wiping it off. Do it right and you get a bit of a buzz for the day. Pharma 101 – Dose is everything. Hit the right dose and you will go down, but not die. Nerve agents are nothing special. The antidotes are used every day on thousands of patients in hospitals everywhere. (Nerve agents decay in sunlight by the way.) Anyone versed in these things knows how to handle them, can work out a dose and apply it.

      I will also point out that we know for a fact that a group of amateurs in the Aum cult in Japan manufactured Sarin. I employed PhDs in Central Asia. You can hardly throw a rock without hitting one in some cities. Making an agent is completely doable for any decent chemist.

      I don’t know for sure who did this any more than you do. But I am very suspicious. Do I think that May and Johnson acting like dolts means they are covering? No. Politicians do what their paymasters and influencers want them to do. These days the politician with spine is damn rare. My interactions with journalists has caused me to develop deep contempt for what the profession has become. Some are ok. Most went into journalism because they couldn’t do math or science. The level of dumb in far too many is quite astonishing. Simple idiocy and not caring about anything but the next paycheck explain most of it.

  4. Just a clarification on the ultimatum to Russia. The way it was phrased, at least as reported, left no room to “to prove its innocence”.

    Russia was basically given two choices:
    (a) admit it was a direct act by the Russian State against Britain
    (b) admit that the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others

    option (b) implies that Russia had had this “catastrophically damaging nerve agent” in the first place, and therefore was in violation of CWC

    So there was no way to get out innocent from that accusation. And no interest from the British goverment other than for Russia to admit its guild right away, which would not happen

  5. Your scenario about the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal may well be right. If it is, would that not mean that “Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey” is actually a member of British intelligence, rather than a police officer?

    However, personally I prefer evidence to speculation – and in this case there is no evidence as to the basic facts. Who? Where? When? What? How? None of these questions have been answered (except the what, and as your discussion makes clear there is serious reason to doubt that the Skripals were poisoned by a military grade nerve agent) by the information in the public domain.

    http://viewsandstories.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/the-skripal-syllogism.html

  6. Hello Rob
    Your work is good, keep it up. However, the “nerve agent” thing is a Red Herring. Stephen Davies of Salisbury NHS, stated that “NO ONE had been affected by a nerve agent”. The nerve agent thing is total spin and lies.

    The speed of the story coming out is reflective of a Psycholigical Operation (Psy Op) from the start. That is why the Russians were found guilty, by the lackey presstitute media so quickly. The BBC is a propaganda unit of the military intelligence agencies.

    The “odd” parts of the story, are down to incompetance of those running the Psy Op, and also the classic “changing of the narrative” to create confusion, so that any previous statements made, lose legitimacy.

    Stellar work on the questions you have raised.

    1. Hi there,

      Yes, I was aware of it. I don’t know whether there is anything in it, or if it’s just one of those curious co-incidences, though. As you say, the whole thing is remarkably strange!

      Best wishes,

      Rob

  7. The UK is covered by CCTV – why no pictures of the Skripals: walking to the park, sitting down, collapsing, being helped by paramedics etc. etc.? Did they actually walk out of the restaurant?

    Why no pictures from anyone who saw the incident? When has that happened before?

    We are told over 130 people sought treatment. Why no interviews with ANY eye-witness?

    Hundreds of diplomats expelled world wide… BUT not a single picture/photofit of a suspect.

    In over 4 weeks not one useful picture??

    Did a poisoning actually happen?

    Yulia Skripal is not allowed ANY visitors – even staff from the Russian Embassy are not allowed to visit her! Is she being brainwashed?????

    Where is the manhunt? Why did the police not start looking for somebody 4 weeks ago – they must have a picture BUT… absolutely NOTHING!! A poisoning without a poisoner?

    Where is the manhunt? Why is the press not asking the police?

    1. ¨Britain’s vast network of CCTV cameras is vulnerable to hacks watchdog warns¨

      1-9-18

      Surveillance camera commissioner Tony Porter flagged up the possible risk of intrusion on the public by “individual and state actors”.

      . . .

      The UK currently holds the record for the largest number of CCTV cameras per person. Although it only contains 1 per cent of world’s population, its citizens are watched by 20 per cent of the world’s CCTV cameras. Research in 2013 estimated that there are up to six million cameras in the UK, and the network is expected to expand even further.

      . . .

      Publishing his annual report for 2016/17, Porter said surveillance cameras are not always recognised as potential hacking targets.

      “As we move from analogue to digital surveillance, most cameras are plugged into corporate IT networks. If your camera is not suitably protected you are potentially opening up a back door for organisations that choose to hack.”

      “What we are saying is that cameras are potentially your vulnerable point. You must ensure that you apply the same level of IT security to your cameras as you do to your mainframe.

      “There is a whole host of areas where data could be accessed through insecure surveillance networks,” he continued. “I am concerned at the incrementally intrusive development of surveillance cameras in the everyday lives of citizens.”

      The assessment also called for the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system to be placed on a statutory footing.

      ANPR is one of the largest non-military databases in the UK, with around 9,000 cameras nationally that capture between 25 million and 40 million pieces of data per day, while up to 20 billion “read” records are held.

      Porter described this activity as “formidable”, saying: “The nature of its capabilities to intrude on privacy by building patterns of travel and the provision of imagery should not be underestimated.

      “I firmly believe that this system needs legislative oversight and that the Government should place this system on a statutory footing.”

      The watchdog noted that arguments have been advanced that the number of manufacturers of number plates should be limited, but suggested that a system of stricter controls may be needed, similar to the production of driving licences and passports.

      A Home Office spokesman said: “Automatic number plate recognition gives police vital evidence to protect the public. There are strict rules in place for how the ANPR database can be used and who can access it.”

      “The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice sets out clear rules to be followed to guard against unauthorised access and use of surveillance cameras.”

      https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2018/01/britain-s-vast-network-of-cctv-cameras-is-vulnerable-to-hacks-watchdog-warns/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.