by Ron Slane BlogMire Jan 9, 2019
As promised, I want to round off my pieces on the Salisbury case by looking at what I consider to be the major issues and flaws with the case presented to the public by the British Government and the Metropolitan Police, as well as the role played by the mainstream media. I have chosen 10 major points (not in any particular order), although there are many more issues than these.
1. Verdict First; Investigation Afterwards
I was bound to be interested in this case from the off, since it took place in the city where I reside, just a few hundred yards from my home. But what really sparked my interest into writing about the case for so long, was the response of the British Government. Within 48 hours of the incident, before the investigation had properly begun, and before any of the facts of the matter had been established, certain Government ministers were already pointing the finger of blame at the Russian state. Too quick. Something’s up.
Then on 12th and 14th March, little more than a week after the incident, and still with almost no facts of what actually happened having been established by investigators, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, not only formally accused the Russian Government in the House of Commons, but also announced a series of responsive measures. Much too quick. Something’s definitely up.
So quick were the accusations and verdict, that anyone interested in understanding the truth of what happened, rather than making blithe, fact-free assumptions, could not fail to have had their suspicions aroused.
There are three things to note about this.
The first is that the idea of reaching a verdict before an investigation puts the British Government firmly in Alice in Wonderland territory. Quite apart from being plainly ludicrous, it also meant that the investigation was both politicised and prejudiced right from the start. The possibility of an impartial investigation was dead in the water just a week or so after the incident, and it was the British Government that killed it off. One can’t help but wonder whether that was the very point they were hoping to achieve.
The second issue with their reckless accusations is seen in their paltry response to what they say happened. You might think that this is a ridiculous statement to make, given that the response included the expulsion of diplomats, not only in Britain but also in a number of other countries. But it absolutely is not. What is alleged is that a chemical weapon was used, by a foreign Government, on the territory of Britain. Moreover, it is also alleged that the two suspects allegedly left at least one of their two bottles of “Novichok” lying around in the city (yes two bottles – see point 5 below), the contents of which was apparently enough to kill thousands, if not tens of thousands of people.
If this is what really happened, I would expect a rather more robust response than the expulsion of a few diplomats. I would expect the expulsion of all diplomats, the closure of the Embassy, and pretty much any and every measure possible short of a declaration of war. Basically, I would expect everything those folks at the “Integrity Initiative” were calling for back in 2015!
As it was, the actual response was pathetically inadequate to the charge being made, namely that the Russian Government was responsible for the use of a chemical weapon on the streets of a British city, which was left there to potentially kill thousands of innocent people. The feeble nature of the “response” to what could have been considered an act of war is, in my view, a big clue that those making the accusations and taking the responsive measures do not really believe the story they have told, and that there was an awful lot of theatre going on.
But the third, and by far the most important point about the British Government’s initial accusations, is this: the accusation and verdict came over two weeks before the door handle theory was first mooted, and over three weeks before it was officially confirmed as the place of poisoning (on 28th March). This is VERY important.
In his only interview on the subject, the CEO of Porton Down, Gary Aitkenhead, stated that the organisation he heads was not able to identify the origin of the substance used. To do so, he said, required “other inputs,” some of them intelligence-based, that the Government had access to.
So what were these intelligence-based inputs? We have no need to speculate. This is what a Foreign Office spokesperson said of the reasoning behind the accusations:
“As the Prime Minister has set out in a number of statements to the Commons since 12 March, this includes our knowledge that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents — probably for assassination — and as part of this programme has produced and stockpiled small quantities of novichoks.”
As an aside, if this were really the case, then the British Government had an obligation to inform the OPCW of their intelligence, especially since the OPCW had declared in November 2017 that Russia had eliminated its entire stock of chemical weapons. So why did they not?
But the claim made by the spokesperson presents a glaring problem. What was this knowledge that “Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents”? The answer was of course subsequently given to us: the infamous alleged FSB manual, which apparently included details of how to deliver nerve agents via door handles. Yet if this is the case, it gives rise to the following question:
If the British Government came to the conclusion that the Russian Government was behind the attack by 14th March, and if this was based in part on the existence of intelligence showing the delivery of nerve agents via door handles, why was the door handle not identified as a possible place of poisoning until more than a week later, and only officially confirmed on 28th March?
That question will never be answered, of course, because to do so would … all together now … “compromise national security.” There is, however, a quite plausible explanation, but you can probably work that out for yourselves.
2. CCTV, CCTV everywhere, but not a clip to see
It is a curious fact about what was almost certainly the biggest police investigation in British history, that the amount of CCTV footage shown to the public by the police of events on 4th March totals less than one minute. However, it should be noted that even this footage was only aired in November — more than eight months after the event —, and was very obviously highly selective in terms of fixing certain thoughts in people’s minds and excluding others. Let’s just say that it was more interesting for what it didn’t show than for what it did.
It is an even more curious fact that not one second of footage has ever been shown of the Skripals on that day, unless you include a few seconds of a car driving along a couple of roads.
Curiouser still, the only bit of CCTV footage of “the Skripals” that was released, showing them walking through Market Walk at 15:47, turned out not to be the Skripals at all. You might say that it turned out not to be anyone at all, since the footage was ridiculously grainy, the couple impossible to identify, and the pair in question, who the media and the police said were the Skripals, have been quietly forgotten about, as if they never were, even though they are almost certainly persons of interest in the case. Remember, you never saw them.
What should we make of this?
The response I have sometimes received when pointing this out is that the police have no obligation to show any CCTV footage in public. They are the ones investigating, and they need not do anything for the benefit of armchair sleuths. Fair enough. But then nor does any reasonable person have any obligation whatsoever to believe that they have been carrying out a genuine and impartial investigation. Why so?
Simply because on numerous occasions, the Metropolitan Police appealed for members of the public to come forth with information about what they may have seen on that day, and yet they steadfastly refused to let the public see any images of the two main people involved in the case, Sergei and Yulia Skripal. The public still don’t know what they were wearing on that day, or the colour of Yulia’s hair.
Ordinarily, when a police force appeals for members of the public to come forward with information, if there is CCTV footage that is relevant to the case, and which might help to jog people’s memories, it will be shown. Obviously. But not in this case. Instead, the Salisbury public were asked to wrack their brains to try and remember whether they may or may not have seen anything of interest, but without so much as being allowed to see a single second of what Mr Skripal and his daughter were wearing that day.
Yet such footage does exist. For example, there exists what has been described to me personally as “real clear footage” of Mr Skripal feeding ducks near the Avon Playground with some local boys at 13:45, with Yulia Skripal standing nearby carrying a red bag. Why has this not been aired? Remember, the Metropolitan Police allege that the pair were poisoned almost an hour before this, at his home, and so there can be no “reasons of national security” for not showing it, can there? Oh but there is. You see, that particular piece of footage blows a gaping hole in the poisoning by door handle explanation, which would immediately become obvious to all if it were ever aired in public (see point 6 below for more details). Which is why you will probably never see it.
3. Don’t ask any hard questions — you’re a journalist
The Salisbury poisonings show that the idea that Britain has a properly free press is dead. When I say free press, I am not talking about the ability and willingness of the media to print salacious gossip and pointless tittle tattle about celebrities, which they seem to excel at. No, I’m talking about the will and ability to hold the authorities to account on issues which those authorities would rather they were not challenged on. That, in my understanding, is the essence of a free press and one of the things that marks out free countries from tyrannies.
Right from the beginning of this case, three things were very apparent about the media response:
Firstly, despite the fact that there was deep scepticism in the public about the narrative that was being touted (this could be seen by scrolling to the bottom of articles on the case, where you would find comment after comment often ridiculing the official line), not one mainstream media organisation was prepared to ask the obvious and most basic questions that needed to be asked. True, there were some notable and noble individual exceptions, such as Mary Dejevsky writing in the Independent and Simon Jenkins in the Guardian. But other than the faint glimmer of light here and there, no media organisation in Britain was either able or willing to question the claims being made by public officials, even when they were nonsensical and riddled with holes.
Secondly, no media organisation was prepared to defy the Government when DSMA notices were slapped on the case, especially in relation to Mr Skripal’s Salisbury handler, and the connection he had to Christopher Steele, author of the “Trump Dossier”. And in case anyone is inclined to defend them by saying that it would have been a huge risk for them to defy the Government, well that is one thing, but it certainly does not excuse the fact that they all then fell into line, refusing to ask any of the sorts of questions that proper journalists should have been asking.
Thirdly, many of these organisations were prepared to report one set of “facts” on one day, only to report an entirely contradictory set of “facts” on another, without so much as an acknowledgement that this is what they had done. Many of them simply ignored their own reporting, even on the occasions when it was accurate, and instead went with the “new reality” put forward by officials. Memory Holes are clearly a fundamental part of the office equipment in these so-called news organisations! Here are three such examples:
Firstly, all media organisations reporting on the case in the first week or so stated that the Skripals went to Zizzis restaurant followed by the Mill pub. This was based on their own interviews with numerous witnesses, and such is the number of people who corroborated this order of things that there can be no doubt that it is correct (this is more fully discussed in point 7 below). Yet when the Metropolitan Police published its timeline on 13th March, updated on 17th March (and since disappeared from its website), it had the order the other way around. What did those same media organisations do when they saw their own interviews and reports summarily dismissed with no evidence presented as to why this was so? Why, they completely ignored it and duly began reporting the new reality. Of course. That’s just what journalists do, isn’t it?
Secondly, it was reported in a number of places on 25th March, such as (The Mirror, The Mail and Metro for instance), that Sergei Skripal had been feeding ducks next to the Avon Playground (this is in The Maltings, about 50 yards from the bench). Crucially, these reports said that he had given bread to some local boys. The Sun then followed this up on 28th March, with an interview with the parents of one of the boys. This is one of the most significant occurrences of that day, and yet after The Sun piece appeared, to my knowledge no mainstream media organisation has reported on it, and the Metropolitan Police have never mentioned it in their timeline. Perhaps there’s a DSMA Notice — Duck’s Shan’t be Mentioned Again — on the incident, but regardless of the lack of reporting, the fact is it DID happen, and IT IS one of the most compelling pieces of evidence that the Skripals were not poisoned at the place and the time that officials claim (see point 6 below for more details).
Thirdly, no media organisation has bothered to seriously question what Detective Sergeant Nicholas Bailey was doing, where he went, and at what time, even though official accounts have contradicted one another on this on numerous occasions. Mr Bailey has been a first responder at the bench (according to a number of officials, including Theresa May and Amber Rudd). Yet he was never even at the bench when the Skripals were there (according to Mr Bailey). He entered Mr Skripal’s house at around 5pm. Yet he didn’t enter it until around midnight. He was wearing a body camera with his uniform. He was plainclothes. He was wearing a forensic suit. He was admitted to hospital on the Sunday. He was admitted to hospital on the Monday. He was admitted to hospital on the Tuesday. Perhaps all three. He entered the house by the front door. He entered the house by the back door because he couldn’t get in the front.
In short, almost no two accounts of Mr Bailey’s actions and movements can be reconciled with one another, and yet the media either hasn’t noticed, or doesn’t care. Is there a DSMA Notice on him as well as the ducks (Detective Sergeant Movement Anomalies)?
All in all, it seems that although our vaunted “free press” is able and willing to comment on the attire and habits of irrelevant celebrities, it is neither able or willing to ask serious questions of officialdom when officialdom has decided that a certain issue can’t be questioned or is something to do with “National Security”. There’s a word for a press like that, but it ain’t “free”. And in terms of this case, it raises obvious questions about the veracity of the claims being made, since truth isn’t usually afraid of being held up to scrutiny.
4. Petrov and Boshirov — Spetsnaz-trained muppets?
Much was made of Petrov and Boshirov’s interview with RT’s Margarita Simonyan, and how their account somehow proved their guilt. What I find strange about this reaction is why those who pronounced case closed after the interview don’t apply the same level of critical analysis when it comes to the claims made against the men. For the record, I have little doubt that the account given by the pair was by no means the whole truth of what they were doing that day, but I also have little doubt that the claims made against them are also far from the truth.
Why do I not believe their account? Nothing to do with the snow and the slush, which was apparently enough to prove their guilt in the minds of many. On that point, their account was indeed correct. There was loads of snow in Salisbury on Saturday 3rd March, and I have photographs dating from that day which prove it. No, my incredulity at their story is primarily due to the fact that they arrived in Salisbury on 3rd March at 2:25pm, apparently expecting to go to Stonehenge. Well, unless they are particularly dense, this claim is absurd. In the winter, last admittance to the site is at 3pm. Anyone travelling from London to see the monument would surely have checked this out beforehand, which means that according to the two men, they gave themselves 35 minutes after departing from the train to wait for a bus, board it, and be driven there before closing time. No chance, regardless of whether it was or wasn’t open.
That being said, what of the case against them? Just as I find their “we were only tourists” line to be risible, I find the “they were deadly assassins” line to be even more absurd. Nothing about their movements on the two days in question indicate that they were carrying out an assassination attempt using the world’s most lethal nerve agent:
Firstly, they flew in on the same plane from Moscow, not from different locations as you would expect intelligence agents carrying out an assassination to do
Secondly, they then travelled, walked and stayed together at all times, not separately, which is again contrary to how we would expect people involved in such a mission to act
Thirdly, they apparently left their two bottles of “Novichok” unguarded in a dingy hotel all day on the Saturday, whilst they took themselves off to Salisbury
Fourthly, they drew attention to themselves on the Saturday evening by cavorting with a prostitute and smoking dope (which could have seen the police called in)
Fifthly, they made absolutely no effort whatsoever to hide themselves from CCTV
Sixthly, they were in Salisbury in daylight and allegedly carried out their crime in the middle of the day
Seventhly, they apparently did their deed with the Skripals in the house and the car parked outside in the drive (why not dose the car door handle?)
Eighthly, they did not get the first available train back to London after the alleged poisoning, but apparently decided to hang around, strolling across town after their alleged deed was done, taking pictures and looking in coin shops, at a time when — according to the allegations against them — they could well have expected a major police manhunt to begin
This may be many things, but it is absolutely not the actions of Spetsnaz trained GU assassins. But what of The Metropolitan Police’s specific claims against the two men?
Firstly, it should be noted that in The Met’s description of what the men did in Salisbury on 3rd and 4th March (now disappeared from their website), there was astonishingly little detail. There was in fact more detail about their movements in London than in Salisbury.
Secondly, The Met states that the two men were in Salisbury on Saturday 3rd March for what it calls reconnaissance. I find this laughable. Reconnaissance of what? Salisbury? There’s always Google maps. Mr Skripal’s house? Of course! So where is the evidence that they went there that day, and if they did, why didn’t they poison the door handle then, since Mr Skripal was out of the house at the time and it would have been far less risky to do it then, rather than when he was in the house. Besides, the men stated that they spent most of the time in the station café, a quite specific claim that could easily be debunked if false.
But the biggest claim made by The Met, and in my view the most misleading of all, is this:
“CCTV shows them in the vicinity of Mr Skripal’s house.”
This was confirmed by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, who stated on the BBC Panorama programme, Salisbury Nerve Agent Attack: The Inside Story:
“What the CCTV shows is the two suspects on the way to Christie Miller Road. On the way to the Skripals home.”
Oh no it doesn’t. The CCTV referred to (of the two men on the Wilton Road at 11:58 on Sunday 4th March) does not in fact show them in the vicinity of the Mr Skripal’s house, and nor does it show them on the way to Christie Miller Road. What it actually shows is the two men around 500-600 yards from Mr Skripal’s house, on a completely different road, and not looking at all as if they are interested in crossing the road to get to Christie Miller Road, either via Montgomery Gardens or Canadian Avenue (I’m very grateful to Brendan, one of the commentators on this site, who has put together a fuller explanation of this which you can see here).
For all I know, they may have gone to Christie Miller Road after being seen on the Shell garage CCTV. But this particular piece of footage of them in no way indicates this, and to suggest to the public that it does is simply misleading and disingenuous. Indeed, if this is the best evidence The Met has against the pair, it is worse than flimsy and would convince no jury with its wits intact.
So if not tourists and not assassins, what were they? Here is the one part of this piece when I indulge in a little speculation. To me it seems that the best explanation for their actions and movements is that they were couriers of some sort. That they were either taking something to Mr Skripal, or receiving something from him, or perhaps both. Their pattern of behaviour is far more in keeping with such a mission. I can well imagine the Russian intelligence services instructing two people involved in such a venture to act like tourists, to keep together, look normal, take pictures, don’t try to hide. What I can’t imagine is them instructing two people sent on an assassination mission with a deadly nerve agent to act in this way. That’d be really, really dumb, wouldn’t it?
5. The other bottle of “Novichok”
According to the explanation given by The Metropolitan Police (who incidentally still have not confirmed the “real names” of the two suspects as unearthed by the Atlantic Council-linked organisation, Bellingcat), Petrov and Boshirov brought two bottles of “Novichok” with them on a plane, left those two bottles of “Novichok” in their hotel room on Saturday 4th March whilst they travelled to and from Salisbury, had those two bottles of “Novichok” in their hotel room when smoking dope and using the services of a prostitute, took those two bottles of “Novichok” with them on a train on Sunday 4th March, used one of those bottles of “Novichok” to spray the oily substance on Mr Skripal’s door handle. And then what? Why, they marched across to the other side of Salisbury, dumped the other bottle of “Novichok” — the one they hadn’t used — in a bin, and either took the one they had used in their bag back to Moscow, or dumped it elsewhere.
Come on, come on, you say. The Met has never said all that.
Absolutely they haven’t. But it is the inescapable conclusion of their case. They never talk about the “other” bottle, because it is inconvenient to do so. It kind of messes things up. And yet, according to their own case, there must have been another bottle. How so? Because in one of his interviews, Charlie Rowley explicitly said that the box he found had a cellophane wrapping on it, which he had to cut open. Which means that it can’t have been the bottle that Petrov and Boshirov are alleged to have used on the door handle of 47 Christie Miller Road, can it? They can’t have taken the bottle apart, put it back in its box, cellophane wrapped it, and then dumped it in a bin over the other side of town, can they? Did you notice a cellophane-wrapping-machine-sized-lump sticking out of their backpack? No, me neither.
So what does The Met think? Can they explain why two men, apparently on a mission to kill Mr Skripal at the door handle of his house, brought two bottles with them (especially since they tell us there was enough in one bottle to kill thousands of people)? Can they explain why, after using one of the bottles, they then went over to the other side of town and dumped the fresh, unopened bottle of Novichok in a bin? And can they explain whether they think the men took the opened bottle with them back to Moscow, or left that in Salisbury too? I very much doubt whether The Met can explain these things, or that the British media is ever going to ask them.
And so we must apparently be satisfied with the explanation — implied by The Met’s claims — that the men inexplicably dumped an unopened bottle of “Novichok” in a bin, in cellophane wrapping, and did who knows what with the other.
Oh and something else that bothers me: can they tell us whether they ever found the gloves the two men used when allegedly doing their deed? I mean, they did use gloves, didn’t they? They must have done. Well, wouldn’t these have been dumped somewhere in a bush near Mr Skripal’s house? It’s unlikely that they would want to risk putting these potentially nerve agent-contaminated items back into their backpack. So where are the gloves, and where is the other bottle? Or is that a case of asking people who know what really happened to tell us how the thing that didn’t happen, happened?
6. Duck’s are still a’ dabbling, up tails all (and the boys are okay too)
I’ve mentioned the duck feed above, and I want to emphasise here just how crucial it is to the whole case. The Metropolitan Police allege that Mr Skripal and Yulia became contaminated with “Novichok” by touching the handle of his front door. This would have been sometime around 13:30, a few moments before his car was seen on CCTV in India Avenue and Devizes Road, driving towards Salisbury City Centre.
According to the official timeline (which has now conveniently disappeared from The Met’s website), they are said to have parked the car on the top floor of the Sainsbury’s car park at 13:40 and:
“At some time after this, they go to the Bishops Mill Pub in the town centre.”
At some time after? Bit woolly isn’t it? Yes it is, and that may be because there’s something missing. After parking his car, Mr Skripal and his daughter did not go to the pub or restaurant, but took a little detour, across The Maltings, to the Avon Playground, where they fed ducks for a while.
As I mentioned in point 3, this incident was first reported on 25th March, and then subsequently in The Sun on 28th March. In those pieces, it was stated that during the duck feed, Mr Skripal shared his bread with some local boys, with one of them even eating a piece. The purpose of these articles was clearly to show just how callous those behind the poisoning were, since it could have led to the poisoning of these boys. But because none of the boys became ill in the slightest, inadvertently what these articles actually ended up showing is something else entirely.
When I first read those pieces, my assumption was that the incident had taken place after the Skripals had left Zizzis, and that they may even have taken some garlic bread from the restaurant with them. However, a parent of one of the boys confirmed to me that they had been shown “real clear” CCTV of the incident, and that the timestamp on the footage was 13:45. In other words, the incident was before the visit to either Zizzis or The Mill.
This is extremely significant. The table at Zizzis was taken away to be destroyed (destruction of evidence?) apparently because it was contaminated with nerve agent (although somehow the pair managed to enter through the door without contaminating it). And yet prior to this, Mr Skripal took pieces of bread in his hand, fed ducks with some, and gave other pieces to a group of young boys, one of whom ate a piece, but suffered no ill effects.
Three simple questions:
1. If Mr Skirpal was so contaminated that the table at Zizzis had to be destroyed, how come none of those boys were poisoned, particularly the one who ate the bread, since the duck feed happened before the visit to the restaurant?
2. Why is this incident absent from the Metropolitan Police timeline, despite the fact that they know it happened and when it happened?
3. Why have the media organisations that reported it not followed it up, especially given that it took over two weeks after the incident for the police to inform the parents of the boys?
The duck incident alone casts huge doubt on the idea that Mr Skripal’s hand was contaminated with “Novichok” prior to 13:45. As such, it calls into question the whole official narrative. Perhaps this is why it, along with many other events, has been disappeared down the Memory Hole.
7. It’s the wrong timeline
I mentioned above the timeline of events in Salisbury that day. There is a simple rule of thumb here, and it is this: if investigators cannot get the timeline right, you have every right to doubt that they have got other things right. If you were sitting on a jury, and the defence lawyers were able to show you that the police had not only missed important parts of the timeline out, but had in fact got the order of events wrong, you would be unlikely to convict, wouldn’t you? In fact, you would have a duty to not convict, since the prevalence of errors in the investigation would leave you with reasonable doubt about the case for the prosecution.
There are four basic problems with the Met’s timeline. Let’s look at them in ascending order of importance.
The first is that some of their timings are just plain wrong and — frankly — rather silly. For instance, according to The Met’s caption above the pictures of the two men coming into Gatwick Airport, they entered at 3pm. This is impossible, however, since the airplane they were on did not land until nearly 4pm.
The second is that some of their timings are inexplicably vague. For instance, in the timelines they released on 13th and 17th March (no longer on their website), the following was stated regarding Mr Skripal’s car on the morning of Sunday 4th March:
09.15hrs on Sunday, 4 March: Sergei’s car is seen in the area of London Road, Churchill Way North and Wilton Road.
So it was in three places at once? Why were they unable to be more specific, since the CCTV cameras would all have had timestamps?
I believe there was a reason for this, and once again it gives little confidence in the investigation. At the time that the initial timelines were issued, The Met issued appeals for information on the whereabouts of the Skripals that morning. The impression given was that the Skripals drove to the cemetery at around 9:15, and were then out for most of the morning, but their whereabouts was unknown.
Yet if you read the timeline carefully, and this order was also stated verbally by Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, and if you couple this with a little local geographical knowledge, a quite different picture emerges. Both in Mr Basu’s statement and in the timeline, the order given was this: London Road, Churchill Way, Wilton Road. But this is not travel from the home to the cemetery; rather it is the opposite: from the cemetery towards the house.
In other words, the Skripals did not go to the cemetery at 9:15 or thereabouts; they actually came back home from the cemetery at that time. But if that’s the case — and it is strongly implied by The Met’s order of roads — why were they appealing for information about what the pair were doing on that morning? I submit that it was known all along that they were in the house from about 9:15 onwards, yet the reason it was not cleared up is that it presented something of a problem in terms of the allegations against Petrov and Boshirov. If those allegations were true, the Skripals would have been at home at the time, with the car in the drive. If it seems absurd that the assassination should be carried out in broad daylight, then this scenario makes it all the more so.
The third problem with the timeline is one I have mentioned above — the missing Duck Feed — and so there is no need to repeat the details of that here.
The final error in the timeline, and in my opinion the most egregious of all, is the order of events regarding the Skripals’ visit to the Zizzis restaurant and The Mill Pub. As I mentioned above, all of the early media reports, which were compiled after interviewing witnesses, agree that the Skripals first visited the restaurant, then went on to the pub. Here is a selection of those reports:
“Sergei Skripal went for a drink with his daughter at 3pm at The Mill in Salisbury after eating at a Zizzi Italian restaurant. In the pub, they ordered two glasses of wine before Mr Skripal went to use the toilet. The witness, who did not want to be named, said that when he returned he appeared as if he was drunk. He said Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia then left immediately without finishing their drinks.”
Daily Mail March 10 2018 Spy Looked Unsteady on Feet as he Drank in Pub
“It is not clear when the Skripals were confronted, having left a branch of Italian restaurant chain Zizzi between 2pm and 3pm. After leaving the restaurant, they are thought to have gone to a nearby a pub called The Mill. They were then seen walking through a shopping precinct and found on a bench overlooking the Avon shortly after 4pm.”
Daily Mail March 7 2018 Woman is hustled out of office block next to Zizzi’s after police, fire and paramedics flood the building amid fears the Russian spy’s ‘contamination trail’ has spread
“The Skripals had eaten lunch in Italian restaurant chain Zizzi in the centre of Salisbury on Sunday. They are believed to have left between 2pm and 3pm and gone to a nearby pub called The Mill before being found later on a bench overlooking the Avon.”
Evening Standard March 7 2018 Woman ‘taken ill’ at building next to Zizzi restaurant at centre of Russian spy ‘poison plot’
“A witness told detectives he saw a man with a black mask covering his nose and mouth acting suspiciously around 3pm last Sunday. At the time Mr Skripal and Yulia were thought to be in the Mill pub a few yards away.”
Daily Mail March 10 2018 Was Russian spy poisoned by flowers? Chemical experts examine bouquet left by the double agent at his wife’s grave
“Witnesses have said that after eating at Zizzi’s restaurant they went to the Mill pub where Mr Skripal appeared unsteady on his feet, as if “drunk” – even though he had only ordered a single glass of white wine – suggesting the effects of the nerve agent were rapidly taking effect.”
Telegraph March 10 2018 Poisoned police officer: ‘I’m not a hero. I was just doing my job’
“Officers yesterday took CCTV from inside The Mill. They had gone into The Mill pub following a meal in a Zizzi restaurant.”
Sun March 6 2018 Cops hunt blonde woman seen on CCTV 20 mins before ex-Russian spy spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia were poisoned
“Steve Cooper, who was at the Mill pub with his wife and dog for a couple of hours last Sunday afternoon, told the BBC he was outraged. Some of his friends, who had been in the pub at the same time and seen Mr Skripal head to the toilet, could not remember what they had been wearing that day, he added. BBC March 11, 2018 Russian spy: Salisbury diners told to wash possessions
When was Mr Cooper in The Mill? Here’s what he said in an interview with ITV:
‘We’d been sitting on the very bench at around 3pm and then moved onto The Mill Pub and left there at 4:45pm where we saw the air ambulance.’”
ITV News Meridian March 12 2018
“Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia were believed to have been in Salisbury city centre from 13:30 GMT on 4 March. A witness told the BBC that he saw the pair in the Zizzi restaurant at about 14:00 GMT.”
BBC March 9 2018 Russian spy: What we know so far
There were other reports, but I trust you get the picture. Zizzis first, from about 2pm onwards; Mill second.
And yet for some inexplicable reason, the timeline released by The Met on 13th March, updated on 17th (no longer available on their website), reversed this order. Here is what it said:
13:40hrs: Sergei and Yulia arrive in Sainsbury’s upper level car park at the Maltings. At some time after this, they go to the Bishops Mill Pub in the town centre.
14.20hrs: They dine at Zizzi Restaurant.
15:35hrs: They leave Zizzi Restaurant.
On what basis has the cloud of witnesses been dismissed? What evidence does The Met have that those witnesses were wrong?
This is very serious stuff. An investigation that not only ignores the testimony of multiple witnesses, but without explanation gives an official version of reality that completely contradicts what these members of the public stated in all honesty is … oh what shall we call it? Orwellian? Yes, Orwellian will do, since in that great man’s dystopias, officialdom is always right — even when it is wrong and distorts and dismisses reality.
Quite simply, if investigators are prepared to leave crucial events out of their timeline, and mess with reality in others, as has been done, reasonable people not only have a right to disbelieve their conclusions, I would say they have a duty. Anything else is to invite the very future that Orwell taught us to fear.
8. The Impossible Door Handle
The theory that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned at the handle of his front door is impossible. I do not use that word lightly, and nor do I use it because of any fancy of my own. Rather, I do it because the official version of events, which tries to establish the door handle as the place of poisoning, actually refutes itself.
Much of what I’m about to say is a summary of what I have set out in more detail back here. But the basic points are as follows.
“It’s very unique in its ability to poison individuals at quite low concentrations.” – Porton Down Professor Tim speaking about Novichok.
“The Russians called it Novichok. Thought to be 10X more toxic than any nerve agent created before or since.” – Jane Corbin.
“To kill a person, you need only 1mg. To be sure, 2mg.” – Vil Mirzyanov, who worked on the Foliant project.
“The Russians weaponised Novichok for the battlefield. The tiniest dose can be fatal.”– Jane Corbin.
“It’s difficult to say, you know, possibly into the thousands.” – Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon when asked how many people could have been killed by the substance in the bottle.
This programme, which was clearly endorsed by The Met, since it featured the likes of Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Dean Haydon, wanted its viewers to know three things about “Novichok”: That it is extraordinarily deadly; that a dose of just 2mg is enough to produce certain death in a person; and that the two suspects had enough of the substance in their two bottles to kill 1,000s of people.
But the problem with this, of course, is that the people who allegedly became contaminated at the door handle, did not die. In fact, not only did they not die, but they spent the next few hours feeding ducks, eating a meal and going for a drink.
To square this particular circle, the BBC invited Mr Mirzyanov to give it his best shot. Here was his explanation:
“Maybe the dose was not high enough. Salisbury was rainy and muggy. Novichok breaks down in damp conditions, reducing its toxicity. It’s the Achilles Heel of Novichok.”
The first part of his answer is obvious nonsense. This is the same person who on the same programme claimed that just 2mg of “Novichok” is enough to be sure of killing a person. And given that Mr Skripal allegedly contaminated a number of places around Salisbury, including the table in Zizzis that apparently needed to be destroyed, we can be sure that had he been contaminated at the door handle, as the official line has it, the dose must have been far in excess of 2mg.
So it must be the damp conditions then? Er no. Not possible. Why? Well, I could point out that the “Novichok” would have been on the door handle for a maximum of 80 minutes (between 12:10pm and 13:30pm), and that during this time the weather was fine. The only thing it would have come into contact with would have therefore been the air, and it barely seems worth pointing out that it is beyond unlikely that a nerve agent apparently designed for the battlefield would degrade so quickly. And if it did, how likely is it that the chosen method of assassination would have been to spray such a substance on an exposed door handle in a country that is notoriously damp?
But there is something far more fundamental than this. Something that, as I say, makes the claim impossible. It is this: According to the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in a statement on 4th May:
“The samples collected by the OPCW Technical Assistance Visit team concluded that the chemical substance found was of high purity, persistent and resistant to weather conditions.”
So the BBC, backed up by officialdom, puts forth an explanation as to why the Skripals did not die, which is that the substance, of which 2mg is enough to surely kill someone, degraded so much in just 80 minutes due to the damp conditions that a dose far in excess of 2mg wasn’t enough to kill them. But cometh the OPCW, over 25,000 minutes later (on 22nd March), and what they apparently found was the same substance, but in a state of high purity and totally unaffected by weather conditions.
Do you now see the impossibility of this? The dose wasn’t too low. Mr Mirzyanov tells us just 2mg of the substance will surely kill. And it can’t have been degraded by the weather, because the OPCW found a substance that hadn’t been degraded by the weather.
There is no way of squaring this circle. No way of getting 2 + 2 to = 5 no matter how hard you try. It is impossible. Let me say that again, it is impossible. Let me repeat it one more time, just to make sure the point is made: The idea that Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned by “Novichok” on the handle of his front door is IMPOSSIBLE.
9. The Silence of the Skripals
Yulia Skripal has been heard from a number of times. There were statements made in her name, there was the “interview” she did with Reuters, and there were the calls she made to her cousin, Viktoria. But all that stopped in late July, and in the last known contact she had with her cousin at that time, she apologised for having previously accused her of messing up her plans to return to Russia, saying that she now had access to the internet, and now understood everything.
Just pause there for a moment and think. Yulia Skripal wants to return to Russia? To the place where the people who ordered the attack on her father are in Government? Does she not understand what they did, and what they might do to her again if she were to go back?
Actually, one of my contentions is that she did not have any idea about what the British Government and Metropolitan Police were saying about the case in public until July. You can read a more detailed piece on why this is so here, suffice it to say that the only way to make sense of her rant at her cousin in early July, that she had messed up her chances of going back to Moscow by going on TV talk shows, and her subsequent apology later in July together with the comment that she had seen the internet and now understood everything, is that she wasn’t actually aware of what was being said in public before. Think about it: if the British authorities had told her she and her father had been poisoned by the Russian state, and that this had led to a huge international outcry, she can hardly have wanted to go back to Russia, and she can hardly have thought that her cousin was the reason she couldn’t return.
Anyway, since Yulia has not been seen or heard of since she “got the internet”, and since on many occasions she expressed the desire to return to her home, I’m afraid that until we hear otherwise, it is reasonable to conclude that she is not a free person.
But what about Sergei? Here, we have something even more interesting and obvious. When was the last time you saw Sergei? When was the last time you heard him? When was the last time you read a statement put out in his name? The answer to all three questions is you haven’t. He hasn’t been seen, nor heard from, nor so much as a statement put out on his behalf at any time since 4th March.
Isn’t this a tad strange? Yulia was allowed to speak. She was allowed to read out a pre-prepared statement to Reuters back in May. But not a peep from Sergei. Why not?
A big clue may well come from the BBC reporter, Mark Urban. In his book, he claimed that Mr Skripal was initially reluctant to accept that the Russian Government was behind the poisoning. He never got around to telling us whether Mr Skripal did eventually accept it, but I suspect not, since had he done so, I am quite sure that the authorities would have had him in front of the cameras, testifying to what had happened to him, essentially backing up the official story. But so far he has been silent.
But much more ominous, he has not been in contact with his ailing mother since before 4th March. We are talking about a man who was apparently in the habit of speaking to her once a week, and yet since March 2018, according to his niece, Viktoria, he has not contacted his mother even once. Why is this? If what happened to Mr Skripal is as the British authorities allege, what possible reason could there be for his not being in contact with his mother? It isn’t because his health won’t allow it. In a call to her cousin back in July, Yulia stated that although his voice was too weak to speak on the phone, he would be able to in a matter of days. And yet since then, nothing. Silence.
By itself, this of course proves nothing. Yet it is not by itself. It must be seen in the light of the other points made above. When we put it together with all those oddities, anomalies and impossibilities, I’m afraid that it looks suspiciously like the reason Mr Skripal hasn’t spoken to his mother, is that he is not allowed to. Like Yulia, until shown otherwise, it is reasonable to conclude that his silence is not a voluntary silence.
10. The lethal substance that can be treated with baby wipes
All the pre-2018 literature about the “Novichok” nerve agents leave us in no doubt about their toxicity. For instance:
“In 1982, the Soviets began a secret CW development program codenamed Foliant. The program had the apparent goal of developing new binary nerve agent weapons. Novichok has been described as a new toxic agent and it is very difficult to treat the poisoning (practically impossible; the toxicity was about ten times greater than VX agent).”
We even have the testimony of one of the substance’s creators, Vladimir Uglev (who is no friend of the current Russian Government, by the way), who gave the following account of what happened after he got a tiny amount of this agent on his hand:
“‘I rinsed my hands with sulfuric acid and then put them under tap water,’ he said, adding it was the only way to survive. Another researcher who was contaminated in 1987 died of multiple illnesses five years later [my emphasis].”
So the only way to survive is by taking action as drastic as rinsing your hands with sulphuric acid?
Now, remember in their report of 4th May, the OPCW said that the substance they found on the door handle of Mr Skripal’s house, which was apparently the same substance Mr Uglev got on his hands, was of “high purity”. When Mr Uglev got it on his hands, he knew he only had seconds or at the most minutes to wash it off — with acid — otherwise face certain death. And yet when Sergei and Yulia Skripal apparently got the same substance on their hands, nothing happened to them for hours and they went to feed ducks, eat a meal and go for a drink.
Can a rational person really believe that the substance Mr Uglev describes is the same one that apparently affected the Skripals? I don’t think so. And yet this is what those investigating the case want you to believe. This is odd, however, since Public Health England’s advice to Salisbury residents in March this year kind of gave the game away that it was not the same substance at all:
“Wipe personal items such as phones, handbags and other electronic items with cleansing or baby wipes and dispose of the wipes in the bin (ordinary domestic waste disposal) … Please thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after cleaning any items.”
So the substance that one of its creators says needed to be washed off very quickly with sulphuric acid, and which another of its creators (Vil Mirzyanov) tells us that 2mg is enough to lead to certain death, can be dealt with by using baby wipes?
I’m sorry, but this is just bonkers. Imagine going back in time to pre-March 2018, and hearing an announcement that the armed forces were being protected against possible nerve agent attacks by being supplied with baby wipes. What would you have thought? You’d have thought that someone somewhere had lost the plot, wouldn’t you? And you’d have been right. Whatever those who were hospitalised on 4th March this year were poisoned with, it cannot have been the same substance that Mr Uglev describes, can it? And yet the official narrative says it was. Draw your own conclusions.
You will have noticed from the above that what I have not attempted to do, is to advance a theory of what happened on 4th March 2018. The reason for this is that I simply don’t know, and whilst I may have certain speculative ideas, I don’t know nearly enough to be certain of writing them down.
What I have done, is simply to take the claims made by the authorities, and subject them to the kind of scrutiny that I would have hoped our so-called free press might have done. And I believe that when a light is shone on these claims, the inescapable conclusion is that they are found wanting. They are full of holes, they don’t add up, and despite much trying, they can’t be made to make sense.
Even as I was finishing this piece off, yet another round of nonsense was unleashed; this time, the news that the roof of 47 Christie Miller Road (including the roof of the study) is to be taken off and replaced. Remember, we’re talking about a substance that can be cleansed with baby wipes. Remember, we’re talking about a substance that apparently breaks down after 80 minutes of exposure to the air. But 11 months later, it is again so deadly, that a whole roof needs replacing!
Of course the media is not bothering to ask the obvious questions about this action, such as:
How exactly could the roof timbers have become contaminated?
Who could have contaminated them? D.S. Bailey?
But why would he have been in the attic?
Why is the ceiling / roof in Zizzis not being replaced?
Why has the roof in The Mill not been dismantled?
What was really in the attic?
Obvious questions, yet none of them will be asked.
In conclusion, I think it abundantly clear that what we have been told about what took place on 4th March in the beautiful city of Salisbury is not, in fact, true. It is clear that something else happened, and much of what we have seen since then has been theatre and an attempt to cover up what actually took place. It is my earnest hope and prayer that the truth will soon be revealed.
“Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away;
for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.
Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.”
Postscript: Some of the commenters on this site are setting up a new forum to continue sharing information on the case in the future. When that site is up and running, I will post a short piece pointing people towards it.
As I have said, it is my intention that this will be my last piece on the case. However, that comes with the caveat that if there are any other major developments, I may well decide to write about them. Amongst other things, I will probably also be writing from time to time about events and issues that may well be connected to the Salisbury case, such as the so-called Integrity Initiative, which the British media doesn’t seem to have heard about yet. But for now, That’s All Folks.