Boris Johnson Issues Completely New Story on “Russian Novichoks” 324

Boris Johnson has attempted to renew the faltering case for blaming Russia ahead of the investigation into the Skripal attack, by issuing a fundamentally new story that completely changes – and very radically strengthens – the government line on what it knows. You can see the long Foreign and Commonwealth Office Statement here.

This is the sensational new claim which all the propaganda sheets are running with:

The Foreign Secretary revealed this morning that we have information indicating that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents likely for assassination. And part of this programme has involved producing and stockpiling quantities of novichok. This is a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

This is an astonishing claim and requires close investigation. If this information comes from MI5 or MI6, there is a process of inter-departmental clearance that has to be gone through before it can be put in the public domain – even by a Minister – which is known as “Action-on”. I have been through the process personally many times when working as head of the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre, monitoring Iraqi arms acquisitions. It is not, unless actually at war, a Saturday night process – it would have had to have been done on Friday.

So why is this essential information being released not to Parliament on Friday, but on Andrew Marr’s sofa early on a Sunday morning, backed up with a Sunday morning official statement? This is very unusual. Furthermore, it is absolutely incompatible with what I was told last week by FCO sources – they did not know this information, and one of them certainly would have if it was based on MI6 or GCHQ reporting.

I can see only two possible explanations. One – and the most likely – depends on looking yet again extremely carefully at what the statement says. It says “we have information indicating that within the last decade”. If does not say how long we have held that information. And “within the last decade” can mean any period of time between a second and ten years ago, Very tellingly it says “within the last decade”, it does not say “for the last decade”.

“Within the last decade” is in fact the exact same semantic trick as “sale price – up to 50% off”. That can mean no more than 0.1% off and its only actual meaning is “never better than half price”.

The most likely explanation of this sentence is therefore that they have – since last week when they didn’t know this – just been given this alleged information. And not from a regular ally with whom we have an intelligence sharing agreement. It could have come from another state, or from a private source of dodgy intelligence – Orbis, for example.

The FCO are again deliberately twisting words to convey the impression that we have known for a decade, whereas in fact the statement does not say this at all.

There is a second possible explanation. MI6 officers in the field get intelligence from agents who, by and large, they pay for it. In my experience of seeing thousands of MI6 intelligence reports, a fair proportion of this “Humint” is unreliable. Graham Greene, a former MI6 officer, was writing a true picture in the brilliant “our Man in Havana”, which I cannot strongly recommend enough to you.

The intelligence received arrives in Vauxhall Cross and there is a filter. A country desk officer will assess the intelligence and see if it is worth issuing as a Report; they judge accuracy against how good access the source has and how trustworthy they are deemed to be, and whether the content squares with known facts. If passed, the intelligence then becomes a Report and is given a serial number. This is not a very good filter, because it still lets through a lot of rubbish, but it does eliminate the complete dregs. One possible source of new information that has suddenly changed the government’s state of knowledge this weekend is a search of these dregs for anything that can be cobbled together. As I have written in Murder in Samarkand, it was the deliberate removal of filters which twisted the Iraqi WMD intelligence.

In short, we should be extremely sceptical of this sudden new information that Boris Johnson has produced out of a hat. If the UK was in possession of intelligence about a secret Russian chemical weapons programme, it was not under a legal obligation to tell Andrew Marr, but it was under a legal obligation to tell the OPCW. Not only did the UK fail to do that, the UK Ambassador Sir Geoffrey Adams was last year fulsomely congratulating the OPCW on the completion of the destruction of Russia’s chemical weapons stocks, without a single hint or reservation entered that Russia may have undeclared or secret stocks.

On the Andrew Marr programme, Boris Johnson appeared to say for the first time that the nerve agent in Salisbury was actually made in Russia. But this is a major divergence from the published FCO statement, which very markedly does not say this. Boris Johnson was therefore almost certainly reverting to his reflex lying. In fact the FCO statement gives an extremely strong hint the FCO is not at all confident it was made in Russia and is seeking to widen its bases. Look at this paragraph:

Russia is the official successor state to the USSR. As such, Russia legally took responsibility for ensuring the CWC applies to all former Soviet Chemical Weapons stocks and facilities.

It does not need me to point out, that if Porton Down had identified the nerve agent as made in Russia, the FCO would not have added that paragraph. Plainly they cannot say it was made in Russia.

The Soviet Chemical Weapons programme was based in Nukus in Uzbekistan. It was the Americans who dismantled and studied it and destroyed and removed the equipment. I visited it as Ambassador to Uzbekistan shortly after they had finished – I recall it as desolate, tiled and very cold, nothing to look at really. The above paragraph seeks to hold the Russians responsible for anything that came out of Nukus, when it was the Americans who actually took it.

324 thoughts on “Boris Johnson Issues Completely New Story on “Russian Novichoks”

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  • Bob Apposite

    The board game Clue – The object of the game is to determine who murdered the game’s victim (“Dr. Black” in the UK version and “Mr. Boddy” in North American versions), where the crime took place, and which weapon was used

    Which weapon was used is only one part of the investigation of a murder, as every child who has ever played “Clue” can tell you.

    Craig Murray seems very keen on this investigation never getting past that.

    • Node

      We call it “Cluedo” on this side of the pond. The players have to establish who, where and how, but not why or when. And that’s the weak point in your case, Bob – coming up with a non-pathetic motive for Putin doing this at this time.

      And talking of motives, I don’t have any trouble understanding why Craig frequents this blog expressing the views he does. Why you do the same isn’t so straight forward.

      • Ben

        “coming up with a non-pathetic motive for Putin doing this at this time.”

        What’s pathetic is the gnomish applause from the peanut gallery and closed- loop logic of stale thinking..

      • Bob Apposite

        I didn’t say Putin did it. I said whoever did it – did it in Russia.
        Now if Putin won’t assist in an investigation, than yes, it starts to look like Putin did it.

        • Bob Apposite

          My motive?

          My motive is to try to interject some reason against the rising tide of narcissism and oppositional defiance that is destroying the world right now.

        • HomerJS

          Putin has actually asked to be involved in an investigation. Theresa May didn’t offer him that opportunity, she just said which of these two things are you guilty of?

    • Rab Mac

      What the game *doesn’t* do is pose the question that is most important: Cui bono?

      It’s been suggested that Putin ordered it so as to increase turnout for the election, to give the result (which we’ve all known well in advance) legitimacy. Who seriously thinks he gives a damn about that.

      A much more important point to take into consideration is the fact that the World Cup is in Russia; if one country pulls out, chances are others will follow, and the whole thing falls apart. Why risk that?

      I honestly think we need to look closer to home.

      • Cedders

        Other reasons why Putin might order/approve an attack on the Skripals :
        1) Send a very clear message to all dissidents and would-be dissidents that certain types of misbehaviour are taken very seriously indeed. I read in a reputable journal that Putin hates betrayal above all other crimes.
        2) Revenge. You betray the Motherland, I make you pay for the harm you did.
        The timing of the attack might have been fully planned or it might have been opportunistic i.e both Skripals together halves the effort required to act against them. Until we have corroborated information about how the attack was staged, we will not know whether or not the method of delivery had any influence.

  • Dave G

    And the fact that Boris Johnson tends to make everything up as he goes along is another explanation.

  • Republicofscotland

    Jeez oh talk about “sexing up documents” this could be another September Dossier in the making.

  • Alasdair Macdonald.

    From the look on his face as he delivers these statements it is clear that Mr Johnson is enjoying the publicity he is getting. We know from experience that he is wholly cavalier with the truth and is completely unembarrassed if this mendacity is pointed out.

    It is clear that, if the Government’s action on this is opportunistic it has, in the short term, played its hand pretty well and seems to have garnered some public support and has managed to resurrect the attacks on Mr Corbyn, who, I think has actually been pretty sensible about this and has shown consistency with long held positions.

    The episode, is, I think and example of Mr Harold Wilson’s epigram: “a week is a long time in politics”.

    Essentially HMG is saying and being supported by the mainstream media, “What we are saying is the only truth and anyone who casts doubt on this is unpatriotic and a supporter of communist oppression and apologist for tyrants.” Sadly, this kind of thing is influential with the section of the population containing ‘floating voters’

  • Ben

    Tough to choose..MI5, MI6
    or FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) and the SVR ..

    What a quandary..

    • Xavi

      Yeah, the first two august agencies only lied us into destroying Iraq and Libya, creating Isis and a biblical refugee crisis. So long ago though, no wonder you’ve forgotten.

      • Ben

        Don’t forget the bad treatment of Gorby/Yeltsin after Afghan HIND choppers had to stop carpet-bombing villagers.

  • Xavi

    Thanks for shedding the light of truth on this pigswill, Craig. Maybe one day our self-regarding press, even some “opposition” politician will also get round to challenging these pernicious half-truths and bald-faced lies. One thing for them to allow defenceless middle-eastern countries to be destroyed on the basis of packs of lies, quite another to stand by and permit a process wherein the world could conceivably be reduced to nuclear ash. At least you can say you’re doing you bit to forestall the worst. Keep going.

  • Tony Robinson

    Yes, my first thoughts also were that if the UK has evidence that Russia is in violation of its OPCW obligations then the Govt should have raised the matter at the UNSC and with the OPCW.

    • Ross

      should have raised=is obligated to by the agreement

      Boris may have just dug an even deeper hole for the government.

  • Ross

    If the initial story wasn’t falling to pieces I very much doubt we’d be hearing any of this. Panic has clearly set in, and the claims being made are going to get more and more outrageous.

    • Merkin Scot

      Quite correct. Outrageous claims, indeed.
      However, I think the correct word here is “outlandish”.

  • squirrel

    Doesn’t “within the last decade” intend to refer to the Russian activities rather than timing of intelligence reports? In which case there could have been such a program ten years ago, now genuinely destroyed as ratified by the OPCW (or weak intelligence of such)

  • mog

    It does look like this was Johson’s blurted response to being briefed that Craig’s exposition has gone viral, followed by a ‘CYA’ from the FCO.
    Maybe we should just do away with Parliament and just have ministerial announcements on the BBC from now on…?
    I wonder whether Corbyn will bring a question to the house about this during the week?

  • TheSickManofEurope

    “The Russians Did it” narrative will become Theresa May’s political swansong… hopes.
    We already know that Theresa May is monstrously inept (and has been promoted way beyond her level of incompetence)
    ….but Labour is several points ahead and IF the dreadful Corbyn comes out of this looking like the sensible sort of guy who simply asked for REAL EVIDENCE…..her days are numbered.

    I WANT EVIDENCE! Real evidence verified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
    …..tirelessly repeating “The Russians did it” is NOT evidence!

    The UK still has NOT (as far as we know) handed any evidence to the OPCW….Why Not?
    The UK still has NOT (as far as we know) handed any evidence to the Russians….Why Not?
    The UK still has NOT handed any evidence to the UK public….Why Not?

    Meanwhile we are served 24/7 with a parade of Anti-Putin commentators
    and “experts” by the colluding FakeNews Media (BBC, SKY News etc…) telling us how evil this Putin dude is…..but NOBODY is asking for evidence….and when they do (like Corbyn has) they are accused of being traitors and Putin’s apologists!
    Each passing day Theresa May looks more and more like the broken and rejected Hillary Clinton…parroting “The Russians did it…The Russians did it” at every available opportunity.

  • bliss_porsena

    US media are now reporting a ‘dusty’ substance which infiltrated the ventilation system of the Skripal’s BMW; and that thirty-eight other Salisbury residents are now affected, with that number expected to rise.

    Clearly this load fell off the back of a Porton Down lorry.


    Well, getting into Orwellian semantics, in DC the political use of the word “information” is a way around having to say there is “evidence” not to mention “intelligence”. One can have “information” that does not reach the level of courtroom “evidence.” Any old information good enough for political use. Using the word “intelligence” implies a finished product of the intelligence community itself. The US intelligence community consists of some 17 organizations and reaching agreement or consensus on matters is not a rapid or simple process. And, unfortunately, intelligence can be cooked to suit.

    In the UK, when politicians say “information” does that mean that the information is not sufficient to meet courtroom standards of “evidence”? Also, does that mean that the information is not at the level of a finished intelligence product?

    • giyane

      ” In the UK, when politicians say “information” does that mean that the information is not sufficient to meet courtroom standards of “evidence”? ”

      Yes that is precisely Craig’s point:
      “This is not a very good filter, because it still lets through a lot of rubbish, but it does eliminate the complete dregs. One possible source of new information that has suddenly changed the government’s state of knowledge this weekend is a search of these dregs for anything that can be cobbled together. As I have written in Murder in Samarkand, it was the deliberate removal of filters which twisted the Iraqi WMD intelligence.”

      You have successfully pinpointed the truth about how our intelligence agencies ” sex up ” the advice given to parliament. Boris can repeat this guff knowing there isn’t a hope in hell of convincing parliament. He does so desperately not want to be the man who gets the blame for another stupid foray into Middle-Eastern politics.
      He wants a parliamentary debate guaranteeing non-intervention in Syria. The best way to achieve this is for him to come on Marr and look stupid and arrogant.

      Coward that he is, all he wants to do is monitor his proxy Islamist terrorists from afar and send secret bombing missions which he does not have to make public. Meanwhile NATO’s Turkey has driven 250,000 civilians out of Afrin in Syria, while we are debating dodgy froth from our Foreign Minister.

      Boris is a lazy fraud, who’d do anything rather than get his fat arse out of a chair to defend innocent civilians anywhere.


        G. Thank you for your reply. In the US, there is a problem of politicization of the intelligence process. This can distort finished product not to mention undermine professionals’ morale. It can create problems in recruiting good people for service and recruiting fireign assets. The distortion can be used to propel the country to war as in the second Iraq war. Reading the British press at the time, the dramatic opposition in Parliament by Labour and some Tories was gratifying to see. But this opposition was very much suppressed in the US media which focused on Blair and the hawks. The Blair Dodgy Dossier was a cut and paste job cooked in part by a Prof. Barry Rubin who was linked into the Herzliya research park in Israel. This is well documented in open sources available to the public.

        We have had the Steele “Pee Dossier” foisted on our country and it has been rather a destabilizing disgrace. It is said that Skripal works for Steele. Maybe this is true. Perhaps this is why he was targeted in order to silence him as the US investigations into Steele etal. Broaden out and deepen. Tidy things up a bit. It is fair to say that some folks around this town, DC, know a great deal more than has so far come to public attention. The identities of a number of the key Deep State individuals involved in the Steele case at FBI and Justice were known a year ago some names having since become public.

        Anent the Middle East. Anti-Russian propaganda and posturing suits the preparation in the West of public opinion for the next war in the Middle East. Russia supports Syria and cooperates with Iran. Thus, propaganda against all three has been systematically developed and disseminated as disinformation. This is called perception management or information war in the US. In the old days it was called psychological and political warfare.

        The most important point is that there are powerful forces which do not wish to see cooperation between the major powers and the UN on Middle East issues. Thus, anti-Russia and anti-China information warfare. Added to the mix is anti-Iran information warfare. The pattern is clear.

        The Steele “Pee Dossier” and this new Novichok case are intended to reenforce the anti-Russia line. Perhaps shaggy Boris is sipping a bit to much sherry recently.

        • giyane

          “Salus populi suprema lex est”
          Let the best interests of the people be the first principle.

          Thanks for your reply. I listened to a recent discussion about Cicero on BBC Radio 4m In Our Time. Melvyn Bragg alluded to a time in Cicero’s life when he was exiled for breaking the primary rule of Roman life, that aristocrats could not be executed without fair trial. Cicero had ordered some executions which led to him being accused of treason. Cicero then spent a long time in exile justifying his actions as ” for the best interests of the people”.

          If they had made Latin and Greek interesting like that, I might have paid it more attention. I studied the subjects only because the teachers seemed quite a lot less bonkers than the rest of the gang.

          If I have learned anything about politics in my lifetime it is the lesson of the Thatcherite revolution which swept away the aristocratic Conservatives, who were arrogant but benign, and replaced them with corrupt dogmatists who have reverted to the worst habits of their predecessors, resuming colonialism, reversing social equality, and worst of all embezzling real cash and replacing it with highly leveraged fake bonds.

          All of this was done under the political slogan of the best interests of the people, while in fact reducing their power and wealth and transferring it to the tiny 1% at the top of the food chain.
          In an age of political slogans, such as Muslim Brotherhood, which has wracked the Muslim world with heartache, displacement and death, it’s impossible to tell from a slogan what the true intentions of the sloganeers might be. In general, the opposite of the message of the slogan.
          Our PM Theresa May employed 2 left-wing advisors to delude the unsuspecting public into thinking she cared about them.

          Our Craig Murray is not going to be the knife in the back of the Tories that our country desperately needs. As you can see half of the Labour Party are siding with Mrs May’s lies.
          However neither Russia nor China are going to pay the slightest attention to USUKIS games.
          By using proxies, violent Islamist jihadists, against civilian populations, the West has de facto lost the moral high ground.. Salus populi in its broadest sense means the existential authority of China and Russia, in human terms, replacing Western terror with something else more benign. Nothing could possibly be more malign than the ” powerful force ” of Israel ravaging the Muslim peoples and lands for 30 years. Without Israel’s malignancy against Islam, and with fair dealings and fair trade, the Muslim countries and people are capable of rebuilding themselves.

  • CanSpeccy

    A very nicely reasoned piece.

    But, take care, Craig. Don’t do anything rash, like taking a walk in the woods.

    Re: the paragraph beginning “There is a second possible explanation,” the second sentence could use an editorial tweak.

  • Lub

    “information indicating”
    “Russia has investigated”
    “likely for assassination”

    They somehow take a lesson from the Iraq WMD case. In this short paragraph they have put three escape routes from their lies. But I believe they are trapped in already.

  • Gary

    Whatever way I look at it, it seems to come back to the USA. USA is where the Novickoks developer now resides, and has done for what, 20 years? It would have been remiss of the USA not to glean any information about his work that they were unaware of. It would further have been remiss of them not to research his work further and create stock to study – which I believe they ARE allowed to do under current agreements. The USA were the ones to deal with the former USSR’s stock as well. I have great difficulty in imagining how Russia derives benefit from murdering Slripal with THIS particular method and THIS particular time. During campaigning for the Presidential Elections seems a time NOT to do this, it could easily have been done at another time. IF Putin wished to somehow use this for popularity then he has failed to do so, and this was pointless in any event as he was fully expected to win easily. If he felt it HAD to be done AND had to be done at this time, then why not a method that would not point DIRECTLY to them and NO ONE ELSE? I can only ask, who benefits from this? Who would want to split the UK, The West, The EU from relations with Russia? The UK benefits greatly from Russian money to the stock market. May’s empty threats to stop dealing with Russian ‘dirty money’ are exactly that, empty. KYC (Know Your Customer) is the anti money-laundering structure put in place to prevent ill-gotten gains getting into our banks. They are easily circumvented for serious people and the threat means nothing WILL happen and that these existing procedures therefore are either useless but will continue or that she is confirming we KNOWINGLY take dirty cash. A divided Europe calling for sanctions against Russia is not in the best interests of either party and trade in commodities such as GAS will be problematic for many European countries. Of course, by a happy coincidence, the USA does have shale gas it is going to be exporting to Scottish shores soon and sanctions on Russian product would help the price of Shale gas especially. But I’m sure the CIA wouldn’t go so far as to kill a former KGB Double Agent to boost the US economy, would they?

    • Ben

      “If he felt it HAD to be done AND had to be done at this time, then why not a method that would not point DIRECTLY to them and NO ONE ELSE? I can only ask, who benefits from this? ”

      Hubris/Ego benefits. Like Trump who enjoys sowing chaos (In his own words).. when you can buy anything you want, you may want to settle old scores.

  • TomGard

    This ist funny:
    From the FCO – Statement:

    “Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents likely for assassination. And part of this programme has involved producing and stockpiling quantities of novichok.”

    Well, this is exactly what PD must have done, otherwise they couldn’t have had the necessary standard samples and decomposition pathways to identify traces of a novichok agent in Salisbury as they claimed, they did. So:

    “This is a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention”?

    No, it isn’t. CWC Art.II, 9. “”Purposes Not Prohibited Under this Convention” means:
    (c) “(c) Military purposes not connected with the use of chemical weapons and not dependent on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare;”

    And there is more to it:

    “The team from The Hague will meet with officials from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the police to discuss the process for collecting samples, including environmental ones.
    These will then be despatched to highly reputable international laboratories selected by the OPCW for testing with results expected to take a minimum of two weeks.
    This is the next step in the process to independently verify the analysis carried out by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down.”

    “Diskuss the process for collecting …” – that means quite unequivocally, the probing and documentation has NOT yet been done following the SOP’s of the OPCW.

    • Cedders

      Iran has recently made various Novichok agents, and published information about what they did and what they produced. Porton Down might not have needed to make their own in order to be able to identify them. It seems like their identification was not very precise, which suggests that they may not have much detailed information.

  • Harry Law

    If the Government knew Russia was producing and stockpiling quantities of Novichok before 4th March 2018 and failed to tell the body responsible for the Chemical Weapons Convention the OPCW, then the Government itself are in breach of that convention. If it cobbled together ‘dregs’ of information’ since 4th March 2018 then that report with its serial number and the people who signed off on it should also be deposited at the OPCW. WAS this done and when was it done?

  • Sharp Ears

    I can’t find my previous post about the Russian tycoon’s wife who paid a fortune to play tennis with Boris and to have dinner with Williamson. It might be on another thread or perhaps deleted.

    This comes from 2014 when Cameron was trailing round for donations.

    ‘Russian oligarch Mr Temerko appears on the list twice, suggesting he may have attended more than one dinner over the summer.

    He has personally donated £265,230 to the Tories since 2010, while his wind farm firm Offshore Group Newcastle has given £220,425.

    In 2012 OGN got a £4.5million grant from the Department for Business, though Tory sources insisted it was not linked to Mr Temerko’s donations.

    Russia’s extradition requests were refused by a judge, who said they were politically motivated. He has since been given British citizenship.’

    We need a revolution.

  • Durak

    The huge problem is not only that the media doesn’t want to know – they are actively pushing the government narrative, even so called left leaning papers like the Guardian have been consistently attacking Corbyn in a most undignified fashion.

  • CM

    I’m posting here because this seems to be the preeminent spot for having a rational, fact based discussion about the Skripal event. The quality-to-troll ratio remains quite favorable.

    While I admit to being only in possession of the few facts that are publicly available, as presented they do no make sense. The comment that follows is a further examination of the facts at hand that I posted to my own site this morning (

    [note: I provide lots of supplementary links throughout the comment, but those are not reproducing here, so if you want to track any of them down, you’ll find the links at my site, in comment #35]

    The entire Russian/Novochok narrative is unraveling badly and one way I know that is that there’s nothing on the front page of the WSJ this morning about any of this.

    Worse, the details of the crime scene are now falling apart rather badly.

    Because of the timeline involved which involved the Skripals parking their car at 1:45 p.m. and being found “frothing at the mouth” at 4:15 p.m. there’s a very strong suggestion that they had to have been poisoned during that time frame (and not via her luggage as being rather oddly and incoherently suggested now in trial balloon fashion).

    The basic timeline we have is:

    1:45 p.m they park their car
    1:50 ? They go to the Bishop’s Mill pub
    2:20 p.m. they go to Zizzi restaurant
    3:35 p.m they leave the restaurant
    4:15 p.m. they are spotted ill on a park bench by bystander Freya Church and nearby police are alerted

    Of particular note one of the first attending police officers, Nick Bailey falls ill too. So far these are the only three people to have fallen ill, presumably from exposure to a Novichok class nerve agent.

    Nick Bailey is a police officer in the Wiltshire Police and was rushed to hospital after he speeded to help Mr Skripal and his daughter following a suspected nerve agent attack in Salisbury.

    (Source – The Sun, Also here, here and here)

    From the OPCW website:
    If a person is exposed to a high concentration of nerve agent, e.g., 200 mg sarin/m3 (see table) death may occur within a couple of minutes.

    Poisoning takes longer when the nerve agent enters the body through the skin. Nerve agents are more or less fat-soluble and can penetrate the outer layers of the skin. However, it takes some time before the poison reaches the deeper blood vessels. Consequently, the first symptoms do not occur until 20-30 minutes after the initial exposure but subsequently the poisoning process may be rapid if the total dose of nerve agent is high.


    So the time frame here for effects to be noticed is between a couple of minutes if aerosolized, and a maximum of 30 minutes if administered through the skin.

    We don’t know the time frame of action of a novichok (if indeed that’s what was used, we still lack independent confirmation of that) so let’s be generous and say it has a mechanism of action that is twice as slow as any other nerve agent. I will say that toxicologically (my PhD is in toxicology, by the way) this makes no sense if we are to believe that the Novochoks are 5x to 10x more lethal than VX. Typically a more lethal poison has a higher binding affinity for the target enzyme or protein and therefore operates more rapidly, not less.

    But even if we give it a 2x longer operating action, they still had to have been dosed somewhere between the end of their stay at the restaurant and the park. Not before. (Please also recall that the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the North Korean leader’s brother, in Kuala Lumpur was a skin route administration of VX which dropped him in minutes.)

    This is where it all gets rather interesting. Because the police sargent, Nick Bailey, falls ill so rapidly, we have to suspect aerosol administration meaning they had some fo this stuff on them and wafting about, or their breath was so toxic that he could fall ill from it.

    Most oddly, we have this (still not yet scrubbed down the memory hole) account posted in the BBC:

    Meanwhile, a doctor who was one of the first people at the scene has described how she found Ms Skripal slumped unconscious on a bench, vomiting and fitting.

    She had also lost control of her bodily functions. The woman, who asked not to be named, told the BBC she moved Ms Skripal into the recovery position and opened her airway, as others tended to her father.

    She said she treated her for almost 30 minutes, saying there was no sign of any chemical agent on Ms Skripal’s face or body. The doctor said she had been worried she would be affected by the nerve agent, but added that she “feels fine”.

    (Source – BBC)

    Say what?

    Hold on there. This means that this woman doctor was in direct proximity to Yulia Skripal and her father, was the first to have moved her off the bench into a recovery position and attended to her in close proximity for 30 minutes and after all that “feels fine.” This person was the very first then to have handled Ms. Skripal intimately, which you’d appreciate if you’ve ever handled the dead weight of an unconscious adult.

    Police typically do not get as physically involved with ill people as doctors, so I have to assume Mr. Bailey got unlucky and somehow touched a spot on one or both of them that was absolutely loaded with poison, while the doctor and everybody else who arrived mere moments later missed that (those) same area(s).

    Further, ‘other people’ tended to Mr Skripal. Presumably they are all fine because the only reports we have are of the three poisonings; the two Skirpals and Nick Bailey.

    And none of the people at the restaurant have exhibited any signs of nerve agent poisoning, and also not the ambulance drivers (air for her, ground for him), and none of the attending doctors or hospital staff.

    Nobody else. Not one other person.

    Just Nick and the Skripals.

    Hmmmm….this really stinks to high heaven here.

    How did Nick Bailey get dosed to such an extent that he was in serious condition for days afterwards? How did nobody else get dosed even mildly?

    Since Nick was struck so rapidly we have to understand that this nerve agent is not something the Skripals could have experienced in their car, or much earlier in the day, and then wandered about with for very long.

    Further, it would be impossible for them to have been so heavily dosed that a transfer contact to Nick would have been such a serious event without them falling ill themselves almost instantly.

    Therefore we can conclude, with a high degree of likeliness that they were dosed after the restaurant, so somewhere between 3:35 p.m and 4:15 p.m. And we can conclude that whatever was on or about them was not easily transferred to numerous other nearby persons, including those who handled them directly in the immediate aftermath.

    If I were a dispassionate investigator, I would be taking a very close look at the only other person besides the Skripals to have been struck down by the poison. That would be normal investigative procedure. This is just what the evidence suggests at this point. I’d want to exclude that person as a normal course of the investigation so we could move onto the next subjects and suspects.

    Finally, the CCTV cameras are critical here because it’s most likely the poisoning happened right there on the park bench. The only administration route that makes sense to me that absolves the sergeant too would have been that the would-be assassin had an aerosol can that they unleashed as they walked by which struck the Skripals, but which did not stick to their clothes or skin appreciably enough to affect anyone else later, and then a diluted cloud wafted off in a direction where the only other victim struck was Mr. Bailey. Not impossible, but also not my first theory. Best to interview every possible witness at the park quite thoroughly would be my vote.

    At any rate, the fact that the US news has pretty much dropped this tells me as much as anything. This could get mighty embarrassing for some folks.

    • Cedders

      Ok, Dr Toxicologist. What substances other than nerve agents cause the symptoms observed ? How are such substances delivered ? How does the scenario play out if those substances were used ? Given that many nerve agents are extremely potent and that the Skripals were probably attacked in a public place, might it not have made sense for the attackers to use a less dangerous substance in order to minimise the risk to innocent bystanders ?

  • John Spencer-Davis

    The Foreign and Commonwealth Office statement includes the following:

    “It reflects the UK’s commitment to fully complying with the obligations of the Chemical Weapons Convention. On 12 March the Foreign Secretary summoned the Russian Ambassador and sought an explanation from the Russian Government, as Article 9 of the convention is clear we have the right to do. We received no meaningful response. It is therefore Russia which is failing to comply with the provisions of the convention. We should resist any Russian attempts to muddy the waters.” (My emphasis).

    Pull the other one. The relevant part of Article 9 reads thus:

    “Without prejudice to the right of any State Party to request a challenge inspection, States Parties should, whenever possible, first make every effort to clarify and resolve, through exchange of information and consultations among themselves, any matter which may cause doubt about compliance with this Convention, or which gives rise to concerns about a related matter which may be considered ambiguous. A State Party which receives a request from another State Party for clarification of any matter which the requesting State Party believes causes such a doubt or concern shall provide the requesting State Party as soon as possible, but in any case not later than 10 days after the request, with information sufficient to answer the doubt or concern raised along with an explanation of how the information provided resolves the matter.” (My emphasis).

    Uh, we aren’t 10 days after the 12th of March yet. And Theresa May gave the Russian Government 24 hours to answer. So where does that leave the “UK’s commitment to fully complying with the obligations of the Chemical Weapons Convention”? They must take us all for fools. J

  • Frances Singer

    Have read so much John Le Carre recently that I can only suspect there are much deeper levels & truths to those being spun by the government. It’s suspicious that the they are promoting such absolute explanations at this stage. I thought Sharmi Chakrabarti’s points on the same show were more relevant and considered.

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