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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  • John

    There is another odd element in the story, Johnson has said the OPCW may take a couple of weeks to identify the poison. HMG took only a couple of days.

  • Rink

    One link seems to have gone very quiet, very quickly. That with Pablo Miller, First Secretary FCO, OBE for services to British foreign policy: alleged recruiter, alleged handler, alleged business associate of Mr Skripal, alleged associate of Orbis, alleged resident of Salisbury, whose Linkedin accounted was deleted, allegedly on the breaking of the news of the poisoning. (A couple of very old pictures at

    • Sharp Ears

      Good find.

      He needed help in navigating his tank.
      ‘CBF Cyprus, General Sir Desmond Langley helps Lt Pablo Miller not to lose his way near the Green (Disengagement) Line. B Sqn handed over their Cyprus Role to the 16/5 on 19 January 1984.’

      but he was good at skiing. Do they still have so much fun in the Army on R&R?
      ‘The Regiment was complete in Imphal Barracks Osnabruck by December and operational by 25 January 1985. The skiers slipped away before they could be otherwise employed. The Alpine and Nordic teams came 4th,5th and 7th in their respective Div Championships. Captain Pablo Miller here being “set-off” by HRH Princess Anne.’

  • Johnny

    Incredible activism, Craig. You are single-handedly holding the FCO, and the establishment to account!

  • FobosDeimos

    It is all very depressing. The British Government started by alleging that they were free to choose whether or not the CW Convention procedure under Article IX was applicable to this case. The Canadians repeated that nonsense like a dutiful parrot. Then the UK backpedaled and all of a sudden decided that Article IX is indeed “the law”. But the 24 hour ultimatum delivered by May is not at all consistent with the detailed procedure set forth in Article IX, which gives the accused State 10 days to provide its reply. At this point I wonder if the Russian Government should not call the British bluff by resorting themselves to Article IX.5, which says: 5. “A State Party shall also have the right to request the Executive Council (of the OPCW) to clarify any situation which has been considered ambiguous or has given rise to a concern about its possible non-compliance with this Convention. The Executive Council shall respond by providing such assistance as appropriate”. In other words, the Russians should get the OPCW involved as soon as possible in a manner consistent with the Convention, i.e. forcing the British to show all their evidence and availing themselves of the right to rebute the allegations.

  • Cynicus

    I think that is called an AD HOMINEM attack.
    Have you a genuine counter- argument to make?

    If so, let us see it.

  • lysias

    I am a retired lawyer in the U.S. federal government and a retired officer in U.S. naval intelligence, with a First in Greats from Oxford, a Ph.D. in classical philology from Harvard, and a law degree from Yale Law School, and what you call Craig’s deluded conspiracy theories make eminent sense to me. Am I a certifiable nutcase?

    • Canexpat

      Excellent comment Lysias. Sanity is not statistical as Winston maintained.

      It does appear from a brief survey of online comments that in this case, sanity may be prevailing – at least amongst those who bother to look beyond the MSM brainwashing.

    • Abby

      Care to tell us exactly what you have a problem with about his analysis? Or just calling him names sum up your disagreement with him?

  • simon

    the guy above is correct we are using logic here.
    when all is needed is emotion
    bbc john sweeney was shouting on the radio today about killer putin.
    emotion trumps everything
    how does that make you feel the bbc say like vampyre
    tell us
    you do know it was proven putin did this that and the other.

    the problem with this case is no real victims no real attachemnt or public connections
    meaning no emotional content

    so all that is left is zionist anger impotent rage.

    the ships have sailed the aircraft carrier captain asking
    why are we not carrying any planes

    half cocked may and bullingdon bloater boris and the labour friends of tory blair all seem to be working for foreign power i wonder yahoo

    • Baalbek

      Seeing Israel and Zionism as the country and ideology behind every belligerent action the establishment takes is a bit too simplistic. It’s part of Hollywood Syndrome which drives people to seek one super villain who is responsible for everything they don’t like (and a super hero who will come and save them from the bad guys). The real world is a tad more complicated then that.

      • Kiza

        Anyone who blames the Zionists for what is supposed to have happened in Salisbury is doing the same thing as the HMG. Obviously, this makes them no-worse than HMG, but there certainly no way to deny the accusers of the Zionists such right in a situation when unsupported accusations are flying all over the place and creating severe international tensions.

        Therefore here I am, I also think that this whole Skripal affair is of the type developed by Zionists (and implemented by their lying HMG servants). The main support for such thesis comes from the Cui bono analysis, the same but much simplified one that HMG and its trolls are promoting heavily – the revenge against a traitor.

  • Canexpat

    Zerohedge are reporting the following:

    “ABC also notes that 38 individuals were also affected by the nerve agent – placed in Skripal’s air vents. Perhaps, some have suggested, Skripal and his daughter pulled over to exit the car, left the doors open, and people walking by received a non-lethal dosage.

    The intelligence officials told ABC News up to 38 individuals in Salisbury have been identified as having been affected by the nerve agent but the full impact is still being assessed and more victims sickened by the agent are expected to be identified” -ABC
    How does this square with the Salisbury doctor who states that there have been no victims of nerve gas poisoning? It seems they have to keep doubling down on their lies to justify the coming attack on Syria.

    Then there’s this…

    • Crackerjack

      I’d like to know more about DS Bailey who is the only other victim of this attack outside the Skripals.

      Apparently he came into contact with the nerve agent because he was the first attender at the scene. But the doctor who attended Ms Skripal – laying her on the floor and opening her airways – shows no symptoms. Given that Ms Skripal was frothing at the mouth suggests serious contact with bodily fluids. But the doctor shows no symptoms.

      The first contact at the scene scenario was soon dropped and we were then told he was poisoned at the Skripals house.

      We are now led to believe that the poison was administered via the BMW air vents. DS Bailey was in hospital long before anyone bothered looking at the car which was parked in a Sainsbury carpark for how long?

      I’m sure that there is a logical explanation for this but I’m not seeing it. Maybe soon we will hear that DS Bailey also investigated the car but in the meantime Yank journalists are saying at least 38 people are now considered victims. Hope not

      • Abby

        Did those other people who got sick also ride in the car or party at his house? This is where theories break down.
        He and his daughter were found on the park bench. The detective got sick at their home, so how were the others exposed to it? Sure seems to me that the best explanation is that they all were exposed to it by Porter Downs some how.

        • Crackerjack

          Just trying to trace Bailey’s tracks

          Is it that he saw some sick people on a bench (or was sent there by his superiors) and gets poisoned there? Apparently No because we are then told it was at the house. But now we are told that the poison was delivered via the cars air vents. So to be poisoned he must have been near/in the car? Or the Skripals stashed the poison at their house leaving a dose and then placed it in the cars air vents . This is fucking lunacy

    • Cedders

      I can square “38 individuals .. affected by the nerve agent” with the Salisbury doctor stating that there were no victims of nerve gas poisoning. How about the following ?
      The investigators identified 38 people who might have come into contact with the Skripals. All those people were interviewed and examined by doctors, none of them showed any symptoms of nerve gas poisoning. Somebody tells the press truthfully that 38 people were involved, the doctor states truthfully that there were no victims. Different press organisations latch onto different key points, confusion ensues.
      I have no evidence to support my suggestion, but I do have long and bitter experience of the Chinese whispers that occur when imprecise descriptions are provided and not checked properly. In this case, it hinges on what ABC meant by “affected by”.

      • Mochyn69

        As you say – no evidence.

        You may care to check, and quote the primary sources of your claims more carefully.


        • Cedders

          I have made no claims. I have offered a plausible suggestion as to how two apparently conflicting statements can be reconciled.

          • Mochyn69

            Anyway, you may care to check and quote exactly the primary sources for your suggestion more carefully.

            And who has said anything at all about nerve gas poisoning? Please do check.


      • JohnsonR

        “I can square “38 individuals .. affected by the nerve agent” with the Salisbury doctor stating that there were no victims of nerve gas poisoning. How about the following ?”

        Basically you square the stories by stipulating (probably correctly) that the “38 individuals affected” claim is false, and go on to speculatively attribute that falsehood to honest misunderstandings in a “Chinese whispers” type situation.

        That’s fine as far as it goes, but the reality is that this is sloppy (to put it charitably) journalism that fails to properly check its assertions and ends up de facto supporting the government propaganda effort. Others less charitable could equally speculate with no less validity that the journalists and editors involved in spreading the false assertion were, at the least, not unhappy to support the government propaganda line.

    • Sharp Ears

      Like the weather, the story changes daily. They must think we’re stupid. It’s called ‘laughing in our faces’.

  • CM

    Plot twist!
    Citing the usual “unnamed officials” ABC goes with this story:
    U.K. officials now have a clearer picture of just how the attack was conducted, sources said. They believe the nerve agent was used in a dust-like powdered form and that it circulated through the vents of Skripal’s BMW.

    Three intelligence officials told ABC News that the Russian military origin and the nature of the substance, a “dusty” organophosphate, are clear to them.
    “It is a Cold War substance, something they claimed never to have,” one senior intelligence official said of Russia to ABC News. Sources said the substance is derived from G- and V-series agents in the 1970s, which are akin to the Novichok nerve agent.

    The intelligence officials told ABC News up to 38 individuals in Salisbury have been identified as having been affected by the nerve agent but the full impact is still being assessed and more victims sickened by the agent are expected to be identified
    The flaws here are numerous:
    1) How could the Skripals be ‘dosed’ in their cars through the air vents, meaning an aerosol route of administration (which leads to effects and/or death in mere minutes, not hours) yet wander around from 1:45 to 4:15?
    2) How could Nick Bailey get exposed to enough to render him incapacitated while none of the other first responders reported any ill effects?
    3) Why do these unnamed sources now spout off about V and G series organophosphates, which are entirely different classes from each other and neither of which are novochoks?
    4) Where are these 38 stricken people?

    This is one terrible piece of reporting on a lot of levels.

  • Quiet_Life

    I take it from your use of the universal adjective, and your general inability to express yourself, you’re not from GCHQ!

    Are you one of the rougher recruits they’re trying out in the 77th Brigade’s media group? Or are you with the 101st Chairborne? The 2nd Keymando perhaps? Either way, you’re not very good at this; you should probably limit yourself to the ‘Sun’ and ‘Breitbart’.

    The battle for hearts & minds on this is lost already; even the Daily Mail has thousands of comments from self-confessed Corbyn haters that say he’s right on this matter! This isn’t conspiracy theory; it’s an authentic plea for proper investigation & evidence.

    BTW, I take it you’re the post-fall ‘Bellerophon’ (after Zeus sent the gadfly to sting Pegasus, thereby bucking Bellerophon and causing his blindness); your choice of user name is ironically appropriate, given your blind take on recent events in Salisbury.

  • Aneurin Wynne Davies

    Links and feeds that have emerged over the last few hours include Gov.UK https:// Operation Toxic Dagger-the-sharp-end of chemical-warfare and events in E Ghota point to a coverup. With Boris leading the disinformation.

  • Loftwork

    Sensible and rational arguments and considerations from CM which are much appreciated after another day’s tirades and pomposity from MSM and government. If it were not for Boris the Idiot things might have started to wind down, since most of the potential damage to Corbyn has been extracted, the Brexit debacle temporarily forgotten, unpleasant poll results overlooked and the situation in Salisbury is at a stalemate.

    But then, infuriatingly, there is Boris. Amazingly, Boris is not satisfied with the existing somewhat malleable government fabulation and has decided to sex up the dossier. ‘New intelligence has arrived which proves Russia is to blame’. Of course this is too important to verify before release. We are all at risk, possibly in as little as 45 minutes. There is a WMD stockpile somewhere in Russia. No doubt we will demand a UN verification task force to tour Russia looking for it. We know it’s there. Boris said so.

    Satire aside, the arrogance is incredible. Does Boris really think another dodgy dossier will play well to the public? That nobody remembers the manipulation of intelligence prior to Iraq?

    It may well be that Russia ordered the attack on the Skripals. But there are – contrary to May’s unqualified statement – credible alternative scenarios, especially given the non-lethality of the world’s most lethal toxin and the inability to stick to one story. “Credible” has a low threshold these days, if it just means anything more reliable than Boris. And I’m beginning to think that the threat from “Russia” is trivial comparted to the threat to democracy from this contemptuous and contemptible government.

    • N_

      Does Boris really think another dodgy dossier will play well to the public? That nobody remembers the manipulation of intelligence prior to Iraq?

      The answer to the first question is probably “yes”, as far as it goes. Many people remember, but remembering is not enough. We would be in a much better position if Blair and Brown were sitting in jail where they belong. As it stands, they got away with it. They were successful.

  • Baalbek

    Why so mad at a “certifiable nutcase” and his “deluded” supporters? The entire mainstream media is against Murray so something else is driving that anger. Maybe at some level you realize that you are being treated with utter contempt by the people who claim to serve your interests but that thought produces discomfort as it threatens long-standing beliefs so you attack the messenger instead.

    • craig Post author

      Hi ANdrew I do use a Russian email account as one of my email accounts, ever since I studied Russian with the FCO in St Petersburg. I also have a Russian hat!

  • N_

    Part of the agreed function of a diplomatic mission is the protection of the interests of its nationals, under Article 3 of the 1961 Vienna Convention.

    Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko says:

    The problem is that no one has seen any photos of Yulia Skripal and her father, no one knows in what condition they currently are and no one knows about any progress in the investigation. We just don’t seem to be getting answers to all these questions.

    Do what I say, Alex. Go to the magistrates’ court and enter a habeas corpus application.

    • Cedders

      The silence and the lack of information do not necessarily imply conspiracy.
      Clinicians work under strict and detailed legal and ethical guidelines regarding what information about patients they put into the public domain. In this case, the Skripals have no next of kin who may act on their behalf, so the doctors issue as little information as is possible. Similarly, it is standard practice for law enforcement officers to control very carefully what information is provided about cases under investigation.
      Whilst the Vienna Convention might make it the job of the Russian Ambassador to interest himself in the fate of the Skripals, an NHS employee who allowed him to do so might well be a breach of UK law. Perhaps Ambassador Yakovenko should have a word with the Home Office.

  • Cedders

    People speak in different ways. In the House of Commons, Mrs May chose her words very carefully; on the other hand, Mr Johnson has a reputation for being much less careful in his choice of words, and for not being good on detail. Did Boris say exactly what he meant, or did he offer us an approximation ? For example “made for the Russians” and “made by the Russians” are distinctly different statements – can we be certain that Boris understands that difference ? I wonder.

  • johnf

    The BBC seems to have slightly redeemed itself this Sunday on the usually lamentable Marr programme, when Andrew Marr reduced Boris Johnson to a spluttering, incoherent wreck over the £160,000 he received from the prominent Russian oligarch’s wife (close to Putin) for playing a game of tennis with her. Our defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, was paid an extra £30,000 for having dinner with her.

    I didn’t see the programme. Did Boris’s claim about a renewed Russian chemical weapons programme “within the last ten years” occur before or after Marr’s humiliation of him over receiving “donations?’ If it came afterwards it could maybe put down to Boris yet again losing control of himself and saying dangerous and lunatic things in a fit of brattish pique.

  • Julian Morley

    Absolutely brilliant again Craig, I keep asking the same question to every tory or person I meet and that is cui bono.. The most amusing reply I got yesterday was that the Russian government had thanked the UK for the continuation of Putin in power, that was until I mentioned that they were laughing at the UK.

  • Istvan

    It takes two to be poisoned.
    If ‘novichok’ exists in a binary form as often mentioned in the media then Skripal and his daughter could have been independently tainted by either of the two apparently innocuous precursors. This could have happened days earlier (if the precursors are stable enough) or shortly before the poisoning symptoms manifested. When they (their clothing, for example) came into intimate physical contact the two chemicals reacted to form the ultimate toxic agent
    This hypothesis would also explain while other people touching one of the two victimes only were inaffected.
    Of course this is mere speculation but a smart one, I belive 😉

    • Kiza

      Yes, in theory a binary agent could have been mixed inadvertently by the target and if not mixed well or completely, he would not have suffered death. But if you want to kill someone why would you risk him staying alive and do such a complicated operation when a bullet or two would have done the job assuredly. A botched robbery, like the murder of Seth Rich by DNC. Perhaps what the proponents of the Russian Government theory want to say is – the Russians are vicious killers but incompetent killers. To anyone who knows the British history, this looks like a total self-projection.

    • paul

      But what about the detective sergeant?
      Did he go through both father and daughters underwear?
      Did he have intimate relations with both sufficient to create the chemical reactions to bind these innocuous precursors into the the deadly but non fatal compound?
      Was he hiding in the boot of the car when the fans of evil purred into life?

      I contend hese are equally smart speculations.

  • giyane

    We all know how Mrs May fixes her political scrapes, from her purchase of the compliance of the DUP when the UK people nearly voted her out. How do we know if this mean-spirited Tory, who paid left-wing advisors to script her policies so she could appear to have a heart, will not bribe the OPCW in the same way to give us the same result as Boris has rashly lied to us about. We should be extremely worried about Mrs May’s use of bribery and corruption to alter the democratic vote. The stakes are high because of her very nasty Hard Brexit, which enters into full EU negotiations now.

    As regards domestic politics, thank God, this episode has exposed John MacDonnell’s betrayal of his leader Jeremy Corbyn. MacDonnell has sacrificed integrity for the chance of power, something Jeremy Corbyn never does. We all know about Chancellors who kowtow for 15 years to the banking scams of the benighted Tories, only to allow the de-regulated banking system to collapse , when it was just his job and his alone to sort the banks out. MacDonnell is toast, as are all the Labour MPs who have sided with May’s and Boris’s lies about the Salisbury case. 2003 to 2018 is 15 years. If they have forgotten about sexed-up dossiers, I for one will not forget. Kaffa billahi shaheeda. Sufficient is God as a witness.

  • Rhisiart Gwilym

    Times like this when Craig’s value as an honourable dissident comes through strongly. Also the great value of his wide acquaintance, made when he was a high civil servant, most of whom still regard him with considerable respect; and of course leak all sorts of useful things to him that the scum-pols are trying to hide or twist – as here. I thought he’d prove vital in the steady unmasking of this Skripal scam. Well done Craig. Keep sluggin’!

  • Sharp Ears

    The Evil Empyre’s very own mouthpiece, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, has just popped up on the BBC. He was standing in the open in Salisbury with all the hazchem stuff in the background. The wind has given him a forelock which he was doffing to the hype. He is v e r y plausible. He had nothing new to say, just the same regurgitated. A little like the game show, he is Pointless.

    • paul

      I saw that this morning, his self confessed,intimate knowledge of these things suggest he might be a person of interest in the investigation.

  • Simon

    The link to Sir Geoffrey Adams’ speech to the OPCW doesn’t seem to say what you say it says. I can find no ‘fulsome congratulations’, and indeed Russia (alongside China) is singled out as blocking international action on Syria. Are you sure this is the right speech? It really doesn’t seem to be.

    • Steve M

      Same for me Simon. Has it since been changed to now align with Boris’s amazing new information? Or is it the wrong link? Because I was hoping to quote some of this elsewhere in with regard Boris’s claims from the Marr “interview”

  • Resident Dissident

    “Right now the turnout numbers are higher than we expected. We need to thank Great Britain for that because once again they did not consider the Russian mentality,” said the campaign chairman. “Once again we were subject to pressure at just the moment when we needed to mobilise.”

    Of course it doesn’t take a genius to work out that this may have been the motivation for the regime doing the poisoning in the first place.

    • Laguerre

      As indeed it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the reason for May and Boris’s demonisation of Putin is to divert attention away from the shambles of Brexit, and to get the British population behind the Brexit cabal by stirring up a foreign menace.

      • Dave

        There are a range of interests behind any event, and this one includes derailing rather than distracting from Brexit. Its an attempt to keep UK within the Globalist ‘Western Alliance’ against the threat of Russia. That is UK cooperation with Russia would be a natural development after Brexit and an important part of a successful Brexit, so try and shut that option down with rubbish about Russia being World Public Enemy No.1!

        • SA

          In fact it is a win win for the tories. Apart from what you, Dave, and Laguerre have stated, it has already had the effect of slowing down the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and also the silencing of any dissent.

    • PetrGrozny

      If Putin’s vote has gone up that wouldn’t have been because of the poisoning itself because of the British government response, something that was not in the Russians control.

    • JohnsonR

      Nor does it take a genius to work out that if Putin were really all that concerned about raising his vote and the turnout by a few percent then it would have been a lot easier just to bother campaigning a bit. As the New York Times noted the other day, he hasn’t: Mr. Putin has barely bothered to campaign.

      Now explain how it was just easier for him to order a complicated assassination plot using the method (a “wmd” attack on British soil) absolutely guaranteed to stir up the maximum propaganda hysteria and trouble for Russia, than to bother giving an extra speech or two.

      But I do understand the underlying point – in reality Putin did it just because he’s evil and he likes murdering people and stirring up trouble nearly as much as he likes stroking white cats and chuckling evilly.

  • Stasia (I’m Russian)

    If you look closely to the new statement it’s also easy to see carefull wording from legal perspective

    “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.”

    I work with law and careful wording every day and several words caught my eye immediately

    1. “Information INDICATING”. Word “indicating” is very useful, because legally can mean absolutely nothing. What level of “indication” is behind this word? What’s logic behind it? Saying “we have information indicating Russia did it” is not the same as “we have information Russia did it”

    2. “Within last decade” – author has already covered it

    3. “RUSSIA has investigated”. Any lawyer would ask for more precise wording – Russian government? Or some other Russian institution, organization?

    4. “Investigated” – investigation is not the same as developing. Intelligence investigating information about what ways of delivering nerve agent are used or were used by other countries – this also can be called investigation.

    5. “To deliver nerve agent” – which nerve agent? The one that was used for Scripal or some other?

    6. “LIKELY for assasination” – if you see word likely you can disregard whatever is written afterwards unless it’s explained the level of “likeliness” and logic used to establish “likeliness”.

    The only meaningful phrase in this whole statement is the claim that “Russia” (let’s assume “Russian government”) produced and stockpiled Novichok. If hit is against convention (is it?) it’s a harsh accusation that should be supported by strong evidence, not by mere statement from not disclosed source and vague wording such as “indicating” and “likely”

    • PetrGrozny

      Stasia, Please could you comment on how the final sentence it does not follow from the previous very well. What is the ‘programme’? One of ‘investigation’ of which ‘production’ and ‘stockpiling’ form a part, or is there an implied ‘programme’ of which ‘investigation’, ‘production’ and ‘stockpiling’ all form a part. It’s rather odd wording.

      • Stasia (I’m Russian)

        Yes, if we are being strict towards the statement, this sentence “And part of this programme…” alone is unclear.
        Are they implying this investigation they mentioned in previous sentence should be qualified as an entire CW program?
        The other thing everyone can notice are the layers of wording “PART of programme”, “INVOLVED” and “QUANTITIES OF” in which they (intentionally?) covered claim of “producing and stockpiling”. Why they chose less straightforward way to say “Russian government had programme that included production and stockpiling of Novichok”?

        • SA

          The very use of the word novichok is in itself misleading.. From what I understand the novichoks are a group of compounds developed from organophosphate fertilisers and other chemicals that can be obtained easily. Using this generalisation could cover a whole host substances up to and including organophosphate insecticides.

  • krg

    If someone gave you £10m on condition that you could only bet with it which way would you go?

    The two options you can bet on are that Russia was responsible for it.
    The UK deep state was responsible for it.

    Looking at the “evidence” and somewhat bizarre handling of this matter I know which way I would go.

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