Of A Type Developed By Liars 746

I have now received confirmation from a well placed FCO source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve agent as being of Russian manufacture, and have been resentful of the pressure being placed on them to do so. Porton Down would only sign up to the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” after a rather difficult meeting where this was agreed as a compromise formulation. The Russians were allegedly researching, in the “Novichok” programme a generation of nerve agents which could be produced from commercially available precursors such as insecticides and fertilisers. This substance is a “novichok” in that sense. It is of that type. Just as I am typing on a laptop of a type developed by the United States, though this one was made in China.

To anybody with a Whitehall background this has been obvious for several days. The government has never said the nerve agent was made in Russia, or that it can only be made in Russia. The exact formulation “of a type developed by Russia” was used by Theresa May in parliament, used by the UK at the UN Security Council, used by Boris Johnson on the BBC yesterday and, most tellingly of all, “of a type developed by Russia” is the precise phrase used in the joint communique issued by the UK, USA, France and Germany yesterday:

This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War.

When the same extremely careful phrasing is never deviated from, you know it is the result of a very delicate Whitehall compromise. My FCO source, like me, remembers the extreme pressure put on FCO staff and other civil servants to sign off the dirty dossier on Iraqi WMD, some of which pressure I recount in my memoir Murder in Samarkand. She volunteered the comparison to what is happening now, particularly at Porton Down, with no prompting from me.

Separately I have written to the media office at OPCW to ask them to confirm that there has never been any physical evidence of the existence of Russian Novichoks, and the programme of inspection and destruction of Russian chemical weapons was completed last year.

Did you know these interesting facts?

OPCW inspectors have had full access to all known Russian chemical weapons facilities for over a decade – including those identified by the “Novichok” alleged whistleblower Mirzayanov – and last year OPCW inspectors completed the destruction of the last of 40,000 tonnes of Russian chemical weapons

By contrast the programme of destruction of US chemical weapons stocks still has five years to run

Israel has extensive stocks of chemical weapons but has always refused to declare any of them to the OPCW. Israel is not a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention nor a member of the OPCW. Israel signed in 1993 but refused to ratify as this would mean inspection and destruction of its chemical weapons. Israel undoubtedly has as much technical capacity as any state to synthesise “Novichoks”.

Until this week, the near universal belief among chemical weapons experts, and the official position of the OPCW, was that “Novichoks” were at most a theoretical research programme which the Russians had never succeeded in actually synthesising and manufacturing. That is why they are not on the OPCW list of banned chemical weapons.

Porton Down is still not certain it is the Russians who have apparently synthesised a “Novichok”. Hence “Of a type developed by Russia”. Note developed, not made, produced or manufactured.

It is very carefully worded propaganda. Of a type developed by liars.


This post prompted another old colleague to get in touch. On the bright side, the FCO have persuaded Boris he has to let the OPCW investigate a sample. But not just yet. The expectation is the inquiry committee will be chaired by a Chinese delegate. The Boris plan is to get the OPCW also to sign up to the “as developed by Russia” formula, and diplomacy to this end is being undertaken in Beijing right now.

I don’t suppose there is any sign of the BBC doing any actual journalism on this?

Erratum – I originally typed “nerve gas” and not “nerve agent” in the first line – purely my error.

746 thoughts on “Of A Type Developed By Liars

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  • Loony

    The British appear to be staffing their most senior positions with people that either suffer from some form of cognitive malfunction or are simple liars.

    Ambassador Peter Wilson the UK Permanent Representative to the OPCW has recently claimed that Russia has failed for many years to fully disclose its chemical weapons programs.


    Fair enough, except:

    In a statement to the OPCW in Novemeber 2017 Ambassador Wilson congratulated the OPCW on verifying the complete destruction of Russia’s declared chemical weapons programs.


    Educated people may be reaching for words like mendacious and nefarious. The rest of us will make do with vermin and scum

    • Hieroglyph

      May is a psychopath, unfortunately. Her career has been built on covering for pedophiles. That’s our PM. Her handlers are the same.

      That’s where we are, tragically. I’m not making this up, and I’m not nuts.

      We have to fight.

  • Brian Watson

    A rhetorical question , there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that the BBC will do any serious digging on this one . They will be too busy running with the “Kremlin Bogey Man ” narrative .

  • barrie singleton

    I am still highly amused by the UNDETECTABLE factor – a hare set running early on.
    Some political poltroon asserted this stuff was used to send a message. There’s logic.

    • Baalbek

      Seems kind of out of character for Murray to make such an obvious blunder. I don’t pretend to know what gender his mole is, but I am 100% certain the helpful soul is either a woman or a man 😉

  • Graeme St Clair

    I don’t suppose there’s any chance of any of our media outlets or newspapers doing any actual journalism on it. Nowadays we don’t get facts, simply opinion and propaganda.

  • Bruce M

    So. Question everything, demand verifiable evidence… unless it’s an anonymous claim delivered by Craig.

    Sorry for putting it like that. But you can see the irony.

    And the timing is convenient, very suspicious. No, I don’t mean the timing of the anonymous source popping up just at the right moment to save face for Craig. I’m sure that’s legitimate. Although I can see a scenario in which the source is someone who is sympathetic to Craig’s views, while not being quite so “well-placed” or knowledgeable about the situation as presented. There’s no way of knowing without verification, evidence. Don’t take anything on trust just because it confirms your views – including what Craig or his anonymous source asserts.

    • PetrGrozny

      Whether what the anonymous source is saying can be verified is not that important, what is surely significant is the recurrence of the words ‘of a type developed by Russia’. I’ve no experience of Whitehall but as soon as I read TM’s statement on Monday I saw how ‘of a type developed by Russia’ morphed into ‘Russian-made’ I picked up on it and sent my observations to my M.P. and Jeremy Corbyn. I’m glad for Craig for highlighting the persistence of the phrase and raising the question as to its origin. It must have come from somewhere and the source offers a plausible explanation. As said I’m in Russia at present so don’t know what people back home are thinking, but I’d expect most educated people to ask questions about this persistent wording if it’s brought to their attention. If so it is very powerful ammunition for opening their eyes. I’m a bit surprised that Corbyn isn’t going beyond TM’s ‘only two plausible explanations’ except for placing more weight on the second, when nobody has put forward any evidence that the posion must have a Russian/Soviet origin. I have the feeling he has been leaned on a bit.

      • Bruce M

        You say it’s not important that the anonymous claim relayed by Craig is verified. And yet Craig is publicising this claim as “confirmation” in a tweet that already has 1.7K retweets. “Confirmation” will imply, to many, some kind of factual verification, whether that was Craig’s intent or not.

        It’s a similar rhetoric (implying some sort of certainty, where none exists) that people are rightly accusing politicians of. But because it comes from Craig, it’s seen as okay (at least by those who share Craig’s views).

      • ron

        the same s true of May’s repeated stating of ‘the international rules based order’ – what exactly is this?

  • Richard Heybroek

    Interesting analysis. Whenever scientific intelligence starts to change under political pressure, we are entitled to suspect a dodgy dossier in the making. This entire stew stinks to high heaven, raises compelling and unasked questions, and smacks of political opportunism. I’m curious to know why normal policing standards are not being applied, for example, if the “perp” is the FSB, why has their modus operandi suddenly changed drastically? They have apparently gone from being effective, selective assassins to being inept carpet bombers incapable of taking out a retired spy even with the world’s (allegedly) most toxic poison. There are, so far, zero fatalities. The argument that this chemical bogeyman can only be produced in Russia is obvious nonsense. If “it” exists (whichever member of a family of organophosphates we suspect) then the most knowledgeable country is the US, where the sole design data authority currently lives. That design specifically called for a binary with common precursors which could be easily assembled. So if the design data is accurate, then logically any state with competent industrial chemists could produce it. That list is long, and includes countries and agenciers which would have motivation to damage Putin’s authority.

    The unseemly rush to pour petrol on the embers of the cold ware is thoroughly dishonourable. I hope the truth emerges before it vanishes under the jingoist bandwagon of political pressure and media manipulation. Seeing Jack Straw trotted out to support the government line should be a sufficient wake-up call for anyone.

  • Teresa Grover

    I am very sceptical about anything that this government does or says. In fact it is hard to believe anything considering what depths the poor & homeless are being plunged into.
    I relate this to Thatchers war to boost HER decline. No one wants a war yet warmongers seem keen on it. Politics in times of stress should use intelligent diplomats, but I see NONE in government!

  • Barry

    Brilliant! Therefore Jeremy Corbyn was 100% correct to not go pointing fingers before the facts were known. It’s also being reported that the nerve agent (or whatever poison used) may have been placed in the daughter’s suitcase so she would have come into contact with it then contaminated everything she touched afterwards. It also means that whomever did the deed did not leave Russia at all and there was no ‘enemy action on UK soil’.

  • Kiza

    On a lighter note, here is a George Galloway tweet:
    “If only #Russia had access to #Novichok WHY would they choose that weapon to mount a terrorist attack in England? Might as well leave a pair of snow covered boots at the scene of the crime and scrawl Vlad woz Here on the nearest wall!”

    • Anthony

      Such obvious questions are unasked amidst the 24/7 hysteria on BBC, Sky and in the press. Let alone answered.

    • Alex Westlake

      And that is exactly why they used Novichok. They wanted to leave a calling card

      • Merkin Scot

        “And that is exactly why they used Novichok. They wanted to leave a calling card”
        And why, exactly, would using a substance that many nations have possible access to identify the perps as Russian?

      • JohnsonR

        “And that is exactly why they used Novichok. They wanted to leave a calling card”

        Because Russia emigres, dissidents and former spies are too stupid to work out it’s Russia if high profile Russophobes were to start dying by ordinary means in the countries of the US sphere?

        Sure, of course it’s better to be safe than sorry and to use a method with maximum hysteria-inducing emotional charge to ensure the diplomatic, propaganda and economic backlash against Russia is as big as possible.

        Because the Russians are stupid like that. That’s how come they are so cunning.

  • Mimon

    My sources, whatever they are worth, describe this as a routine elimination by GRU of a former operative who breached the terms and intended primarily as a deterrent (hence the unusual method). Kremlin is not usually involved or kept in the loop because such actions rarely have any political dimension. What happened here is that (1) the operation went wrong because the target survived, (2) the incident garnered publicity due to, primarily, a working early warning system for chemical pollution in the UK and, subsequently, deliberate politicisation of the incident by the UK central government.

    Why was the guy to be eliminated? Before “spy swap” he signed an undertaking not to co-operate with any other services. He repeatedly breached this.

    • Andrew Wilson

      The conclusion reached by your ‘sources’ does not fit the specification of the issue.
      Let us assume for a moment that the GRU does have a policy of assassinating people who break the terms of their freedom.

      Given that the GRU has this policy.
      Given that the claimed method of assassination is supposed, according to claims made elsewhere, to be undetectable.

      It follows that an undetectable assassination is not a good warning to others who might choose to emulate Skrypal because an undetectable cause of death results in a recording of death by natural or unknown causes and is thus not a signal of an assassination.

      So, a killing made as a warning to others would be made using a method that was obvious, as well as being effective – SHooting would, in the UK, be an appropriate, unequivocal and unambivalent method. Use of a supposedly undetectable and unreliable method to kill would not.

      • Mimon

        No no no, it’s not about being “undetectable”. All who need to know about it, will know. Trust me, agents are not that stupid and if one of them gets targeted and eliminated, all know why.

    • JohnsonR

      So your sources’ theory is that the Russia intelligence services are so stupid and out of control that they gratuitously chose to use a method that would cause maximum possible bad publicity for Russia, even after all the grief the Litvinenko nonsense caused, and that the British intelligence services are so stupid that they didn’t bother even ensuring Skripal kept his address out of the public domain or used another identity, let alone provide any protection, despite knowing that he was in breach of an agreement with Russia that would supposedly mean he was in line for “routine” elimination by the Russians.

      It’s amazing these people manage to tie their laces properly in the morning, let alone carry out sophisticated plots to murder people with supremely deadly chemicals.

      As a matter of interest, can your sources identify some other examples of Russian traitors who had been unmasked, convicted, jailed and exchanged like Skripal, who have been “routinely” eliminated in this way? I mean, there must be many, right? Because working with MI5 or the CIA is not unusual for exchanged former spies.

      I think your “sources” are taking the piss, and you probably ought to ask them why they are playing you for a fool.

      • Mimon

        As I wrote – my sources claim that agents who defected regularly get assassinated and it is very rare that this becomes a political issue. Secret services simply do it, and it is well-known that Russian services do it too. This was a decision taken on an operational level and the political fallout was unforeseen.

        If you look closely, almost a dozen former Russian agents were assassinated in the UK in the last two decades (and many more in other countries), and to-date only Litvinienko became a political issue.

        Personally, I take it with a grain of salt, but this still sounds plausible. More plausible than the Mossad theory.

        • JohnsonR

          “This was a decision taken on an operational level and the political fallout was unforeseen.”

          Oh for goodness’ sake! After all the Litvinenko hype, they were too stupid to foresee “political fallout” from using a “wmd” on British soil!? You really are desperately reaching here, aren’t you? Why are you so personally concerned to push the idea that Russia had a motive for this supposed incident, anyway?

          “almost a dozen former Russian agents were assassinated in the UK in the last two decades”

          Oh really? Care to name some that were exchanged former spies like Skripal, as opposed to active regime opponents who had escaped justice by fleeing to the US sphere, like Litvinenko?

          And while you’re about it, have your “sources” explained why British intelligence is so incompetent that they failed to provide even the most basic of security for Skripal even though, according to your claims, he had put himself in direct and known danger by working for them?

          “More plausible than the Mossad theory.”

          To you perhaps. In reality any of the countries whose governments are actively seeking to oppose Russia in Syria and elsewhere have a clear motive that is much more plausible that this fantasy about “routine” executions of exchanged former spies. That certainly includes the UK government, Israel and the US, which all would have the capability as well.

          • Mimon

            @JohnsonR Please stop being condescending and try to come up with something constructive for once, oh my dear for for godness’ sake lol.

            In the services’ world, traitors rarely die by accident, whatever their country.

            If an excuse was to be created to justify for Syria attack, it would look entirely differently: it would be an attack on a symbol of Britain that the masses easily idenfiy themselves with: a cinema, a school, a child, an average Englishman/woman.

            An attack on a former foreign spy smells strongly of settling internal scores.

            I won’t bother to respond if you continue with your argumenta ad personam

      • John Goss

        It’s all right. At least the inbuilt macro which changes everything to make you look an idiot has not changed citizens to citizans. (See my comment below).

        • N_

          Where was the macro running?

          A service I belonged to lets you message other members, but it deletes apostrophes. So for example you might type “It’s been snowing a lot but I’m inside. I’ve heard you’re loving your holiday.” and it will appear as the semi-literate “Its been snowing a lot but Im inside. Ive heard youre loving your holiday.”

          In other words, the software makes everyone come across like a 14-year-old gum-chewing thicko typing some mindless crap into their phone, even those who are anything but.

          Is this a sign of the times?

      • Kiza

        Here is a very nice conclusion of the linked article:
        This leaves us with the following. The actual history of Novichok shows that out of the countries discussed here, Russia is the only state to have been certified by the OPCW as having destroyed its chemical weapons programme, including its nerve agent capabilities. The OPCW found no evidence to indicate that Russia retains an active Novichok capability. The same is not the case for the US, Britain and Israel.

        There is no legitimate reason for the British authorities to rule out that any of these states could have at the very least ‘lost control’ of their nerve agent stockpiles. The fact that the government chose, instead, to shut down all avenues of inquiry other than to claim falsely that the “only possibility” is for all roads to lead to Russia, demonstrates that we are almost certainly in the midst of a concerted state propaganda operation.

  • John Goss

    My observation 8 days ago about lack of expert medical statement from the hospital has almost been reiterated by the Russian ambassador to the UK.


    Alexander Yakovenko, whose logic and command of English leaves many natives in government way behind has questioned where the Skripals are, whether they are dead, and why we have seen nothing of them or those allegedly treating them in hospital.


    He also asks why, since they are Russian citizans, Russia has no access to them.

  • Dave Monkman

    Keep up the good work Craig. I know that you will pursue this issue until we know with certainty what the substance used at Sailisbury actually was, and it’s source.

  • Alan Love

    I had no evidence but, I worked as a scientific civil servant for 33 years and this event had “results agreed by compromise” written all over it.

  • P

    “Israel undoubtedly has as much technical capacity as any state to synthesise “Novichoks”.”

    Remove “Israel” and replace by ……….. how many other countries?

    No one has to discredit you Craig when you make such a fine job yourself.

    Why not stick to the point? Parliament loves a liar where making war is concerned!

    Tony Blair in his bid to involve the UK in a War of Aggression against Iraq relied on lies, here is an example (the specific wording appears not to be a lie but its intention is deceive);

    “Then, a week later, Saddam’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, defected to Jordan. He disclosed a far more extensive BW (biological weapons) programme and for the first time said Iraq had weaponised the programme; something Saddam had always strenuously denied. All this had been happening whilst the inspectors were in Iraq.”


    Alright on the face of it Blair has read the debriefing report and Kamal does say what Blair purports he says.

    But what Blair doesn’t say is that Kamal in his debriefing (in the debriefing that Blair refers to), Kamal says – everything was destroyed, nothing remained.


    Kamal actually said the opposite of what Blair says he said. That is the lie that politicians and civil servants deploy on a daily basis but when it comes to making a false case for war the wording gets very precise. So precise in fact that it always, always ties them up in knots.

    Britain was taken to war on lies, will we let them get away with it again?

    • craig Post author

      “Remove Israel and replace by… how many other countries”.

      To the best of my knowledge, none which is not a member of the OPCW and subject to regular inspection. You seem to have missed that bit.

      Can you explain why Israel will not accede to the Convention, join the OPCW and destroy its chemical weapons stocks?

  • Aletheianoesis

    Thank you for your information, I appreciate it very strongly. The actions of the British Government are dangerous and irresponsible. Europe is a very few steps away of a nuclear war. So I hope we could prevent it.

  • Taraneh Ahmadi-Parker

    Jeremy Corbyn is right to pause until we have evidence… Tories are liars and rhis is an opportunity to pull the wool over people’s eyes and have a go at labour. Russia is a corrupt state, so why are the Tories so happy to have their dirty money as donations.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    What the Uk did say however, which was completely ridiculous, was that ‘either the Russian State did this or they lost control of their weapon systems’.

    They lost control of their weapon systems the day the formulae became known to anyone outside the Russian MIC. That would be 25 years ago, when the US would have known what they were decontaminating in Uzbek factories. It is simply not credible for any US organisation to send in workers to detoxify a lethal agent without anyone in that organisation knowing the nature of the agent, the symptoms to look out for, potential activation mechanisms etc. They just would not do that. And the CIA would not allow the opportunity to know all the details go to waste either…..

    So the posturing about ‘losing control of the system’ is cognitively impaired nonsense. The Americans will have known about this since the 1990s and the world knew the formulae the Amazon author printed several years ago. It stretches credulity to breaking point that the British are so thick not to see this. So the assumption is that this is puppeteering for the credulous British public who do not read outside of the Uk media propaganda.

    This all assumes that credible evidence actually exists that Novichoks were the active agent in poisoning human beings near Salisbury. It assumes that people actually were poisoned and were not play actors working for State Propaganda contractors. It assumes that the only people interested in Skripal were the Russian State.

    It is typical of the media that they draw the conclusions without examining evidence, then wonder why the Line does not hold.

    Hat tip to Keir Starmer: if you were applying for a Clerkship aged 21 and used the logic free twaddle I heard from you last night on Question Time, you would not have a legal career. It says a very great deal that you said what you said as Shadow DPP and have not been sacked for comprehensive incompetence within five minutes….

  • john Söderström

    I’m full of ‘man flu’ at the moment so maybe not thinking too clearly so forgive me if I’ve got the complete wrong end of the stick here.,Isn’t the salient issue who may have utilised the use of a nerve agent ( layman’s language) and not who may have produced it in the first place. Not wishing for one minute to defend this government, after investigations, it appears that the perpetrator is Russia and if true, certainly appears to a layman like myself, to follow a well established method by Putin to get rid of his enemies- Litvinenko? For any government to take the action it has against Russia, I would assume there to be greater negative consequences if it is later ( not sure if 30 yr rule applies here?),shown said action was no more than either a ‘smokescreen’ to deflect the populace from brexit ( one of the more ‘whacky’ theories doing the rounds at the moment), or, a tactical/administrative move to de-stabilize Russia’s standing in the world community than, a reasoned response which, if not taken, could result in greater harm to both Britain and it’s system of government in the future? I don’t know, I’m not ‘in the loop’ but cannot believe either that this government would knowingly poison it’s own people or, ‘poke the bear’ without very good reason ( poke the bear that is!) . The stakes just seem too high. Maybe I’m just naive and the article I’m responding to does make some salient points reminiscent of the”weapons of mass destruction” debacle. There must be easier ways to discredit/destabilize Putin’s Russia and, if I’m wrong, for our government to act as it has is, if anything, playing right into Putin’s hand just before he’s elected again.

    • John A

      2 things,
      1. it appears that the perpetrator is Russia
      2 and if true, certainly appears to a layman like myself, to follow a well established method by Putin to get rid of his enemies- Litvinenko

      1 There is no reason to pin the blame on any party until either said party confesses or compelling evidence is presented. Neither is the case to date.
      2. There are plenty of alternative theories that indicate Litvinenko was not killed by Putin/Russia. At best the rigged British investigation used weasel words such as highly probable. It could also have been accidental ingestion. There were traces of polonium on the plane Litvinenko flew back to England from Israel for example.
      Plus polonium in tea is very different from ingesting some unknown agent in Zizzi or at home etc.

  • John Goss

    This question needs to be asked: Is the UK preparing for war. This seemed to be the case way back in late February this year. The Times published a piece in which our dickhead minister for Defence Gavin Williamson, famous for his diplomatic gaffs like “Russia should go away and shut up”, mooted this, presumably as a response to Putin’s speech about Russia’s military “state of the art” weapons.


    I make no apologies for using the Novorossiya article instead of The Times. The Times will only let you read their article if you provide personal details.

    • MJ

      “might get is into more trouble than we bargained for”

      Yes. A major international humiliation may be looming. May and Johnson are really no match for Putin and Lavrov. Not in the same league. Toytown FC v Barcelona.

  • Peter Rogers

    Great article by Craig. It’s a breath of fresh air to get a clearer picture of what actually happened instead of hysterical msm propaganda.

  • Frank

    I’m minded of the story of the three boys who found a sleeping bear in the woods and decided to poke it with a stick to see what would happen. This story has been changed to protect the liars.

  • nevermind

    Do we yet know how many diplomats ‘of a type developed in Britain’ will have to pack their coffers and return to this Brexit paradise soon?

  • Helen Rutherford

    Thank you so much for this. Theresa May wY al are just so desperate to go along with blaming the evil Russians with their good old pals, the USA and of course the BBC stays silent.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Remember the Nazi media banned claims that Lubbe, the Dutch communist, acted alone

  • Helen MacDonald

    A lot has been said about Putin but stupid he is not! Why on earth would he use a well known Russian military nerve agent, which can be traced right to his front door? He has the ways and means to source other types of chemical agents, if this was his master
    plan. I would question motives and means of the CIA, the Russian Mafiosa. Dig a little deeper and many names will pop up. Putin didn’t come to where he is today and be willing to risk it all by poisoning a double agent in Salisbury.

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