Breaking News: Porton Down to Make Public Statement 422

The government is putting up the Chief Scientist at Porton Down to give a press interview on Sky News this afternoon on the Skripal affair.

If the government were not confident he would implicate the Russian state, they would not be doing this. But nevertheless I would be surprised if the Chief Scientist were to lie outright*, and we need to study his language very carefully. Much of course will depend on the questioning, and undoubtedly Sky News (a Fox affiliate) has been selected as unlikely to be be forensic or difficult. I have however passed to the producers, who contacted me for potential comment, the three questions I would ask given the chance:

Are you saying definitely this can ONLY be made in Russia?

How long from contact would this agent take effect?

If it is an extreme military grade nerve agent (according to Boris Johnson “novichocks” are “ten times more powerful”) then why was it thankfully comparatively ineffective?

We shall see if Sky are anything like this challenging. My fear is they will rather feed him questions like “How do you react to claims it was Porton Down that produced this nerve agent” in order to allow him to appear pained and wronged.

I shall post again after the interview. Thank you to the many people who expressed concern for my welfare at my recent sudden silence, following the rather nasty personal attacks I was encountering – I traveled last week to a family funeral at my childhood home, and was just reflecting for a few days.

*On the other hand another Porton Down scientist, Dr David Kelly, told the truth to a journalist in a broadly comparable situation and met an extremely suspicious death as a result.

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422 thoughts on “Breaking News: Porton Down to Make Public Statement

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  • Patrick Mahony

    The guy was sweaty and nervous. Not surprisingly having to lie or be Kellied.
    On another point where are the recordings of the 999 calls and police dispatch?

    • JakeMorris

      That is quite a reveal! If we take May/Johnson’s stance that “or related agent” means Novichok, then “similar” would also mean Novichok. Gary’s refusal to deny the storage of Novichok at Porton Down also speaks volumes.

      Now how does this correlate with the following statement from Theresa May:
      “Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents, probably for assassination, and as part of this programme has produced and stockpiled small quantities of novichok. Clearly, that is in contravention of the chemical weapons convention”

      Does this mean that UK’s manufacture and storage of Novichok is also in breach of the Convention?

      Or is the difference intent – “probably assassination purposes” vs “defense purposes”? Because contrary to what May claims, that would implicate UK and absolve Russia, since UK is more likely to be behind the (false flag) attack.

  • sibbaldi

    Interesting how these events always seem to coincide with official training exercises taking place at the same time..

    “This is no small point. An incredible percentage of major domestic or international terror attacks have involved simultaneous “training drills.” This list includes, but is not limited to, the infamous NORAD drills of 9/11, the 7/7 London Bombings, the 2011 Norway shooting, the Aurora shooting, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Marathon. Though none of the aforementioned events can be confirmed or denied without a doubt, they bear a striking resemblance to previous false flag attacks and should be looked at with an investigative eye.”

    • JakeMorris

      Chemical warfare exercises would have been excellent cover for any handling of hazardous substances and also as security measure in case anything goes wrong.

      However, I’m quite uncertain whether Novichok was used at all (even in a false flag operation). The measures taken in Salisbury simply do not amount to proper chemical defense against such a purportedly deadly agent. Probably a much simpler substance was used, if any at all.

      Nevertheless, chemical exercises are an incredible coincidence. One more nail in the coffin of the “Russia did it” theory.

  • John Goss

    “(b) Poison someone else with wasp killer”

    It would not be surprising if the FSB

    did not get physically sick of Boris Johnson and Theresa May and their false accusations of attempted assassination and show them just how they do operate in extra-territorial murder with the death of Nikolai Glushkov. All this talk of the Skripal case having the hallmark, footprint, modus operandi and what have you of Russia they could have taken out Nikolai Glushkov (a week after this pantomime started) to demonstrate just how they do operate. Their methods appear to be the same as in the Berezovsky case. That is not to say they did it.

    • Charles

      A problem that may arise this summer is that for those mildly effected by the Salisbury toxin there is a dreadful accompanying condition.

      Its to do with the toxins that bond irreparably to cells in the body, specifically the brain.

      Exposure to certain insecticides can trigger serious psychiatric episodes in those inflicted.

    • JakeMorris

      It’s highly doubtful that Russia would risk exacerbating the matter even further with such a sh!tstorm around the Skripal affair.

      If any state actor did order the hit on Glushkov, I’m guessing it’s the same power that staged the Salisbury poisoning, possibly removing one of the accomplices.

  • Mary Paul

    I have read quite a lot about how much can be determined from a scientific analysis of the “novichk-type” nerve agent used at Porton Down, over the last few weeks. I am not a chemist but do have a background that enables me to read and understand the statements made by chemists in this context. Several have said that it is possible to do detailed analysis on the samples found in Salisbury to narrow down the possible origin of the nerve agent to a fine degree. I have posted here several links which include comments from chemists saying this. I thought Mr Aitkenhead was evasive about this, seeming to want to say only that it was not their job to determine where it was made. Why not, surely that is exactly what we want to know?

    • JakeMorris

      Two logical answers come to mind:

      1) They were NOT able to identify the source – contrary to Johnson’s claims, – but rather than say so outright, they beat about the bush by saying “it wasn’t our job in the first place”;

      2) They know EXACTLY what the source is, but cannot disclose it for security reasons (and probably out of fear for their life and liberty, as well).

    • Julian

      Would you mind posting your links again in one post? It seems I can’t just access your posts by clicking on your name. I think that would be helpful in the light of the new information from PD.



      • Mary Paul

        I will dig out when I can spare the time to search through my posts, regrettably I did not keep them in a separate list

    • Dieter

      What it means is that Porton Down synthesized Novichok-type poisons for testing just like 20 or more other states would undoubtedly have done. It also means that Porton Down does not have actual examples of Novichok-type poison made in Russia. To determine the origin of a substance by high-resolution analysis the chemist needs an example for comparison, just like the police needs a fingerprint of a criminal to determine that the criminal was at the crime scene. The fingerprints at the crime scene are of no value if there are no fingerprints for comparison.

    • MightyDrunken

      A lot can theoretically be found from a detailed analysis, though how practical it is is another matter.

      For example any preparation will contain a unique mix of chemicals more or less. Therefore if you have a known sample from before you can compare the two and if they match closely enough you can propose they have the same source. Of course the big problem with this is having a known sample of the same batch. Very unlikely.
      Isotopic analysis has the same problem. In theory a particular isotopic mix may only come from one place but in the real world the chances of something clear cut like that would be unlikely. It may work for a nuclear material if you have a database of say most of the reactors in the world and their samples. For a normal chemical, mixed with many others it is never going to work.

  • Charles

    Never before has a an Inquest into Suicide been usurped by a Public Inquiry. Nor never likely to be again for the simple reason that a Public Inquiry is an entirely inappropriate mechanism to determine the how, why, where and when of an individuals death.

    However Sergei may yet be the focus of such and Inquiry, not for the benefit of getting to the truth but so the truth is silenced.

    A new law was written specifically for Dr David Kelly which may assist the government in preventing the truth over the Salisbury poisonings emerging.

    It is entirely feasible that Sergei Skripal dies and a Coroner would want to call Dr Stephen Davies and DC Nick Bailey as witnesses.

    It is therefore more feasible that that will be prevented, and a Public Inquiry complete with Kelly’s Law will fit the job.

    Kelly’s Law: Introduced with the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 – Explanatory Notes

    “119.Paragraph 9(11) prevents the resumed senior coroner’s investigation from reaching a conclusion which is inconsistent with the outcome of the inquiry which triggered the suspension or any criminal proceedings that had to be concluded before it could be resumed. For example, if the outcome of an inquiry was a finding that a particular individual had committed suicide, a senior coroner’s investigation cannot conclude that the particular individual was unlawfully killed.”

    Go > Chapter 1: Investigations into deaths

    Section 11 and Schedule 1: Duty or power to suspend or resume investigations

    Paragraph 9: Resumption of investigation suspended under paragraph 3


    • Charles

      One glaring perverse aspect of Kelly’s Law is that if a Coroner has in his / her possession new and irrefutable evidence constituting proof that the Public Inquiry got it wrong (we can all make mistakes) the Coroner is still required to declare the Inquiry’s findings as fact.

      In short the Law know potentially requires Coroners to lie.

  • Roy David

    Mt view on yesterday’s announcement by Porton Down’s chief scientist is that the press conference was not arranged by No 10, more a case of Porton Down endorsing its own highly-prized professional credentials and restating its case. Yesterday’s pronouncement was little different to their statement in the first few days of the affair i.e. that is was a novichok-type nerve agent, likely state-manufactured, and of military strength. Had yesterday’s press conference been arranged by No 10, surely the chief scientist would have been ‘primed’ to support No 10’s view even if not going so far as to indicate Russia was to blame. Praise, therefore, to Porton Down for adhering to their strict scientific protocols – something that Craig mentioned earlier when he revealed they were at loggerheads with the hurried ‘official’ view. Subsequently, No 10 is looking extremely foolish and our blustering Foreign Secretary even worse.

    • N_

      “Professionals” do what they’re paid to do. Medics for example will sign anything if they’re paid enough. Most solicitors are criminals. As for coroners, surveyors, bank managers, the government’s top law officers, and judges who run inquiries, they’re all dirty bastards too.

      Many people are so naive about this in Britain. Social deference is much higher than in other countries.

  • N_

    May, Johnson and Rudd cannot row back and remain in office. The only way they could conceivably do that it so unlikely that it won’t happen. That’s if they can blame the whole case on a psychological warfare effort by a foreign power, a power that was so strong that it persuaded them using false intelligence (humint, sigint or both) to blame Russia. May and Putin would then appear together to denounce the guilty party, which would probably then find its influence in the world decline rather rapidly, to put it mildly.

    Russia has said that around 20 countries could make the substance, which suggests various “non-state actors” could make it, and it certainly suggests they could get their hands on some. Britain hasn’t given a number, but their incompetent prime minister did say on the House of Commons show that Russia has a record of doing naughty stuff.

    Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t seem to have responded to the Gary Aitkenhead interview that many here are raving about by saying it shows the government’s case is weak. You’ve got to wonder why not. What might happen if he did? Clearly the Lobby has him in its sights at the moment. Whether those two features of the position are connected I don’t know. Yes he will have received some information on Privy Council terms.

    Other things that haven’t happened include the following.

    1) Nobody is asking why Nikolai Glushkov was murdered, and murdered at that time.

    I have to say I find it interesting that he lived in London’s Korea town.

    2) Nobody is speculating that Yulia Skripal and possibly also her father may have been deliberately carrying an item for a bigger player.

    Onthis, I think I’m right in saying that the “Yulia got a friend to carry something on a different flight” story was swamped by the “man travelled on the same flight as Yulia” story.

    Listen. Yulia was brought up as the daughter of a GRU officer; her brother married the daughter of another GRU officer; and her fiancé also works for an intelligence agency. This is the sort of family that when cause people in Russia to go “knock knock” on the table when they enter a room.

    I strongly doubt that Yulia innocently asks people to carry packages across borders for her. Knowledge about that kind of activity is in her bones. And if she did ask, any sensible person would say “no”.

  • Sharp Ears

    See how the BBC is translating Mr Aitkenhead’s words. So categorical. There is no acknowledgement to Sky News for the interview either. They are the state mouthpiece/broadcaster after all.

    ‘On Tuesday the UK’s Porton Down laboratory said it could not verify the precise source of the nerve agent used against Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

    The laboratory, which has previously identified the substance as a military-grade Novichok nerve agent, said it was likely to have been deployed by a “state actor” but said it was not their job to say where it was manufactured.

    Porton Down’s chief executive Gary Aitkenhead dismissed Russian claims it might have come from the UK military laboratory.’

    Russian spy: Chemical watchdog to meet at Russia’s request
    4 hours ago

    Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were poisoned by a nerve agent called Novichok
    The world’s chemical weapons watchdog is to meet in the Hague and discuss the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the UK.
    The emergency session was called by Russia, who denies being behind the attack and wants the UK to share evidence.
    But the UK government says the only “plausible explanation” is that Russia is to blame.
    The incident has sparked a deep diplomatic rift.



    RT. Rhetorical question here.
    Did Boris Johnson lie that lab told him Russia was source of Salisbury nerve agent? (WATCH VIDEO)

    Published time: 3 Apr, 2018 20:13
    Edited time: 4 Apr, 2018 08:00

    Warning. Video shows ugly fat faced man with bad hair.

    links within –
    READ MORE: ‘London will have to apologize yet’ – Putin spokesman on UK lab’s revelation in Skripal case
    READ MORE: Porton Down damage control: UK still ‘assesses’ Russia poisoned Skripals after lab finds no link

  • Agent Green

    I’m looking forward to the apology which May will deliver personally to Putin at the Kremlin on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government.

  • cardigan

    On the tail end of all this was an announcement that Porton Down was now to get £48 million for a new facility:

    Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

    “The choice before us as a nation is simple – to sit back and let events overtake us or step forward. Our Modernising Defence Programme will make sure our country can respond to the changing nature of warfare and the new threats we face to British interests. Russia, in particular, is ripping up the rulebook – we only have to look at the reckless attack in Salisbury.

    Today I can announce we are investing £48 million in a new Chemical Weapons Defence Centre to maintain our cutting-edge in chemical analysis and defence. I’ve also made the decision to offer the anthrax vaccine to our forces at the highest readiness, providing them with vital protection against a deadly danger. By using all our power, hard and soft, Britain will continue bringing light to a darkening world.”

    It was already approved, perhaps they needed a “reason” for it. Very convenient.

    “With main construction on the Centre set to begin next month, it will go on to contain cutting-edge chemical analysis laboratories with the capability to identify any chemical agent through forensic analysis.”

  • Mary Paul

    I have not given up my interest in the large – by Russian standards – family “fortune” the Skripals had amassed and the fact such assets as several homes and money in the bank can attract the attention of unscrupulous individuals in Russia.

  • Billy Bostickson

    Porton Down mouthpiece, Mr Achinghead, on behalf of the British Regime insisted there is:

    “no known antidote to novichok.”

    “Daughter of Sergei Skripal said to be improving rapidly after nerve agent poisoning”

    “Nerve agent attack: Detective exposed to novichok discharged from hospital”

    no known antidote to novichok….no known antidote to novichok… known antidote to novichok….no known antidote to novichok.

  • Republicofscotland

    Jeez oh, listening to LBC, and Tom Swarbrick, agreeing with every single word of Hamish De Bretton, that Russia did it, tells me the establishment are running scared.

    De Bretton even claimed on Swarbrick’s show, that the security services actually knew exactly where the Novichok arose from, it began with a S, I can’t recall the name for now, and that it was definitely Russian.

    De Bretton hinted that the PM will today at PMQ’s reinforce her position that it was the Russian’s that did it, and, tell us all not to listen to Russian propaganda.

  • Carlyle Moulton

    The questions that UK authorities need to answer are:-

    1/ Have the chemists gathered a big enough sample that it can be analysed?
    2/ Has the sample been analysed to rule out known nerve agents, sarin, soman, tabun & VX?

    Unless both the above questions have positive answers from the chemists at Porton Downs all this chatter about novachucks incriminating Russia is propaganda.

    However given the number of dissidents, journalists and opposition politicians who have been assassinated in Russia and the Litveneko murder the Russian state has to be at least 80% likely to be the perpetrator.

  • Robert Walker

    So two guinea pigs and a cat have now been ‘discovered’ in Skripal’s house !!
    The British ‘Intelligence’ are really looking hard for clues eh? This new slant really needs some in-depth investigation. If Sergei Skripal had enemies whether state or otherwise, you would expect a thorough investigation inside the place he lived. That MUST have discovered the existence of these animals if, indeed that investigation happened.

    Of course, if the plot was already written, then just seal-up the house and brief the press. When are people in real authority going to raise these obvious questions???

  • Ron

    Does anyone notice that Yulia said yesterday on the phone that they were both recovering and that there were no irreversible effects. The raison d’etre for Military Grade nerve agents is that they are instantaneously acting, irreversible agents. If you become unconscious due these agents, then you have suffered catastrophic irreversible effects that will last for years rather than months. But the two Russians and the policeman who passed out appear to be recovering completely ?

  • Ron

    If these Russians were exposed to Military Grade nerve agent or rendered unconscious by it, as appears to be the case, then there will be biological evidence of this for many months or years, if they survive. Measurements of CNS function including cognitive tests, neurological examination and EMG tests can quantify the effects of these agents, even after no residue of the nerve agent can be detected in the body. The important fact is that Military Grade nerve agents of this type by definition act instantaneously and are chemically irreversible in their action.

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