Johnson and May Hide as their Lies Dissolve 302

The government has attempted to control the narrative by finally admitting, as they have known for three weeks and just ahead of the OPCW experts coming out and saying so, that there is no evidence the substance used in the Salisbury attack was made in Russia. You can see the interview with the Chief Executive Officer of Porton Down only in this tweet from Sky here.

If anyone can make a copy and send me, or make a safe permanent posting I can link to, I should be grateful (contact button top right). Only a very short clip is on Sky’s website and I am anxious to preserve it for reasons I shall explain.

In modern Tory Britain, it should be no surprise to anybody that, to be the Chief Executive of Britain’s chemical weapons establishment, they recruited a radio salesman:

Aitkenhead’s PR skills were clearly thought sufficient to get across the government’s key propaganda points, and his struggle to do this throughout the Sky interview is telling. Aitkenhead has been in an extremely difficult position for the past three weeks, standing between his scientists who are adamant they will not say the substance was made in Russia, and the government who have been pushing extremely hard for them to do so.

At 5 mins 30 sec into this interview Boris Johnson directly lies about what Porton Down had told him:

It is very plain that what Aitkenhead is saying to Sky is “the scientists cannot establish it is from Russia. But the government claims to have intelligence sources that show that it is.” His struggle to fit the formulations he has been given to parrot this sense as more effective propaganda, into answers to the pretty good questions he is being asked, is almost comic: “ummm” and “errr” come into it a lot. You have to remember that the precise forms of words to be used in official parlance had been the subject of tense negotiation between the scientists and the Porton Down bureaucrats, and then between the Porton Down bureaucrats and MOD Whitehall officials, and then between MOD officials and FCO and security service officials in the Joint Intelligence Committee, before being signed off by ministers. It is a process I know intimately from the inside. This reconciliation of conflicting interests is why at the start Aitkenhead says it is “Novichok” confidently, but at 1 min 30 sec in he says the more truthful “Novichok or from that family”, which accords with the evidence Porton Down gave to the High Court.

But the key moment comes at 3 min 27 secs in. Aitkenhead’s government minders were evidently unhappy with the interview, and the last passage is a statement, not in answer to any question, of the government’s propaganda position which is a very bad edit and clearly tacked on after the interview had finished. They get the continuity wrong – it is not only a wider shot, the camera and tripod have clearly been moved. It is in this final statement that, in a desperate last minute attempt to implicate Russia, Aitkenhead states that making this nerve agent required

“extremely sophisticated methods to create , something probably only within the capabilities of a state actor.”

Very strangely, Sky News only give the briefest clip of the interview on this article on their website reporting it. And the report is highly tendentious: for example it states

However, he confirmed the substance required “extremely sophisticated methods to create, something only in the capabilities of a state actor”.

Deleting the “probably” is a piece of utterly tendentious journalism by Sky’s Paul Kelso. Interestingly, I have never seen such large scale and coordinated social media activity by the Tories as kicked into action immediately following Aitkenhead’s interview. Hundreds of openly identified Tory activists sprang into action using the “state actor” line – omitting the probably – and “government has other sources” line. The BBC contribution was completely to ignore the Porton Down statement and pretend nothing had happened. As part of what was clearly a coordinated PR strategy to pre-empt the OPCW and get over the hurdle of government lies while still blaming Russia, Boris Johnson and Theresa May simply lay low, unavailable to the media.

I shall post shortly a considered assessment of the wider analysis of what could have happened in Salibury. Here is my immediate reaction to Aitkenhead’s statement on Russia Today. Strangely the BBC did not invite me.

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302 thoughts on “Johnson and May Hide as their Lies Dissolve

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  • Francis Duff

    Aikinhead said we have now given this info to government and with other intel they have reached this conclusion .but this info came on 3apr a month after the government had said it was Russia .

    • fred

      Yes. Dstl have made it clear that the chemical identity of the nerve agent is only one of four factors used by the government to determine it’s source. It only confirmed what was already known.

  • meric

    The BBC newspaper round-up is interesting.
    The PD story is the lead on two front pages, and featured on two. Although the Guardian leads with it, the BBC caption claims that the main story is “An image of Tanesha is featured on the Guardian’s front page”. The Times also leads with it, and is captioned as usual. The Mail and Telegraph both have a “No. 10 insists it was Russia” variant.
    All four stories are ignored in the BBC narrative below the pictures.

    • JakeMorris

      This is all taken from Mirzayanov’s book published in 2008.

      The OPCW has twice examined his claims (in 2011 and 2013), and both times concluded basically “there was nothing to worry about”. It had then observed Iran synthesize some novichoks in 2016, and still fully confirmed Russia’s destruction of its chemical weapons in 2017.

      This stance of the watchdog is doubly curious in light of the Wikileaks publishing some cables from Hillary Clinton’s State Department which instruct to stifle discussion of Mirzayanov’s book and novichok in general. So the West had a game to play even back then, possibly in preparation for a large-scale provocation. But something seems to have thrown a wrench in the works – possibly Trump who didn’t fully go along with the plan, and so it’s collapsing like a house of cards.

    • morag

      Just a thought.
      Many countries are allowed to hold a stock of chemicals for testing etc similar to Porton Down. The language used is careful not to actually say anything but give out the ‘Truthiness’ test!

      If they repeat this constantly…well, we know how this worked in first referendum, don’t we?

    • Passer

      Screenshot of 1998 entry into US database of a related substance, if not a “novichok” itself, exists and shows US working on novichoks. If US, then UK, too (identical twins). 1999 – the US pays Uzbekistan 6 million USD for dismantling the CW facility in Uzbekistan (NYT). Normally, when you offer a service to dispose of toxic substances you are being paid for the effort. What was it that the US thought was worth 6 million USD? As we know from Wikileaks, US imposed radio silence regarding “novichok”, esp. after publication of Vil M. book. Now, as long as “novichok” is not listed by OPCW it does not have to be declared. Where there is no list entry, there is no obligation to declare. Now, Boris J. claimed UK knows Russia possessed “novichok” – this may be their intelligence. Question why this was not reported is moot since “novichok” was not listed by OPCW. Neither Russia, if in possession, nor US/UK, if in possession, were under obligation to declare. Had US/UK reported, OPCW might have listed it and US/UK had been under obligation to declare. Keyword: radio silence. Now, Iran: Why would they want to synthesize “novichok” in 2016? Based in intelligence that countries possess it, like US, UK, Israel? Now, substance known to exist and added to OPCW list. No more radio silence. Superb move. Now, in Syria, Russia warned of false flag chemical attacks February/March. US/UK used Salisbury – accuse your adversary of what you are guilty of. Now, in Syria, in East Ghouta, the SAA/Russia discovered chemical labs, photos exist. Precursor materials needed for “novichok” easy to obtain, unsuspicious, which is the “beauty” of this CW. By-note, recall Khan Sheikhoun, a possible explanation: storage facility for “fertilizers” (!) hit. Might be more to it than a mistaken hit by Syrian plane, might have been planned hit. Also, story about about 1 US special forces member, 2 Israeli special forces members and about a dozen UK special forces members arrested by SAA in East Ghouta just before Salisbury. Keyword, false flag. Evidence in favour of this story is undisputed build up of UK/US/French military forces in area inclusing naval vessels. Seems preparation were made. Public exposure by Russia, exceedingly and determined fast progress of SAA/Russian army and (alleged) arrest of special forces thwarted that. US/UK not successful at UNSC getting a broad ceasefire for “humanitarian purposes”. Forces stuck in East Ghouta. Now, what???

  • Madeira

    From Reuters (10:23AM)

    “Russia’s proposal for a joint inquiry into the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in England is ‘perverse’, Britain’s delegation at the global chemical weapons watchdog said on Wednesday as the agency began an emergency meeting requested by Moscow.”

    “Diplomatic sources said, however, that Russia’s proposal for a second investigation was not expected to win the two-thirds majority needed for approval at the special session of the OPCW’s 41-member executive council, which is deeply divided.”

    In other words, if 14 of the 41 member executive council back the UK, the Russians will never get a look at the samples. And getting to 14 will be no problem whatsoever — the list of members can be found at

    • Harry Law

      Even a motorist found driving a car in a drunken stupor is provided with a sample [of blood or urine] so that he can get it independently tested. What have the UK to hide?

    • Herbie

      I’d say the reason there was only one interview is because had there been the usual round of interviews then there’s more pressure and more opportunity to slip up.

      Probably drew lots between BBC, ITN and SKY.

      Pooling, I think they call it.

  • Je

    “there is no evidence the substance used in the Salisbury attack was made in Russia.”

    It was possible with the Polonium poisoning attack to trace it back to Russia because of the
    nature of the substance used. Even Craig accepts that Russia was behind that. Its part of
    the body of circumstantial evidence that points to Russia. This chemical agent isn’t Polonium
    and so its maybe not within the realms of chemistry to do the same and trace back to where
    it was made.

    Made in Russia is a good bet here even if the government overstated the tracing back nature
    of this. This isn’t Iraq WMD Mark 2. They’ve got the agent… they’ve looked at who’s done almost
    exactly the same thing before… covert assassination of a former Russian spy in the UK…
    and I’m convinced, not by the government but by that…
    that far and away the most likely perpetrator is the big obvious one… and its a reasonable guess
    that the Russian state didn’t employ Outer Mongolian chemists…

    They must love this site though.

          • Je

            No, it said something about your comment.

            You could have written
            “Nice try but no coconut. Better luck next time.” after any and every
            comment ever written about anything.

            Its completely vacuous. I thought
            you might expand on it if I pointed that out… come up with an argument of
            some kind. But no…

          • JakeMorris

            Je, you failed to reply to most of the substantive comments here.
            Pot calling the kettle black?

    • Agent Green

      I think technically it was shown that the polonium could have come from any number of other nations as well. The inquiry was a joke in terms of evidence standards. Even Litvinenko’s father maintains it was not Russia but instead a Western Agency.

      I think it is highly likely that the Litvinenko affair was simply another false-flag/provocation. Just as the Skripal nonsense is.

    • Herbie

      So why were the US and UK govts colluding to ensure that knowledge of novichok development didn’t gain greater currency?

      • NatSouth

        maybe because ‘Project Foliant’ was 3rd generation CW, and since then there are 4th generation CW & more.

        Judging from the snippets of the Wikileaks cables, the US has shut down any in-depth discussions since 2006, not just on ‘Novichoks’ but what is known as Non-Traditional Agents, (NTA). And the UK backed them up.

        • Herbie

          “Judging from the snippets of the Wikileaks cables, the US has shut down any in-depth discussions since 2006, not just on ‘Novichoks’ but what is known as Non-Traditional Agents, (NTA). And the UK backed them up.

          And the OPCW went along with that until forced by Iran to add them to their database.

    • Republicofscotland

      According to Walter Litvenenko, his son was killed by US/UK/Israeli forces. Not Russian forces, Walter a doctor also claimed it cost the murderers of his son $38 million for the Polonium.

        • Republicofscotland

          Walter Litvenenko, also when asked about the Skripal attacks, said that in his opinion the Ukranian’s did it, and that Russia would be blamed.

          If true, who else knew?

          • Je

            Did you read the Independent article?

            “The cynical murder of my son was a calculated act of intimidation,” he said. “I have no doubt that he was killed by the FSB, and that the order came from that former KGB spy President Putin. He was the only person who could give that order. I haven’t a shadow of a doubt that this was done by Putin’s men.”

            The comments will infuriate the Kremlin,”

            Read the last sentence again. He then changes his mind totally with the space of a month a does an interview with Russia Today confirming all the conspiracy nonsense the people here love. You don’t think there might be some duress?

          • Je

            Republicofscotland – I watched that.

            Its got a banner all the way through “Litvinyenko pleas to Putin for return to land his son betrayed”

            He owes landlord a lot of money… is afraid to open the door… his last 40 went on a gas cannister… [tearful] “I want to go home, I don’t want to stay here…”

            So he’s all but destitute… and the former line he had wouldn’t persuade Putin to let him back into Russia would it?

          • Je


            My point is…

            “So he’s all but destitute… and the former line he had wouldn’t persuade Putin to let him back into Russia would it?”

            To quote and repeat myself. Your answer was.. not one…

          • Republicofscotland

            Ah yes I saw that coming, the only problem being, he might be telling the truth this time, but lied about Putin the first time. You say vice versa of course.

            So who’s right?

            Meanwhile Walter continues to blame UK/US/Israeli forces for his son’s death.


          • timbo

            The Independent article is ancient history. It was originally published 16th December 2006 (see end of article). Walter Litvenenko has had plenty of time to reconsider things since then.

          • Je

            Timbo – thanks… how did I miss that?… But after banging my head on the wall for a little over that – the Russians still carried out the Polonium attack – and I would bet this one too. The government’s overstating one thing about it is little bit of mist that will probably drift away in everyone’s mind… except for the people who hold up Putin as some kind of hero. He is not a good man.

    • JakeMorris

      The Litvinenko case never made it to trial. The Coroner’s Inquiry stopped at saying it was “probably” an act of FSB, “probably” at the instruction of FSB Director Partushev or Putin. A very far cry from the “beyond reasonable doubt” judicial standard.

      Litvinenko himself, on his deathbed, accused not Russians Lugovoy and Kovtun (whom the British painted as culprits), but the Italian Mario Scaramella, who had tea with him on the day of his poisoning, with polonium-210 later found on Litvinenko’s teacup, and traces of polonium-210 found on Scaramella (whose health was not affected).

      “Mr Litvinenko accused Mr Scaramella of poisoning him from the day he first fell ill: as the Italian told me, his name was all over Russian and Chechen websites as the main suspect in the poisoning of the former FSB agent long before the story hit the British press. Mr Litvinenko retained his suspicion right up to his death. Speaking of the Itsu meeting, he said: “Mario didn’t want anything, he gave me the email printouts … I said to myself, he could have sent these emails by computer. But instead he wanted to come and give them to me in person: why, and why in such a hurry? He was very nervous.””

      Scaramella was then arrested in Italy for calumny, and during the investigation his links to the CIA were revealed:
      “The investigation also showed a connection between Scaramella and the CIA, in particular through Filippo Marino, one of Scaramella’s closest partners since the 1990s and co-founder of the ECPP, who lives in the US.”

      “They’ve got the agent… they’ve looked at who’s done almost
      exactly the same thing before… covert assassination of a former Russian spy in the UK…
      and I’m convinced, not by the government but by that…
      that far and away the most likely perpetrator is the big obvious one…”

      All of this points to UK/USA more than Russia, given their track record of instigating wars using fabricated “evidence”. As for extrajudicial assassinations, NATO states have been doing it on a wide scale for a long time all over the world, and are not afraid to admit it.

    • Seanchaí 33

      One can only “Kind of” agree with such comments, as Russia today, and the USSR then are two very different Countries with very different fiscal policies, politics and agendas. In that sense it has some similarities with comparing present day Germany with WWII Germany.

    • Dec

      You don’t start another cold war on a “good bet”. It is not a good bet anyway because killing an already punished pensioner in a way needlessly implicating Russia is obviously not worth the diplomatic damage. Whereas there are many–e.g. Ukraine–keen to harm relations with Russia, for which this is a perfectly rational approach.

    • Kiza

      It is a waste of time coconut to point out what is wrong in your comment. But I may just remind others that Walter Litvinenko, the father of Alexander Litvinenko, has found many holes in the British investigative version of what happened to his son. He is apparently more inclined to believe now that it was the British secret services which were involved in his son’s poisoning. With all respect to Mr Murray, he is not all knowing. It may be that the father’s opinion is a little more relevant in that case than Mr Murray’s.

      • Je

        Yes the nearly destitute father who wants to return to Russia because his circumstances are now so pitiful sees all kinds of holes in the British investigation. We should of course give more weight to that than the trail of Polonium which literally led back to Moscow via residues on flights that came from Moscow.

        (/end sarcasm)

        • JakeMorris

          Rather than engage in empty sacrasm (itself in very poor taste, poking fun at a grieving father), how about you actually address the numerous substantive points raised in response to your highly doubtful suppositions?

          • Je

            I’m not “poking fun at a grieving father” – which would indeed be in worse than poor taste and I wouldn’t even think of doing. My sarcasm is the last sentence which is clearly aimed at the authour of the post I’m replying too.

            Its your post that is another one that doesn’t contain anything… apart from you’ve leapt on something you think (wrongly) you can attack me for… there’s no argument of any kind in it…

        • JakeMorris

          “We should of course give more weight to that than the trail of Polonium which literally led back to Moscow”

          Trail of polonium led to Mario Scaramella, who had tea with Litvinenko on the day of the poisoning, with Litvinenko drinking from the cup heavily laced with polonium, and Scaramella later found to exhibit traces of polonium, something his lawyer initially denied. The same Scaramella who was accused by Litvinenko himself, and later found to have ties with the CIA.

          • Je

            JakeMorris –

            The two ex KGB / GRU officers who carried out the assassination left traces all over the place… in the three attempts (one successful) they made on his life. That was the “trail of polonium”. There wasn’t one for Mario Scaramella, but if you set out to prove a different conclusion, ignore all the evidence… latch onto anything that fits…

          • Je

            correction, *alleged* assassins… (who it seems left polonium traces all over the place…)

  • N_

    Come on Corbyn – here’s your chance to damage the government. Oh there he is, apologising for a problem in Labour that a bunch of ultra-racists say is huge but is reallty non-existent and the opposite of the real problem.

    Rarely has there been a British government more in need of an “event”. They are likely to get one.

  • Republicofscotland

    I shouldve added to my last comment that Hamish De Bretton Gordon, claimed that the novichok agent used in Sailsbury, came from Russia and Russia only, De Bretton Gordon also said it came from Shikhany, on Tom Swarbrick’s radio slot on LBC this morning.

    How can he be so sure when the scientists at Porton Down don’t know where the Novichok came from. He can’t, in my opinion, he’s spouting propaganda without evidence, that’s all it is.

  • Mary Paul

    OK – let us suppose for a moment that the FO’s comments in their latest statement are true: that Russia has been developing Novichok type agents and looking for ways of testing them, during the last decade. (Let us park for now the issue of where and with whom.)

    Supposing some of the agent has “escaped” in its binary form, from its developer or from storage. No one is ever going to admit to Putin that some of the Russian developed product is in the wild are they? So Theresa May’s ultimatum about that was never going to work. Then we have to ask

    Who was behind it? What was their motive? Why was it used in the UK? Why did British government make such a big issue of it?

    Who is behind it? Some powerful interests, not necessarily state actors, not necessarily even Russian, who want to teach someone or some group a lesson, bribed or stole some.? We know that everything in modern Russia has its price. If some is in fact stored out of country, that might make it easier to obtain.

    What was their motive? There are clearly various possible scenarios: the Skripals may have fallen foul of some powerful interests, could be Russian, could be somewhere else. (Whatever else he was doing in the UK Mr Skripal does not seem to have been retired and travelled regularly abroad.) Blackmail of some larger interest? As a warning to a target group?

    Why was it used in the UK? The UK is an easy country to get in and out of. You can travel about freely. And no one much bothers in the UK legal system about the death of “mysterious ” Russian, pace the 15 already dead. So the UK may have seemed the easiest place to make their point. In fact the “assassins” who tried kill the Skripals with the agent, were not very efficient , maybe they were not familiar with how to use it.

    As it turned out, because of the way it was used, the plot blew up in everyone’s faces. Putin cannot admit Russia is making it, so cannot admit they have lost any. That is why they are desperately seeking more information, to find out where it went missing. But Russian’s track record and the intelligence they have been working on it, means everyone springs to the conclusion it was them, which it was not, on this occasion.

    Why did the UK go over the top like this? the FO or Mi6 must have a reason. Porton Down, all credit to them, are refusing to be fall guys by saying it is Russian. Boris has already been bullied into perjuring himself. Answers on a postcard please.

    • JakeMorris

      I apologize, but this seems like another unlikely theory aiming to whitewash the UK Government and somehow implicate the Russians. About as full of holes as the “angry mother-in-law” theory, which has now been dismissed, hasn’t it?

      “The UK is an easy country to get in and out of.”

      That’s about as far from the truth as can be. Most of UK is under constant surveillance, and it’s not even in the Schengen zone, so a British visa is necessary for a foreigner to enter.

      “And no one much bothers in the UK legal system about the death of “mysterious ” Russian”

      Manifestly untrue after the whole Litvinenko affair.

      “So the UK may have seemed the easiest place to make their point.”

      Any third world country would have been much easier, and much less risky.

      “In fact the “assassins” who tried kill the Skripals with the agent, were not very efficient , maybe they were not familiar with how to use it.”

      So the assassins were bumbling fools who didn’t even know how to use their murder weapon? Yet another unlikely supposition.

      “We know that everything in modern Russia has its price. ”

      What the hell makes you think that? Did the Russians ever sell their nukes, for example? Although the global market is obviously hungry for such goods.

      “Supposing some of the agent has “escaped” in its binary form, from its developer or from storage”

      If you’re going to assume that, it would be more logical to assume the agent “escaped” from Porton Down, which is right next to Salisbury, than from Russia, which is half the world away.

      Etc. etc. Any way you spin it, UK/US involvement is more likely than Russia’s.

      • Agent Green

        It is up to the UK to prove their case anyway. The Russians have no duty to prove their innocence.

        • Kiza

          Well the ultimatum tried to turn that around. It is not that May expected that the ultimatum would be responded to, but it looked Thatcherite. Also, just by itself, giving an ultimatum to the usual suspects, to maximise the distance between herself and the act, suggests the party giving the ultimatum is the most likely culprit. Even the usual suspects did not try to distance themselves from the act so desperately.

          • JakeMorris

            The Russians did respond to the ultimatum, by denying their involvement and demanding a joint investigation. This fact is persistently blacked out by the UK, even in FCO’s powerpoint presentation it was not reflected in the timeline.

            Moreover, the Russians didn’t even have an obligation to respond until the 10-day time limit set by CWC expired.

        • DiggerUK

          @ Agent Green.
          Yes, and then again, no. This is not about a citizen facing charges in a crown court, this is a political charge. The level of proof is different, the process different, everything about a political case is different. Plus, there is no appeal process…_

      • Mary Paul

        Skripal clearly came and went to the UK without difficulty. His family also seem to have travelled to see him regularly enough. EU members do not need visas and there are over 2m from Eastern Europe living here and many come and go.

        I have taken an interest in the deaths of Russians in the UK, since Litvinenko, and their deaths have usually marked down as suicide or similar with no further investigation. Litvinenko only attracted attention because it involved polonium just as the Skripals has because of the nerve agent. Glushkov was strangled to death shortly afterwards and I am sure, under normal circumstances that would also be swept under the carpet.

        I am not saying Russia did it. I am saying one possibility is that they did not but they have been developing nerve gases and some got into the wrong hands and Russia could not admit this. As for Russia being this highly principled democratic society with no one exploiting anyone else, it does not quite match up to the oligarchs and their history . I assume you would also claim Russia does not sponsor assassinations either.

        Your belief in the honesty and openness of the Russian system is much greater than mine in the British system. I fully believe that our government is behaving irresponsibly for reasons I do not claim to understand.

  • Sarissa

    Further to my earlier post on biosafety labs, designs exist for BSL Level 3 labs based on standard shipping containers for use in underdeveloped countries.

    conversion fit-out costs – approx $200,000 as of 2014

    Any number of moderately funded government or non-government groups could probably set one of these up.

  • Republicofscotland

    OPCW holding an emergency meeting at the Hague just now, with regards to Russia being involved in the Sailsbury investigation.

    Russia has the right to request the meeting, British spokesperson, said Russia’s attempt to getting access through a joint investigation as perverse.

    • Kiza

      Yes, the Russians are perverts because they demand that the British respect what they signed under. The same old, same old – only the perverts with nuclear weapons dare call the British (and US) to respect the international agreements that they signed.

  • Robert Graham

    Why only SKY involved and why only one reporter with let’s face it very safe questions unlikely to uncover anything of substance , I doubt if i have witnessed a more uncomfortable set up interview I wouldnt trust that guy to tell me the time or if it was raining , shifty beyond belief ,A competent reporter might have got a bit closer to what happened but this wasnt the point was it , the whole thing was stage managed propaganda and not really that convincing .But when the compliant media are on side who cares if its truth or not .
    Looks like Mrs Mayhem and the walking disaster Johnston will be missing until the dust settles much the same trick pulled by fluffy and davidson it would be easier tracking down Lord Lucan riding Shergar up ben Nevis , and as observed the bbc blank it out nothing happened
    I took Craigs advice and paid attention to the exact language used and this was a total set piece .

    • Sharp Ears

      On ITV. A short video was shown from the same location, Aitkenhead, in the same naff outfit, looking sweaty with the shelves behind. Interviewer out of sight and unnamed.

      Aitkenhead is the third CE in a short period of time. A Jonathan Lyle left last year and then there was an interim official in place. Note the gong. What a rotten country. Patronage and preferment. Funny handshakes too.

      Martin Earwicker (2001-06): From its creation in 2001 the Chief Executive was Martin J Earwicker until he left in 2006 for the Science Museum.
      Dr Frances Saunders (2006-11): After Earwicker’s departure, Saunders took over as acting Chief Executive in May 2006[9] and was appointed as Chief Executive in August 2007. On 29 June 2011 Saunders announced to staff that her post had been advertised and that she would not be applying.
      Jonathan Lyle (2012-17): After Saunders’ departure, Lyle, who was Director of the Programme Office at Dstl, was placed into an acting role and was appointed in March 2012.
      Gary Aitkenhead (2018-): After Lyle’s departure in September 2017, David Marsh – Capability & Delivery Director – was appointed acting Chief Executive. On 30 November, 2017, Gary Aitkenhead was appointed and took up the role January 2018.

      Bet Aitkenhead wishes he’d stayed at Motorola.

  • Neil

    How convenient to have evidence that can’t be revealed lest sources be compromised.

    I remember Blair saying exactly the same thing about the incontrovertible evidence of Saddam’s WMD.

    • Dulce

      Great. And that one can be downloaded for security.
      Crowd sourcing research is such a smart way to go, as it is so much faster than the cumbersome “research” processes of the MSM (and/or “justice” and “intelligence” systems).

  • Mick Myers

    These findings ignored by the BBC who then resort to the government propaganda line …..the BBC are being exposed daily for the Tory lapdogs they have become

  • Sharp Ears

    I love the ‘STRANGELY’ at the end. The state broadcaster has had its instructions from No.10. There is a direct line to Portland Place.

  • Bunkum

    SKY reporting FO deleted tweet from last month as it contradicted Porton Down statement

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Has a D-Notice been issued to the Press about not reporting what Gary Aitkenhead disclosed?

    The guy could be just as dangerous to national security as Edward Snowden!

    is that what May and Johnson have been up to?

  • Dulce

    Thanks again for your cogent summaries of what is REALLY going on.
    I think we should all show our great appreciation for the integrity of Mr Aitkenhead (CEO of Portland Downs) in NOT succumbing to what must have been immense pressure from the FCO to toe the government line.
    His independent voicing of an uncomfortable truth at a critical time highlights the power individuals have in their own hands to change the fallacious narratives in circulation (“fake news”). I hope it inspires more people in pivotal roles to find their courage and speak out where and when it is called for.
    [As an aside, do you have a transcript of that video segment, or would you like one made?]

    • Kiza

      Oh well, it has been a long time since any facts mattered. This is now all about information management.

    • Mary Paul

      I meant I agree with Dulce about respecting Mr Aitkenhead for not succumbing to what I imagine must have been tremendous pressure to confirm the FO line that the nerve agent was of Russian origin.

    • Pyotr Grozny

      From supporting HMG and dissing Corbyn the Guardian have changed tack and scent the blood of Brexit Boris.

        • N_

          I listened again to the Aitkenhead interview. It’s hilarious how “science” is referred to. He referred to something called “scientific information” and “scientific evidence”. I think he may mean “empirical”.

      • N_

        But they deleted it from their space at the Twitter agency, where it was previously here, ref. 976779470765019136.

        It said

        “Analysis by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down made clear that this was a military-grade Novichok nerve agent produced in Russia. Porton Down is OPCW-accredited and designated laboratory”

  • Mochyn69

    BBC Radio 4 World at One right now is beyond a joke.

    I think I heard the anchor actually refer to Russia as an ‘area’.


  • Michael Boyle

    I have used the embed option on the twitter post of the Sky News Interview. I am not sure it will make a safe copy but it is worth a go.

    #Salisbury attack: Scientists have not been able to prove that Russia made the nerve agent used in the spy poisoning. Porton Down lab's chief exec reveals the details in this interview— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 3, 2018

  • Jo

    No scientist uses words “state actor” surely…he has been told to say that. He looked stressed under this pressure…look at his unbelieving insincere eyes…now maybe he realises that PD and him have a direct responsibility to OPCW and PD could be totally discredited potentially….maybe his employees have put pressure on him to protect themselves their own work professional reputation…note he says N or of that family…so still unsure except it belongs to a group of organophosphate chemicals?What defines military grade….would a Morris Minor or toilet cleaner bought by the Army and used to kill someone be designated as military grade…it sounds that they are desparately trying to join up their verdict with any possible means but they sound “irreconcileable” to me…note Foreign Ministry has removed a tweet and denies BJ said PD says it was Russia…this is a total international embaressment for UK government.

    • Harry Law

      Jo, Military grade nerve agent sounds very scary, rather like Johnsons “to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the Second World War”. With the backdrop of a spitfire.

  • squirrel

    It is not just Boris Johnson who is responsible for an outright lie. Theresa May’s lie is more subtle but it was the same. From her initial statement

    “Mr. Speaker, there are therefore only two plausible explanations for what happened in Salisbury on the 4th of March.
    Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country.
    Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.

    This afternoon my Rt. Hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has summoned the Russian Ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and asked him to explain which of these two possibilities it is — and therefore to account for how this Russian-produced nerve agent could have been deployed in Salisbury against Mr Skripal and his daughter.”

    1) She directly mentions “Russian-produced”
    2) The choice presented, either the Russian state is responsible or someone else did it from their stocks, eliminates the possibility that it may have been manufactured elsewhere. Whilst she may be able to play the Tony Blair card and claim that secret intelligence helps determine that Russia did it – why is then this second option presented?

    It only makes any sense if “Russian produced” is to be assumed. As I am typing I am realising it blows the rest of the case apart. If it was possible that another actor carried out the attack given our intelligence then, from stocks that Russia had lost control of – then May was relying on the implication that the agent was Russian-produced to hold them responsible.

  • Paul_UK

    Hello Craig,

    A couple of investigative possibilities for you. The London Economic recently reported (actually this nugget was buried around two-thirds of the way down their article, its significance unnoticed by the writers) that a “source close to Sergei Skripal” had told them that before his poisoning, Mr. Skripal was investigating collusion between the Internet Research Agency, AIQ, Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, SCL.

    TLE’s source may not be reliable, and the investigation is still ongoing. But if it’s true that Mr. Skripal was asking awkward questions about corrupt and powerful people both here and in the US – people with deep links to our intelligence and security establishments…well…

    In this context, it’s worth noting that in his testimony the UK panel regarding Cambridge Analytica, Christopher Wylie stated that his predecessor and Head of Elections at SCL Group, Dan Muresan, had died in Kenya under mysterious circumstances. Wylie claimed to have heard stories that Muresan may have been poisoned in his hotel room.

    Looking forward to your analysis,


    • Sean Lamb

      Of course, because Skripal had uncovered the collusion the Internet Research agency and Cambridge Analytica he had to be bumped off before he told Christopher Steele and/or Robert Mueller.

      I don’t know what is more depressing: the fact that people bother to generate such dreck or the fact that everyone else doesn’t immediately burst out laughing at the transparent motivations underlying it.

      I don’t mind being deceived by a conspiracy of all-powerful masterminds, I resent the twaddle served up by a conspiracy of mindless morons.

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