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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    • Phil

      Thanks Paul for the full 16 minute version, I hadn’t seen that makes sense that what looked like a shifted camera angle was actually an edited zoom and good to hear the full interview. Was it on the Sky website all the time?

  • Ian Hall-Dixon

    How nice to read unadulterated comment without the political spin that the Tory party seem to live by.
    To delve into speculation for a moment, it seems highly unlikely to me that such a clumsy attempt at assassination by the delivery of what has to be a binary weapon, could ever be considered as professional and the work of ‘state’ personnel.
    It seems very likely that the first part of a binary agent was deposited on doors, car vents, restaurant tables, etc. with the second part delivered locally to the couple sat on the bench, posdibly by aerosol. This would explain the poor mixing that caused serious poisoning but not a very quick death.
    It is worthy of note that only the final version of Novocek, as we understand it, was developed to be deliverd as a binary powder.

  • Ken Brunton

    As I thought at the time, Jeremy is a logical person, a totally honest politician (surely an oxymoron) and an excellent statesman like spokesman. This is exactly what I also said at the time, and now the pigeons are coming home to rest.
    Of course the government were rushing to judgement. And Johnson should now be made to resign, idiot that he is. May? Probably the same.

  • Oliver Tickell

    Let’s not pile too much opprobium on Paul Kelso. He asked some good questions here and must be getting no end of flak for doing so, surely coming under heavy pressure from employers, ministers. He had to cover himself to some small extent and this article is a way for him to publicly hold back from drawing all the correct conclusions that are being drawn by others. Like you.

  • Strangely

    I watched with interest your interview today around 4pm BST on Sky with Kay Burley. After your compliments of the Sky interviewer of Aitkenhead, the Porton Down gaffer, she then launched into her previously withheld attack on you which was her defending the company she works for.
    It seemed to be a key reason for you being on Sky, but in the end it all petered out nicely with both parties happy IMHO.

    I was intrigued by her assertion that two cameras were involved as a defence against your position that Aitkenhead had been got at and that the latter part of the interview was tagged on later. It appeared that she had in depth knowledge of the full interview….

    Paul has just commented and beaten me to it that there is a full version of the interview of over 16 mins length. It bears viewing.
    I have a copy of the full video should it disappear.

    It appears to me that your perceived tagged on edited bit (and it does look like it) was a simple pull back on the zoom, so she was correct.
    However, I’ve been through the video and can perceive the use of only one camera, not two as Burley maintained. Her charade about explaining to you about cameras on running rails or whatever…gad!
    The whole interview is done purely on one camera changing zoom as the cameraman got bored, or whatever as time passed. There’s limited zoom at the interview start but after several minutes the zoom goes in and out all the time!!

    • Phil

      I guess the second camera was there as a backup, just good professional behaviour as they had the sole interview and wouldn’t want a f*ck up. I was expecting this long version to contain the Proffesor Kay Burley explanation of how you must have a physical sample of Russian novichok to know that the Salisbury sample came from Russia, but it seems that she did actually make this up herself. Well done Craig!

    • Phil

      They have definitely added ‘probably’ back in to the article, but as you can see they still keep the original sub headline. I screenshotted the original in my google photos along with the Guardian version- which always contained the correct quote. I’ve just gone to my photos and it now shows the ‘new’ Sky version with ‘probably’ included. Is that at all possible?
      I know I’ve not gone mad because I’ve got my Sky email confirmation from when I complained about it on the 4th and good old Craig blogged about it too, strange times tho…

      • Phil

        Haha I hadn’t seen the time of your post so I only screenshotted it at 6pm and didn’t check it again but it I can confirm that article definitely was missing the probably in the afternoon

  • Richard

    This has already clocked up 86k views on Facebook and would think most people consider Boris to be a complete arse (if they didn’t before):

  • Michael Mc Andrew

    If as alleged he was looking at the scandal of the Cambridge outfit,and the links to dirty money,it could well be anybody,how many times has government looked after number one

  • Madeira

    The farce continues. Russia submitted a proposal to the OPCW that they be directly involved in the investigation, a proposal characterised by the UK as “perverse”. The “non-partisan” OPCW rejected the Russian proposal, reportedly by a vote of 15 to 6, with 17 abstentions. The only countries willing to put themselves on record as supporting a thorough investigation were Russia, China, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Algeria and Iran.

    Next week the OPCW will likely reveal the results of its “investigation”, which one can safely assume will be “massaged” to be as favourable to the UK as possible. When Russia objects, there will of course by an outcry that they are a “rogue” state unwilling to accept the verdict of a “neutral”, “objective” international organisation.

  • remo

    You mean ‘strategically’ auntie BEEB didn’t invite you.
    Perhaps if your name was Bill BROWDER…..?
    This also means the ‘most likely’ and ‘only plausible’ conclusion can be that the materiel was not produced in Russia and that ‘most likely’,’most plausibly’, it was produced somewhere else. Therefore, by the examples set by Tereason May and the depleted Boris, most likely Russia did not take any part in this badly produced false flag. Begging the question, why so many of the Russian Federation questions are to FRANCE ?

  • Robert Ross

    Whether it be by Bed knobs and Broomsticks! or Watership Down, its certainly an animated effort by the British Establishment,it is like the Scarlet Pimpernel, we seek it here, we seek it everywhere, its in the suitcase, car vents, on door knobs, in perfume, and a deadly Nerve Agent, and no one is dead yet it beggars belief that we are expected to swallow all this nonsense without any credible evidence, Porton Down said it cant be proved and can on conclude it came from the family of Novichocks , Boris says Corbyn is falling for Russian propaganda, the truth is we are not falling for UK Gov propaganda, hopefully

    • Helen Callanan

      totally agree Robert…it all has that strange feel of cartoon-y stirrings….and I cannot shift that picture in my mind of Boris as the frog in Alice in Wonderland and the queen shouting ‘off with his head’…..whilst we see Boris in this animation we also need to be very afraid that this is Boris’ aim: to trick us into thinking we are in the twilight zone and that nothing serious has ACTUALLY happened….and then find we have ww3 to contend with….be very afraid if those two are allowed get away with this. All those Russian Ambassadors who have been sent back to Russia because of these very serious accusations….just not funny anymore! A tit-for-tat knee jerk reaction is all that has happened…as yet! – – One must not forget the old old ploy of ‘detraction’ which Theresa May desperately needs right now with her trials and tribulations of handling the fallout of Brexit….’detraction’ is that buoy in her very personal turbulent sea,and, oh boy does she need it!

  • flamingo

    Its all good distraction and entirely relevant. Is there any further information as to what Skripal was up to in his work with SCL/Cambridge Analytica? Was he still sniffing Russian bedsheets or has Boris shoved him aside so he can ‘perform’ that task?

    The unraveling is a delight.

  • David Otness

    See ? We can learn a lot from history and ‘children’s books’:
    Here to explain it all is Lewis Carrol…..
    ” ‘There’s more evidence to come yet, please your Majesty,’ said the White Rabbit, jumping up in a great hurry; ‘this paper has just been picked up.’
    ‘What’s in it?’ said the Queen.
    ‘I haven’t opened it yet, said the White Rabbit, ‘but it seems to be a letter, written by the prisoner to—to somebody.’
    ‘It must have been that,’ said the King, ‘unless it was written to nobody, which isn’t usual, you know.’
    ‘Who is it directed to?’ said one of the jurymen.
    ‘It isn’t directed at all,’ said the White Rabbit; ‘in fact, there’s nothing written on the outside.’ He unfolded the paper as he spoke, and added ‘It isn’t a letter, after all: it’s a set of verses.’
    ‘Are they in the prisoner’s handwriting?’ asked another of they jurymen.
    ‘No, they’re not,’ said the White Rabbit, ‘and that’s the queerest thing about it.’ (The jury all looked puzzled.)
    ‘He must have imitated somebody else’s hand,’ said the King. (The jury all brightened up again.)
    ‘Please your Majesty,’ said the Knave, ‘I didn’t write it, and they can’t prove I did: there’s no name signed at the end.’
    ‘If you didn’t sign it,’ said the King, ‘that only makes the matter worse. You MUST have meant some mischief, or else you’d have signed your name like an honest man.’
    There was a general clapping of hands at this: it was the first really clever thing the King had said that day.
    ‘That PROVES his guilt,’ said the Queen.
    ‘It proves nothing of the sort!’ said Alice. ‘Why, you don’t even know what they’re about!’
    ‘Read them,’ said the King.
    The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. ‘Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?’ he asked.
    ‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’
    These were the verses the White Rabbit read:—
    ‘They told me you had been to her,
    And mentioned me to him:
    She gave me a good character,
    But said I could not swim.
    He sent them word I had not gone
    (We know it to be true):
    If she should push the matter on,
    What would become of you?
    I gave her one, they gave him two,
    You gave us three or more;
    They all returned from him to you,
    Though they were mine before.
    If I or she should chance to be
    Involved in this affair,
    He trusts to you to set them free,
    Exactly as we were.
    My notion was that you had been
    (Before she had this fit)
    An obstacle that came between
    Him, and ourselves, and it.
    Don’t let him know she liked them best,
    For this must ever be
    A secret, kept from all the rest,
    Between yourself and me.’
    ‘That’s the most important piece of evidence we’ve heard yet,’ said the King, rubbing his hands; ‘so now let the jury—’
    ‘If any one of them can explain it,’ said Alice, (she had grown so large in the last few minutes that she wasn’t a bit afraid of interrupting him,) ‘I’ll give him sixpence. _I_ don’t believe there’s an atom of meaning in it.’
    The jury all wrote down on their slates, ‘She doesn’t believe there’s an atom of meaning in it,’ but none of them attempted to explain the paper.
    ‘If there’s no meaning in it,’ said the King, ‘that saves a world of trouble, you know, as we needn’t try to find any. And yet I don’t know,’ he went on, spreading out the verses on his knee, and looking at them with one eye; ‘I seem to see some meaning in them, after all. “—said I could not swim—” you can’t swim, can you?’ he added, turning to the Knave.
    The Knave shook his head sadly. ‘Do I look like it?’ he said. (Which he certainly did not, being made entirely of cardboard.)
    ‘All right, so far,’ said the King, and he went on muttering over the verses to himself: ‘”We know it to be true—” that’s the jury, of course— “I gave her one, they gave him two—” why, that must be what he did with the tarts, you know—’
    ‘But, it goes on “They all returned from him to you,”‘ said Alice.
    ‘Why, there they are!’ said the King triumphantly, pointing to the tarts on the table. ‘Nothing can be clearer than that. Then again—”before she had this fit—” you never had fits, my dear, I think?’ he said to the Queen.
    Never!’ said the Queen furiously, throwing an inkstand at the Lizard as she spoke. (The unfortunate little Bill had left off writing on his slate with one finger, as he found it made no mark; but he now hastily began again, using the ink, that was trickling down his face, as long as it lasted.)
    ‘Then the words don’t fit you,’ said the King, looking round the court with a smile. There was a dead silence.
    ‘It’s a pun!’ the King added in an offended tone, and everybody laughed, ‘Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.
    ‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first—verdict afterwards.’

    • David Otness

      I owe the above quote to Paula D.
      A friend whose permission to use her full name I do not have.

      • Mochyn69

        Excellent. Lewis Carroll at his best! And so pertinent to the present case

        With May and de Pfeffel being Tweedledum and Tweedledee!

    • Naish

      Talking children’s books, try The Rose and the Ring by Thackeray. It beautifully exposes the way propaganda works to tame people. I had it read to me when I was 7 and the lesson never left me.

  • delia ruhe

    Sometimes I wonder if there is such a thing as a bulletproof propaganda narrative,

  • Barry g centric

    It is interesting to note that there is low level contamination in many places skripal was that day. Door handles to house and car. Park bench. Those near him in enclosed spaces be coming affected. A leaking container of nerve agent on skripal would explain this. Also nerve agents are generally corrosive and could corrode ordinary sure stances like thecal used on a glass bottle. A reasonable hypothesis is that skripal was carrying a leaking container.

      • Barry g centric

        It is interesting to note that there is low level contamination in many places skripal was that day. Door handles to house and car. Park bench. Those near him in enclosed spaces be coming affected. A leaking container of nerve agent on skripal would explain this. Also nerve agents are generally corrosive and could corrode ordinary substances like cap used on a glass bottle. In fact some nerve gases need to be stored in silver or quartz glass bottles, i.e. not ordinary glass even. A reasonable hypothesis is that skripal was carrying a leaking container.

      • Barry g centric

        It’s the only thing I can think of that fits the sparse facts that have come out and the long time line.

    • SA

      Nerve gassed are generally corrosive? That is only mustard gas and the newer ones are not. Where did you get that from?

  • John Scudamore

    ‘There is a reason to believe that the British Government is under the control of a foreign power.’—Gilad Atzmon

    Indeed: ‘I am a passionate Zionist,’ — Boris Johnson

    That’s exactly the same, worse, as saying I’m a passionate Nazi!

    ”Monopoly capitalism, Zionism, Communism, National Socialism (Nazism) ALL came out of Rothschild Offices in Frankfurt, Germany.” — Eustace Mullins

    No wonder he lies all the time

    Government false flags

    • Phil

      Away with your Anti Semitic conspiracy nonsense and according to your logic, if Boris lies all the time then he’s probably not a Zionist anyway

  • Phil

    Thanks Craig, it’s incredible that Sky should misquote Aitkenhead in its own report of its own interview and how widely that report was disseminated, even on here. The Guardian got the quote right, which is how I noticed the difference when coming here and I’ve written to Sky querying how it happened, I’ll update if I hear back. It wasn’t just the misquoting in the article the subheading repeats it and the embedded video doesn’t contain that portion of the interview. All very strange…probably

  • Alex

    Letting yourself be used by the propaganda machine that is RT doesn’t help your credibility. Especially in light of all your (justified) bashing of the corporate media.

    What I’m missing from your many posts about this topic is a more in-depth analysis about who is responsible and for what reasons. I think Putin ordered the assassination simply to stir up more international pressure on Russia before the election. It surprises me that you haven’t commented on this angle since it’s pretty obvious in my view.

    • SA

      What is missing from your analysis is that it is is strange to ascribe a motive to Putin that makes no sense whatsoever. If you really have any idea whatsoever about Putin , you will know 1. That he does not seek provocation generally and does not react rashly to provocation. 2. That if he was determined you wouldn’t get such a botched job, nobody was assassinated.

      • Alex

        It’s not an analysis, just my opinion from what I’ve read and seen. Of course the motive makes sense, he has been hammering the the-world-is-against-us narrative into peoples heads for years.
        Care to elaborate on your first point? I agree that he does not react rashly but not seeking provocation? Your second point is moot, considering the motive I’ve stated. If they had caried it otu perfectly, we probably wouldn’t even know about it.

      • IDJ

        Indeed .. its the botched nature of this that, in my humble, precludes a Putin involvement. If Putin wanted him dead he would be I would imagine.

  • John Baker

    May and cronies are testing their credibility to the limit and we can expect soon a major distraction once their case collapses in a heap.

    • Helen Callanan

      it will certainly be the case John Baker, though I strongly believe that that this whole ‘poisioning thing’ – to give it the importance it deserves..ahem – was put into the public domain as a detraction to elevate Therese May in the people’s eyes: The Prime Minister with a serious matter to sort out forthwith! So, should this case collapse in a heap, Johnson and May will go straight into the next distraction by using the age old trick of detraction………when will the people say a loud NO! ….and say ‘off with them!’

  • rwalker561

    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???

  • Neil

    What has the fact that the guy was a radio salesman got to do with anything? He might well have been a bin man or a paperboy, so what? Well done him for getting on in life. Incidentally I’ve been a paperboy and a bin man myself – does that preclude me from doing a competent job in higher positions? Bit of snobbery there, I think. Other than that, I’m enjoying reading your blog and I’m keeping an open mind. It might well have been Putin, but the UK government’s handling is disgraceful and there’s a lot so far that doesn’t add up. Maybe the government could have handled things better if they had fewer old etonians and more ex-paperboys and binmen in the Tory Party.

  • Maggie Phelan

    “The Skripal’s two guinea pigs and cat are dead”

    I wonder – when the SOCA team were supposedly all-over the Skripal property with a fine tooth comb… HOW did they miss the GPs and cat?

    I wonder who will be prosecuted for leaving the animals to dehydrate and die?

  • Amanda Darling

    I thought the guy flushed deep red. ANd flushes even more as the interview continues.

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