Knobs and Knockers 1316


What is left of the government’s definitive identification of Russia as the culprit in the Salisbury attack? It is a simple truth that Russia is not the only state that could have made the nerve agent: dozens of them could. It could also have been made by many non-state actors.

Motorola sales agent Gary Aitkenhead – inexplicably since January, Chief Executive of Porton Down chemical weapons establishment – said in his Sky interview that “probably” only a state actor could create the nerve agent. That is to admit the possibility that a non state actor could. David Collum, Professor of Organo-Chemistry at Cornell University, infinitely more qualified than a Motorola salesman, has stated that his senior students could do it. Professor Collum tweeted me this morning.

The key point in his tweet is, of course “if asked”. The state and corporate media has not asked Prof. Collum nor any of the Professors of Organic Chemistry in the UK. There simply is no basic investigative journalism happening around this case.

So given that the weapon itself is not firm evidence it was Russia that did it, what is Boris Johnson’s evidence? It turns out that the British government’s evidence is no more than the technique of smearing nerve agent on the door handle. All of the UK media have been briefed by “security sources” that the UK has a copy of a secret Russian assassin training manual detailing how to put nerve agent on door handles, and that given the nerve agent was found on the Skripals door handle, this is the clinching evidence which convinced NATO allies of Russia’s guilt.

As the Daily Mirror reported in direct quotes of the “security source”

“It amounts to Russia’s tradecraft manual on applying poison to door handles. It’s the smoking gun. It is strong proof that in the last ten years Russia has researched methods to apply poisons, including by using door handles. The significant detail is that these were the facts that helped persuade allies it could only be Russia that did this.”

Precisely the same government briefing is published by the Daily Mail in a bigger splash here, and reflected in numerous other mainstream propaganda outlets.

Two questions arise. How credible is the British government’s possession of a Russian secret training manual for using novichok agents, and how credible is it that the Skripals were poisoned by their doorknob.

To take the second question first, I see major problems with the notion that the Skripals were poisoned by their doorknob.

The first is this. After what Dame Sally Davis, Chief Medical officer for England, called “rigorous scientific analysis” of the substance used on the Skripals, the government advised those who may have been in contact to wash their clothes and wipe surfaces with warm water and wet wipes. Suspect locations were hosed down by the fire brigade.

But if the substance was in a form that could be washed away, why was it placed on an external door knob? It was in point of fact raining heavily in Salisbury that day, and indeed had been for some time.

Can somebody explain to me the scenario in which two people both touch the exterior door handle in exiting and closing the door? And if it transferred from one to the other, why did it not also transfer to the doctor who gave extensive aid that brought her in close bodily contact, including with fluids?

The second problem is that the Novichok family of nerve agents are instant acting. There is no such thing as a delayed reaction nerve agent. Remember we have been specifically told by Theresa May that this nerve agent is up to ten times more powerful than VX, the Porton Down developed nerve agent that killed Kim’s brother in 15 minutes.

But if it was on the doorknob, the last contact they could possibly have had with the nerve agent was a full three hours before it took effect. Not only that, they were well enough to drive, to walk around a shopping centre, visit a pub, and then – and this is the truly unbelievable bit – their central nervous systems felt in such good fettle, and their digestive systems so in balance, they were able to sit down and eat a full restaurant meal. Only after all that were they – both at precisely the same time despite their substantially different weights – suddenly struck down by the nerve agent, which went from no effects at all, to deadly, on an alarm clock basis.

This narrative simply is not remotely credible. Nerve agents – above all “military grade nerve agents” – were designed as battlefield weapons. They do not leave opponents fighting fit for hours. There is no description in the scientific literature of a nerve agent having this extraordinary time bomb effect. Here another genuine Professor describes their fast action in Scientific American:

Unlike traditional poisons, nerve agents don’t need to be added to food and drink to be effective. They are quite volatile, colourless liquids (except VX, said to resemble engine oil). The concentration in the vapour at room temperature is lethal. The symptoms of poisoning come on quickly, and include chest tightening, difficulty in breathing, and very likely asphyxiation. Associated symptoms include vomiting and massive incontinence. Victims of the Tokyo subway attack were reported to be bringing up blood. Kim Jong-nam died in less than 20 minutes. Eventually, you die either through asphyxiation or cardiac arrest.

If the nerve agent was on the door handle and they touched it, the onset of these symptoms would have occurred before they reached the car. They would certainly have not felt like sitting down to a good lunch two hours later. And they would have been dead three weeks ago. We all pray that Sergei also recovers.

The second part of the extraordinarily happy coincidence of the nerve agent being on the door handle, and the British government having a Russian manual on applying nerve agent to door handles, is whether the manual is real. It strikes me this is improbable – it rings far too much of the kind of intel they had on Iraqi WMD. It also allegedly dates from the last ten years, so Putin’s Russia, not the period of chaos, and the FSB is a pretty tight organisation in this period. MI6 penetration is just not that good.

A key question is of course how long the UK has had this manual, and what was its provenance. Another key question is why Britain failed to produce it to the OPCW – and indeed why it does not publish it now, with any identifying marks of the particular copy excluded, given it has widely publicised its existence and possession of it. If Boris Johnson wants to be believed by us, publish the Russian manual.

We also have to consider whether the FSB really publishes its secret assassination techniques in a manual. I attended, as other senior FCO staff, a number of MI6 training courses. One on explosives handling was at Fort Monckton, not too far from Salisbury. One in a very nondescript London office block was on bugging techniques. I recall seeing rigs set up to drill minute holes in walls, turning very slowly indeed. Many hours to get through the wall but almost no noise or vibration. It was where I learnt the government can listen to you through activating the microphone in your mobile phone, even when your phone is switched off. I recall javelin like directional microphones suspended from ceilings to point at distant targets, and a listening device that worked through a beam of infra-red light, but the target could foil by closing the curtains.

The point is that there were of course no manuals for this stuff, no manuals for any other secret MI6 techniques, and these things are not lightly written down.

I would add to this explanation that I lost all faith in the police investigation when it was taken out of the hands of the local police force and given to the highly politicised Metropolitan Police anti-terror squad. I suspect the explanation of the remarkably convenient (but physically impossible) evidence of the door handle method that precisely fits the “Russian manual” may lie there.

These are some of the problems I have with the official account of events. Boris lied about the certainty of the provenance of the nerve agent, and his fall back evidence is at present highly unconvincing. None of which proves it was not the Russian state that was responsible. But there is no convincing proof that it was, and there are several other possibilities. Eventually the glaring problems with the official narrative might be resolved, but what is plain is that Johnson and May have been premature and grossly irresponsible.

I shall post this evening on Johnson’s final claim, that only the Russians had motive.

Update: I have just listened to the released alleged phone conversation between Yulia Skripal in Salisbury Hospital and her cousin Viktoria, which deepens the mystery further. I should say that in Russian the conversation sounds perfectly natural to me. My concern is after the 30 seconds mark where Viktoria tells Yulia she is applying for a British visa to come and see Yulia.

Yulia replies “nobody will give you a visa”. Viktoria then tells Yulia that if she is asked if she wants Viktoria to visit, she should say yes. Yulia’s reply to this is along the lines of “that will not happen in this situation”, meaning she would not be allowed by the British to see Viktoria. I apologise my Russian is very rusty for a Kremlinbot, and someone might give a better translation, but this key response from Yulia is missing from all the transcripts I have seen.

What is there about Yulia’s situation that makes her feel a meeting between her and her cousin will be prevented by the British government? And why would Yulia believe the British government will not give her cousin a visa in the circumstance of these extreme family illnesses?


1,316 thoughts on “Knobs and Knockers

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  • flamingo

    Thank you Craig and all the more strength to your arm (and mind). I find it fascinating as Theresa May and her tacky manbag Boris stagger forward shouting at Russians and picking up their iotas from the Sunni princes of the Middle East. That Nordstream 2 gas pipeline sure has got them rattled and has mightily increased the value (and price) of people like May and Micron.

    Here is hoping that the EU will soon find a chance to collapse into a soft lounge and breath a sigh of relief as Brexit concludes. Will no one rid them of these troublesome pugilists.

  • fred

    However there is a very long list of people who were perceived to have betrayed Russia who met untimely deaths.

    I mean if you google “list russian assassinations” it does throw up over a million results.

    If you want to convince me this time it wasn’t them I’d want to see hard evidence it wasn’t them not a slight chance it might have been someone else.

      • fred

        In Chechnya, the assassination of enemies of Russia is now so common that it scarcely bears comment, and in 2004 two Russian agents were arrested and sentenced to death in Qatar for the killing of exiled Chechen separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev. The Russian team hunted him down and planted a bomb in his car. The Qatari court ruled that the killing was sanctioned by “the Russian leadership”. The men were not executed but sent back to Russia following promises from the Kremlin that they would be imprisoned. Rumour has it that they were decorated for the assassination operation.

        https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2006/11/russias_new_cold_war/

        Russia is in fact in the grip of vicious gangsters, ripping off the country with a freedom even the most ardent deregulatory neo-con in Washington could not conceive.

        In the West, the cases of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, shot dead in her apartment block, and ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned by polonium in London last year, hit the headlines.

        But in Russia, there was nothing exceptional about those killings. It’s long been understood that if you publish material that embarrasses or annoys those in power, you’re likely to come to a sticky end.

        https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2007/05/putins_russia/

        Plenty more where those came from.

    • Ian

      Many assassinations are Russian mafia activity. One of the inventors of Novichok claimed to have provided material for a mafia assassination.

    • N_

      “Google” and “million” indeed. Nice try, but don’t give up the day job, Mr “wants hard evidence”. Can you name a single traitor whom Russia jailed for years, swapped for its own, and then whacked after he got settled in the country that had recruited him? What would be the point? Can you name a single person that Russia whacked using a nerve agent?

      As I understand it, there have been a total of two assassination attempts using nerve agents:

      1) by the Znazis, against Khaled Meshaal – they got caught and had to hand over an antidote
      2) against Kim Jong-Nam, possibly by North Korea

      Doing an assassination the way the Znazs whacked Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai is much quicker and clearly it’s much more certain than whatever method was used in Salisbury, where if we believe the poshboys’ publicists nobody is actually dead yet.

    • Stu

      Fred a demand for a negative to be proven is wonderfully in keeping with your intellectual contributions to this site!

      Bravo!

    • Tom Welsh

      Thank goodness no one has ever been murdered in the USA. Least of all presidents or civil rights leaders. Or journalists.

    • James Charles

      No one was affected by a ‘nerve agent poison’?
      ‘ . . .   he began his letter to the Times . . . with;“may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury” ‘
      “ The Times published a letter from Stephen Davies (Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust) on the 16th March. ‘Sir, further to your report (‘Poison Exposure Leaves Nearly 40 needing Treatment’), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None has had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.’ ”

    • mark

      How can they prove they DIDN’T do it?
      Can YOU prove you didn’t do it?
      All Intelligence organisations assassinate people. There are 2,700 documented targeted assassinations by Israel, some using nerve agents (and stolen British passports.) There were 600 assassination attempts against Castro. MI6 attempted to assassinate Gaddafi in 1994. Dr. David Kelly, Jill Dando, Princess Diana?
      So you have to fall back on CUI BONO?
      What does the Evil Vlad have to gain from killing a washed up, totally irrelevant, pensioned off, pardoned ex traitor living quietly in Wiltshire for the past 8 years? If he hated him that much, why wait till now? Why not do it when he was in Russia? Why release him from jail if he hated him that much? And why do it in such a high profile way, guaranteed to produce an international incident? Why not bump him off and make it look like a mugging (Seth Rich) or a road accident (Princess Diana)?
      So who DOES benefit? What purpose does this serve?
      1. It contributes to the general campaign of vilification and demonization against Russia in general and Putin in particular. 2. It serves to disrupt and delegitimise the Russian elections. 3. It can be used to disrupt, and ideally cancel, the World Cup. 4. It can be used to support the renewal of sanctions, which are up for renewal. 5. It can be used in the campaign to sabotage the Nordstream 2 pipeline construction, and provide a market worth tens of billions for expensive US fracked LNG. 6. It can be sued to demand more military spending, and more military deployments on Russia’s borders. 7. It can be sued to demand that RT be banned from broadcasting. 8. It is in line with US threats to “make Russia pay a price” for frustrating US regime change efforts in Syria and Ukraine.
      This is like a wish list for the Neocons and Russia Haters. They have a great deal to gain from this. Putin? Nothing.
      Who did it? Hard to say, but probably our very own spooks, MI5/6, with May and Bojo as willing participants. There was none of the confusion and bewilderment you might expect from an innocent party, no double checking the facts. Just a slick PR machine moving smoothly into gear. The prime target of this may have been Corbyn. MI5/6 has a long history of targeting left wing politicians, journalists, trade unionists, going back to Harold Wilson, or if you prefer it, the Zinoviev Letter. They are terrified of a Corbyn premiership, which suddenly seems a real possibility. May is the leader of a weak minority government trying without much success to make something coherent out of Brexit. Trump, Brexit, the AFD, Orban, the Italian elections – the Deep State is terrified, and will do literally ANYTHING to get what it wants.

  • barrie singleton

    Since first standing for parliament 2005 under ‘Spoil Party Games’ I became steadily more aware that party games are played under the aegis of ‘Westminster the Enemy’. Blessed by Established Church, and glossed by magical monarchy, ‘Westminster’ (edifice and ethos) is our enemy within.

  • Ian

    You only need the logical fallacy that it was developed in Russia, therefore they must be the source. This is so illogical and completely undermines serious consideration of anything else the government may say.

  • TonyT16

    Great work, Craig.

    What I cannot work out is the vice-like stranglehold Westminster has on the UK media. Do they have daily strategy meetings telling all our media what to highlight and what to sweep under the carpet? Whether it is the front page of the Times, the Daily Mail or an LBC phone-in – it is all the same claptrap again and again – usually even similar choice of words, reading like children’s homework stolen from Wikipedia and Google searches. How come all our media come out with unquestioning support for Theresa May’s, Boris Johnson’s and Gavin Williamson’s collective garbage – especially after the experience of Iraq WMD and the chaos we caused.

    In past times journalists and editors had sensitive noses for a story which stank to high heaven. Yet as far as this fiasco is concerned there is hardly a squeak from anywhere. Even more watertight than 2003’s run-up to the Iraq War, and so much of the same approach as that of 2003.

    Lord Reith must be turning in his grave to know his beloved BBC now qualifies for less credibility than Radio Moscow did in USSR times.

    • Silvio

      “… the vice-like stranglehold Westminster has on the UK media”

      Could it be the same stranglehold the late German journalist Udo Ulfkotte exposed in his book Gekaufte Journalisten (English translation: Bought Journalists) before sadly passing away from a heart attack at the age of 56?

      Quote below is from a transcript of an interview Ulfkotte gave to RT (note his comment about British journalists in 3rd paragraph):

      I was just imagining in my car while I was driving to this interview, I just try to work out in my brain what would have happened if I had written a pro-Russian article, in the Frankfurter Algemeine. Well, … we were all educated to write pro-European, pro-American, but please not pro-Russian. … But this is not what I understand for democracy, for press freedom, I am very sorry for that. …

      [6:30] Germany is still a kind of a colony of the United States, you’ll see that in many points; like for example, the majority of Germany do not want to have nukes in our country, but we still have American nukes; so, we are still a kind of an American colony, and, being a colony, it is very easy to approach young journalists through (and what is very important here is) transatlantic organizations. All journalists from respected and big German newspapers, magazines, radio stations, TV stations, they are all members or guests of those big transatlantic organizations, and in these transatlantic organizations you are approached to be pro-American, and … they invite you for seeing the United States, they pay for that, they pay all your expenses and everything. So, you are bribed, you get more and more corrupt, because they make you good contacts. … So, you make friends, you think they are your friends and cooperate with them. They ask you, ‘will you do me this favor,’ ‘will you do me that favor,’ so your brain is more and more brainwashed, through these guys. …

      Is this only the case with German journalists? No, I think it is especially the case with British journalists, because they have a much closer relationship (my emphasis /Silvio). It is especially the case with Israeli journalists. Of course with French journalists. … It is the case for Australians, [with] journalists from New Zealand, from Taiwan, well, there is many countries, … like Jordan for example. …

      [9:17] Sometimes the intelligence agencies, they come to your office, and want you to write an article. … I just remember [for example] that the German foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst – it is just a sister organization of the Central Intelligence Agency, see it was founded by the American intelligence agency — … came to my office, and they wanted me to write an article about Libya and about Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. … They gave me all these secret informations, and they just wanted me to sign the article with my name. I did that. It was published in the Frankfurter Algemeine, … it was about how he secretly tried to build a poison gas factory, … it was a story that was printed worldwide days later, but I had no information on that [the CIA wrote it].

      [11:25] A very good example [what happens] if you say no [to the CIA]: … So [regarding the particular employee who said no], what happened is that he lost his job.

      [12:40]Six times my house was searched, … I have [had] three house attacks, [but] I have no children, so … it’s worse for the truth [for other journalists, whose family can be threatened, not only themselves].”

      Transcript with an embedded video of the RT interview with Udo Ulfkotte at: http://theantimedia.com/leading-german-journalist-admits-wealthy-americans-paid-support-war-play-dumb/

      • lysias

        Yes, when I read Tony’s question, I immediately thought of Ulfkotte’s book, which I have read. There are also a number of books about the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird for managing domestic U.S. media. One is entited “The Mighty Wurlitzer”.

    • Tony_0pmoc

      TonyT16,

      There is very strong evidence, that all the mainstream media in “The West” is heavily controlled by a Central CIA source, and has been for a considerably long time. The same would also appear to be true of the vast majority of Senior Western Politicians. However some major divisions have occurred over the last few years, within The American power elite (Deep State). This has been revealed most obviously, not just by the DNC/Clinton vs Russian/Trump propaganda nonsense, but also by competing American proxies fighting each other in Syria, as if the CIA is controlling one lot, and The Pentagon controlling another lot, with The Whitehouse, and The President, having little direct control.

      It is all a complete shambles, and on the evidence we see here, the CIA, together with its British supposedly joint intelligence services, are losing the plot, as if they are all on some weird drug developed at Porton Down or its US equivalent. I can’t believe even crack cocaine could have this effect. It must be something very much stronger.

      Even the readership of The Daily Mail, is beginning to notice these things.

      I have absolutely no idea what is likely to happen next, but the situation becomes extremely dangerous, when both the media, and the Government completely lose credibility in te eyes of the vast majority of the public.

      Trust is essential for any kind of relationship to work.

      Tony

    • Tom Welsh

      The government’s “vice-like stranglehold” on the media works much the same as in the USA, Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I think I can explain it with two short quotations – neither of them at all recent.

      “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one”.
      – A.J. Liebling (“Do you belong in journalism?”, The New Yorker, 14 May 1960)

      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”.
      – Upton Sinclair

      Once the owners of the media have been persuaded to toe the government line, their employees must either do what they are told or change professions.

      • Tom Welsh

        On second thoughts, I cannot resist this fuller explanation.

        ‘There is no such a thing in America as an independent press, unless it is out in country towns. You are all slaves. You know it, and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to express an honest opinion. If you expressed it, you would know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid $150 for keeping honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for doing similar things. If I should allow honest opinions to be printed in one issue of my paper, I would be like Othello before twenty-four hours: my occupation would be gone. The man who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the street hunting for another job. The business of a New York journalist is to distort the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread, or for what is about the same — his salary. You know this, and I know it; and what foolery to be toasting an “Independent Press”! We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are jumping-jacks. They pull the string and we dance. Our time, our talents, our lives, our possibilities, are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes’.
        – John Swinton (1829–1901), Scottish-American journalist, newspaper publisher, and orator. https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Swinton http://www.rense.com/general20/yes.htm

        • Tom Welsh

          Multiply Mr Swinton’s sums of money by at least 100 to get present-day equivalents. Thus $150 would be worth at least $15,000 in today’s money – probably more.

  • Robson

    The whole thing sounds like a Goon show script. Where is Peter Sellers when we need him.

  • teganjovanka

    Operation Mass Appeal was an operation set up by the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in the runup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was a campaign aimed at planting stories in the media about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.[1]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mass_Appeal

    I wonder what they’re calling the operation this time?

  • Xavi

    Nice one, Craig. It pongs to highest heaven. As regards the MSM, who couldn’t amplify the official narrative loud enough or often enough, Mike’s comment on your last blog (April 5, 10:03am) could not be more true:

    “Now the state broadcaster is doing what it always does when awkward questions arise – letting the story drop. This is a managed climbdown by the Maybot and her clowns, ably assisted by the BBC. A truly impartial news organisation would hound Bully Boris to find out why he lied. If this was Corbyn it would be the top story for days. Time and again the Blairite state broadcaster soft-soaps the Tories while turning its fire on Corbyn. Now they are protecting a dangerous idiot of a Foreign Secretary in the hope that the Tories avoid a wipe-out in the local elections. The Skripal debacle proves, once again, that the BBC is an arm of the state.”

    Deeply dishonest partisans, masquerading as impartial moralists.

  • Bob Dixon

    The spy manual thing is laughable!

    Are UK GOV seriously suggesting that no other “actor” could think of putting poison on a doorhandle? The very fact that they have a copy on the manual means that other countries could have a copy of it and therefore be able to read about the “doorhandle” technique.

    I really didnt think what they had was going to be more ridiculous than the Saddam WMD evidence………….how wrong i was!

    • Julian

      Too right! If it wasn’t so dangerous it would be laughable. It is like the Goon Show does Espionage.

  • bj

    It is possible the Skripals have been fine from that start, and –with all due repsect if this turns out to be false– that we have to consider the possibility that they are complicit in this whole affair.

    • Christine

      Sorry to diverge but I’m upset that that the gorgeous cat of the Scripa’ls has been put to sleep because it was “malnourished” Disgusting when there are charities for needy animals!

  • Sky Skeptic

    Craig, why did Sky News have TWO cameras filming the interviewee from almost identical positions in the room? Surely they would need only one filming the interviewer and one filming the interviewee from opposing angles. Their explanation makes no sense, there would be have to have been THREE cameras in the room – one superfluous. Also why use the footage from the second camera causing the continuity problem you identified.

    Very fishy.

  • John A

    Assuming they did come into contact with the chemical agent via the door knob, and assuming they were not wearing gloves, they must surely have had some kind of hand contact with the staff in the pub and restaurant. If they paid by cash, the notes or coins would have been passed to a bar person, waiter/waitress. If paying by card, they would have had to key in a PIN and handle the hand held card terminal, the menu at Zizzi, the cutlery and plates, the table itself. They paid to park the car. Again, they must have transferred some stuff from their hands at some point.
    I remember years ago reading about a CIA manual that describes how to kill a person in a lift shaft to make it look like an accident. Then at some point Sterling Moss fell down a lift shaft but survived. Was he a CIA target? Or did the CIA come under suspicion?

    • Agent Green

      Also a supposedly military grade nerve agent would kill in minutes with the smallest of exposure. So if someone had touched it on a door handle they would be dead by the time they got into their car. Or at least totally incapacitated.

      And yet the Skripals drove around for hours, had lunch and then apparently collapsed. Clearly a miracle.

      • James Charles

        No one was affected by a ‘nerve agent poison’?
        ‘ . . .   he began his letter to the Times . . . with;“may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury” ‘
        “ The Times published a letter from Stephen Davies (Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust) on the 16th March. ‘Sir, further to your report (‘Poison Exposure Leaves Nearly 40 needing Treatment’), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None has had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.’ ”

  • John Hindley

    Funny, but I’m sure I vaguely remember poisoned door handles being cited some years ago in some actual or supposed Islamist plot to poison people so, whether or not the idea is in a Russian tradecraft manual, the idea was already out there!

    • bj

      And besides, if the supposed manual was in the possession of British authorities, that unfortunately just broadens the range of those that might have made use of this ‘technique’. I all seriousness, when in the possession of such a potent killer, of course door knobs and the like, anything that a person might grab, is among the first that comes up, in ANYBODY’s mind. Don’t need a manual for that.

  • Barden Gridge

    Door handles, eh? Could only be the Russians.

    Oh, hold on…
    http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-chemical-warfare-not-new-to-us-2001oct07-story.html

    ” Bhagwan Shri Rashneesh
    In 1984, followers of an eccentric, wealthy Indian guru named Bhagwan Shri Rashneesh in Dalles, Oregon, sprinkled salmonella bacteria on drinking glasses, doorknobs, urinal handles, produce in supermarkets and salad bars in restaurants in the hope of fixing a local election.”

    “Minnesota Patriots Council
    In 1994, two members of the Minnesota Patriots Council, an anti-government militia group, were the first Americans arrested under the 1989 Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act for creating and stockpiling enough ricin — an extremely toxic protein found in castor beans. … Members of the group talked about killing law enforcement andIRS officers by spreading the poisonous mixture on door handles, or by putting it in victims’ shoes or cars…”

    And probably dozens more examples in real life and fiction.

  • Jenny Kynes

    Thank you for this definitive information. What a difference it makes to us all

  • Squeeth

    You subscribe to the Digger “for the sports section”? Oh really Craig….;O)

  • Pyotr Grozny

    Given that the Skripals are still alive after being poisoned via a door handle we can only assume that if the Russians had tried the door handle technique they would know it wasn’t very effective, so the existence of this manual would point away from Russian involvement!

  • Jiusito

    A useful rule of thumb for us amateurs might be: Could you imagine this scenario in a book by John le Carre – or a film about James Bond? If the latter rather than the former, it has most likely been invented to sound convincing to the average Brit.

    Ben Wallace is currently being quoted on BBC Radio – the government minister who recently compared Jeremy Corbyn to Kim Philby. These people have zero credibility.

  • Charles

    The frighteningly disturbing conclusion and only logical conclusion is that the poison on the door handle was not what poisoned the Skripals. It may well be what is responsible for DS Bailey’s predicament.

    Also, i(if you believe the Skripals were poisoned by the door handle) the Top Secret assassination technique of smearing door handles, as Craig points out, has the deficiency where 2 people leave and close the door behind then. Only 1 person is likely to touch the door handle.

    So was this an indiscriminate assassination attempt? Did it not matter who the target was as long as Russia were implicated?

  • BGD

    I have to sales the ‘sales agent’, ’eminently more qualified’ stuff comes across as incredibly shitty and negatively impacts the desire to read the other more pertinent content.

    • labougie

      Craig’s negativity was intentional, I’m sure. Like him, I am mind-boggled that a jumped-up salesman is deemed to be the right person to lead Anglo-American research into and production of the most murderously lethal chemistry the planet has ever seen. The fact that you aren’t says rather a lot about you. Sniff!

      • bj

        Well, Motorola is a large defense contractor. As such I am sure they need spokespersons that can handle questions concerning ‘sensitive’ matters, or those that can be entrusted to regurgitate scripted (dis)information.

      • Tom Welsh

        Please bite your tongue! In today’s “Western” (i.e. American) culture, the salesman is the most potent, central figure. He is the one who brings in “revenue”, which enables one to build up towering piles of dosh, which is the fundamental purpose of life.

      • BGD

        Labougie, oh dear, what a muppet: “the right person to lead Anglo-American research”

        CEO are administrators who have overall responsibility but design overall strategy and delegate within the organisation to specialists to carry out localised activities. The CEO of Proctor and Gamble is an ex-brand manager, Pfizer an accountant.

        Leave thinking to other people, eh?

        I see I had a typo in the original post. It’s just bad form, imho, to take this approach with such a serious issue and I believe many people of good-will will read it and instantly form a negative assumption about the good intentions of the writer.

    • Stu

      “I have to sales the ‘sales agent’, ’eminently more qualified’ stuff comes across as incredibly shitty and negatively impacts the desire to read the other more pertinent content.”

      I think the issue is that a head of a chemical weapons lab should have some background in chemistry.

  • Canexpat

    Great work Craig! As with so many events, I fear that the general public will swallow the MSM’s narrative whole. Most just don’t want to know that they have been lied to their entire lives. Breaking the loyalty of a typical ‘liberal’ middle class Englishman to the BBC and Guardian is a Herculean task and even when presented with overwhelming evidence most choose to believe in the virtue of ‘Auntie’ and the Graun.

    Zerohedge has a good article.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-04-04/three-most-important-aspects-skripal-case-and-where-they-might-be-pointing

    Thanks again to all the intelligent and informed commenters on this site. Sanity is not statistical.

  • Madeira

    Interesting, perhaps revealing, “information” presented in the (Irish) Sun about the “Russian lab” that supposedly has been identified as the source of the nerve agent:

    “Sources claimed that they are not 100 per cent certain on the location but they have a high degree of confidence. . . This comes after The Sun exclusively revealed that the Yasenevo lab was one of the few labs that manufacture Novichok. The lab, run by Russia’s SVR spy service on Moscows [sic] outskirts, is one of a handful of labs in the world that produces the dangerous nerve agent, security sources claim.”

    So now they are saying that there are a “handful of labs in the world” that produce Novichok. Doesn’t this completely undercut the case that Russia is the only conceivable source?

    • LenkaPenka

      The whole hospital issue has been shrouded in secrecy.

      It may well be recovery of both the Policeman and Yulia Skripal was much sooner than we were told, but were kept in for ‘observation’ for some time, arguably to spin the narrative further.

      That she apparently has no public voice (not even an utterance) and denied access to both family and consular facilities make this even stink further. Surprised the media has not been trying to get an ‘exclusive’ with her… it seems like they aren’t even trying.

      Extremely docile media in the UK, heck it took the Zhanna Nemtsova (no fan of Putin) at the DW to even ask any direct questions. In the UK absolutely NOTHING has been asked.

      • bj

        One is rightful to express doubts, by now, that they are, or ever have been, in the hospital. You don’t even need to be a conspiracy-theorist for having such reservations.

    • Tom Welsh

      A confidential security source has assured me that the Skripals were poisoned by the CIA. So everyone can stop arguing and go home.

      • Tom Welsh

        Actually, if you look at the Comments section, you will find that the overwhelming majority of their readers think the articles are garbage.

        • frances

          I have been following, if that is the right word for it, the comments in the DM since about 2009.
          I have seen an extraordinary shift from almost absolute belief in DM’s daily articles towing the party line to about 40 percent voicing outright scorn and disparagement on any given day.
          The tide has changed, whether it will sweep those in power away remains to be seen. I can say this latest idiotic litany of the Russians did it gets comments such as,”Are you sure it wasn’t Colonel Mustard? Possibly in the library??”
          I am somewhat encouraged, for if readers of the DM can be turned toward the truth in such numbers we may have a chance at change.

          • Squeeth

            I admire your fortitude; Ibegan to comment regularly about two months ago, partly because they’ll have me (unlike the Graun) and partly because the inderelictependent site is ghastly. I’ve found that on matters adverting to morality like not starving pensioners to death, the ratio of civilised to fascist comments look to be about 1:1.5 (lots of old people commenting?) on recent events like scapegoating Corbyn about 1:2 and about anything to do with state racist or anti-muslim rabble rousing 1:5, much of these comments feeling phoney though.

  • Maureen

    I’m incredibly grateful to you Craig for providing this sane voice in an Alice In Wonderland world.
    I’m surprised that Aitkenhead said there was no antidote for novichoks and that the injured parties had not been given any.Not that it was too late to give antidotes, but there were none to give.So Yulia and the policeman have recovered spontaneously.
    I asked Dan Kaszeta at Bellingcat (Iknow I know, but someone has to do it) and he said atropine and a few others are antidotes.Whats going on here?
    So if this was carried out by professionals from the Russian state, using highly developed military grade(whatever the hell that is)lethal nerve agent, how could these people still be alive?

    • Tom Welsh

      ” Aitkenhead said there was no antidote for novichoks…”

      How does he know? Since Porton Down does not have any novichok, and (God forbid) no Western nation has made any… how on earth can they know if any antidote exists?

    • Alasdair Macdonald.

      The fact that Yulia and the police officer have made some kind of recovery suggests that their immune systems have responded to this foreign material in their bodies and so it is reasonable to expect that research will be able to identify the mechanism/process within the body by which this recovery has occurred and to produce antidotes which mimic the natural processes.

      Of course, it is possible, that Porton Down or some ‘friendly’ state has also been producing ‘novichoks or similar’, has tested them on animals and developed an antidote, which has been administered to the Skripals and the police officer. Perhaps, due to age, some pre-existing other condition, or size of dosage, Mr Skripal has not responded to the same extent.

      I am, of course, only speculating. I have a degree in physics and know a bit (no more) about other branches of science, which perhaps gives me some credibility, but even I would say, ‘Not a lot’. However, I think my speculations are as plausible as those being put out by the media.

  • Charles

    “We all pray that Sergei also recovers.”

    Absolutely!

    But if things don’t go so well and he dies; how long do you think before a Public Inquiry is announced that will take over the role of Coroner and Inquest?

  • steve

    re doorknobs, it reminds me of ‘electric koolaid acid test’ where lsd was smeared onto the door handles at a grateful dead gig, in the 60’s

    • Tom Welsh

      Don’t get me started on the vile CIA experiments with LSD and the deaths they caused.

      All started because the US military attache in Switzerland didn’t know the difference between milligrams and kilograms. (Honest – you couldn’t make this up). So the CIA concludeed that the USSR had just bought up most of the world supply of LSD, when they just had a few doses.

      “Es ist nichts schrecklicher als eine tätige Unwissenheit”.
      (“There is nothing more terrible than ignorance in action”).
      – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  • J Galt

    I’m beginning to wonder who the intended victims of this ludicrous shitstorm really are.

    Since it’s looking increasingly likely that May, Johnson and the rest of their motley crew have been led up the garden path and are not going to come out of this well, could the “Hard Brexit” shower really be the target?

  • Alasdair Macdonald.

    Thank you for this.

    It is the kind of dissection of a case which any half competent defence lawyer could undertake. It is not about providing an alternative explanation, but about testing the rigour and coherence of the ‘narrative’ being presented to us.

    The fact that the ‘narrative’ is being regularly changed and parts of it deleted entirely suggests that it is being made up as it goes along and that the real story is being hidden by these diversionary tactics.

    Fortunately within the online media we have people who are capable of doing things that most of the mainstream media are steadfastly against doing. It is NOT the case that the mainstream journalists are incompetent – they are pretty competent at doing what they are employed to do, which is to present the ‘narrative’ that the wealthy and powerful want presented.

    “Red Rosa now
    Has vanished, too
    She told the poor
    What life is about
    And so the rich
    Have rubbed her out.”

    Bertholt Brecht

    • N_

      @Alasdair – Have you heard Dagmar Krause’s version of the song “Red Rosa”?

      “She told the poor the truth with such persistence,
      The rich removed her from this existence”

      She did an album “Supply and Demand”, all words by Brecht.

      • Alasdair Macdonald.

        N_,

        I had not heard of Dagmar Krause, nor of her songs. Thank you for letting me know about this.

        The first time I was in Berlin, I was strolling along one of the canal towpaths when I tripped over what I thought was a lump of metal some eejit had left on the ground. When I bent to pick it up and shift it, I found that it was fixed to the ground and was, in fact, a memorial to Rosa Luxembourg!

  • Bunkum

    I thought the door knob was used as an explanation for the detective that was also poisoned as 1st to the scene was changed to 1st to the house. All part of the pantomime that’s falling apart at the seams.

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