Probable Western Responsibility for Skripal Poisoning 635

UPDATE: Stupidly I had forgotten this vital confirmation from Channel 4 News (serial rebel Alex Thomson) of the D Notice in place on mention of Pablo Miller.

Back then I did not realise what I now know, that the person being protected was Pablo Miller, colleague in both MI6 then Orbis Intelligence of Christopher Steele, author of the fabrications of the Trump/Russia golden shower dossier. That the government’s very first act on the poisoning was to ban all media mention of Pablo Miller makes it extremely probable that this whole incident is related to the Trump dossier and that Skripal had worked on it, as I immediately suspected. The most probable cause is that Skripal – who you should remember had traded the names of Russian agents to Britain for cash – had worked on the dossier with Miller but was threatening to expose its lies for cash.

ORIGINAL POST: This comment from Clive Ponting, doyen of British whistleblowers, appeared on my website and he has now given me permission to republish it under his full name:

I have been reading the blogs for some time but this is my first post. Like Craig I was a senior civil servant but in the ministry of defence not the fco. I had plenty of dealings with all three intelligence agencies. It seems to me that the reason none of the MSM are doing any investigating/reporting of the Salisbury affair, apart from official handouts, is that the government have slapped a D-Notice over the whole incident and it is not possible to report that a notice has been issued.
Here is another theory as to what happened. The Russians pardoned Skripal and allowed him to leave (spy agencies have an understanding that agents will always be swapped after an interval – it’s the only protection they have and helps recruitment). In the UK Skripal would have been thoroughly debriefed by MI6 and MI5 (his ex-handler lives near Salisbury). If at some point they discovered that Skripal was giving them false information, perhaps he was told to do so by the FSB as a condition of his release, lives may have been endangered/lost. If he also was also involved in the ‘golden showers’ dossier then elements in the US would have a reason to act as well. The whole incident was an inside job not to kill him, hence the use of BZ, but to give him a warning and a punishment. The whole thing is being treated as though the authorities know exactly what went on but have to cover it up.


I meant to add that the policeman who ‘just happened’ to be around was almost certainly the special branch ‘minder’ who was keeping Yulia under surveillance. The media are not allowed to mention the existence of a D notice.

Those of us who have been in the belly of the beast and have worked closely with the intelligence services, really do know what they and the British government are capable of. They are not “white knights”.

I would add it has been very plain from day one that there is a D notice on Pablo Miller.

635 thoughts on “Probable Western Responsibility for Skripal Poisoning

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  • Reg

    One more thing.

    How is it that Russia can clear up the site of an alleged major chemical attack in Syria in days, yet Salisbury will ‘apparently’ take months to clear up? Where are the bodies in Syria from the chemical attack? How exactly do Syria/Russia remove contamination from the blood samples of the alleged victims of the chemical attack?
    It is not credible that the Russian/Syrians could remove all the contamination from a major chemical weapons facility in a few days, they know this is untrue as they suggested Salisbury will take months to clear up.

    The other problem is this, where are the symptoms of a chemical attack in the video?

    Chlorine gas is an irritant and leads to bloodshot eyes coughing and kills (inefficiently) by asphyxia, it is non persistent but will lead to long term symptoms in a sufficient dose.
    Phosgene, more deadly with the victims lungs filling with water and coughing
    Mustard gas is a blistering agent so would expect bloodshot eyes, possibly blindness and again coughing and possibly coughing up blood. All of the above will cause permanent lung damage if in sufficient dose.

    Nerve agents would be expected to produce

    “Runny nose and eyes, Small pupils or blurry vision, Coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, or shortness of breath, Nausea and vomiting, Abdominal pain or diarrhoea, Fatigue, headache, or sweating, Muscle twitching or a seizure.” Increased exposure will result in paralysis.

    I do not see these symptoms in the video from the hospital? To me the children do not even have bloodshoot eyes or blistered skin from more traditional chemical agents or the symptons of a nerve agent such as seizures vomiting, coughing and shrunken pupils and blurred vision (as the children do not seem to have a problem seeing)?

    Why only give 24 hours to respond?
    Surly if an organisation only gives you 24 hrs to respond, they do not want a response and is using this is a pretext for a course of action they have already agreed?

    • Hagar


      The lilly has well and truly been gilded in Salisbury.

      Sergei Skripal would have enough nous to know he had been got at, and would have taken remedial action to protect his daughter and himself.
      Would you not notice if you had something wet on your hands, when you were not handling any liquids?

      Were the Skripals about to blow the whistle on a person, or government?

      Has Julian Assange’s situation anything to do with this?

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Reg April 29, 2018 at 12:46
      ‘When did you stop beating your wife? You have two minutes to reply, or you’re nicked.’

  • Sharp Ears

    Jonathan Cook tells it like it is on the OPCW meeting on the ‘Douma attack’:

    The West Closes its Ears to Douma Testimony
    April 28th, 2018
    The response from the US, UK and France to a briefing on Thursday at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague was perverse, to say the least. Russia had brought 17 witnesses from Douma who stated that there had been no chemical weapons attack there earlier this month – the pretext for an illegal air strike on Syria by the three western states.

    The witnesses, a mix of victims and the doctors who treated them, told accounts that confirmed a report provided last week from Douma by British reporter Robert Fisk – a report, it should be noted, that has been almost entirely blanked by the western media. According to the testimony provided at the OPCW, the victims shown in a video from the site of the alleged attack were actually suffering from the effects of inhaling dust after a bombing raid, not gas.’


    • Paul Barbara

      @ Sharp Ears April 29, 2018 at 13:14
      What would be very useful is if a lawyer, Barrister or QC wrote a letter re the illegality of acting on such one-sided allegations, without properly evaluating their allegations, and refusing to check out the opposition’s counter-allegations and defence against original allegations, and getting mass co-signers, then taking up full page ads in all major newspapers.
      I don’t know if any lawyer readers or commentators on this Blog could arrange such a project (of course, worded better!)?

      • james

        paul, i think it is fairly obvious to anyone paying attention here that the side that opted for the missile attacks based on white helmet videos – a rush to judgment if you will – have taken an approach that is fairly clear to understand.. it is without proper process – the very same approach taken in the skripal affair where russia was guilty before any investigation started… i think most people can see thru this – guilty before any proof – approach to justice is taken.. the same approach was taken in 2003 in the lead up to the war on iraq.. no proof needed… it is the state of the worlds ””justice”” system as far as the usa-uk and france are concerned – today..

        getting some lawyer to take it apart is unnecessary… it is fairly self explanatory and clear for anyone to see.. guilty, regardless of a lack of facts or anything to substantiate any of it..

        • Paul Damascene

          Or, James, the White Helmets video was made precisely to provide the (rushed) basis for an attack.

          • james

            indeed paul.. whether it is the chicken or the egg, or the uk or the white helmet videos and who is leading, i suspect since the uk pays such good money for those videos, the uk wants to make sure that the military contractors and weapons companies, not to mention the uks saudi headchopper friends – are all looked after…

      • Paul Damascene

        Paul, you may recall that Labour’s Tom Watson commissioned a legal opinion from a distinguished expert in international law from Oxford. That opinion was utterly devastating to every aspect of the legal justification that the government put forward.

        • Paul Barbara

          @ Paul Damascene April 29, 2018 at 20:34
          I don’t know about that case, but one expert is one thing; a battery of QC’s, Barristers and Lawyers taking out an ad in all major papers would be a whole new kettle of fish.
          And cost is no problem – these guys are rolling in it. What excuse could their peers make for not signing – maybe they would like to get out an alternative multi-signature ad justifying the government’s actions?

      • N_

        It’s unlawful to use force against another state except in self-defence or with Security Council authorisation.

      • N_

        I disagree with you, Paul. The question of whether there is enough evidence to justify the British bombing of a foreign country assumes that it is the white man’s burden, and in particular that it is the poshboy British white man’s burden, to decide according to British legal procedures whether it is lawful to bomb a foreign country. But in the absence of any self-defence motive the said poshboy regime does NOT have that right. With “critics” assuming it does, does it need friends?

        • Paul Barbara

          @ N_ April 29, 2018 at 23:21
          I don’t understand your position. The multi-signature letter would be to castigate the government’s actions; if any refused to sign, they should be asked to sign an alternative legal assessment that what the British government (and the other toerags) did was perfectly legal, and so make themselves look like the prats they would be.
          As the issue is so clear cut, all it needs is a core of decent lawyers and QC’s to start the ball rolling.
          Would it make a difference? I don’t know, but it is worth a try to any lawyer that respects human life more than filthy lucre.

    • Paul Damascene

      Sharp ears–a point that I’m not sure has clearly emerged is that it would not just be a question of “believing” the purported victims–at a session of the OPCW it should be obvious (and the fact that it wasn’t mentioned is glaring) that they could be tested (ask the Skripals if you can find them) and the absence of a chemical agent could be authoritatively established. Impugning their credibility while they are testifying before the OPCW is doubly outrageous.

      • Paul Barbara

        @ Paul Damascene April 29, 2018 at 20:41
        Good point! The pro-government ‘witnesses’, and the White Helmets and their ‘witnesses, could be given lie detector tests.
        Lie detector tests are not perfect, but they are good enough to have been used by police forces around the world for yonks.
        And, though it won’t happen, a**holes like May & Johnson should also undergo one. I know the argument that socio/psychopaths don’t respond to lie detectors, but I don’t buy it – they will slip up.

        • Paul Damascene

          Well, in Bojo’s case the test is both simpler and more authoritative:

          Did his lips move?

  • Garth Carthy

    Hello Craig,
    The moderators of the “Independent online” seem to “having kittens” about this Skripal poisoning affair. If you so much as mention the dreaded “D” notice or that the West could be culpable, they immediately remove your post.
    It’s quite amusing but also quite sad and chilling.

  • Mary Paul

    Erm, re references to using BZ on the Skripals, I thought that had been discounted.

      • Mary Paul

        Well I watched the early eye witnesses I reviewed on TV and the symptoms were much more like a novichok virus than BV and someone here recently went back and did the same thing and came to the same conclusion, particularly with reference to Yulias symptoms. (Tom someone?) Also the OPCW confirmed they found a novichok type virus in the Skripals samples with a verifiable sequence to confirm they were samples taken from the Skripals.

        . And it came out, after the Russians revealed that the lab in Switzerland asked to test by the OPC also found BV , that this was routinely added as a control to samples outsourced for testing by OPCW.

        So which thread contains definitive proof it was BV which poisoned the Skripals?Have I missed it?

          • Mary Paul

            sorry I do know that I got interrupted while typing and there is no correction option on the posts or I would fix it.

        • Paul Damascene

          As I think has been mentioned at various junctures here, at the Off-Guardian and at Moon of Alabama–using BZ as a control is simply ridiculous from a lab-procedure perspective.

          In effect, they will have used as a “control” perhaps the single substance that best accounts for the symptoms and yet that bears almost no relation chemically to the A-234 “closely related agent” that the UK technical request had specified.

          Further, even it if has been used as control, the OPCW and Spiez lab have only said that it was found in the seeded samples, and not whether it was not found in any of the unseeded samples.

          So if we have a case to be made for using BZ as a control, it may be that it serves to divert us from its presence in the unseeded samples.

          Moreover, in that tiny part of the report accessible to the public, the lab report attested that the “toxic chemical” (not chemical warfare agent and never specifically indentified) was found with a very high degree of purity, which would be highly unusual in an environmental sample, or a blood sample drawn weeks after its declared date of use.

          • Paul Damascene

            Indeed, Mary, the UK and OPCW have been so cagey about the actual substance that their statements referred to, we can’t be sure what substance the UK Guv asked them to confirm the presence of. A “Novichok” (which is not a substance but a category), A-234 which is a non-binary (and therefore highly volatile and hard to handle) form, or binary form (purportedly never made in Soviet Union, or, subsequently, on Russian soil, but perhaps in Uzbekistan, at a facility dismantled under US supervision), or a substance patented in the US, whose documentation refers to Novichok, but may have been a CW agent or an antidote), or a “closely related substance” which could be anything in the organophosphate category–and therefore available at most hardware stores as a pesticide. Or BZ. The OPCW simply confirms the presence of this unnamed substance as per the UK’s request that the unnamed stuff was found in the samples taken, or given, to OPCW personnel.

            So, while I understand that the trail has gone a bit cold, it may simply be that the hounds have been distracted with semiotic ambiguities available in language (but not in chemical analysis).

        • Jo Dominich

          Mary Paul, If you look at the lab report it says that highly pure A-234 was identified, which means it had no impurities therefore it was a lab sample rather than an environmental sample as the latter would definitely have impurities. Also, the A-234 was found in such high quantities as to be lethal to the Skripals. So BZ it was and it fits the symptoms described by onlookers. Having regard to all the information I have arrived at the conclusion that the A-234 was added by MI6 when the samples were handed over by the hospital.

        • Tony_0pmoc

          Mary Paul “Do keep up at the back!”

          The entire post from 5th March, the day after the event, before Craig Murray wrote about it, when I wrote the Fentanyl story makes no sense in the comments, seems to have been deleted.

          I said it was made up nonsense within 24 hours of the event. It had to be, because all the photographers were there the same day, and the guys in Full Chemical Protection suits, and they got out the load of bollocks story the same evening. Headline news the next morning at 7:00 am.

          I never thought it would carry on for the next 2 months, with the story changing every day, and becoming even more absurd, and anyone taking the slightest notice of it, becoming more confused, or convinced the UK Government has gone completely mad.

          I reckon it was deliberate.

          Do you work for The Times?


          • CanSpeccy

            I never thought it would carry on for the next 2 months, with the story changing every day, and becoming even more absurd, and anyone taking the slightest notice of it, becoming more confused, or convinced the UK Government has gone completely mad.
            Confined to the house with flu for several days, I have just managed to make my way through Douglas Smith’s 700-page bio of Rasputin, the story of how a hypnotist took control of the government of a nation headed by a child ruled by a mad woman. What made the experience of reading that book seem so strange was the dawning awareness that the insane incompetence, decadence and corruption of the Tzarist elite during WW1 was almost indistinguishable from that of today’s Western elites.

        • Laguerre

          You’ve misunderstood. The control agent was not mixed in with the original sample but kept separate, according to OPCW procedures. It is self-evident that BZ could not have been ‘spiked’ into the original sample as a control agent, because BZ was a possible find in the sample, and such a spiking would have wrecked the test. So when Lavrov said the BZ was in the sample, that means in the sample, and not in the control agent. Saying, as the Brits and OPCW head office claim, the BZ was a control agent is just obfuscation.

          Do keep up if you insist on sitting in the front row!

          • John Goss

            Another thing to remember is that Russia is entitled to a full report from the OPCW and not just the summary the rest of us have seen. Lavrov may well have information not available to the est of us.

          • Billy Bostickson

            There seems to be some misunderstanding:

            The BZ was in the positive control sample, not mixed with Novichok which was allegedly detected in the other samples provided. I think we probably believe the OPCW when it reported that the BZ was in the positive control. That’s not something you could hide from all the governments who received the full report and Russia would have certainly raised that point if what you say is the case. The term “control agent” is not used, just “positive control”.

          • Sean Lamb

            Laguerre – the Swiss are claiming the Russians falsified a Spiez lab report

            This is what someone from the Spiez lab leaked to the Russians – sometime between March 27 and April 3

            “quote “Following our analysis, the samples indicate traces of the toxic chemical BZ and its precursor which are second category chemical weapons. BZ is a nerve toxic agent, which temporarily disables a person. The psycho toxic effect is achieved within 30 to 60 minutes after its use and lasts for up to four days. This composition was in operational service in the armies of the US, the UK and other NATO countries. The Soviet Union and Russia neither designed nor stored such chemical agents. Also, the samples indicate the presence of type A-234 nerve agent in its virgin state and also products of its degradation.” end quote”

            That language is not consistent with a positive control.

            Either the Russians have fabricated a Swiss lab report or the Swiss have come under political pressure and falsified their findings that subsequently appeared in the OPCW report

            A timeline would go like this:

            March 27: Spiez Lab finalizes report
            <April 3: Russians receive a leaked copy
            April 3: British and French intelligence learn of leaked copy, persuade Swiss to alter findings
            <April 7 Swiss lab agrees to issue amended report
            April 7 French, British and US greenlight Douma operation

          • John Dowser

            Laguerre, the Swiss lab did not receive any information on what’s in what beforehand. That would defy the whole point of adding a control! As such your claim that the Swiss report somehow could have distinguished between some “original sample” and the control sample shows a deep misunderstanding of the process. How would adding a control “spike” the test? Because you think so? The Russians “misunderstood” this as well or, perhaps more likely, jumped on it for their own reasons. In any case the OPCW is the agency drawing up the final reports, not the Swiss lab or the Russian Foreign Minister.

          • Mary Paul

            so OPCW is deliberately misleading the public? i am very disappointed to hear that as I thought they t least had the merit of being independent of governments.

          • CanSpeccy

            Yeah, well let’s see the full technical report before we jump to any conclusions about whether or not the samples were spiked with BZ.

            Oh, but the full technical report is secret.

            Why is the full technical report secret?

            Because if it were not secret we might draw conclusions other than those we are told to draw.

          • Paul Barbara

            @ Sean Lamb April 29, 2018 at 17:31
            Yes, that’s the kind of scenario I would expect.
            I keep hammering this point, but why on earth don’t the Russians remind the world about Gladio, where atrocities were committed, and blamed on ‘the Reds’ (Left-wing groups) in order to keep them from getting any power through democratic elections, as well as the exposed case where the German BND planted plutonium on an Aeroflot plane? That will be extremely embarrassing for the West, and will show that our ‘security’ agencies do commit ‘False Flag’ atrocities and hoaxes in order to blame and demonise their alleged enemies (and the similarities to the Salisbury and Douma cases would be apparent).

  • alasdairB

    Defence and Security Media Advisory Notices , DSMA , replaced the original D Notices which were issued to cover individual events.
    The U.K. currently has 5 Standing DSMA Notices ( covering most aspects of Defence, Security & Intelligence overseen by a DSMA committee comprising, military , government , press & broadcast media . Current chairperson is Peter Watkins, Director General of Security Policy at the M.O.D.
    The System operates by default on ‘self censorship’ by the media on all matters covered by the 5 Standing DSMA Notices .The work of this committee is fully funded by HMG.
    HMG states the objectives of the DSMA Notice system are :: To prevent the inadvertent public disclosure of information which could compromise UK military & intelligence operations & methods, or put at risk the safety of those involved in such operations or lead to attacks that would damage the critical national infrastructure and/ or endanger lives ::
    It is not difficult to surmise that the lack of investigative journalism of the Skripal’s story falls under the self censorship imposed by the operation of the DSMA system and anyone deliberately on inadvertently deviating from this “policy of trust” would , I imagine, be receiving a not so gentle reminder as to their future conduct & reporting.
    So in the meantime we are provided with a toxic mixture of disinformation and red herrings with the actual whereabouts & current state of health of the victims of the Salisbury incident remaining classified information .

    • N_

      Everyone calls a government note to shut the press up on a topic, because of “national security”, a “D Notice”.

  • lysias

    The D notice is powerful evidence that it was the UK government that, through Orbis, produced the Steele dossier.

    • N_

      Got to wonder who the Robert Mueller investigation may have spoken to, or expressed a wish to speak to, in Britain.

      And in Malta.

    • Doodlebug

      @Lysias 14:27

      And that, good sir/madam, is all it would take to inspire MI6 to rub him out, before he could ‘sell his part in the story’. What, after all, was the purpose of the Steele dossier? Basically, to corroborate the assertion that Russia interfered with the US presidential elections to the Donald’s advantage. It was the Clinton campaign’s lawyers who recruited Fusion GPS, who in turn recruited Orbis. And let’s not pretend that malign interference was the sole prerogative of Russia.

      From a lengthy but interesting article (

      “Robert Hannigan, then the head of the U.K.’s intelligence service the G.C.H.Q., had recently flown to Washington and briefed the C.I.A.’s director, John Brennan, on a stream of illicit communications between Trump’s team and Moscow that had been intercepted. (The content of these intercepts has not become public.)”


      “He (Steele) believed that Trump now posed a national-security threat to his country, too. He soon shared his research with a senior British official. The official carefully went through the details with Steele, but it isn’t clear whether the British government acted on his information.”

      Doesn’t say much for the ‘special relationship’, does it? Nor would I fancy Pablo Miller’s future prospects overmuch.

  • Michael McNulty

    I’m starting to think the Skripals may have been killed by a lethal dose of BZ, and the most successful part of the government’s deception is having us discuss the Skripals in the present tense (where are they now, were they involved), when quite possibly they have been past tense since early April. Using one type of nerve agent while claiming it was another may be just a sinister development from using a flashbang and calling it a bomb. One reason to keep the deaths secret is the British would be expected to repatriate Yulia’s body to Russia, where her remains would most certainly undergo extensive forensic testing which our government cannot risk.

    As an illegal attack on Syria can’t be ruled out just yet, maybe the west is hoping once war starts the Skripal case won’t just fade away but can actively be silenced under war powers. The government has produced no evidence the Skripals are alive – phone call shmone call – and until the Skripals are present in an interview which is clearly recent I shall always assume they’ve been murdered.

    • Mary Paul

      The OPCW confirmed the samples were shown to have been taken from the Skripals and delivered to them in the approved manner, and that they contained a nivichok type nerve agent.

      • Doghouse

        They may have said that, but that does not mean we can trust it was an unbroken, trusted chain of custody. Only if the OPCW had taken samples from the Skripals themselves could we trust that. The samples were handed to the OPCW by agents from Porton Down and the Intelligence services presumably, and we definitely cannot trust anything they say can we? Like erm, let’s see, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that can reach Britain in 40 minutes that never existed – check. Bombing Syria on a 100% proven charade – check. Bombing Syrian targets that they alleged were producing chemical weapons but didn’t exist – check. On and on.

        Anything could have happened to those samples from the time they were taken at the hospital to when they were handed to the OPCW, fact. If they were even taken from the Skripals that is…..

          • SA

            The OPCW were satisfied with the chain of custody from material handed by the White Helmets in Khan Sheikhoun. The problem here is they can correctly say that the have an OPCW certified chain of custody because PD is an OPCW certified Lab, but in this case PD is partisan and therefore an independent chain of custody needs to be proven.

          • Paul Damascene

            Do read about how the last head of the OPCW has said in published reports that he was told by John Bolton (in his first mad assignment to the UN) that he must resign within 24 hours. And that it was known where his kids studied in New York.

            If that isn’t cosa nostra-ish enough, note that his replacement, the current OPCW head was not only a senior Turkish representative to NATO, in a previous job, but also … wait for it, Turkish consul in Aleppo.

            I think since the days of Hans Sponek, Dennis Halladay, and Scott Ritter, considerable efforts have been expended to get control over all multinational institutions, as an element of the Borg’s full spectrum dominance strategy.

      • Paul Barbara

        @ Mary Paul April 29, 2018 at 15:42
        International organisations can be corrupt, you know. Did you know about the WHO being complicit in a schemes where Third World women were given vaccines supposedly against some disease, but which also contained a sterilising ingredient, which permanently stopped them conceiving?
        We only have their word, and corruption rules the roost in the UN and many other international bodies (and in our governments).

  • Billy Bostickson


    I agree with the last bit, I sincerely doubt that anyone in British intelligence would do that especially on home turf.

    What I posted before on different threads was the idea that some of Rink’s ampoules were sold to Chechen, Latvian gangs and Estonians. He admitted as much in interviews.

    Secondly, MI6, and in particular Pablo Miller (Skripal’s handler) was involved with Chechen terrorists and Estonians for their own purposes, whether we approve of them or not.

    I’m trying to connect the dots and if we believe some of what Boris Karpichkov claimed then it is certainly conceivable that an as yet unnamed Russian businessman in London, in an attempt to impress Russian emigres with his power, hired Chechen or Estonian criminal gangs to poison Skripal.

    “According to his version, a Russian businessman who lives in London and is in disgrace in Russia, began to visit other entrepreneurs and persistently offer to return some of the funds from the Russian Federation. This supposedly could guarantee them a quiet life in England and a gradual reduction of problems in Russia, including – with law enforcement…. Then, as the source of Rosbalt assures, he promised to conduct some demonstrative action demonstrating “how to deal with traitors”.

    “Honestly, then no one really took his words and threats seriously. Some even joked about this. But after the poisoning of Skripal they did take it seriously”….. I did not get the feeling that this businessman is somehow connected with the Russian special services and authorities. But the fact that he “on a short leg” with a number of criminal “authorities” and former retirees, including special forces of the Defense Ministry, I know for sure, “the spokesman said.

    This is what Karpichkov claimed. We don’t know yet how this is connected to the murder/suicide of Glushkov, reported initially by the Sunday Express as a homosexual “sex game gone wrong”
    (allegedly a calling card of British Intelligence operatives according to one retired member, Nicholas Anderson:

    It is becoming clear that British Intelligence took advantage of the poisoning attempt to discredit Putin for their own ends by mounting a theatrical farce around the incident.
    It is highly likely that a whistleblower will come forward soon and more will be revealed concerning Pablo Miller. Christopher Steele and Sergei Skripal.

    • Mary Paul

      If you watch Matt Frei’s report on Channel 4 Despatches, he refers to Sergei Skripal’s handler in Salisbury, as “Luis” from memory ,(or at any rate a Spanish pseudonym.).

    • SA

      There is still one thing that is wrong with your story. If ‘novichok’ was the cause of poisoning the Skripals and DS Bailey would all be dead.

    • Hatuey

      “ it is certainly conceivable that an as yet unnamed Russian businessman in London, in an attempt to impress Russian emigres with his power, hired Chechen or Estonian criminal gangs to poison Skripal.”

      Lots of things are conceivable. It means nothing to say something is conceivable. I don’t mean to insult unnecessarily but it seems to me that many on this blog and many within the British intelligence services have a problem with what is plausible, not what is conceivable. And here is the problem, again.

      Poisoning by way of nerve agents is a headline grabbing idea but as a weapon of choice for an assassin it is amongst the worst and most difficult to deploy and get away with.

      It would be less burdensome to kill someone with marshmallows from an assassin’s point of view. Marshmallows are readily available. You can easily carry them across borders and on planes. They aren’t likely to backfire and kill the assassin and are difficult to trace. The only difficulty is in stuffing enough of them into the windpipe of the mark but that’s easy compared to using nerve agents.

      Here’s a theory that a few people might as well consider amongst other “conceivable” ideas: nobody has ever been assassinated using nerve agents in the UK. Ever. Never ever. Not one. It’s all crap intended to get attention, put Russia in a bad light, and scare/manipulate public opinion. The idea is stupid when there are a million easier options available.

      That’s not to say it hasn’t happened elsewhere. It probably has. But if you have the means, motive, and opportunity to deploy a nerve agent successfully then why not go for old tried and tested methods instead? This is the gaping question that nobody on here or anywhere else has even attempted to answer.

      Nobody with any understanding of these things will even discuss this, let alone take it seriously, and today is the first and last time that I will discuss it. It’s low grade junk, for general public consumption only.

      • Doodlebug

        @Hatuey 21:28

        “Poisoning by way of nerve agents is a headline grabbing idea…But if you have the means, motive, and opportunity to deploy a nerve agent successfully then why not go for old tried and tested methods instead?”

        I think you’ve answered your own question. A more ‘conventional’ approach to the problem would not command the same degree of attention (or require Wiltshire police to be stood down in favour of the Met., whose expertise in the handling of evidence is legendary). And what better way to point the finger at Russia than to do the deed in a Russian style, administering a toxin labelled with a Russian sobriquet?

        • Hatuey

          Let me say this very carefully so that we know where we stand.

          Nobody of real intelligence who has any experience or understanding of these things would contemplate the idea that British security services would deploy nerve agents within the UK for any reason. And certainly not for a mere PR stunt aimed at discrediting Russia.

          However, I believe they are capable of staging it, making it look like a nerve agent was deployed, pretending, and trying to frame Russia. That’s an entirely different scenario though.

          This whole thread reminds me of the film Burn After Reading.

          • Doodlebug

            @Hatuey 00:57

            “Let me say this very carefully so that we know where we stand.”

            Never mind Burn after reading, that’s straight out of ‘Allo ‘Allo. I don’t consider my intelligence to be artificial. Nor did I refer to any nerve agent, but deliberately used the word ‘toxin’. There seems little doubt the Skripals were poisoned.

    • N_

      So there was a report that Nikolai Glushkov may have died in a “homosexual sex game gone wrong”? Wow – I missed that one! That sounds very “British Tory backhander defence sectory” indeed!

      A D Notice seems to have been slapped on the Glushkov case too. Since he was closely connected with Boris Berezovsky, that would hardly be surprising. British poshboy links to Boris Berezovsky (which went as far up in society as the royal family) remain a point of considerable sensitivity.

      • N_

        Nikolai Glushkov’s “civil partner” was Denis Trushin, a “luxury goods entrepreneur” from Azerbaijan. A US businessman who once had “big league” business interests in Azerbaijan is now the US president. Might there be a connection?

        “Luxury goods” of an unidentified kind may be a euphemism for hard drugs.

        Trushin was about four decades younger than Glushkov, so one could easily imagine them being chums with the royal family. Glushkov would have a lot in common with, say, Elton John and Stephen Fry.

        • Mary Paul

          When/Where did this story of a young male lover appear in the UK press? only I never saw it. All I read was that he was found dead at his home in SW London by his daughter after failing to appear for a court hearing. And then the inquest found evidence of strangulation. Initially police said did not believe case was linked to Skripsls, then, presumably, D notice was issued as all mention disappeared from the MSM. But I did not see any mention of younger male lovers in MSM before this happened. Neighbours were interviewed and no one mentioned anyone else living with him, only that he was using a walking stick (later said to be due to minor foot operation). Who revealed this information about a lover/ civil partner and where is this lover/civil partner now?

      • Jo Dominich

        N, if my memory serves me well and I am not sure that it does, wasn’t there another British MI5 agent whose death was attributable to a homosexual sex game gone wrong – the one in the Mayfair flat where he was chained and in a trunk?

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Billy Bostickson April 29, 2018 at 15:00
      ‘…I’m trying to connect the dots and if we believe some of what Boris Karpichkov claimed then it is certainly conceivable that an as yet unnamed Russian businessman in London, in an attempt to impress Russian emigres with his power, hired Chechen or Estonian criminal gangs to poison Skripal….’
      But that would not fit in with all the other anomalies – the almost immediate arrival of a mysterious ‘detective’, helicopter shenanigans, rapid hazmat suits arrival, wash your clothes/months to decontaminate, time lapse, their alleged rapid recovery, and of course the extremely convenient timing, just before a planned White Helmets ‘False Flag’ hoax in Douma.

  • Bunkum

    Sunday press release, eyes back on Iran

    Press release
    PM calls with President Macron and Chancellor Merkel: 29 April 2018

    Prime Minister Theresa May spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the Iran nuclear deal.
    Published 29 April 2018

    Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

    A Downing Street spokesperson said:

    The Prime Minister held separate phone calls with the French President Emmanuel Macron and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday and this morning.

    They discussed the importance of the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) as the best way of neutralising the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, agreeing that our priority as an international community remained preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

    They agreed that there were important elements that the deal does not cover, but which we need to address – including ballistic missiles, what happens when the deal expires, and Iran’s destabilising regional activity.

    Acknowledging the importance of retaining the JCPoA, they committed to continue working closely together and with the US on how to tackle the range of challenges that Iran poses – including those issues that a new deal might cover.

    They also noted the vital importance of our steel and aluminium industries and their concern about the impact of US tariffs. The leaders pledged to continue to work closely with the rest of the EU and the US Administration with the aim of a permanent exemption from US tariffs.

    Finally, they all agreed on the value of continued engagement in the E3 format (Britain, France and Germany) to advance our shared interests and our security.

  • Mary Paul

    My view from the outset has been the Skripals were poisoned by rogue Russian elements. However this is not something the Russians can admit as they do not admit to the existence anywhere, legal or illegal, of novichok let alone out of their control.

    Incidentally one of the scientists who invented it, Vladimir Uglev, and was interviewed recently by western media, was run down in a car accident last week and is now in hospital.

    • Tom Smythe

      Uglev himself says it was just a accident, not an assassination attempt. He was released from the hospital after minor bruises. The driver was a 70-year old resident of the same village.

      Weirdly, it is claimed Porton Down (or OPCW) sent him spectra of the novichok supposed used in Salisbury. The fluorine is diagnostic of earlier versions of this class of chemicals, it is absent from later OPCW-Iranian variants. It would be very strange for PD/OPCW to send him data but not share any data with the Russian embassy.

      “Mr Uglev remains adamant that the novichok used on the Skripals came, almost certainly, from his laboratory. “I can tell by the spectrometry readings, the presence of fluorine, by its molecular weight and all the spectrum data I was sent recently,” he said.

      A Russian scientist who developed the nerve agent used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal was hit by a car in Russia earlier this week, local media has reported.
      Vladimir Uglev, who claimed to be one of the developers of the military-grade Novichok poison, told Russian news site The Bell he was struck while crossing a street near his home in southern Russia on Tuesday.

      Vladimir Uglev was run over by a car and left with serious injuries days after saying that he may have helped develop the novichokused in the Salisbury attack. But, although bruised and battered, the Russian scientist insists it was just an accident, and is adamant that he will continue to speak out despite fearing that he may be targeted.

      Speaking after he returned from hospital treatment, Mr Uglev said Moscow’s denial of culpability over the attempted assassinations of Sergei and Yulia Skripal do not withstand scrutiny. “The Russian explanation does not match other explanations. What [Russian foreign minister Sergei] Lavrov says is simply not true from the scientific point of view.”

      Mr Uglev was mown down by a car on a pedestrian crossing near his home in Anapa on the Black Sea a few days after publicly stating: “If you’re asking who made the substances that poisoned the Skripals, his name and his country, it is possible it was made by my hands.” Manufacture had taken place, he claimed, at the government laboratory where he worked at Shikhany, near Saratov.
      Describing the accident, 71-year-old Mr Uglev recounted how he was crossing the road when he saw that an approaching car make no attempt to slow down. He had started running, but got hit nevertheless, jumping on to the bonnet to save himself from going under the wheels, suffering wounds to his head when it hit the windscreen in the process.

      Mr Uglev showed the bruises left on his head and arm from the crash which, he says, he believes was just an accident. However, asked if he felt that he may be targeted over his disclosures, he responded: “Everyone is afraid, but you have to control your fear. There is a song I keep thinking of: ‘I am free, I forget what fear means; but I always look around for danger’.”

      Mr Uglev held there was very little chance of novichok being acquired privately by the Skripals’ attackers. “There isn’t a black market for this; you need professionals and correct lab conditions which are good enough to carry out  production. Whoever did this (carried out the attack) was a professional.”

      Mr Uglev said he believed that former MI6 agent Mr Skripal and his daughter escaped death because “the dose was not large enough, they may have been wearing thick clothing and they could have washed their hands like every normal person in the course of the day after the initial contact with the substance”.
      He recalled the experiments carried out in transporting novichok in the laboratory, speaking in an interview which will be broadcast in full on bTV Bulgaria’s Svetoslav Ivanov’s 120 Minutes programme on Sunday. 

      The substance, he stated, “could be carried in a small container, a lipstick-tube size, or the size of a tube of glue. Whoever put the substance on the Skripals’ door handle could avoid contamination by wearing gloves, which could be later destroyed, and simply by briefly holding his breath.” Musing over motivation for the attempted murders, he asked: “Why would the Americans want to kill the Skripals, why would England? It is said they could have done, but why the daughter?”

      The nerve agent, when not at full strength, need not, held Mr Uglev, be lethal. Everything depended on the dosage as the Skripal case had shown. He himself had survived an accident in the laboratory. “I had dropped some on my right arm, I felt irritation on my right arm for five, six years, but that is all.”

      Mr Uglev remains adamant that the novichok used on the Skripals came, almost certainly, from his laboratory. “I can tell by the spectrometry readings, the presence of fluorine, by its molecular weight and all the spectrum data I was sent recently,” he said.

      The incident occurred on Tuesday, April 24, near Anapa. Uglev crossed the road on the pedestrian crossing near the house where he lives. Uglev was run down by a 70-year-old resident of the same village who did not hide from the scene. After the attack, he offered money to Uglev…. After an interview with a BBC scientist (in which Uglev stated his confidence that the “Rookie” was used in Salisbury), the Russian embassy in the UK asked London whether the British authorities transmit information on the “Skripal case” to private individuals.

    • james

      mary paul – you seem to have a talent for spreading unverified gossip! continue, lol…

      • Mary Paul

        I am very interested to read the detailed information about Mr Uglev and his accident. I only said he had an accident in which he was knocked down by a car. I spend not even say it was mysterious. In the account I read it said he was still being treated in hospital similar am glad to hear he is out and well.

        What else have I spread that is unverified gossip? Am happy to be set straight.

        • james

          thanks mary… i think it’s fine to speculate, but it remains speculation and nothing more..
          your comment from above..
          “My view from the outset has been the Skripals were poisoned by rogue Russian elements. However this is not something the Russians can admit as they do not admit to the existence anywhere, legal or illegal, of novichok let alone out of their control. ”

          my view from the outset has been the uk gov’t are out to get russia and will find any way to do this… the fact may was so quick to accuse russia using novichok on the skripals, with the immediate western world response of kicking out russian diplomats – prior to following proper procedure of opcw rules, not to mention the missile attack on syria without concrete evidence of a chemical attack leads me to view the west – uk, usa in particular – having an ongoing agenda against russia -facts be damned…

          • Mary Paul

            I simply said it was my view -‘ which is of course one among many shared here. I am happy to read other people’s views about the Skripals as well, if you want to call these views gossip, well while we lack so many facts about the case, surely we are all gossiping?. I prefer to call it speculating.;)

          • james

            perhaps it is your matter of fact way of presenting info that motivates me to say what i say.. i agree speculating is not the same as gossip and perhaps characterizing your comments as gossip is not accurate..

            “Mary Paul
            April 29, 2018 at 18:00

            so OPCW is deliberately misleading the public? i am very disappointed to hear that as I thought they t least had the merit of being independent of governments.”

    • reg

      Given the amount of dissembling and downright lies of the UK government, particularly given the almost pre planed nature of the roll out of the misinformation campaign of the UK government compared to the Russian government such as giving 24 hrs for the Russian government to respond would seem to suggest little if any involvement of Russian elements with UK elements more likely to be involved. You do not give 24 hrs to respond unless you do not want an answer, and are using this as a pretext for an already agreed plan of action. The other problem is this, why would the UK government not call in the OPCW immediately unless you wanted to ensure no chain of evidence? If for example this was not meant to be a lethal attack but was to be used as a pretext? It would be difficult to ensure a non lethal dose of nerve agent, but if you used another agent with a trace amount of nerve agent whose only job was to implicate the Russian this would make more sense. The question would be then why a non lethal attack? Did they expect the Skripols to play ball and denounce the Russians from their hospital beds (rather like Alexander Litvinenko, whose father now doubts Russian involvement), but they are being kept incommunicado as they are not on message?

      • lysias

        Even the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia in 1914, usually considered outrageous, gave the Serbs 48 hours to reply.

      • Jo Dominich

        Reg, added to what you say, the OPCW rules give the accused if you like 10 days to respond – but the UK Government only gave 24hrs as you say. Russia did respond and said it would engage in a joint international investigation with the OPCW but this was dismissed by the UK Government as ‘ridiculous’. However, the UK Ambassador tot he UN last week told the UN that they had 10 days to respond to Russia’s 14 questions under OPCW procedures and they would respond within that timescale. There seems to be therefore, very much a double standard here doesn’t there. One rule for the UK and one for Russia. Demonisation

      • Mary Paul

        “Mr Uglev was mown down by a car on a pedestrian crossing near his home in Anapa on the Black Sea” – see Tom Smythe post above

  • bj

    Meanwhile I am pondering the question: did McCain collude (through Wood and Steele) with Clinton to meddle in the election of Trump?

  • Sharp Ears

    Not on topic but of interest all the same.

    This article on the BBC website is written by Martin Rosenbaum –

    BBC journalist on politics & current affairs, radio documentary producer, specialist in freedom of information & data. ESRC Council member. Tweets personal, obv

    Ref the delays in responding to FoI requests, especially by the Cabinet Office and the Home Office.

    FoI failings at the heart of Government

    Some major government departments have a record of frequent and persistent delays and unhelpfulness in their handling of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.


  • Node

    All blog readers should bear in mind that some of the theories being proposed here about the Skripals are deliberate attempts to muddy the waters. Craig has taken a lead in exposing the goverment’s implausible narrative and as a result this blog has become a focus for speculation about the affair. Government agencies are expending a lot of effort trying to control the narrative and it is inconceivable that they would ignore this blog in their campaign of misdirection and misinformation.

    I can’t claim to know who amongst the wave of new posters is working for the spooks, but we can assume that they are behind some of the more outrageously detailed theories, and also that they use more subtle methods to derail insightful discussion. I would advise trusting nobody on this subject, including me.

    • Charles

      Then what is the countermeasure?

      We know for certain that government “communication desks” indulge in this sort of thing, the army has just set up a geek unit to militarise it and various foreign interests interfere with UK the public informing mechanisms.

      So what is the countermeasure?

      First you need to identify the involvement of a hostile input and construct a neutralising response


      Accept Ignore

      Social media using mass “brain storming” techniques can come up with solutions that the bad guys can’t anticipate or deter.

      With the Salisbury incident we already know that the official narrative is a lie. We may never know the absolute detail but we know the UK government is involved in covering up the truth.

      That’s dreadful on its own

    • Mary Paul

      I am independently batty, no link with government agencies although I assume like all regular posters here, I am monitored.Very boring it must be for them too.

    • lysias

      On matters like the JFK assassination and 9/11, one of the techniques the Intel agencies use to discredit dissent from the official version is to promote the promulgation of ridiculous theories so that they can characterize all dissenters as f a n t a s I s t s (had to insert the spaces to get the word past Autocorrect).

    • Ian

      Exactly. There is a myriad of detailed speculative fictions here. While Craig is right to be sceptical about the official line, i would be just as sceptical of all the fevered heroes and explanations in the comments. None of them sound that convincing, and no doubt a lot of red herring are being introduced.

    • Mary Paul

      Apparently some clues to Russian trolls are the incorrect or awkward use of ‘the’ and ‘a’ as neither exist in Russian. Also the sentence order in questions can be stilted when used by Russians writing in English, as this does not change in Russian like it does in English.

      • Bayard

        OTOH, if you want people to think you are Russian, that is the first thing that you do, leave out article.

  • Billy Bostickson

    OCCRP investigation into Professor Leonard Rink’s links to organised Chechen and Estonian/Latvian crime groups and how he supplied them with 0.25 ml ampoules containing 100 doses of Novichok enough to kill one person in each ampoule.

    Further claimed that “Novichok” would degrade slightly over time but still be lethal after 30 years.

    “The substance I wanted to obtain … is labelled a state secret. … In terms of its toxic impact, it is similar to VX [a highly toxic nerve agent],” Rink added. “We poured it out into vials, about 0.25 grams each. … I took the vials home with me and put them in my garage.”

    It’s not clear exactly how many vials Rink took with him. According to files from a separate top secret criminal investigation launched against him as a spin-off of the Kivelidi case, he had made “8-9 vials” and, on Sept. 13, 1995, gave some to “individuals of Chechen origin in the city of Moscow.”

    According to a specialist who took part in Rink’s interrogation, 0.25 grams of the substance would be enough to poison 100 people. “If applied to the skin, only a hundredth of the amount contained in a vial would be enough to kill a person weighing around 80-90 kilograms,” he said, according to the interrogation document.

    During interrogation, both the specialist and Rink confirmed that the substance was top secret and that it was produced at GITOS. Two other specialists contacted by reporters who were knowledgeable about Novichok said that if the substance was produced correctly and sealed in a vial, it would remain effective even after 25-30 years of storage. While they acknowledged that it would lose strength over time, the dose needed to kill someone is so minimal that it would be effective even at reduced strength.

    He initially told investigators that in 1994, he gave one of them to a man named Ryabov who had initially told him he wanted to poison a dog, but then “said that the poison was needed not for a dog, but for a person.” However, in court testimony in 2007, Rink said that he had given Ryabov four vials and that they were eventually seized by the Federal Security Service. Rink said that Ryabov had started to threaten him. “I was afraid of Ryabov’s threats; [he] was connected with criminal elements. … [so] I agreed to get this poison for him,” he told investigators in 2000.

    In the spring of 1995, according to a file from the investigation, Rink sold another vial to Artur Talanov, who lived in Latvia at the time — as the document puts it, “for self-defense.”

    “Some people needed the substance to settle [their] gangster disputes,” Rink explained in 2007 court hearings. “They found out where my relatives live. Ryabov came to my home, and I had to buy him off somehow. First I gave him something simple, I thought that would be enough. Then something more serious.”

    Talanov subsequently took part in an attempted robbery on a cash delivery van in Estonia, where he was shot and seriously wounded.

    But — at least according to the investigation — the vial Talanov bought ended up in the hands of Vladimir Khutsishvili, a long-time acquaintance of the murdered banker and former board member of Rosbusinessbank. Khutsishvili was eventually convicted of Kivelidi’s murder in 2007 — as the investigation saw it, he was in the banker’s office at a time when poison could have been applied to the telephone receiver.

    For the hundred doses of the substance contained in the vial he sold Talanov, Rink received “from US$1,500 to $1,800,” according to his testimony.

    In July 2004, law enforcement within the Kivelidi murder case decided to halt the criminal investigation against Rink and those he sold the poisonous substance to (on the illegal preparation, acquisition, storage, transport, and sale of potent and poisonous substances), as the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution had expired.

    The fate of the other vials Rink took home is unknown. He declined to comment for this story.

    Investigation report Russian document now published:

    Was Artur Talanov the Latvian criminal allegedly shot by Boris Karpichkov’s “Gordon” in Estonia in the late 1990s?

    If so, we now know how he got the Novichok used to poison the Skripals.

    • Sean Lamb

      You are certainly indefatigable, Billy. But are you sure moving from Gorgon the mother-in-law to Gordon the spy is not a bit precipitous?

      • Billy Bostickson

        Thanks, yes, I do my best to fuel my obsessions and share them. I don’t work for the government as Node suggests, quite the contrary, i am a dedicated Anarchist, hell bent on exposing all governments as murderous psychopaths and mafia States.

        It’s true I gave the mother-in-law angle a good hammering on this blog, but after seeing her face, and after my Russian media contacts said that my allegations about her sponsor, Gasumyanov,, could not be confirmed, I decided to put her on the back burner until more details emerge regarding Gasumyanov and his contacts in the Armenian underworld. No one is touching that story right now, despite his links with the SVR, FSB, Organised crime, etc.

        I must admit that Karpichkov’s revelations about his friend/colleague “Gordon” threw a sickle in the works and raised some significant questions regarding the claim that Scotland Yard had been showing photographs from the Blonde/Brunette couple caught on CCTV to Russian emigres in London.

        I have been following up the connections he raised and trying to make some connections between Pablo Miller, Christopher Steele, MI6, latvia, Estonia, Artur Talanov, “Gordon” and Leonard Rink.

        So far it looks promising.

  • John Dowser

    The statement of the use of BZ however seems misguided. The OPCW strongly rejected this and explained the technical and confidential report only mentioned Q3, a precursor of BZ, which was used as control substance. And it has been confirmed to be a standard procedure never revealed to the labs themselves to increase reliability. For some reason this has been turned around to mean something else by Russian officials. And this error has now again been replicated by Clive Ponting who seems to have missed the extensive reporting on this weeks ago. It seems important at this stage to not replicate old or outdated information in what is already a complicated and confused case.

    • Sean Lamb

      In this type of analysis (tandem mass spectrometry) you only find what you go looking for – it isn’t like you feed it into a magic box and it spits out the name of every single chemical in a biological fluid

      It will be gated for molecules of a certain size (or mass to charge ratio) and then subjected to fragmentation into product ions. In this case if you only gate on the mass charge ratio of Q3, you will only detect Q3.

      A preparation of BZ will quite likely contain significant quantities of its precursors – but if the OPCW labs only get the instruction to look for Q3, then that is all that will get reported.

      It is an utterly transparent slight of hand the OPCW is engaged with here. They get away with it because journalists don’t understand these issues and actual scientists don’t want their future grant applications to get knocked back

      • Jiusito

        So, what is your interpretation, Sean? Forgive me if you have already posted it elsewhere.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ John Dowser April 29, 2018 at 17:36
      The whole thing would have been clarified IF the British had acquiesced to Russia’s very reasonable request for a sample to test themselves. I for one would not trust the Brit slime-balls to not contaminate or switch the samples, like the French did (no doubt at Britain’s request) of Henri Paul’s blood samples with a man who had committed suicide by heavy drinking and gassing himself in his car with the exhaust fumes (which accounts for the massive, inexplicable amount of carbon monoxide in his blood (inexplicable if it had been Henri Paul’s blood). Which is why the French judge refused point blank to allow Henri Paul’s parents to have a sample to get privately tested.
      Why do the Brit authorities not accept that if the pharmaceutical facility which was bombed in a civilian built-up area would not have caused multiple deaths in the neighbourhood, had it in reality been producing or storing CW agents?
      When the reality was, the next day civilians were walking around the site, with no protective gear? And there are no civilian casualties recorded?
      If BZ or camel dung is added to a sample, for whatever reason, that is tampering with the evidence, full stop.

    • Goatboy

      I concur with John (for now!). The BZ issue has been left by the Russian’s and that alone tells us what we need to know. Had there been a significance to it they would not have let it go.

      Some more thoughts. It is conceivable, as some have suggested, that the Skripal’s survived because the dose was diluted or weakened in some way. What is not explained is how it took so many hours for them to succumb (no delaying agent was found in the ananlysis?) and yet when they did succumb it was in perfect synchronicity. This I think is vitally important. Despite being of different mass, age and sex they were unconscious within minutes of each other I presume. And finally, how can two people receive a dose at the same time from a single door handle? The inconsistencies sure begin to add up and each one is not insignificant.

      This whole issue has been brutally fascinating. I am currently engaged in an infuriating online battle with regular posters on the ‘Skeptics Guide to the Universe’ forum. I love their podcast but the forum is another matter. Look under the title ‘Nivichok Nerve Agent attack – UK’ if you want to see an almost pathological aversion to logic (from self identifying skeptics!), it is worth a gander. You may well chuckle. It is almost the top rated thread for the last month but I have been labelled a ‘bot’, ‘Russian stooge’, ‘Boris’ and variously maligned on a daily basis. All for persisting in asking questions. Apparently that is ‘the hallmark of a conspiracy theorist’. It has been refreshing to hear some informed and varied debate on this thread. Long may it continue.

  • Thomas_Stockmann


    Today’s Sunday Times carries a prominent article claiming that Russian twitter accounts, including bots, interfered in the 2017 general election on the side of Labour and Jeremy Corbyn. The article reports research carried out by the newspaper based on data provided by Swansea University.

    The exact provenance of this data warrants closer scrutiny. It has been supplied by Professor Oleksandr ‘Sasha’ Talavera, a Ukrainian who has published many articles relating to economics and finance. However, he has never yet had a peer-reviewed academic article about bots and political interference published: see and He has had one paper about bots and the stock market published, and his website also offers a working paper about twitter, bots and the US presidential and Brexit elections, co-authored with Y.Gorodnichenko and Tho Pham, but this paper is unpublished. The lack, not only of peer review, but of any kind of working paper on the Sunday Times’ claims should make us cautious, and certainly weakens the academic respectability of the papers’ claims. Moreover, it is distinctly odd for an academic to seek to have data published first in a newspaper.

    Both Oleksandr Talavera and Yuriy Goridnichenko are members of the editorial board of Its multilingual website focuses on the economics of Ukraine, and it positions itself as ‘apolitical’, at least in the sense of being above Ukrainian party politics. However, a look at the website’s geopolitical articles reveals that is both unsurprisingly anti-Russian and resembles an advocacy group for Ukraine. The articles show a great awareness of the importance of international opinion of the Ukraine and its “information war” with Russia, particularly regarding ongoing conflict there and regarding access to the EU. The negative Netherlands referendum verdict on the Ukrainian association agreement is discussed. In 2015, VoxUkraine wrote to over 3,000 UK general election candidates, asking their views on Ukraine, whether they would support the restoration of its territorial integrity, what actions they would take, and their perceptions of Russia. The questionnaire was hardly unbiased, prefacing the question about attitudes to Russia with remarks about the Litvinenko case and the activities of Russian bombers and submarines. The findings showed some correlation between a willingness to impose sanctions on Russia and the belief that Russia is a direct threat to the UK. In reviewing the data, the authors (the editorial board) commented that “only” 47% saw Russia as a direct threat to the UK. They concluded that “the Ukrainian government should put much more effort in promotion of the narrative that ‘Ukraine is fighting for the entire Europe’ among the Europeans.”

    What this means is that the source of the data for the Sunday Times article is a member of the editorial board of a group which effectively advocates for the Ukraine and sees the need to influence UK opinion against Russia.

    The first question to ask is how this sample of tweets came to be created. According to Professor Talavera in the ST, “The samples provide evidence that Russian language bots were used deliberately to try to influence the election in favour of Labour and against the Conservatives. The data represents just a small random sample and therefore the Russian language automated bot behaviour we have observed this likely to be only the tip of the iceberg of their general election operation.” The article goes on to say that “Our research centred on millions of election tweets collected by Swansea University during the campaign. We narrowed them down to a sample of 20,000 tweets from accounts using Russian language or Russian place names that were posted in the four weeks leading up to the election. We employed a team of researchers to read each one to assess whether they were positive or negative for the main political parties.” Now the original collection of millions of tweets may possibly represent a random sample. However, the 20,000 in question are clearly not a small random sample. They have been selected according to very specific criteria. The comment about them being the “tip of the iceberg” is guesswork, not inferential statistics.

    The next question concerns who created these accounts. Although direct evidence on this point is lacking, the article tries to achieve its goal by innuendo: “Did Moscow attempt to influence the British general election by using social media in the same way that it tried to boost the fortunes of Donald Trump during the 2016 American elections?” The whole tone of the article, and a companion piece about Jeremy Corbyn, Seamus Milne and John McDonnell, “Moscow mules: the left’s long red romance”, subtitled “Apologists”, clearly invite the reader to conclude that Moscow did indeed. However, the article admits that many of the accounts in question “claimed” to be in the Pacific Time Zone, which embraces not Vladivostok, but rather the west coasts of Canada and the USA. This glaring inconsistency is simply disposed of by the use of the word “claimed”. Given that both the principal language and time zone of a Twitter account can be changed, it is not clear why a principal language setting of Russian is taken as true, but a time zone setting of Pacific is implied to be false.

    The next question concerns the mystery of the missing tweets. The graph displayed in the article indicates the number of pro-Labour or anti-Conservative tweets, without giving overall totals. However, inspection of the graph suggests that the combined total amounts to perhaps 9,500 tweets, estimated crudely. However, the total number of tweets in the target sample was 20,000. What were the other tweets about? We know from the article that interest in the other parties was only minor. Although the few accounts detailed are not open for inspection (having disappeared or been suspended), one, “Irene Gray”, appears to have been thanked by an author for a retweet about a book. In any case, it appears that more than half of the tweets in the target sample were irrelevant to their supposed manipulative purpose. Moreover, since the sample is described as a sample of “tweets” and not “accounts” it is not even clear whether we are getting a full picture of the activity on each of the accounts in question.

    The final question concerns the identification of bots. We are told that “most” of the 6,500 “Russian” accounts supporting Labour are bots, although the Russian origin of the accounts is not proven. It is certainly true that the example accounts shown sound outstandingly “botty”. Who would choose a user handle of fifteen random alphanumeric characters? Besides, the article points out that a number of them were created and were active at almost the same time. However, even if these are indeed bots, it would be preferable to have a complete picture of each account’s activity in order to assess their overall function. More curious is the fact that each suspected bot tweeted so infrequently. If there were, say, 4,000 of them, that works out at an average of just five tweets (or retweets) each over 28 days. The clunky Twitter handles are also an oddity. Other bot studies, including the paper by Talavera and XXX, find it much more difficult to identify bots, requiring systematic analysis of suspicious features such as small hours tweeting, or the regularity of intervals between tweets.

    The ST is careful not to make clear-cut claims about the overall impact of this alleged interference, which it cannot establish. However, the two graphs showing the “Russian” Twitter accounts “Pushing up the… Labour vote” clearly invite the reader to assume that it did significantly affect the outcome of the election. However, a total of 20,000 tweets is tiny in the context of the election as a whole. Today’s Andrew Marr show alone generated more than 20,000 tweets. A general election involves millions.

    Finally, consider the whole idea of Russians ‘interfering’ in a general election via Twitter. There are no international boundaries in the Twittersphere. English is a widely-spoken lingua franca. It is no more remarkable for a Russian to tweet about British politics than it is for a British person to tweet about Putin, or the Ukraine, or Syria. Perhaps some Ukrainians also tweeted about the general election, perfectly legitimately. For such activity to constitute ‘interference’ there would have to be evidence of some guiding hand such as that of the Russian government, but the Sunday Times article provides none.

    The narrative of a public sphere corrupted by fake news and foreign powers is one which is tremendously appealing to the MSM. It gives them the means to arrest their decline in the face of the rise of social media. It positions them as moral agents, as saviours of society, and magnifies their own importance. However, without more critical evaluation of such claims, the MSM may find they are circulating dubious stories themselves. It is instructive to compare the Sunday Times’ reticence about Professor Talavera’s background with the McCarthyite treatment by its sister paper of academics who have barely even begun to question the mainstream narrative about Syria.

    The current ST controversy aims to portray the Labour leader and his associates as useful tools of the Kremlin and to make British voters feel cheated and manipulated, courtesy of “research” with a veneer of academic respectability but presented partially and without peer review. All this is highly reminiscent of the Zinoviev letter. Its real significance lay not in its authenticity (now widely disbelieved) nor in its contents, but in its ability to tar the Labour party with guilt by association. In our networked and globalised world, it is all too easy to smear politicans through their supposed virtual “friends”. As in the 1920s, the threat to our democracy comes not just from its enemies but from its most zealous ostensible defenders.

    • Carl

      Surprised it’s taken them so long to come up with this one, given how liberally the “Russian interference” smear has been employed. Expect the other RW rags, the BBC, Guardian to pick it up and run with it.

      • Jo Dominich

        It’s just more Corbyn smearing – must mean the Tories see him as quite a considerable threat to them. Let’s face it, the research is rubbish – The public liked and endorsed the Labour Party Manifesto because it prioritised things that mattered to them, affordable housing, affordable transport, re-nationalisation of utilities and partially trains and other issue of importance for the British public. Added to which, Corbyn was the only one of the three Party Leaders who actually conducted himself in a manner commensurate with being a Leader and showed demonstrable Leadership skills. Added to this, Treason May conducted the worst election campaign probably in British History finding the public too irrelevant to meet with. Labour came close in the General Election because of a high turnout of young voters, Policies people wanted, Corbyn’s Leadership skills and all this against a malicious and vicious press campaign against him. No more no Less. It looks to me as though it is the Urkanians wishing to influence the British Election.

    • Billy Bostickson

      Thanks! That actually makes me feel like vomiting, as we can predict how this story will be pumped up by all the usual suspects. It seems that a disinformation campaign is being run against Corbyn, or even multiple ones, just before local elections as usual. First the allegations that he was a Czech spy, then the antisemitism witch hunt and now this. If he does do well at the elections I wouldn’t be surprised if he “has an accident” and sprays himself with organophosphates while gardening or something.

      • Thomas_Stockmann

        Yes, I admire Corbyn for sticking to his principles in the face of this incredible tide of calumny. It’s not just a new Cold War, it’s the 1970s hysteria about Labour being full of Soviet sympathisers all over again. From an international point of view, it undermines the main opponent of the British government’s policy.

        • bj

          This is worse, since it has cross-border and extra-territorial implications and consequences.

        • Paul Barbara

          @ Thomas_Stockmann April 29, 2018 at 19:35
          Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I don’t wish to sound alarmist, but better safe than sorry – be sure to check under the bed before you go to sleep. Oh, those Russians!

        • Jo Dominich

          I for one have become an avid Russian sympathiser since the debacle of Skripal, Syria and more to come. At least Russia are talking sense and diplomacy which is more than our Government are doing.

      • Thomas_Stockmann

        Predictably, the Mail is one of Billy’s “usual suspects”. Dominic Lawson in this case, repeating the Sunday Times story and arguing that Corbyn’s cautious line on Putin makes him effectively a fascist sympathiser.

    • flatulence

      sounds like something cambridge analytica et al do as routine. Yet again we have evidence of the west actually doing these things, but instead we’re more concerned with turning those same accusations on Russia either with evidence we are not allowed to see or based on little more than hearsay.

    • Barden Gridge

      Another Ukraine connection at the Times/Sunday Times:
      the “data journalist” involved in that story is
      Hers was also one of the byline names on the “Apologists for Assad working in universities” story two weeks ago.
      She is described as “Belarusian/Ukrainian” here:
      That is one of the pieces linked from her page here:

    • King of Welsh Noir

      Thanks for this analysis Thomas_Stockmann. One thing that strikes me is the people pushing this Russophobic propaganda seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that Russia is still Communist. Whereas, as we know, it is a land of capitalist oligarchs who own Chelsea FC and allegedly large tracts of Mayfair. Why on earth would they want people to vote for Jeremy Corbyn?

      • John Goss

        Your comments are always welcome KoWN as are Thomas Stockmann’s and all the other thinking people who park their opinions on this parking lot. The blackening of Jeremy Corbyn’s character started long ago. There was more hinting of Labour’s non-existent anti-Semitism on the Andrew Marr pantomime this morning. While flatulence sees hope in the obvious corporate fear that Jeremy Corbyn might come to power I want to let rip with my fear of what further tricks they have up their sleeves.

        By the way where have you been lately? Another novel perhaps?

        • King of Welsh Noir

          Hi John, good to interact with you again. In answer to your last question, no I have been spending many months in the company of the Black Dog, I’m afraid.

          • John Goss

            Sorry to hear that. Solution: Take the grey ‘Louie Knight’ hat off and let a bit of light in. I used to drink in the White Lion myself – a long time ago. Proud moments.

            However you let the light in please don’t join the White Helmets.

            One day we might have that pint you promised me, even if I have to buy the round myself.

          • Rose

            I echo John’s sentiments Kown. Hope your’e over your down time and that it bears creative fruit – I’d read it!

        • flatulence

          there’s always hope in flatulence, hope not to let rip too enthusiastically but they’re trying ever so hard to destroy Corbyn and failing bless ’em. At the very least they’re waking more people up so that their attacks become increasingly less effective. Killing him would be too obvious and may cause a revolt. I just hope he has measures in place for when they try planting child porn on him, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they have tried and failed already. They do seem desperate.

          • John Goss

            Do I know you flatulence? My first full collection of poems was called “Borborygmi of the Brain”. Out of print I’m afraid. I don’t even have a copy myself.

            You’re right of course about Jeremy. We, and he, need(s) to be cautious. He is our hope. God, I sound like a missionary.

          • flatulence

            everyone knows me, some more than others granted, but they tend to be loners and for good reason. Those who say they don’t know me are just in denial. My mother in law says she does not know flatulence at all, but she is a damn liar.

            Haha was just looking up the book title thinking this was your first book; as in you were read it as a child and I was thinking I’d love to read that to my kids, but I see you are actually it’s author. Freaky. I was expecting Roald Dahl or something. Kudos to you.

      • flatulence

        Mochyn is welsh for pig, put together with 69 it is quite disturbing, you a friend of David Cameron? 😉

  • flatulence

    I don’t know if ‘D’ notices have changed or the powers enforcing them, although I think I read on truepublica that if you publish something the powers-that-be doesn’t like, they can ruin you. One of the reasons trupublica says its own days are numbered. I think I remember a reporter or newsreader speaking candidly about ‘D’ notices on something like ‘have I got news for you’, and she said there is a meeting to start every day where they are told what they can’t discuss and she found it ‘terrifying’.

    • lysias

      Goebbels’s Ministry of Propaganda used to have such daily meetings where editors were told what they could and could not say.

  • Tom Smythe

    >moving from Gorgon the mother-in-law to Gordon the spy to Rink to Shikany to Edgewood to fluorine-19 nmr ?

    I am still trying to wrap my head around Uglev saying he was given Salisbury spectra, apparently both mass spec and fluorine-19 nmr.

    Note the ms gating that Sean references is an initial gas-liquid chromatography step. The sequence of separated peaks from that then go individually into the a mass spectrometer (of many possible designs) that determines mass/charge (m/z) of each fragment of the various peaks in turn.

    So yes they can determine which sample was spiked with the BZ and precursor, as well as look at the short list of CWC Schedule 1 & 2 compounds, the known unknowns. Blood has tens of thousands of compounds of no interest so as discussed before, they run the plasma over a BChE sephadex column to specifically react out residual toxin, then wash out the extraneous compounds, then flush out the octapeptide-bound toxin (minus its leaving groups) with a tryptic digest for nmr.

    Now govt trolls would use the word novichok but scarcely be cognizant of fluorine and its significance as dog whistle to chemists. I’m skeptical that Uglev fabricated this quote entirely. It follows then that he did receive fluorine-19 nmr (and mass spec) data that originated at PD (Spiez lab relied on PD for novichok structure) but it might have passed through OPCW. Uglev’s opinion is valued because novichok structural nomenclature is so murky and only he knows what he did.

    Importantly, the original chemist started the initial novichok lab. Uglev ran his own lab, the second. Rink ran the third. These are clearly described as separate facilities, maybe or maybe not in the same building. Val M was not qualified in organic chemistry had nothing to do with making novichoks.

    Uglev said he locked his stuff in a safe. That would come into the hands of curious US Army Edgewood Arsenal chemists invited in by Uzbek govt to dismantle the whole chem warfare facility.

    Rink paid Dr. K make some ampoules for him; these were sold to Chechen gangsters and on to whomever. The key point here is Rink’s never-purified ampoule mixes are very unlikely to be the same novichok as the highly purified ones in Uglev’s safe.

    Now, on that “chain of custody”: Uglev, an early high-risk whistleblower, did not sell his novichoks. The high purity stuff reported actually points to the US being in the CoC, not Russian gangsters. That’s why they sent the spectra on to Uglev for confirmation, not Rink. Uglev even says it was probably from a batch he had made with his own hands.

    Uglev –> US Army seizure –> Edgewood Arsenal study, synthesis, transfer –> CIA aliquots–> PD + MI5/6 aliquots –> market alley spray –> sample to PD –> sample applied to door handle –> sample to OPCW –> sample split to Spiez and PD –> PD spectra to OPCW –> Uglev confirmation.

    Of course, once the structure is out in the wild, anyone could make it. Making it pure though, that’s only done in a state-sponsored research laboratory (because the extra steps are huge unnecessary additional risks).

    • Billy Bostickson

      Bloody Hell, good point! Even so, we still can’t be sure 100% if the Novichok allegedly used in Salisbury was originally Rink’s or Uglev’s, still too many unknowns to draw a conclusion yet. There were also many occasions for Uglev’s handiwork to end up in other hands before the yanks got their hands on it.

      Why do you say Rink’s “never-purified” ampoule mixes, I didn’t see that specific information in his interviews on Russian websites. I understood that his ampoules contained pure amounts of one of the Novichok compounds, have you got a link for that?

    • Kay

      @Tom Smythe: do you consider the Skripal’s reported symptoms and Yulia’s apparent vitality and undiminished mental capacity – as suggested by her telephone conversation – to be consistent with her having being rendered delirious and/or unconscious by exposure to a high purity dose of a Novichok-class nerve agent?

  • flatulence

    talking about it to try and uncover and spread the truth… What are you doing exactly?

  • Billy Bostickson

    USS United Kingdom of Great Britain class, United States biggest aircraft carrier currently moored north of France, USA since the 1980s, if I remember correctly

  • J Martin

    Purpose rather than punishment might be to disable so could be taken into custody and silenced?

    Though I’m inclined to go for a duller explanation. Sergei sent £150,000 to Yulia few days before she flew over to UK. She bought something and brought it over. They screw up when cutting it with fentanyl. Get taken ill and taken to hospital. May reacts to fact Skripal was double agent and accuses Russia hoping to generate good publicity for herself. Makes idiot of herself instead and involves Porton Down in the cover up for OPCW which is the real scandal and then massive coverup to stop Porton Down losing accreditation and probably bringing down OPCW as well.

    • lysias

      I was wondering if she was made the fall gal for Salisbury, but no such luck. Rudd was made to resign over Windrush. Wasn’t May also involved in that?

      • N_

        Yes she was. Very clearly so. The letter over which Amber Rudd is supposed to have fallen, dated January 2017, was written to Theresa May. It refers to a government aim that was implemented. That makes May co-responsible. There are no two ways about it. May knew.

      • Tony_0pmoc


        Windrush, was whitewash. It was just a cover story, which could have hit the press anytime, over the last 50 years.

        The Tory Government and Press, just pulled it out, because of their complete embarrassment about their ridculous stories about chemical attacks in Salisbury, and a similar place (well it was till they bombed the place to sh1t) Duma on the outskirts of Damascus

        Theresa May, is now taking elocution and presentation lessons, for when she makes her resignation speech with a big original hand painted painting of Margaret Thatcher in the background for the World Wide Cameras…

        She thought about trying to do this, but she doesn’t like Hillary either.
        I guess Theresa knows that Hillary and Madeleine have copywrite on these scenes

        “Hillary Clinton on Gaddafi: We came, we saw, he died”

        “Madeleine Albright says 500,000 dead Iraqi Children was “worth it” wins Medal of Freedom”


  • Kempe

    Salisbury is barely 20 miles from Warminster. Warminster is a known UFO “hot spot”.

    It’s my theory that the Skripals were abducted by aliens who took them aboard their flying saucer and conducted some bizarre but highly scientific experiments on them before dumping them in the middle of Salisbury. Their visits to The Mill and Zizzi’s are implanted memories to cover for the time they were aboard the alien spaceship. It would explain why they were pointing up at the sky where the craft came from.

    Obviously there’d be panic if this ever got into the MSM so the Skripals have been quietly done away with by the Men In Black and the the MSM silenced by having a VD Notice (like a D Notice but Very much more) slapped on them.

    It all fits and is as plausible as some of the other theories on this blog.

    • D_Majestic

      No-it does not fit, and is nowhere near as plausible as some ideas which have been put forward. Personally, I believe the official story in each case of ‘The Oddities’ which have occurred since the WMD were all found, stacked in the back of a 1978 Toyota. As do you, apparently.

    • Hatuey

      Alien involvement is actually much more plausible. UFOs, presumably flown by aliens, have actually been seen and recorded in the UK.

      There’s a catch 22 here. Only someone who was incredibly stupid would even consider using nerve agents to assassinate someone. But incredibly stupid people don’t have have access to nerve agents.

      You know, the more I think about it, the more I think those UFOs might have been the winged cars of MI6 agents… press the cigarette lighter and take to the sky.

      What’s the opposite of top secret?

      • Jiusito

        “Only someone who was incredibly stupid would even consider using nerve agents to assassinate someone. But incredibly stupid people don’t have have access to nerve agents.”

        But what about the North Korean assassination of Kim Jong-nam apparently using a binary form of VX? Or have I got the wrong end of the stick?

        • Hatuey

          Juisito, do you believe that? If you do, maybe you can explain why so many on here discount the official story of Salisbury. Maybe you could challenge them on it too.

          Let’s be grown up and join the dots.

          North Korea is evil, they use nerve agents to murder people. Russia is run by evil corrupt people who use nerve agents to murder people. I’m not sure if there’s enough there to call it a pattern but there is a common denominator.

          Syria and Iraq under Saddam have been accused too, of course, of various things.

          If Porton Down was in Syria they’d say it was grounds for nuking them.

          You must wonder what terrible things our enemies might say about us and try to forget what our friends say about them.

          • Jiusito

            I was merely asking! If you don’t believe the report of the NK assassination, just say so. I haven’t looked into it, I just thought that – like the Mossad attempt to assassinate Khaled Meshaal – it was not disputed.

            For the record, I don’t believe that countries or cultures are “evil”, and I would be very disinclined to call even an individual “evil”. Actions, yes; people, no.

          • Hatuey

            Jiusito, when I used the word “evil” I was caricaturing the western propaganda system. I thought that was obvious.

            Isn’t it obvious to even a child that the first thing they do with someone designated as an enemy is demonise him or his country with stories of gas, wmd, nerve agents, etc.?

            Apply that to Salisbury. Bear it in mind. Keep it for a rainy day. Use it. Rely on it.

  • N_

    The title of this piece is wrong. If Skripal was involved in the Steele psyop and threatened to blab about his role, and that was the motive for striking him, then the perpetrator would be likely to be Britain, not “the West”. You’d have a Britain versus Trump scenario. In fact it could be Britain and Russia on one side and Trump on the other. Or at least, certain interests in Britain and certain interests in Russia. That’s one hell of a scenario.

    Personally I don’t think Skripal would be so f***ing stupid as to threaten MI6, given the position he was in.

  • N_

    Here is a HUGE point regarding Amber Rudd. She has fallen over a letter she wrote to Theresa May in January 2017 in which she declared the “aim of increasing enforced removals by more than 10 per cent”.

    Repeat: she wrote the letter to THERESA MAY. Theresa May is as guilty as she is! If Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t make that point tomorrow in the House of Commons, people should throw turds at him when he leaves the building.

  • N_

    Is there a version of the D Notice for the barristers’ little mini-state at the Temple? David Williams, the judge who heard Amber Rudd’s application to take samples from the Skripals, came out with bullshit that no honest lawyer (if you can find one of those) would support.

    MI6 has its own judges as well as its own medics.

    Nobody on the left had the guts to call Williams the crook that he is.

  • John Goss

    Off topic.

    Few know that Poroshenko’s fascists are still bombarding the Donbas. That’s because of all the false-flags and flippant stories dominating the news which keep real events out of the public eye. Today two civilians were killed.

    Supporting Patrick Lancaster is difficult since Paypal and all the usual means of getting money to this American journalist have been removed. It is the world we live in. You can subscribe, and I do, but it is not easy.

  • Tom Smythe

    Kay, I am ok with novichok, severe symptoms, recovery:

    it all depends on the dose reaching the blood stream and the absorption timeline, skin vs food vs inhalation differing. Grams? milligrams? micrograms? nanograms?picograms? femtograms? A milligram in one minute would result in abrupt asphyxiation, seizures, loss of bowel control, irreversible course. A microgram over several days might result in shortness of breath and persistent feeling of weakness. A nanogram per day of ‘workplace’ exposure might leave you vaguely irritable. Headaches, not so much as most are too polar to cross the blood-brain barrier.

    There’s a very large medical literature on symptoms of acetylcholinesterase-targeted insecticide exposure in agricultural workers and households that I’m not going to review here. An emergency room dr would be very familiar with these and drug overdoses.

    Even the worst novichok is not remotely as toxic per milligram as for example botulinum toxin, which oddly in very small doses has medicinal uses. That acts earlier in the nerve transmission cascade, inside the upstream nerve, preventing vesicles of acetylcholine from reaching the surface to be released to the downstream muscarinic and nicotinic receptors which have their own toxins, eg BZ for the former and snake venom α-bungarotoxin for the latter.

    Nobody would ever volunteer for what the Skripals got: by all accounts their symptoms were horrific and nearly fatal. This was attempted murder, not fakery or a warning shot across the bow.

    The very first thing the Salisbury Hospital would do is stabilize the patients (ie treat the symptoms, never mind the cause): clear the airways, oxygen or breathing machine, drug to stop seizures, drug to stop vomiting, wash them up thoroughly, maybe a drip, maybe gastric lavage, order up some blood tests, #1 being plasma butyrylcholine esterase.

    Once moved out of the ER to intensive care, if they suspected drug overdose or nervous system poisoning, is to narrow down the transmitter system affected, so as to determine antidote options. Acetylcholine is only one of a hundred or more; dopamine, histamine, serotonin, glutamate, acetylcholine being the more familiar.

    If they’ve decided the symptoms are consistent with cholinergic nerve transmission (rather than μ-opioid receptors –> fentanyl or sodium channel blockers –> shellfish saxitoxin), the next diagnostic step is too much vs too little vs too persistent acetylcholine. The key here is flaccid vs rigid muscle paralysis. I would say flaccid (droopy) is inconsistent with what the bystanders reported (early on, before the coverup was in full swing). That rules out muscarinic and nicotinic receptor antagonists in my view, supported by talk of atropine given as antidote. There is talk of low AChE by which they mean low BChE. There is talk of novichoks which is again low cholinesterase.

    So I am ok with them getting nearly equal, nearly lethal exposure to a novichok-like chemical very shortly before onset of symptoms, anything from cockroach powder (bendiocarb) to any nerve gas. It is impossible for them to have such different physiologies yet have simultaneous onset of symptoms for exposure that occurred so much as an hour before. They were poisoned no later than Zizzi’s.

    For a really comprehensive review, not too technical, you can’t do better than read this 2010 paper by Dr. Patrick Masson of UNMC.

    • Tom Smythe

      Intended above, poisoned no earlier than Zizzi’s. That is, there or in the walkway or at the park bench.

      Right, VX-like compound used at Malaysian airport. VX is all over and fairly easy to make from scratch but I’ve argued elsewhere this was not quite VX nor RVX but more likely CVX obtained from their neighbor.

      • Tom Smythe

        Again, the VX story illustrates why the Russians want to get an authentic chain of custody sample (they have competent chemists) or see the spectra. How all the little atoms are hooked together sounds terribly esoteric but it matters greatly in attribution because none of these compounds can spontaneously rearrange themselves later, so the synthetic histories are distinct.

        That’s not the case after they have covalently bonded with the serine in AChE. One or more leaving group has left for good, so the exact identity of the original agent is slightly ambiguous (under-determined) from what can still be analyzed chemically.

      • Doodlebug

        @Tom Smythe

        “poisoned no earlier than Zizzi’s. That is, there or in the walkway or at the park bench.”

        At (as ‘in the immediate vicinity of’) the park bench is my interpretation also, although not reached by quite so sophisticated a path of reasoning as your own. Copydude earlier cited a description of Sergei’s irritability while inside Zizzi’s as owing more to his anxiety to pay the bill and leave than any nervous reflex to intoxication.

    • N_

      @Tom – I am not going to read that paper. I believe that public-domain knowledge about CW, as about BW and EW, and probably cryptanalysis too, may be decades behind cutting-edge knowledge.

    • Goatboy

      Tom Smythe, I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusions. I have been trying to shed some light and logic on this sordid propaganda farce and getting zero traction in a thread I started on another website (see link below). I would love to link from there to here and refer to your conclusion that the nerve agent must have been delivered shortly before their collapse. This is a key point I have been trying to make. If you don’t mind me asking. What is your background? It seems that you have fairly intimate knowledge of the specific biochemistry involved in this specialised context. Doctor / researcher / military….all three? My credentials are Physics/electronics/Teacher and thus it appears my own logic is undervalued. Personally, I don’t think you need much of a scientific background to see none of this adds up, but hey ho!

      I read your posts with interest. Keep em coming.,50027.120.html

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