Where They Tell You Not to Look 967

At the very beginning of the of the Skripal incident, the security services blocked by D(SMA) notice any media mention of Pablo Miller and told the media not to look at Orbis and the Steele dossier on Trump, acting immediately to get out their message via trusties in the BBC and Guardian. Gordon Corera, “BBC Security Correspondent”, did not name the source who told him to say this, but helpfully illustrated his tweet with a nice picture of MI6 Headquarters.

MI6’s most important media conduit (after Frank Gardner) is Luke Harding of the Guardian.

A number of people replied to Harding’s tweet to point out that this was demonstrably untrue, and Pablo Miller had listed his employment by Orbis Business Intelligence on his Linkedin profile. That profile had just been deleted, but a google search for “Pablo Miller” plus “Orbis Business Intelligence”, without Linkedin as a search term, brought up Miller’s Linkedin profile as the first result (although there are twelve other Pablo Millers on Linkedin and the search brought up none of them). Plus a 2017 forum discussed Pablo Miller’s Orbis connection and it both cited and linked to his Linkedin entry.

You might think that any journalist worth his salt would want to consider this interesting counter-evidence. But Harding merely tweeted again the blank denials of the security services, without question.

This is an important trait of Harding. Last year we both appeared, separately, at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Harding was promoting a book and putting the boot into Wikileaks and Snowden. After his talk, I approached him in an entirely friendly manner, and told him there were a couple of factual errors in his presentation on matters to which I was an eye-witness, and I should be very happy to brief him, off the record, but we could discuss which bits he might use. He said he would talk later, and dashed off. Later I saw him in the author’s lounge, and as I walked towards him he hurriedly got up and left, looking at me.

Of course, nobody is obliged to talk to me. But at that period I had journalists from every major news agency contacting me daily wishing to interview me about Wikileaks, all of whom I was turning down, and there was no doubt of my inside knowledge and direct involvement with a number of the matters of which Harding was writing and speaking. A journalist who positively avoids knowledge of his subject is an interesting phenomenon.

But then Harding is that. From a wealthy family background, privately educated at Atlantic College and then Oxford, Harding became the editor of Oxford University’s Cherwell magazine without showing any leftwing or rebel characteristics. It was not a surprise to those who knew him as a student when he was employed at the very right wing “Daily Mail”. From there he moved to the Guardian. In 2003 Harding was embedded with US forces in Iraq and filing breathless reports of US special forces operations.

Moving to Moscow in 2007 as the Guardian’s Moscow correspondent, others in the Moscow press corps and in the British expatriate community found him to be a man of strongly hawkish neo-con views, extremely pro-British establishment, and much closer to the British Embassy and to MI6 than anybody else in the press corps. It was for this reason Harding was the only resident British journalist, to my knowledge, whose visa the Russians under Putin have refused to renew. They suspected he is actually an MI6 officer, although he is not.

With this background, people who knew Harding were dumbfounded when Harding appeared to be the supporter and insider of first Assange and then Snowden. The reason for this dichotomy is that Harding was not – he wrote books on Wikileaks and on Snowden that claimed to be insider accounts, but in fact just carried on Harding’s long history of plagiarism, as Julian Assange makes clear. Harding’s books were just careful hatchet jobs pretending to be inside accounts. The Guardian’s historical reputation for radicalism was already a sham under the editorship of Rusbridger, and has completely vanished under Viner, in favour of hardcore Clinton identity politics failing to disguise unbending neo-conservatism. The Guardian smashed the hard drives containing the Snowden files under GCHQ supervision, having already undertaken “not to even look at” the information on Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact the hard drives were not the only copies in the world does not excuse their cravenness.

We know, of course, what MI6 have fed to Harding, because it is reflected every day in his output. What we do not know, but may surmise, is what Harding fed back to the security services that he gleaned from the Guardian’s association with Wikileaks and Snowden.

Harding has since made his living from peddling a stream of anti-Assange, anti-Snowden and above all, anti-Russian books, with great commercial success, puffed by the entire mainstream media. But when challenged by the non-mainstream media about the numerous fact free assertions on behalf of the security services to be found in his books, Harding is not altogether convincing. You can watch this video, in which Harding outlines how emoticons convinced him someone was a Russian agent, together with this fascinating analysis which really is a must-read study of anti-Russian paranoia. There is a similar analysis here.

Perhaps still more revealing is this 2014 interview with his old student newspaper Cherwell, where he obvously felt comfortable enough to let the full extent of his monstrous boggle-eyed Russophobia become plain:

His analogies span the bulk of the 20th century and his predictions for the future are equally far-reaching. “This is the biggest crisis in Europe since the Cold War. It’s not the break-up of Yugoslavia, but the strategic consensus since 1945 has been ripped up. We now have an authoritarian state, with armies on the march.” What next?

“It’s clear to me that Putin intends to dismember Ukraine and join it up with Transnistria, then perhaps he’ll go as far as Moldova in one way or another,” Harding says. This is part of what he deems Putin’s over-arching project: an expansionist attempt to gather Russo-phones together under one yoke, which he terms ‘scary and Eurasian-ist’, and which he notes is darkly reminiscent of “another dictator of short stature” who concocted “a similarly irredentist project in the 1930s”.

But actually I think you can garner everything you want to know about Harding from looking at his twitter feed over the last two months. He has obsessively retweeted scores of stories churning out the government’s increasingly strained propaganda line on what occurred in Salisbury. Not one time had Harding ever questioned, even in the mildest way, a single one of the multiple inconsistencies in the government account or referred to anybody who does. He has acted, purely and simply, as a conduit for government propaganda, while abandoning all notion of a journalistic duty to investigate.

We still have no idea of who attacked Sergei Skripal and why. But the fact that, right from the start, the government blocked the media from mentioning Pablo Miller, and put out denials that this has anything to do with Christopher Steele and Orbis, including lying that Miller had never been connected to Orbis, convinces me that this is the most promising direction in which to look.

It never seemed likely to me that the Russians had decided to assassinate an inactive spy who they let out of prison many years ago, over something that happened in Moscow over a decade ago. It seemed even less likely when Boris Johnson claimed intelligence showed this was the result of a decade long novichok programme involving training in secret assassination techniques. Why would they blow all that effort on old Skripal?

That the motive is the connection to the hottest issue in US politics today, and not something in Moscow a decade ago, always seemed to me much more probable. Having now reviewed matters and seen that the government actively tried to shut down this line of inquiry, makes it still more probable this is right.

This does not tell us who did it. Possibly the Russians did, annoyed that Skripal was feeding information to the Steele dossier, against the terms of his release.

Given that the Steele dossier is demonstrably in large degree nonsense, it seems to me more probable the idea was to silence Skripal to close the danger that he would reveal his part in the concoction of this fraud. Remember he had sold out Russian agents to the British for cash and was a man of elastic loyalties. It is also worth noting that Luke Harding has a bestselling book currently on sale, in large part predicated on the truth of the Steele Dossier.

Steele, MI6 and the elements of the CIA which are out to get Trump, all would have a powerful motive to have the Skripal loose end tied.

Rule number one of real investigative journalism: look where they tell you not to look.

967 thoughts on “Where They Tell You Not to Look

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    • iangb

      To paraphrase Oscar Wilde.

      One must have a heart of stone to read of Ms Burleys award without laughing

    • Mary Paul

      Is that possible? i find her increasingly shrill. and I hate that set they use where they have to walk round a big open space .

    • flatulence

      I think some agents can be issued a sort of license. A license to kill. Oh no wait, that was Bond, James Bond.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Dave G May 1, 2018 at 22:15
      What about Hilda Murrell? They just invoke the 11th Commandment: ‘Thou shalt not get found out’.

  • Sharp Ears

    Snow is a hero of the shill Michael White of the Guardian. That says it all. Condemned by White’s praise.

    ‘If Channel 4’s Jon Snow can’t be recognised for the national treasure he is – an unabashed leftie who has beaten the system (but also has to compromise, as we all do) – what hope is there? I’d say he does more good for progressive attitudes than half a dozen Pilgers, wouldn’t you?’


    • John Goss

      Yes, but Andrew Neil and Jon Snow have to work within certain constraints I am sure neither would wish to have to work within. I remember Snow from when he came to Birmingham University in 1980/1 discussing the Middle East crisis (has there ever not been a Middle East crisis?) As you might imagine being a university with students from all over the ME the debate was lively. He handled it well. That was the year he was awarded TV journalist of the year.

      Nobody could be six times more progressive than Pilger. What a stupid statement! Michael White I don’t know. But the other thing I know about Snow is his patronage of Reprieve, a charity concerned with rescuing prisoners potentially facing execution. To my mind he seems a good man.


      • John Goss

        As to Andrew Neil, when I had certain ambitions of becoming a journalist he sent me an encouraging letter which he did not need to write. Thankfully I was saved from that potentially corrupting career by becoming a technical author which was less corrupting and more remunerative.

        • Rhys Jaggar

          Let us just say Andrew Neil has extensive access to information not in the public domain nor supplied to him consensually by members of the public…

          How he has access to that should be raised at his annual performance review…..although no doubt his BBC handlers see that as a reason for a pay rise…..

      • Mary Paul

        I find Jon Snow ( both of them) tiresomely whiney and self regarding. Would not miss either if both were eaten by dragons.

      • Garth Carthy

        I agree. I love his outrageously colourful socks and ties.
        Seriously, I think he is a good, probing journalist much of the time and his enthusiastic, energy engages the viewer.
        However he still falls down when it really matters re: establishment cover-ups. I suppose he has to adhere to all sorts of restrictions enforced on him by his media bosses – so maybe if he has any integrity, he should resign. I don’t see that happening, though.

        The slightly maverick Alex Thomson, chief correspondent, is the best of the bunch from what I’ve seen.

    • Garth Carthy

      John Pilger has spent his life travelling through war zones and experienced first hand the appalling carnage that warmongers create.
      On the other hand Michael White sits in his comfortable chair at home spouting garbage.
      How dare he criticise Pilger who at least sticks his neck out and does some proper investigative journalism. I think people like John Pilger and Noam Chomsky are hero’s – and let’s not forget that brilliant heroine Naomi Klein. The school curriculum should include her book: “The Shock Doctrine”.

      Sorry if I’m going a bit off-topic but I think most of us will agree that the above critics of Western foreign policy have repeatedly warned us about the sort insanity that is happening right now and is likely to happen in the future.

    • Gideon Blackmarsh

      What relation is Viktoria to Yulia? The Daily Mail article refers to her more than once as Yulia’s niece, but I was under the impression they are cousins, and the article also quotes the statement, allegedly from Yulia, which says “I thank my cousin Viktoria for her concern for us, but ask that she does not visit me or try to contact me for the time being”.

      I’m inclined to believe the Mail got the relationship muddled, with Viktoria being Sergei’s niece, not Yulia’s, but it would be rather damning if instead that statement by “Yulia” had their relationship wrong.

        • Gideon Blackmarsh

          Thanks, John. That confirms what I thought, but I must admit to being a little disappointed that it doesn’t demolish the police statement issued on Yulia’s behalf.

          • John Goss

            That’s a good point about the police statement and I am sure the Mail was well vetted with what it was a;;pwed to divulge. This says it all.

            “It is almost thee weeks since Yulia was released from hospital and a statement was issued in her name from Scotland Yard.

            In this she declined assistance by the Russian embassy and said she was now in a ‘totally different life’ since the poisoning in Salisbury where she was visiting her father from her home in Moscow.”

            She has not been allowed to speak for herself.

      • Gideon Blackmarsh

        At the 300 signatures milestone, you said “Anybody not sure whether to sign and would like further information there is plenty on my blog, like for example the link below. There is even more on Craig Murray’s blog”. What is the “link below” that you refer to? I’m not seeing one.

      • Doodlebug

        John, please refer to copydude’s earlier post (30.4, 20:07) and my reply. I’ve taken a swing at the ball. It’s in the air.

    • Jo Dominich

      Doodlebug, is this not just some Daily Mail propaganda BS? The only thing interesting in it is that it alleges Yulia is now living in the USA with a new identity. I wonder why the CIA/USA would be involved in something like this? Where is Sergei Skripal? The other thing that is interesting is the reference to being ‘pumped full of drugs’ – I am not sure why anybody would post that given the sensitivity of the circumstances and the lockdown on information.

      • Doodlebug

        I made no judgement as to the validity of the article or the claims within it. The fact is that, fake or otherwise, it could not have appeared unless the Skripals were being held incommunicado and the public deliberately denied (for there really is no excuse) knowledge of their current well-being. That is what I regard as utterly shameful.

        The implications of ‘news’ itself are grim either way.

          • Doodlebug

            No need for apology Jo. No offence taken. I was merely clarifying my position, having not done so earlier. Charles and Jim have since offered up confirmation of this twitter account’s being a hoax, which I am quite prepared to accept, but I find the mere appearance of the ‘Mail’ story disturbing.

    • Sebastian

      Oops, they allowed comments: If the readership of the DM comes up with this quality of cynicism, I am filled with some hope ! Or perhaps they just have a russia bot infestation?

  • Billy Bostickson

    Someone else also connected the dots between Skripal, Leonard Rink, GRU and Syria:

    an interview with Boris Volodarsky, an author and historian of Soviet and Russian defectors to the West who is too close to British intelligence to be regarded as impartial in his claims.

    The below excerpt (emphasis added) is compelling as background, particularly if one is inclined to believe that MI6 might have sought to entice the Syrian chemists to whom the Soviets outsourced their chemical weapons programme in the era when Novichoks are said to have been developed:

    Syria may be the key to why he was poisoned earlier this month.

    The Syrian government’s Scientific Studies and Research Centre, better know by its French abbreviation, CERS, was established in 1971. Certainly by 1983, and likely earlier, the USSR and its satellites had started to deliver chemical weapons to the centre together with delivery systems for choking, blister, blood and nerve agents. In the early Nineties it was reported that CERS was producing sarin, VX and mustard gas, having received the expertise, technology and materials from Russia. Early in 1992, Russia and Syria signed an agreement whereby Russia undertook to deliver new types of chemical weapons to Damascus. Among them was the infamous Novichok series of nerve agents recently synthesized at the Russian State Scientific Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology — and the very type of poison that was administered to Sergei Skripal in Salisbury three weeks ago.

    In early September 2017, Reuters and several media outlets reported an Israeli attack on a military site in Syria’s Hama province. The air strike killed two soldiers and caused damage near the town of Masyaf, the official statement said. A report from Jerusalem specified that the air strike was on CERS, after Western intelligence reports had linked the target to Syria’s chemical weapons programme. Reports from Moscow mentioned that the CERS facility was guarded by Russian Spetsnaz, the GRU’s equivalent of the British SAS, and staffed by the Russian research scientists.

    In his article in The Times earlier this month, Ben Macintyre noted that the inclusion of Skripal in the spy swap was an anomaly, since he was not an American “asset”. The CIA had agreed to include him in recognition, perhaps, of the high quality of material Britain had shared from the so-called Forthwith files. But it was not only the old files and achievements dating back to the late Nineties that made Skripal valuable to the West.

    [Skripal] was also the only source who could provide British and American intelligence with reliable estimates of [comment by Alex Thomson: or, indeed, who could spill the beans on Western co-opting or spoofing of] the Russian GRU activities in Syria. Although he didn’t know specific people and current operations, he knew the system from the inside and had practical knowledge and experience like no one else. Russia, smarting from the loss of CERS, knew that with [Skripal] gone it would be much more difficult for the British and Americans to analyse intelligence on chemical weapons coming from sources in the field


    Linked with the latest revelations concerning Leonard Rink and Syria found here:
    Very Interesting Syrian links/SVR involving our old friend, Professor Leonard Rink:

    Rink Ринка
    ЦУР проверил ближневосточные связи автора «Новичка»

    The LRC checked the Middle East relations of the author of the “Novice”


    Mudalal Khoury, Leonard Rink’s friend, is also a member of the board of the founding in 2014 of the charitable foundation “RUSSAR” (Rus and the Syrian Arab Republic).

    The head of the fund is former 77-year-old Oleg Fomin, a good friend of the Assad family and the late leaders of Libya Muammar Gaddafi and Iraq Saddam Hussein.

    Among his acquaintances was Sergei Skripal – they worked together in the personnel department of the Foreign Ministry.

    In the section “Participants of the Fund” on the website among businessmen from the Middle East one can find a pleiad of prominent Russian figures: presidential candidate Sergei Baburin, former chief of the Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, Nelli Kuskova from the Combat Brotherhood “, Hieromonk Stefan and others.

    • Hatuey

      Forthwith was Skripal and Skripal was, and presumably still is, MI6.

      I’ve seen a few of these things play out over the years.

      • Billy Bostickson

        Quite a lot of information has been reported in the Russian media lately concerning Leonard Rink’s connection with Khouri in Syria and research is being done into Khouri’s Russian connections and certain other connections of interest in Syria (Assad, Oil, Money Transfer, Chemical weapons, etc)

        Nothing has been reported in the UK media about this as far as I know.

      • N_

        Of course MI6 own him. They probably think they have owned Yulia for years too.

        That doesn’t mean they go to him for help on everything they do that has a snow, borshch and birch tree connection. People should get a grip before they steam in and assert that he must have been involved with the Steele dossier.

        • Doodlebug


          There are no ‘must haves’. But that does not negate the possibility.

        • Ivan

          I have to clarify sir that I meant no insult to you. I was then posting on my handphone, which has limited editing facilities. The story seems to be an elaborate deception, that we have come to expect from the lovable Israelis who mix in some plausible openly available information, with large dollops of lies and biased inferences. One can smell that kind of story from miles away, especially so in my case since I was deceived for many years into thinking that the Iranians had a nuclear weapons program by the same Israelis.

          • AntonyI

            Israel counts 300,000 ex-Russians, more than Syria or any other ME state.

          • Billy Bostickson

            Sure, I get what you are saying, what interests me is not so much the first part claimed by Volodarsky in the Times which could be disinformation given its provenance, but rather the second part concerning Professor Rink’s connections with Khouri, which has recently appeared thanks to independent investigative journalists in Russia (way better than the British ones as we have seen). They are doing a very good job at unraveling the threads spun by the British and Russian governments around the incident in Salisbury.
            have a look at: https://medium.com/@tzurrealism/rink-d47d9e53b16f

          • SA

            It is only now that the penny has dropped for me. So this explains why Russia is playing what some might call a ‘duplicitous’ game in Syria, in not defending them against Israel and not supplying S300 missiles. Maybe Russia’s long term plan is to claim Israel as part of Russia. Although Wikipedia states that there are 300000 Russians living in Israel, 40000 of them Practicing Russian orthodox Christians and the rest mainly atheists, I have heard that the figure is more like 1 million.

    • AntonyI

      So Skripal was essential for the West to unravel Russia’s supposed transfer of chemical weapon tech (including Novichok) to civil war stricken Syria next to Israel. The chance of those WMDs falling in the hands of ISIS etc. would be real and they might end up back in Moscow on the street. It would be equal to the CIA giving Pakistan chemical weapon tech.
      MI6 had Skripal for years already: why would the GRU focus attention on that secret (and crazy) plan now by poisoning him finally with Novichok? Is the GRU stupid in the UK as well?
      Why is Skripal not free right now to bluster in front of all MSN about Putin’s nefarious chemical Syria designs?
      Very unlikely theory.

      • Billy Bostickson

        Not a complete theory as yet, just connecting people and places, exploring angles.

        These are the three I have spent most time on so far.

        1. Sergei Skripal – Julia Skripal – Pablo Miller — Christopher Steele – Trump Dossier – CIA hit to shut his mouth – Novichok – Uzbekhistan – Edgewood – Dennis Rohrbaugh – Vil Mirzayanov

        2. Sergei Skripal – Julia Skripal – Stepan Vikeev – Taitiana Vikeeva – Gasumyanov – Armenian Mafia – SVR – Potanin -Putin

        3. Sergei Skripal – Julia Skripal – GRU Revenge -‘Gordon” – Karpichkov – Estonia – MI6 – Talanov – Leonard Rink – Novichok

        4. Sergei Skripal – Julia Skripal – GRU Revenge – “Gordon” – “Karpichkov” – Estonia – Leonard Rink – Mudalal and Imad Khouri – Kirsan Ilyumzhinov -George Hasvani – Assad – Syria.

        I’m working on the last one now but keeping an eye on the others if any evidence or claims emerge.

        What’s your line? Always good to share your ideas with others.

        • SA

          I think you seem to be missing a big elephant in the room. You are not looking at the long term connections, the Berezovsky network, Chechen network, jehadis, CIA and Mossad.

          • Billy Bostickson

            Not ignoring, they are definitely on my to do list 😉 But before blaming the usual culprits I want to exhaust all possible alternatives. Berezovsky – Karpichkov – Mossad – Chechens – Latvian KGB -Netanyahu’s Powerpoint

            But why couldn’t they have just used a bloody ICE PICK like with Trotsky, that would have saved us all a hell of a lot of wasted internet time!!

        • AntonyI

          Your no.1, same as our host’s. The Steele dossier is the hottest potato while Trump is in the White House, so loose ends have to be taken care off. Skripals reported alive but kept incommunicado by the UK underscores only this scenario.

          • Doodlebug

            American suspicion that MI6 was underscoring the Steele dossier has been explicit since early Feb. (I posted a link to a Schiller Institute report of same up-thread). Steele’s legal resistance to extradition was supported by Sir Richard Dearlove (responsible for the Iraq dossier which ‘primed’ Tony Blair) and the claim that it could represent a ‘risk to national security’. How so, if Orbis were an entirely private company?

            The argument that MI6 have begun shredding the files, metaphorically speaking, has merit.

        • Mary Paul

          I raised issue of Syrian Science Research lab/ Russian scientists and support/novichok /links to Salisbury incident here a while back and got roundly shouted down for my pains.Still, what goes around……

      • Billy Bostickson

        Gennadiy Vasilenko, a KGB recruiter who worked in the Soviet embassy in Washington in the ’70s and ’80s, thought of himself as a patriot, he notes. “The United States of America was the enemy No. 1.”

        Jack Platt, a CIA recruiter in Washington who enlisted Russians to work for the United States, says the motives of Russians were entirely different. “In almost 65 percent of the cases the prime motivation…was revenge,” Platt says. “Revenge for a…true wrong, or a perception in his or her head that something terrible had been done to him or her by that system.”

        At that time, Platt and Vasilenko were working in Washington trying to recruit each other. For years they cultivated a friendship, going to ball games and meeting each other’s families. Once Platt tried to recruit Vasilenko with a briefcase of cash. “I just asked for 20 bucks to pay for the…lunch, for the beer,” Vasilenko says.

        Platt says he was never tempted. “I once said to Gennadiy, what are you going to offer me? Five hours in a bread line? Nine square meters of living space in Moscow?”

        They didn’t succeed in recruiting each other but their friendship deepened. They met regularly, until one day Vasilenko disappeared. He had been ordered to Havana for what he thought was going to be a routine KGB meeting in an apartment building. On the veranda two men jumped on him, broke his arm and head, and he was accused of treason, Vasilenko recalls.

        Vasilenko was thrown into Moscow’s Lefortavo prison, where traitors are executed in the basement. “The prisoner is merely led down a darkened corridor where the lights are very dim,” Platt says. A series of niches line the corridor, and in one stand two executioners. “As the prisoner is escorted by one of the niches, either one or both step out from behind the niche and put a bullet in the back of his head.”

        Expecting to die, Vasilenko wondered who had accused him and why? That was 13 years ago and he never knew the answer – until now. In an affadavit, the FBI says Robert Hanssen told his handlers that a KGB officr, with the code name M., had been meeting with a CIA agent.

        “M.” was Vasilenko, Platt says, adding that Hanssen turned Vasilenko in. “I now know that,” Platt says. “And so does Gennadiy.”

        The CIA now believes the KGB agent that Hanssen refered to as “M.” was Vasilenko.

        But Hanssen was wrong about Vasilenko. According to Platt, Vasilenko had met with Platt but he wasn’t a spy. “And if anybody should know, it should’ve been me.”

        Vasilenko could be considered an innocent victim of Hanssen, according to Platt. “He very nearly lost his life as a result of the betrayal of trust of Hanssen.”


    • Yeah, Right

      “Russia, smarting from the loss of CERS, knew that with [Skripal] gone it would be much more difficult for the British and Americans to analyse intelligence on chemical weapons coming from sources in the field”

      Now, sorry, this argument falls at the very first hurdle, which is this: if the knowledge that Skripal still held was in any way useful to “the west” then the Russians would never have swapped him. Not in a million years.

      They would have refused to include him in the swap (and, as you note, his inclusion was “an anomaly”, so it would not have been out of the ordinary for the Russians to say no).

      Heck, if the knowledge he still held was so dangerous to Russian interests that it was worthwhile them killing him then… they would have killed him while he was still incarcerated. They certainly would not have released him into the tender care of the Brits and *then* make an attempt on his life. In what world would that make any sense?

      If the Russians did decide that Skripal Must Die! then they did not make that decision based on what he had not yet had the opportunity to pass on to his MI6 handlers.

      No. They aren’t stupid. They would have thoroughly debriefed Skripal, and if they were not convinced that there is nothing – absolutely nothing – that he knew that wasn’t already known to MI6 then They Would Not Have Swapped Him.

      So if the Russians made the decision – and this is a mighty big “if” – that Skripal Must Die! then they would have come to that conclusion based upon some skulduggery that he had involved himself in during the years *after* his release. Something nefarious, something not connected to his previous job.

      Something like, oh, I dunno, making up stuff to include in a smear campaign intended to start a new Cold War between the USA and Russia…

      • SA

        And “if” – that Skripal Must Die! then…”
        they would have Holly well made sure that he did using reliable well tested measures and not amateurish half hearted attempts with newcomers!

      • Hatuey

        Yeah, Right, welcome aboard. Everything you say here is bang on. If they wanted him dead it would have been a cinch.

      • Billy Bostickson

        Yeah, Right, that’s a circular argument if I’ve ever seen one, one that falls down as soon as you give it a spin or two.

        1. Russia wasn’t to know what work or help he would give in the future or what he would get involved in.
        2. You seem to think that Russia held all the cards in the spy swap while in fact they were very keen to get their US agents back and happy to get rid of a few people in return.
        3. I still don’t claim the Russians did it, my argument is based on part 2 of the post above showing links between Leonard Rink and Khouri in Syria. Rogue Op maybe, who knows.

        What’s your big theory then? Yeah, Right,. you haven’t got one…

        • Yeah, Right

          “Yeah, Right, that’s a circular argument if I’ve ever seen one,”

          No, there is nothing circular in my argument. YOUR argument is predicated upon the claim that the British wanted to include Skripal in the spy-swap because he was uniquely in possession of information that MI6 wanted, and did not then possess.

          That’s nonsensical, because it requires us to believe that the Russians didn’t realise that Skripal still possessed knowledge that was damaging to Russian national interests.


          The Russians were his employer, they knew exactly what information had passed across his desk. They had the man in custody, so they could question him about what information he had passed on and what information he hadn’t passed on. THEY HAD THE MAN BY HIS BALLS, because they would have told him that if he doesn’t come clean in that debriefing then they are never, ever, ever going to swap him.

          There is zero chance that he still possessed any knowledge whatsoever that could possibly be of use to MI6. Just as there was zero chance – none whatsoever – that any of the Russian spies who were swapped for Skripal were of any further use to Moscow.

          “You seem to think that Russia held all the cards in the spy swap”…. noooooo, I did not say that, so don’t put words in my mouth. That’s rude.

          I said that the Russians get to agree who they will swap, and if Skripal still had any residual value to MI6 then they would not have agreed to swap him.

          “What’s your big theory then? Yeah, Right,. you haven’t got one”

          I explained my theory in my first post.

          It is this: Skripal was worthless when he was swapped with a residual value of…..zero. But he was still an unscrupulous and amoral individual, and probably very greedy for money.

          So when Christopher Steele needed some salacious material from “Russian insiders” (and, remember, Steele is persona non grata in Russia, so nobody inside Russia will touch him) then he turned to Skripal, who was certainly known to Steele.

          I would bet very good money that Skripal is the only “source” that Steele used to concoct his fairy-tale dossier on Trump, and I would bet even more money that Skripal made it all up over a pint at his local pub.

          There is your motive: he was poisoned because of his involvement in the Steele dossier.

          As to who did it, well, shucks, let’s draw up a list:
          a) The Russians, because they were outraged at the damage he inflicted on USA/Russian relations
          b) The British, because they are scared that Trump will find out that the dodgy-dossier was written in a Salisbury pub.
          c) The Democratics, because they were scared that Trump might drag Skripal to Washington to use as a club against them.
          d) The Republicans, because they found out that Skripal had maliciously attempted to destroy Trump.

          Basically, if Skripal was the source for that Steele dossier then there are any number of people who might want him dead, precisely because – and let’s be honest here – the man has a proved track record of swapping sides.

          • Billy Bostickson

            Your argument is definitely so circular that it’s gone into a death spiral and you are now vainly clutching at straws as you sink into a quagmire of delusion.

            Have you actually read the Steele Dossier? The sources are clearly stated and not one of them, by any stretch of the imagination, could possibly include Sergei Skripal.

            “Sources A and B, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin respectively, Source C, a senior Russian financial official…This was confirmed by Source D, a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow. The Moscow Ritz Carlton episode involving TRUMP reported above was confirmed by Source E, Source E provided an introduction for a company ethnic Russian operative to Source F, a female staffer at the hotel. Source G, a senior Kremlin official, confided that the CLINTON dossier was controlled exclusively by Chief Kremlin spokesman, Dmitriy PESKOV,
            Source E, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump ”

            Full report here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984-Trump-Intelligence-Allegations.html

            So, exactly where does Skripal’s GRU knowledge fit into the Dossier?

            The only connection between Skripal and Steele was via Pablo Miller, his MI6 handler who also worked with Steele. Stop trying to create connections where they don’t exist.

            Finally, you say:

            “YOUR argument is predicated upon the claim that the British wanted to include Skripal in the spy-swap because he was uniquely in possession of information that MI6 wanted, and did not then possess. That’s nonsensical, because it requires us to believe that the Russians didn’t realise that Skripal still possessed knowledge that was damaging to Russian national interests. Bollocks.”

            What I actually said was that ” Someone else also connected the dots between Skripal, Leonard Rink, GRU and Syria”, i.e. Boris Volodarsky and Alex Thomson who merely stated that: “Although he didn’t know specific people and current operations, he knew the system from the inside and had practical knowledge and experience like no one else. Russia, smarting from the loss of CERS, knew that with [Skripal] gone it would be much more difficult for the British and Americans to analyse intelligence on chemical weapons coming from sources in the field”

            As I commented to Ivan, personally I’m much more interested in the latest revelations concerning Professor Leonard Rink, Mudalal Khoury and Oleg Fomin (who worked with Skripal in Moscow) in Syria found here:

            Rink Ринка ЦУР проверил ближневосточные связи автора «Новичка»
            The LRC checked the Middle East relations of the author of the “Novice”


            Mudalal Khoury, Leonard Rink’s friend, is also a member of the board of the founding in 2014 of the charitable foundation “RUSSAR” (Rus and the Syrian Arab Republic).

            The head of the fund is former 77-year-old Oleg Fomin, a good friend of the Assad family and the late leaders of Libya Muammar Gaddafi and Iraq Saddam Hussein.

            Among his acquaintances was Sergei Skripal – they worked together in the personnel department of the Foreign Ministry.

            In the section “Participants of the Fund” on the website among businessmen from the Middle East one can find a pleiad of prominent Russian figures: presidential candidate Sergei Baburin, former chief of the Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, Nelli Kuskova from the Combat Brotherhood “, Hieromonk Stefan and others.

          • Yeah, Right

            “The sources are clearly stated”, followed by these oh-so-definitive quotes:
            “Sources A and B, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure and a former top level Russian intelligence officer”
            “Source C, a senior Russian financial official”
            “Source D, a close associate of TRUMP”
            “Source E”, who is…. “Source E”
            “Source F, a female staffer at the hotel.”
            “Source G, a senior Kremlin official”

            And we are expected to accept that any one of those persons actually really exist because…. why, exactly?

            Would it be because a spy who is peddling information for money says that they exist?

            Pardon me for being sceptical.

            I take it you are not a fan of Graham Greene? Let me recommend one book in particular: Our Man In Havana.

    • N_

      [Skripal] was also the only source who could provide British and American intelligence with reliable estimates of the Russian GRU activities in Syria. Although he didn’t know specific people and current operations, he knew the system from the inside and had practical knowledge and experience like no one else. Russia, smarting from the loss of CERS, knew that with [Skripal] gone it would be much more difficult for the British and Americans to analyse intelligence on chemical weapons coming from sources in the field” (my emphasis)

      He was a desk jockey, albeit a very valuable one – he was head of GRU personnel. The weight of the argument here is being exaggerated. I am ready to believe that he may have been the only western source at that seniority level in the GRU. But he didn’t have “practical experience like no-one else”. Have you seen the crappy lock he had on his door in Salisbury?

      The (British) reason he was swapped wasn’t so that he could continue to help MI6 (!) It is because they want the message to go out that they always help their joes when they get into trouble. If a human intelligence agency can’t persuade people of that, it can’t function. By the same token, MI6 didn’t successfully protect him in this affair and they have therefore taken a hit.

      • Bayleaf

        @N_ “By the same token, MI6 didn’t successfully protect him in this affair and they have therefore taken a hit.”

        In this game of smoke and mirrors, are you sure that the Skripals were poisoned? Back on page 2 of this thread’s comments, there’s some discussion about the red handbag and the fact that the two people on the video image look nothing like the Skripals. Charles (April 30, 2018 at 20:28) casts reasonable doubt on the Skripals being the people on the bench:

        “Witness Freya Church, 27, who later spotted the pair ‘slumped’ and ‘passed out’ on the bench, said the couple pictured in the CCTV images released today were ‘100%’ the people she saw slumped on the bench on Sunday.”

        The higher-definition videos of the people on the park bench haven’t been released by the police and instead a poor definition image was released.

        So perhaps this was all an elaborate ploy to get Sergei a new identity and save him from being murdered by a Trump henchman – and get one over on the Russians at the same time. See, they might have protected him, after all.

        • Bayard

          Perhaps the original plan was to get Sergei a new identity, but it was hijacked at a late stage by those who wanted an anti-Russian agenda, hence all the farce about Novichok, the door handle and the “secret manual”, and the constantly changing stories on contamination and decontamination.

  • SA

    The certainty that the Skripals were poisoned by Russia reminds me of the Anthrax episode of 17/9/2001. This attack seems to have receded into the background despite the fact that it probably played a major impact on the acceptance of the nescessary to invade Iraq.
    The episode is worth revisiting:

    It seems to this day that this case has not been definitively solved. Despite many reassurance at the time of various aspects such as that it was weapons grade, silica content, betonite and tin contamination, leading to various hypotheses, these ‘facts’ were later disputed.
    So for our government to confidently assert, and for the ‘international’ community to believe Russian complicity in the Skripal poisoning sounds to me amazingly precipitous and assumes that the consumers of this propaganda are extremely naive.

    • Doodlebug

      @SA 07:28

      “The certainty that the Skripals were poisoned by Russia….”


      • SA

        Sorry for the misleading way I put this, I should have said, the certainty asserted by the government that the Skripals etcc, I of course do not think it is in any way.

  • Sharp Ears

    The Tory Surrey mafia illustrated. Jeremy Hunt’s father was an admiral like Anson. The chair of a local NHS Trust was an admiral and a friend of Hunt’s father. They all know each other and socialize with each other. A mob.
    MP Hunt pays tribute to ‘true war hero’ Sir Peter

    All 11 of Surrey’s MPs are Tory. Eight are ministers!
    Gove. Hunt. Hammond. Raab. Grayling! Blunt. Gyimah. Kwarteng. Lord. Beresford. Milton.

    60 of the 81 county councillors are Tory as are very many borough councillors. It is a depressing place in which to live if you yearn for democracy and have an interest in politics and the state of the country. Even the Police and Crime Commissioner is an ex Tory county councillor. The 41 PCCs are paid up to £85,000 pa and replaced the local police authorities, which contained an element of democracy. They were abolished. That was another of Theresa May’s wheezes.

    All Surrey CC’s care homes for the elderly have been closed down and the sites flogged off to property developers, some of whom are Tory donors. Children’s services are poor. Schools are overcrowded. The roads and pavements are in a terrible condition. Parking meters have been installed at open spaces like Newlands Corner, a famous ‘beauty spot’ where you can see for miles to the South Downs on a clear day. I won’t go on.

    PS Hunt, the multi-millionaire Health Secretary, has just purchased 7 flats in a Southampton Marina development. He set up a company (Mare Pond Properties Ltd) with his wife for the purpose and then took himself off as a director. He did not declare his financial interest and has had to apologize. He also failed to inform Companies House of the change. But that’s OK then.

    Jeremy Hunt avoids £100,000 stamp duty by exploiting Tory tax loophole and buying flats in bulk
    The Health Secretary already faces a parliamentary sleaze probe into his alleged failure to register an interest in the company he used to purchase the flats in Ocean Village

    The Tories know all the wheezes.

    • N_

      Good work, @Sharp Ears. Wherever there is chemical weapons research, production or security, or a CW flap, there are indeed private commercial medical and pharmaceutical interests. Big Pharma is enormously powerful in Britain, and not just in central government and the Ministry of Defence, but also in public relations and even in local government. Practically every day, for those who know how to look, there are articles in the MSM – big articles near the front – propagandising for Big Pharma contracts. That is no exaggeration.

      • N_

        Practically every day, for those who know how to look, there are articles in the MSM – big articles near the front – propagandising for Big Pharma contracts.

        For example, today there’s a breast screening story.

    • Sharp Ears

      Hunt’s cousin is Virginia Bottomley, the previous incumbent of the SW Surrey seat.

      Chapter and verse. YCNMIU.

      There is a mistake within. Hunt’s company Hotcourses was not in catering. It supplied info to prospective students for tertiary courses.

      To them that hath, etc etc.

      Jeremy Hunt in line for £14.5m windfall with Hotcourses sale
      Health secretary stepped down as director of educational listings firm in 2009, but sale could make him richest member of May’s cabinet

    • carole wooster

      @ Sharp Ears – which NHS trust are you referring to and what is the name of the chairman? I would be very interested if you have any more info re Surrey esp concerning JH’s constituency, AM’s constituency, local NHS including doctors and also Surrey Police

  • certa certi

    ‘MI5 are allowed to commit crimes in the UK, without specifying which crimes they are allowed to commit’

    The Minister’s reasoning would have to be the national interest, senior management would probably feel the need to protect themselves with independent legal advice and probably demand the Minister put the direction in writing.

    • Salford Lad

      @Sharp Ears
      You may be unaware that the previous holder of Jeremy Hunts seat was Virginia Bottomley. She is related by marriage to Jeremy. She now sits in the House of Lords and I believe has interests in Private Hospital and Medical Establishments
      .I trust you will delve deeper and research accordingly Sharp Ears.

      • Sharp Ears

        Sorry Salford Lad. Have been out (in the rain with the dog) and did not see your post. It is not exactly nepotism is it but close. A sort of hierarchy. You can see how many opportunities are created for corruption of all sorts. There is also a Baroness Cumberlege who runs an outfit called Cumberlege Connections Ltd. It advises on healthcare matters.

        She and others, including Bottomley, have profited from the Health and Social Care Act, 2012, which increased the introduction of privatisation into OUR NHS.

        ‘Tories in £1.5 billion NHS sell-off scandal
        4 October 2014
        A new investigation by Unite has found that since 2012 a scandalous £1.5 billion has left the NHS and gone into the pockets of just 15 private companies linked to 24 Tory MPs and Lords who voted for the Health and Social Care Act (see notes to editors).

        Many of these MPs and Lords have benefited from the combination of their links to private healthcare and the sell-off of the NHS.

        The 24 Tory MPs and Lords, include, The Prime Minister David Cameron, Andrew Lansley, Jo, Johnson, William Hague and Nadhim Zahawi, Nick Herbert, David Ruffley, Chris Skidmore, Mark Simmonds, Nicholas Soames, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Kwasi Kwarteng.

        Lord Blackwell, Baron Higgins of Worthing, Baroness Cumberledge, Baroness Wheatcroft, Baroness Bottomley, Lord Freeman, Lord Popat, Lord Patten, Lord Glendonbrook, Lord Hunt and Baroness James of Holland Park.

        That was four years ago. \There has been even more privatisation since of course.

  • Dimitris Mita

    Thank you for what you do. You are a rare, brave voice in the wilderness of MSM lies and collusion. Your courage is hugely impressive.

  • Neil Robinson

    The insane thing about all this is that Yulia is a Russian citizen and the British state has in all intents and purposes kidnapped her.

    It speaks volumes (excuse the pun) that we haven’t heard from her and that all three of them (Yulia, Sergei and the copper) have not been interviewed and their whereabouts remain unknown.

  • N_

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Theresa May falls soon. JRM’s party (as I call it) has not been made to back down once. In the past they have even forced Downing Street to kowtow in public as if they were Thatcher responding to a Rothschild over a Fifth Man allegation. That looks very much like power. And now Amber Rudd has been hoiked out and replaced by Sajid Javid, a guy who stands as if he’s in the Bullingdon Club and is obviously “eager to please”. The pathetic opinion-channelling commentariat in this country write their rubbish about “BINO” and “max fac” and the difference between “a customs union” and “the customs union”, and all the other buzz phrases. Someone’s going to offer a cut of the Gordian knot to the population soon, and it’s unlikely to focus on public compassion for immigrants from the West Indies. The JRM “finishing kick” could come faster than many think. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

    • Mochyn69

      Rees-Mogg got the 8.10am slot on the Today programme to discuss this further (a sign of the influence he exerts on the government – David Lidington, who is supposedly May’s effective deputy prime minister, was relegated to the less prestigious 8.40 slot). And Rees-Mogg insisted that the the ERG were not threatening to bring down the prime minister over this.

      There is no question of there being an ultimatum. This is a paper that has been produced on a specific aspect of policy that would not work, that would not effectively take us out of the European Union. It would leave us de facto in both the customs union and the single market.
      At this point he sounded not entirely unlike someone running a protection racket. “Very nice majority you’ve got here, prime minister. Great shame if anything were to happen to it.”

      From today’s Guardian.


  • Scottish Intelligence Service

    Virginian Bottomley is a member of the Ditchley Foundation. That is a Council on Foreign Relations / Bilderberg type outfit. The usual “enovys of the bankers and establishment” involved.

    French troops are in Syria. Also importantly: “The French Ambassador to Israel Hélène Le Gal has warned that a potential US walkout from the Iran nuclear deal may bring the region to the brink of a war, as she believes that Tehran would “immediately” revive its alleged nuclear weapons program, prompting a response by Israel.”

    It’s all set up for Rothschild lackey Macron to act in favour of Israel. Hence why also Bibi is trying to wreck the Iran deal.

    North Korea “pacified”, Syria weakened, so they might double cross Iran now.

    • N_

      The Iranian leadership should have learnt from the mistake of the Libyan one: super-slurping to the US doesn’t stop them whacking you. I mean is Persia an old country like Korea or a new one like Libya?

    • snickid

      “It’s all set up for Rothschild lackey Macron”

      More ‘Rothschild’ nonsense. It’s a shame. The rest of your post seems to me very sensible.

      • Sharp Ears

        Do you not know that Micron, as I call him, worked for the Rothschilds and probably still does?

        Do you also know that a series about the Rothschild family is coming up?

        ‘It has all the ingredients of a sumptuous period drama: five brothers set out to make their fortune and build an empire that spans the globe. So who better to adapt the story of the Rothschild dynasty than Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey?

        Fellowes is working on a series about the financiers whose influence spread across Europe in the 19th century. It is being produced by Jemima Khan, who can declare a personal interest in the family: her brothers, Zac and Ben, both married Rothschild heiresses. The drama is titled Five Arrows – a reference to the design on the Rothschild coat of arms, in which a fistful of arrows represents the five sons.

        • Laguerre

          There’s no point in exaggerating. Macron only worked for Rothschilds for a couple of years. (as opposed to the 20 years that May worked in banking). Although he was privileged during that time, he’s a much more traditional product of the French elite caste, a graduate of ENA, descended from a bourgeois provincial family of doctors. That’s not natural material for allegiance to international banking. I don’t know why it is that we get this superficial contempt of Macron – even Craig goes in for it – he’s always judged by British standards (France’s Thatcher, Craig said), which don’t apply in France. I thought of a good example the other day. The French coal-mines got closed down at about the same time as the British ones, but there was no French Thatcher then and no Orgreave. Violent confrontation was Thatcher’s style, recreating the polarised hostility of the Industrial Revolution. Other countries don’t do like Brits, and two years at Rothschild’s doesn’t make you an international banker. It was more like a privileged internship.

      • N_

        Surely the Windrush saga would’ve put Corbyn ahead of May?

        “Windrush” is a “dogwhistle” term if ever I’ve heard one.

        For decades it has been used in the London area by racist arseholes who think racism is amusing and that they are being funny to use euphemisms when they express their contempt for non-white people, in this case for black West Indians. (Never mind that not all of the immigrants from the West Indies have actually been black.) “He came over on the Empire Windrush” is a common saying among Tory types, akin to classics such as “that man over there just gave you a black look”, “he’s got a touch of the tarbrush”, and “he looks as though he’s caught too much of the sun”. Against people with roots in the subcontinent, there is the comparable saying “he’s a western oriental gentleman”.

        This is the real face of racism. Never mind that the press are saying we all love “Windrush generation” immigrants who have worked in the NHS, and so on. Many of their readers can hear the dogwhistles blowing.

        And so the Tories are pulling ahead of Labour in the polls.

        • Geoffrey

          Or you could draw exactly the opposite conclusion, as suggested by the opinion polls above, that Labour voters are predominantly racist, and some now say that they will vote Tory.

        • Laguerre

          “And so the Tories are pulling ahead of Labour in the polls.”

          So you’re fooled by the Tory poll owners too. I thought you would have learnt from last year’s debacle.

  • N_

    I keep saying it, but watch this guy Rees-Mogg. The “clever” types in the media are all standing to attention saying he’s not going far and the favourite doesn’t win, blah blah, but Mogg is no Anthony Meyer and he hasn’t “bought his own furniture” as was said of Michael Heseltine. He’s the favourite not just in the betting market, which as we know often gets it wrong, but at Conservative Home. Those who think it will be easy for a Stop Mogg faction to keep him out of a two-person ballot among the membership are deluding themselves. Just look at the power of the ERG. That’s what they’d be fighting against. Who would be in the pair of non-Mogg candidates they would choose? Johnson? You’ve got to be joking. Ditto Gove, who just isn’t telegenic. Javid? Again, you’ve got to be joking. Few say it out loud these days, but the Tory party is as racist as hell. Hunt? Maybe. Raab? Well now you’re getting to people who’ve had little media exposure. Rudd could have been there, and a while back so could Davis, but they won’t be now. There’s the option of installing a non-Mogg replacement for May without balloting the membership, but that’s unlikely if May gets stabbed out in a faction fight.

    Unusually, the Tories are whipping their MPs to vote against Labour’s day motion today. Got to wonder how many will “forget” to vote, and whether the DUP will be on-side.

    • Bunkum

      Unusually, the Tories are whipping their MPs to vote against Labour’s day motion today. Got to wonder how many will “forget” to vote, and whether the DUP will be on-side.

      This could bring the govt down as clearly something to hide, sadly Cons will put party before country and another bung to the DUP and MSM will not even mention it. Sad times………………

    • Mochyn69

      Can this be right? The BBC has the knives out for the tory government??

      James Landale
      So, is this right? 23 months after referendum, 14 months after A50 triggered & 9 months after options first proposed in HMG position paper, the Cabinet is still discussing its negotiating position on the UK’s post-Brexit customs relationship with the EU? #tempusfugit
      May 2, 2018

      Something’s definitely afoot.

      Watch this space.


    • Vivian O'Blivion

      JRM. really?
      Remember cringing as the Andrea Loathsome for PM mob stormed the party HQ. The lunatic right overstretched then with a suitably humiliating end. Loathsome at least had two years in a junior ministerial role (the reviews are spectacularly damning). JRM has only ever been a backbencher and committee member.
      Private Eye had Loathsome marked down as a place man for a hard right, religious cult from the moment she entered Westmonster.
      Not saying that JRM doesn’t see himself in No. 10 in the near future, just that Loathsome lost out to Treason by 100 votes. The lunatic right have the command of the limelight, but do they have numbers?

    • SA

      Hammond, who has not said much, similar to what TM did after the referendum, may be a serious contender amongst the internecine fights.

  • Doodlebug

    Now then, about this Daily Mail story…..http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5679717/Family-Sergei-Skripal-stalked-Twitter-troll-claiming-Yulia.html

    Since I do not make use of social media personally this places me at a disadvantage, but it would surely be instructive to know whether the @SkripalYulia account in question was set up prior to, or after, the Salisbury incident.

    “Her messages, mostly in Russian, over several weeks…”

    That narrows the field somewhat.

    “The account @SkripalYulia, using this picture of her as its profile image, claims to be the 33-year-old, who has not been heard from since April 5”

    That picture was a lucky guess then (being consistent with any actual twitter account Yulia may already have had)?

    “One message from @SkripalYulia shows an unidentified nurse and is captioned: ‘My guardian angel.’ Yet the badge of the registered nurse appears to be from New South Wales in Australia”

    Look at the picture. Look at ‘the badge’. And you’ll see it’s not a badge at all, but the business end of a stethoscope!

    “‘Much as we dream and want to hear from Yulia and Sergey, we are very sceptical about these tweets,’ Yulia’s niece Viktoria said. ‘I wonder if this is someone’s cruel trick on us, a prank.'”

    Viktoria appears to speak very good English. Almost as accomplished as Yulia’s own ‘formalese’ when issuing her statement(s) via the Police.

    “But Yelena then asked a question, the answer which was only known to a few family members. (Aha! A ‘security’ question)

    “She tweeted: ‘…forgive me for this question, what was the name of that white cat me and you washed once? And I won’t bother you with more… ‘ (so the ‘identity’ of a once washed cat, domicile unknown, becomes crucial? There is maybe a good, as well as legitimate, reason why its name was known to only a few family members – and maybe Yulia wasn’t among them).

    Then ‘Yulia’ replied: ‘I don’t remember. This is the consequence of Novichok.’ (She’s been reading the papers, clearly).

    This could, and I can put it no stronger than that, be the Mail spinning a reality for the benefit of others (not the Skripals, obviously).

      • Doodlebug

        Thank you Charles. I stand corrected. (I did say I don’t do twitter…it shows).

      • Gideon Blackmarsh

        I downloaded the profile image and the two images of hospital staff to see if there was any EXIF information present but turned up a blank. The only thing it showed was that all three images were modified on 12/04/2018 (10:17am for the profile image, 12:38 for the image of the white-coated man and woman at the desk, and 13:32 for the “NSW/guardian angel” image). Not sure that tells us anything other than 12th April being the likely date the account was started and the images uploaded. There’s no date taken information in the images (although the Windows 10 Photos app wrongly displays the aforementioned date modified as the date taken).

        A reverse image search of the two medical images failed to bring up any sites they could have been taken from and merely identified them as being pictures of a “nurse” and a “coffee table”.

        I don’t currently have any means of enhancing the photos other than the Windows 10 Photos app (which actually isn’t bad at enhancing photos, all things considered). There’s some intriguing text on various signs, posters, brochures and badges, but it all just looks a blur when zoomed in, and so far I’ve not been able to make any significant improvements to its legibility.

        • Gideon Blackmarsh

          Yulia, or whoever it is claiming to be her, tweeted on 16th April “I’am being made a vegetable in Britain!!!! Help!!!” which is four days after posting the picture of the nurse with what appears to be a New South Wales badge.

          I can’t decide whether this is the work of a cruel prankster or the work of the guilty party (be they Russian or British) to muddy the waters. I’m fairly certain that it’s not the real Yulia Skripal though. Given that Yulia has not been allowed to speak directly to the press, it’s extremely unlikely that she has free access to the internet to express herself on Twitter or any other forum.

          • Doodlebug

            Thank you Gideon. Much appreciated. If the tweets are indeed a hoax, as seems to be the case, one has to wonder what kind of a sick mind would post them. That said, there appears to be no shortage of such on the planet.

    • Jim

      Her (@SkripalYulia) twitter profile says she joined twitter in April 2018 so this account was set up after the Salisbury incident.

      • Doodlebug


        Which could suggest that the Twitter account at issue is indeed phony and the Skripals (those in Russia) are playing with a straight bat. I’m fine with that idea. What I’m not at all comfortable with are the circumstances which have allowed this story to ‘develop’. It could only have appeared in a ‘knowledge vaccum’, the existence of which is inexcusable in my view.

        Thanks for the follow up.

  • Sharp Ears

    HoC today

    Gideon Osborne, Chair Northern Powerhouse Partnership, \lord O’Neil of Goldman Sachs, Vice Chair of NPP and Henri Murison Director of the NPP are giving evidence to the Hoc Education Committee on the state of education in the North. YCNMIU.

    So worried is May and so determined that the truth will not come out, she has put a three line whip on the opposition motion to have all the Home Office papers and correspondence (going back to 2010 to date) published on the Windrush affair.

    Hunt coming up on breast cancer treatment after PMQs. Hope Corbyn goes for May’s jugular.


  • Billy Bostickson

    “Everything is fine, everything is solved, everyone is recovering, everyone is alive,” says Skripal’s daughter. When asked about her father’s health, she answers: “Everything is normal, it’s resting now, sleeping, everyone’s health is normal, no one has irreparable things, everything, I’ll be discharged soon, everything is OK.”

  • Sean Lamb

    Does anyone know if there is an ETA for the OPCW’s report on Douma to be released?

    I am assuming that they are going to detect the presence of A-234 – so that all the immense work Billy has been putting in to promote the Russia -> Syria link can be properly appreciated.

  • N_

    How many cabinet members will resign today? If the customs union NCP wins out, there’s not much reason for Davis to stick around. And that’s just for starters.

  • Billy Bostickson

    Mark Sedwill is pathetic, is that all he can say for himself, even a deranged muppet high on PCP could do better than that. He has had two months!


    The comments by Sir Mark Sedwill punctured hopes that the police and other security agencies had pinpointed suspects but were withholding the name or names from the public.

    Asked by an MP at a Commons defence committee hearing if he knew the individuals responsible, he replied curtly: “Not yet.”

    Sedwill, who coordinates the work of the MI6, MI5, the surveillance agency GCHQ and others, did not elaborate but among problems that have hampered the agencies is a lack of CCTV coverage in Salisbury compared with London. Known Russian spies based in Britain have also been investigated and ruled out.

  • Charles

    We are asked to believe, take on trust that Both Yulia and Sergei are safe and recovering

    We were asked to believe, take on trust, that Novichock could only come from the Russian State.

  • Harry Law

    The UN Human Rights Committee has found that incommunicado detention of fifteen days constitutes a violation of the Human Rights Convention, though shorter time periods may also be prohibited. How long have the Skripals been held hostage and incommunicado, 58 days. I wrote to the Russian Ambassador on 4-04-18 recorded delivery [to be signed for] the letter did not arrive, I wrote again last week recorded delivery I have had no reply, I specifically asked for an acknowledgement The text of the letter was “Why have you not engaged counsel to go into the High Court for a writ of habeas corpus”. It is becoming apparent that commentators on this blog notably John Goss are more concerned with the welfare of Yulia Skripal than the Russian Embassy, a disgraceful state of affairs.

    • bj

      . It is becoming apparent that commentators on this blog notably John Goss are more concerned with the welfare of Yulia Skripal than the Russian Embassy,

      It’s a non-sequitur and you know it.

    • Doodlebug

      @Harry Law

      “It is becoming apparent that commentators on this blog notably John Goss are more concerned with the welfare of Yulia Skripal than the Russian Embassy, a disgraceful state of affairs.”

      How dare you? Step over the bodies so we can get at ‘the enemy’ is it? Your clear lack of compassion is sickening,

    • flatulence

      re-structuring final sentence to avoid handbags being swung. See further posts down for fun fireworks.

      It is becoming apparent that commentators on this blog notably John Goss are more concerned with the welfare of Yulia Skripal than the Russian Embassy, a disgraceful state of affairs.

      Should be read as:

      It is becoming apparent that commentators on this blog, notably John Goss, are more concerned than the Russian Embassy with the welfare of Yulia Skripal, a disgraceful state of affairs.

    • John Goss

      Thanks Harry and others for appreciation of my efforts. Unfortunately the deep state is preventing the posting and cross-posting of the Change petition especially from my computer but I suspect that the URL is being captured and distribution prevented by whatever means they are clearly capable of using. I don’t know how they are doing that but I have evidence that when I posted the link in a comment on this site it was only visible to me.


      See if you can find my petition in the comments.

      Although the petition reached more than 300 on its first day it is now only trickling along because of this targeting. It should have rocketed. I am trying with great difficulty to contact RT. There is no telephone number and emails to RT are. as has always been the case, going into a black hole. Anybody who has not signed the petition who wishes to do so can do so here. I hope.


      As to Russia not doing anything I do not know what they can do. They have requested consular access to a Russian citizen and against international law this has been denied. Her family in Russia have tried to get visas to visit her and her father and been denied. Russia Today has asked the question about why everything has gone quiet and this has fallen on deaf ears. I have to spell it out I believe our secret services have created this false flag and are in the invidious position of having to defend it.

      Finally I see an increasing number of comments speculating that the Skripals are already dead. How many times can they die?

      • Gideon Blackmarsh

        I can’t see you comment on RT, John, but there is evidence of a number of deleted comments, one of which may have been yours.

        I posted the link to your petition on The Independent earlier, and so have a couple of other people, on this story:
        I know that my comment was visible to others there besides myself as I got a number of downvotes for my effort from the usual suspects (most of whom no longer bother to comment but simply downvote or flag anything or anyone they disagree with).

      • IT Bod

        John, I can’t see your RT comment either. I had a look at the RT source code for that page and the comment system is providied by a third party company called spot.IM. A quick google of spot.IM revealed they are based in NYC and Tel Aviv.

        Their website highlights benefits of their commenting system including:
        “Reduce your human moderation efforts with high-quality, abuse-free conversations.”
        * Machine-learning moderation technology
        * Removes illicit comments and spam
        * Integrations with leading security technologies

        • IT Bod

          PS. I should have added that I doubt you are being individually targetted, far more likely the commenting system has blacklisted the change.org site so that any posts linking to it are automatically removed.

          • John Goss

            That is a possibility I never thought of. But why?

            And would that not be something that had been going on for some time and therefore known about? Yes it is the commenting service, But I have to say it was not just the RT site.

          • IT Bod

            @John Goss May 3 2018 00.07

            Why – unfortunately there are a lot of trolls who abuse commenting systems by posting spam or offensive comments, newspapers can also lay themselves open to liable cases if they are not pro-active in censoring offensive material. That made it necessary to employ people to manually moderate all comments. That made it expensive. Solution – automate the moderation. Downsides – (1) auto moderation can be a blunt tool, you have to set up rules to say what should be removed and software wont necessarily be subtle enough to discriminate between genuine spam and a reasonable post (2) it is open to abuse (but so is manual moderation).

            Going on for some time – it probably has been going on for some time. You only noticed it because you became suspicious that people were not seeing your post. Its very crafty (and somewhat disingenuous) that they lead the poster to believe their comment is still visible, when actually it is hidden from everybody else. I hadnt come across that before either. But that would reduce the workload of the publisher – less complaints, everybody kept ‘happy’.

            Not just the RT site – looking at the Spot.IM blurb on their website they say “Trusted by Thousands of Publishers”, so their commenting system is fairly ubiquitous, but they are not the only commenting system provider, there are many (Disqus is one Ive seen often) and they will all offer similar moderation tools.

            All you can do is outwit the system as Gideon and N_ suggest on the other page.

        • flatulence

          I can’t see your post, many deleted though.

          So could be they are hiding or removing posts that contain links to certain sites in general (or even any links at all; none of the posts shown have any links in them), or could be that the third party company are compromised, itself being used as a tool to attack certain lines of contribution/action (RT needs to be informed), or the AI has its own agenda in which case it may be the AI that wants all out nuclear and biological war. Save us John Connor!

          If Goss can see his post but others can’t, then that sounds like the same sly stealth technique being employed by the likes of Facebook (possibly Twitter and others too?). The number of deleted posts alone should be of concern to RT because it makes it look like they themselves are censoring contributions.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Harry Law May 2, 2018 at 13:08
      As I got no response from an email I sent to the Russian Embassy, I took a print-out there by hand (I live in London). Still no reply, but at least I know they got it.

  • Republicofscotland

    The over zealousness of the Home Office knows no bounds.


    Meanwhile when Donald Trump was a POTUS candidate instead of his doctor suplying a medical report on Trump’s fitness to be a POTUS candidate. The Donald dictated a glowing report to his doctor, showing he was in exceptionally good health, Trump is in his 70’s.


  • Harry Law

    The Police and Senior administrators at Salisbury Hospital need to show us proof that both Skripals have access to family and friends, no proof given so far, and that they are safe and free to go. If not the Metropolitan Police and Senior Administrators at the Hospital are LIARS.

    • Doodlebug

      Are you the same Harry Law that’s just described John Goss’ and others’ concern for Yulia Skripal as ‘a disgraceful state of affairs’?

      If so, which school of hypocrisy did you attend?

      • Harry Law

        You have completely misunderstood my comment, “It is becoming apparent that commentators on this blog notably John Goss are more concerned with the welfare of Yulia Skripal than the Russian Embassy, a disgraceful state of affairs”. It is a fact that John Goss with his excellent petition and myself seem to be doing more than the Russian Embassy with regard to Yulia. Please read what I said properly.

        • Doodlebug

          Please read what I said properly.

          I did.

          You wrote: “It is becoming apparent that commentators on this blog notably John Goss are more concerned with the welfare of Yulia Skripal than the Russian Embassy, a disgraceful state of affairs”.

          You did NOT write: “It is becoming apparent that commentators on this blog notably John Goss are more concerned with the welfare of Yulia Skripal than IS (or ‘are’) the Russian Embassy, a disgraceful state of affairs”.

          Spot the difference!

          • Harry Law

            The context of my comment is plain, John Goss is doing more than the Russian Embassy in ensuring Yulia Skripals well being, if you wish to twist what I said or misinterpret it, you need to get a life.

          • flatulence

            haha come on, it’s not all doodlebug’s fault! I think you mean ‘read it the way you intended it to be read’. It can easily be read the way doodlebug read it. Probably should be some commas in there somewhere, but don’t think that helps much either. My first take left me wondering why I should be so concerned for the welfare of the Russian Embassy. Even got me thinking, yeah actually, poor sods, being completely ignored, hope they’re okay.

          • Doodlebug

            @Harry Law 14:26

            “you need to get a life.”

            And you need to get some lessons in elementary grammar.

            The context of your comment is plain – you are critical of the Russian Embassy. The ensuing insinuation therefore is that others should be just as critical of the Russian Embassy. Even ‘bj’ read it that way, describing your observation as a ‘non-sequitur’.

            There’s really no point in pursuing this further. We’re (mostly) on the same side here in any case. Of course John G. should be respected for his efforts, as you should (I shall keep my own close for the time being). Just take care to avoid any inflammatory ambiguity in future.

          • Harry Law

            Doodlebug, you are right we are on the same side, sorry my grammar is not up to scratch. Surprising really I went to a good school, it was ‘approved’ as Stan Boardman would say.

          • bj

            Actually, what I meant with my ‘non sequitur’ remark is this:

            The fact that Harry Law or John Doe does not hear from the Russian Embassy, or that the general public does not hear much of anything substantial from the Russians (on this matter), does NOT NECESSARILY mean that they (the Russians) are doing nothing, or that they do less than John Doe or anyone else.
            His assertion does not necessarily warrant his ‘conclusion’; hence a ‘non sequitur’.

            For all we know they are doing plenty ‘behind the scenes’ (apt imagery here, thinking of Salisbury).
            I think there’s even a term for what we might assume they could be doing: Diplomacy.

  • Harry Law

    John Goss has started a petition [which i have signed up for], The Russia Embassy have the opportunity to instruct counsel to apply in the High Court for a writ of habeas corpus, As far as I know they have not done so. Then they could go to Court over the breach of the 1965 UK/Russia Consular Bi Lateral agreement [articles 30 and 36] and the Vienna Conventions, they have done neither. So John Goss has done more which is the more commendable?

    • Keith McClary

      Has anyone tried sending a “proof of signature” letter? Doesn’t the post office give some explanation, such as “addressee unknown” or “no forwarding address”?

  • Daniel

    How many people have so far agreed to make a standing order in response to Craig’s appeal for financial support?

    Has the response come up to his expectations and have the most refgular (and vociferous) commenters signed up?

    Will Craig be declaring any income raised in this way to the Inland Revenue as earned income?

      • Daniel

        Happy to tell you, Glenn!

        Craig has appealed to his readers on his public blog. I am one of his readers.

        Craig occasionally tells us that his blog is read by thousands of people. These thousands will all have read his appeal.

        Most of the comments to Craig’s threads agree with his take on various matters and there are many comments which have lavished fulsome praise on Craig for being a beacon of honesty, clarity, truth, etc, etc, etc in a lying world charcterised by corrupt MSM.

        Craig has offered readers the option of subscribing as little as £2 a month. That is the price of about four cigarettes, half a pint of bitter or two visits to the public conveniences at Waterloo Station.

        My assumption, therefore, would have been that thousands of people would already have responded to his appeal and I was just curious to know whether I am right or not.

        As for the Inland Revenue aspect, it is my sincere wish that Craig should not suddenly find himself pursued for tax evasion. I’m sure you and other readers are convinced of the need to pay one’s taxes honestly…aren’t you?

        Feel free to ask if you require further information from me!

        • glenn_nl

          Daniel – I’m sure you’re posting in good faith, but does it not strike you as a little rude to suggest that another _might not_ take due consideration of their tax obligations? Perhaps you’re just the sort of person to say the same whenever a cash transaction is undertaken (to the window cleaner, say) – but it does rather imply you suspect they would not.

          That seems a little ingratious, particularly when there are plenty of costs to offset (such as hosting the blog and so on), which have never been raised as concerns by you before.

          Raised by you before If I’m not mistaken, that is…. because I’m sure we have corresponded in the past at some point, have we not?

          • Daniel


            I’m glad my explanations have satisfied you. To round off on your response:

            * I’m not quite sure how good or bad faith come into my questions; are they not simple questions intended to elicit factual information which would surely be of interest to many of Craig’s well-wishers?

            * far from wishing to be rude, my concern was that Craig should not suddenly find himself in trouble with the Inland Revenue were he not to declare his income from the solicited subscriptions thinking that they did not in fact constitute earned income (indeed, perhaps they don’t – I am not a tax expert!)

            * re your observation about off-setting the costs of running this blog, it’s true that I have never expressed any concerns about that; that’s because I’m as little “concerned” by them as I am by Craig’s appeal for subscriptions. You mustn’t interpret my entirely understandable curiosity about the results of a publicly aired matter as “concern” on my part (and in that connection I’d like to thank you for not responding with a simple “How dare you! Mind your own business!”).

            Hope all goes well with you in the land of the polders and straight talkers.

          • D_Majestic

            Yes, glenn_nl. It’s him again. After reading millions of words of literature over a lifetime, the little minutiae of style and rhythms of speech become easy to identify. Plus the other odd giveaway or two.

  • flatulence

    Meow, everyone’s a biatch today aren’t they. It’s getting my blood up. Something in the air ladies? Come on Danny Boy, I’ll fight you. Meet you outside Scunthorpe Steel Works at 6. Not because I work there, but because it stinks and will mask the smell of you shitting yourself. I’m considerate like that.

    • flatulence

      For the record, I was replying to Daniel who was slagging off Sharp Eyes or Sharp Ears or something.

      • Mary Paul

        Come on guys, give it a rest and get back to focussing on important issues, not not picking each other’s grammar.

        • flatulence

          haha, no I leave the grammar debate to Doodlebug and Harry, though I think they have kissed and made up now with commendable humility show by Harry. I was picking a fight with Daniel who is a far more poisonous little prick.

      • Gideon Blackmarsh

        If I recall correctly, a moderator (or the moderator – not sure how many there are here) mentioned a couple of days ago that a banned user had been using a variety of usernames to stalk Sharp Ears both here and on another site. That description came to mind immediately on reading what Daniel had written. I was tempted to reply myself, but figured his comment probably wouldn’t be here long.

        • Keith

          I agree. The reply to glenn_nl is couched in very familiar language.

          As was the deleted comment re a regular contributor (posted 5 mins apart from the one still standing).

          • Daniel

            I entirely agree with both of the foregoing commenters although I of course have no idea what they’re on about.

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