The Holes in the Official Skripal Story 1254

In my last post I set out the official Government account of the events in the Skripal Case. Here I examine the credibility of this story. Next week I shall look at alternative explanations.

Russia has a decade long secret programme of producing and stockpiling novichok nerve agents. It also has been training agents in secret assassination techniques, and British intelligence has a copy of the Russian training manual, which includes instruction on painting nerve agent on doorknobs.

The only backing for this statement by Boris Johnson is alleged “intelligence”, and unfortunately the “intelligence” about Russia’s secret novichok programme comes from exactly the same people who brought you the intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s WMD programme, proven liars. Furthermore, the question arises why Britain has been sitting on this intelligence for a decade and doing nothing about it, including not telling the OPCW inspectors who certified Russia’s chemical weapons stocks as dismantled.

If Russia really has a professional novichok assassin training programme, why was the assassination so badly botched? Surely in a decade of development they would have discovered that the alleged method of gel on doorknob did not work? And where is the training manual which Boris Johnson claimed to possess? Having told the world – including Russia -the UK has it, what is stopping the UK from producing it, with marks that could identify the specific copy erased?

The Russians chose to use this assassination programme to target Sergei Skripal, a double agent who had been released from jail in Russia some eight years previously.

It seems remarkable that the chosen target of an attempt that would blow the existence of a secret weapon and end the cover of a decade long programme, should be nobody more prominent than a middle ranking double agent who the Russians let out of jail years ago. If they wanted him dead they could have killed him then. Furthermore the attack on him would undermine all future possible spy swaps. Putin therefore, on this reading, was willing to sacrifice both the secrecy of the novichok programme and the spy swap card just to attack Sergei Skripal. That seems highly improbable.

Only the Russians can make novichok and only the Russians had a motive to attack the Skripals.

The nub of the British government’s approach has been the shocking willingness of the corporate and state media to parrot repeatedly the lie that the nerve agent was Russian made, even after Porton Down said they could not tell where it was made and the OPCW confirmed that finding. In fact, while the Soviet Union did develop the “novichok” class of nerve agents, the programme involved scientists from all over the Soviet Union, especially Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia, as I myself learnt when I visited the newly decommissioned Nukus testing facility in Uzbekistan in 2002.

Furthermore, it was the USA who decommissioned the facility and removed equipment back to the United States. At least two key scientists from the programme moved to the United States. Formulae for several novichok have been published for over a decade. The USA, UK and Iran have definitely synthesised a number of novichok formulae and almost certainly others have done so too. Dozens of states have the ability to produce novichok, as do many sophisticated non-state actors.

As for motive, the Russian motive might be revenge, but whether that really outweighs the international opprobrium incurred just ahead of the World Cup, in which so much prestige has been invested, is unclear.

What is certainly untrue is that only Russia has a motive. The obvious motive is to attempt to blame and discredit Russia. Those who might wish to do this include Ukraine and Georgia, with both of which Russia is in territorial dispute, and those states and jihadist groups with which Russia is in conflict in Syria. The NATO military industrial complex also obviously has a plain motive for fueling tension with Russia.

There is of course the possibility that Skripal was attacked by a private gangster interest with which he was in conflict, or that the attack was linked to Skripal’s MI6 handler Pablo Miller’s work on the Orbis/Steele Russiagate dossier on Donald Trump.

Plainly, the British governments statements that only Russia had the means and only Russia had the motive, are massive lies on both counts.

The Russians had been tapping the phone of Yulia Skripal. They decided to attack Sergei Skripal while his daughter was visiting from Moscow.

In an effort to shore up the government narrative, at the time of the Amesbury attack the security services put out through Pablo Miller’s long term friend, the BBC’s Mark Urban, that the Russians “may have been” tapping Yulia Skripal’s phone, and the claim that this was strong evidence that the Russians had indeed been behind the attack.

But think this through. If that were true, then the Russians deliberately attacked at a time when Yulia was in the UK rather than when Sergei was alone. Yet no motive has been adduced for an attack on Yulia or why they would attack while Yulia was visiting – they could have painted his doorknob with less fear of discovery anytime he was alone. Furthermore, it is pretty natural that Russian intelligence would tap the phone of Yulia, and of Sergei if they could. The family of double agents are normal targets. I have no doubt in the least, from decades of experience as a British diplomat, that GCHQ have been tapping Yulia’s phone. Indeed, if tapping of phones is seriously put forward as evidence of intent to murder, the British government must be very murderous indeed.

Their trained assassin(s) painted a novichok on the doorknob of the Skripal house in the suburbs of Salisbury. Either before or after the attack, they entered a public place in the centre of Salisbury and left a sealed container of the novichok there.

The incompetence of the assassination beggars belief when compared to British claims of a long term production and training programme. The Russians built the heart of the International Space Station. They can kill an old bloke in Salisbury. Why did the Russians not know that the dose from the door handle was not fatal? Why would trained assassins leave crucial evidence lying around in a public place in Salisbury? Why would they be conducting any part of the operation with the novichok in a public area in central Salisbury?

Why did nobody see them painting the doorknob? This must have involved wearing protective gear, which would look out of place in a Salisbury suburb. With Skripal being resettled by MI6, and a former intelligence officer himself, it beggars belief that MI6 did not fit, as standard, some basic security including a security camera on his house.

The Skripals both touched the doorknob and both functioned perfectly normally for at least five hours, even able to eat and drink heartily. Then they were simultaneously and instantaneously struck down by the nerve agent, at a spot in the city centre coincidentally close to where the assassins left a sealed container of the novichok lying around. Even though the nerve agent was eight times more deadly than Sarin or VX, it did not kill the Skripals because it had been on the doorknob and affected by rain.

Why did they both touch the outside doorknob in exiting and closing the door? Why did the novichok act so very slowly, with evidently no feeling of ill health for at least five hours, and then how did it strike both down absolutely simultaneously, so that neither can call for help, despite their being different sexes, weights, ages, metabolisms and receiving random completely uncontrolled doses. The odds of that happening are virtually nil. And why was the nerve agent ultimately ineffective?

Detective Sergeant Bailey attended the Skripal house and was also poisoned by the doorknob, but more lightly. None of the other police who attended the house were affected.

Why was the Detective Sergeant affected and nobody else who attended the house, or the scene where the Skripals were found? Why was Bailey only lightly affected by this extremely deadly substance, of which a tiny amount can kill?

Four months later, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess were rooting about in public parks, possibly looking for cigarette butts, and accidentally came into contact with the sealed container of a novichok. They were poisoned and Dawn Sturgess subsequently died.

If the nerve agent had survived four months because it was in a sealed container, why has this sealed container now mysteriously disappeared again? If Rowley and Sturgess had direct contact straight from the container, why did they not both die quickly? Why had four months searching of Salisbury and a massive police, security service and military operation not found this container, if Rowley and Sturgess could?

I am, with a few simple questions, demolishing what is the most ludicrous conspiracy theory I have ever heard – the Salisbury conspiracy theory being put forward by the British government and its corporate lackies.

My next post will consider some more plausible explanations of this affair.

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1,254 thoughts on “The Holes in the Official Skripal Story

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  • Doodlebug

    “The woman who died after the novichok poisoning in Amesbury suffered damage to her hands and face, Sky News understands.”

    That’s ‘hands’ plural.

    “Within their complex investigation, detectives are looking at the possibility that Ms Sturgess tested the spray on her face and hands, believing it to be perfume.”

    But hasn’t Charlie already told his brother she tested it on her wrists, which is what a lady would typically do?

    I wonder……

    Yulia Skripal was clearly not ‘damaged’ in the same fashion. Should we suppose she was more discrete in her usage of perfume?

    • Mary Paul

      You don’t spray perfume on your face, your neck maybe. I read initially they thought she had hurt her face falling on the bath.

      • Doodlebug

        “I read initially they thought she had hurt her face falling on the bath.”

        Well that story seems to have gone by the board.

        “You don’t spray perfume on your face”. Not on your own face perhaps.

        Another relevant comment earlier:

        Patrick Mahony
        July 13, 2018 at 20:02

        Don’t forget bus checked – no traces of novichok. C and D supposedly had it on one hand each. CCTV on bus could pinpoint what they touched.

        One hand each does not compute with ‘the woman…. suffered damage to her hands”, i.e. both of them. The report reads as if we should infer the damage was caused by whatever was sprayed.

        Charley’s story thus far is seriously inconsistent. If I were Wiltshire CID I’d be giving some thought at least to a rather more obvious way in which Dawn’s face and both hands might have been injured, and it wouldn’t be through sampling a perfume.

      • Isa

        Mary , the bath has to go to the archives of oblivion . Sure enough , if baby wipes get rid of novichok , imagine what a bath ,soap and shampoo could do . Woosh novichok , neutralised by L’Oréal because you’re worth it …

    • Isa

      Just read . Thanks for posting link ., So she is thought to have sprayed perfume on her face according to sky article … I don’t think I know a single person who sprays perfume on their face … besides , in this manner she would have died immediately ( think of Kim Jong’s brother with less potent VX who died within one hour and despite receiving an atropine shot within 15 minutes ).

      Damage to face , sounds more like an acid attack .

      This is sounding more and more in the realms of fantasy by the minute .

    • MightyDrunken

      “The woman who died after the novichok poisoning in Amesbury suffered damage to her hands and face, Sky News understands.”

      OK, this is a vague and unsourced piece of information so could be totally inaccurate. However there is another interpretation, which is that Dawn had lesions on her hands and face before the incident. This damage then may have made her exposure more deadly, as the poison could enter her bloodstream more easily.

      • Doodlebug

        If Dawn had had lesions on her hands and face, would they not have been visible in the CCTV images of her captured shopping in Salisbury the day before? I don’t see them.

  • Doodlebug

    Strange. Another story featured in the same ‘edition’ seems to have disappeared since. Might that be because a ‘Novichok’ nerve agent is odourless and colourless?

    Never mind. Let’s refer to a more reliable publication instead:

    “Novichok poisoning victim says perfume bottle ‘smelt of ammonia’”

    Now call me unsophisticated, but isn’t the smell of ammonia likely to indicate the presence of, let me see…..ammonia?

    And let’s not overlook where Dawn’s partner claims she sprayed herself: “The novichok victim Dawn Sturgess died after spraying the nerve agent on her wrists having found a discarded perfume bottle containing the liquid, her partner had said.”

    I’m getting a bad feeling about this.

    • Doodlebug

      Apologies peeps. That second DM article is still ‘on air’. It’s just no longer among the optional links at the head of the first.

      “Novichok victim Dawn Sturgess died after spraying perfume laced with the nerve agent onto both her wrists, her boyfriend, who was also exposed to the deadly substance, has revealed.”

      Did he see her do it then? I thought he only went into the bathroom after he’d heard a ‘thud’ and found Dawn prostrate on the floor.

      “Matthew Rowley, who lives in Warminster, Wiltshire, told MailOnline: ‘My brother told me that he remembered that Dawn had sprayed the perfume on both her wrists.

      ‘He doesn’t recall much of what happened afterwards but that particular detail is stuck in his mind.

      ‘He also mentioned that he vaguely recollects there being an odd ammonia-type smell from the perfume.

      ‘We don’t know yet if he had direct contact with the nerve agent like Dawn appears to have done or whether it was after he had touched her.”

      It wasn’t mistaken for aftershave then?

        • Doodlebug


          The source of the perfume bottle story is Charlie Rowley, who is specifically quoted as saying that Dawn sprayed both her wrists. How did he know, unless he saw her do so the day before when in Salisbury? In which case, how come she did not fall ill until the following morning? Or did Charley observe Dawn while she was in his bathroom at Amesbury? If that’s where she sampled the fragrance, it would have been after she’d taken her bath, not before. But Rowley is said to have heard a thud (presumably as Dawn hit the floor), which alerted him to her collapse. She has not once been described as clutching a perfume bottle in her hand while unconscious. It’s also been mooted that Charlie told police where to find the suspicious bottle.

          Charlie appears to know rather more than circumstances would allow.

    • Sean Lamb

      “Now call me unsophisticated, but isn’t the smell of ammonia likely to indicate the presence of, let me see…..ammonia?”

      Might be a OH&S issue – if you smell ammonia there has been a leak. The British public service is fixated with OH&S issues these days, we shouldn’t expect Vauxhall to be any different: “Just because its a novichok that doesn’t mean you can skip filling out the workplace hazard risk mitigation assessment form.”

      That might seem to undermine the likelihood of the victim using it – but in my view it was never intended to be used. British police were going to plant it in Yulia’s luggage when they gained access to the house.

      I wonder if the environmental traces discovered previously showed traces of ammonia or an ammonia-like compound – or if anyone looked?

      If they don’t, that would be a delightful whoopsie!

  • ZigZag Wanderer

    I thought the original Sergei doornob novichok was in a gel form . Now it’s capable of being sprayed through an atomiser so must be liquid.
    Kinda blows the official theory that the original perpetrator discarded the bottle in Lizzy Park before making his way back to Moscow.

    • Doodlebug

      The late Ben Bradlee, once Executive Editor of the Washington Post, has been quoted as saying: “We don’t print the truth. We don’t pretend to print the truth. We print what people tell us.”


      “It is my experience that most claims of national security are part of a campaign to avoid telling the truth.”

      Nothing’s changed in either regard.

  • Doodlebug

    “Amesbury poisoning: Experts begin testing for Novichok”

    “The scientists are trying to determine whether the Novichok that poisoned the couple was from the same batch used in the attempted murder of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March.”

    Ahem….any determination of ‘batch’ supposes the nature of the chemical to be a ‘given’, in which case the experts should be ‘testing the Novichok’ not testing ‘for’ Novichok.

    I would be surprised if editors at the BBC did not realize the difference.

    • KEN KENN


      Just as an aside.

      I’ve just seen the Youtube video of Yulia at the airport in Russia.

      In the video (3/3/18) she appears to have light red hair – not blonde.

      Which again begs the question as to the colour of the hair of the woman on the bench with
      what is assumed to be Mr Skripal.

      Anyone know if the hospital staff, first responders etc described the female patient on the day as having
      blonde hair or reddish hair.

      The only picture I can find of Yulia with blonde hair is when she has a rounder face and a bit heavier . I’m assuming she was a bit younger as the blonde. At the airport she looks a similar size to what she was when doing the Reuters video. She certainly is not a bit chubby in the airport video.

      If she was blonde on the 4/3/18 when entering hospital then she must have bleached her hair on the 3rd or on the morning of the 4th.

      Anyone got any info or theories in respect of that?

    • Doodlebug

      “It is understood Ms Sturgess was exposed to at least 10 times the amount of nerve agent the Skripals came into contact with”.

      “The Metropolitan Police, who are leading the investigation, declined to comment”.

      No surprises there.

    • Michael McNulty

      I wonder if our corrupt UK establishment is borrowing a technique from the US, where their lies about Russian hackers include releasing the names of Russians who cannot be forced into US courts to defend themselves against the allegations, and that refusal to appear in court is said to prove their guilt.

      Now Yahoo News UK says British police have identified some Russians as guilty of these poisonings. I suspect they’ll release the names of Russians who will refuse to appear in a British court to disprove the allegations against them, therefore proving their guilt and reinforcing the “Russia did it” lie.

  • Isa

    A source close to investigation ( how convenient as usual ) says they believe they identified 6 suspects via cctv (!!!) and crossed it with airport arrivals . They are sure they are Russians . And here arrive the US security officials . How very convenient . The official narrative will persist and these lunatics will find a way to incriminate Russia one way or another .

    “According to reports from US security officials, police have recovered grainy CCTV images of persons who inadvertently killed Dawn. ”

    Meanwhile the OPCW has collected samples and sent them to labs . They were called ion July 13th and have now returned to The Hague .

  • Robyn

    Interesting (suspicious?) contrast between the two ‘novichock’ poisonings. From the start of the second incident, we’ve had various people associated with Dawn and Charlie telling us how they were/are faring and giving us snippets of information about the possible source of the poison. Contrast with Sergei from whom we’ve had not a glimpse nor heard a single word, and Yulia who made one phone call on an apparently borrowed phone and later gave a brief scripted statement before disappearing again.

  • MaryPaul

    I cannot believe that “officially-authorised” Russian assassins would dump a liquid form of novichok, stored in a fake perfume bottle, in the bushes in public park in Salisbury. At the very least they would surely have thrown it into a public wastebin on their way out of the country. And a waste bin in Salisbury is where Dawn Sturgess found it, how did it stay there for 4 months, uncollected,?. Also why were the assassins disposing of a liquid Novichok, in a fake perfume bottle, when we are told it was applied to the Skripals’ door handle as a gel?

    • Andyoldlabour

      MaryPaul, you and I both know that those questions will never be asked in our MSM.
      Most of our papers are talking about “several” Russians being involved.
      This whole fiasco insults the intelligence.

  • Doodlebug

    In terms of people being on the same page when it comes to fabricat….er, telling this story, they’re like airline pilots desperate to avoid a crash and fighting over the operations manual in mid-air.

    From Martin Fricker and Adam Aspinall of the Mirror (5 July) we learn: “Amesbury couple poisoned by deadly Novichok ‘found syringe stashed in bag during trip to park'”

    Really? Who said so? The headline ‘quote’ is never attributed.

    However, “Sam, who called an ambulance as he saw Charlie “turn into a zombie”, said: “Dawn was being taken out in stretcher, Charlie said she was foaming at the mouth.“Then he just turned into a zombie, rocking his head against the wall and sweating and hallucinating.

    The punctuation is exactly as employed by the Mirror. It’s interesting because it gives the impression of a sloppy edit immediately prior to Charlie’s turning into a zombie. Strangely, a similar experience can be had from video recordings of Sam’s story-telling, e.g.,

    The big question though concerns when, exactly, Charlie Rowley fell ill. Was it immediately after Dawn was taken from the flat in the morning, as Sam appears to have suggested, or five hours later?

    The MIrror again (

    In a press statement this evening (4 July), Mr Basu said…

    “At approximately 10.15am on June 30, the South West Ambulance Service was called to a residential address in Amesbury, where a 44-year-old woman had collapsed. She was subsequently taken to hospital.

    “At around 3.30pm that day, the ambulance service was called back to the same address, where a 45-year-old man had also fallen ill. The man was taken to hospital and Wiltshire Police were informed.”

    Or was it eight hours later? (

    A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said:

    “From their enquiries to date, detectives have been able to piece together the following timeline of the man and woman’s movements prior to them falling ill on Saturday, 30 June.”

    ‘Saturday, 30 June:

    ‘At 10.15am, the South West Ambulance Service are called to an address on Muggleton Road, where the 44-year-old woman had been taken ill, and she was subsequently taken to hospital. The man was also present at the address at this time.

    ‘At 6.20pm the South West Ambulance Service are called back to the address on Muggleton Road and the man is also taken to hospital.’

    • Andyoldlabour

      @Doodlebug, there has been an enormous amount of conflicting/contradictory information being released by the police, Salisbury NHS, the government, the MSM over the past four to five months, so much so that nobody knows where the truth begins and the lies end.
      First the Novichok was in the car’s air conditioning system, then it was applied in gel form to the doorknob, now it appears it was dispensed in aerosol/mist form from a perfume bottle.
      Now there are up to six suspects, who I suppose all travelled back to mother Russia – HOW MANY TRAINED OPERATIVES DOES IT TAKE TO CARRY OUT A NON LETHAL ATTACK NOWADAYS?
      Our politicians and their media stooges have serious mental issues, they are stark raving bonkers!

      • Doodlebug

        “Our politicians and their media stooges have serious mental issues, they are stark raving bonkers!”

        They are also public servants paid by the Exchequer, which entitles we rational members of the public to question their competence and their motives. It does not entitle them to lie to us.

    • MaryPaul

      well the Wiltshire police statement tallies with other accounts including the pastor at the Baptist church. Sam H said on Saturday after Dawn collapsed and was taken to hospital with suspected drug overdose, they to Boots to collect Charlie’s methadone and on to the Baptist church’s afternoon BBQ. BBQ. The pastor there said he was concerned about Charlie who seemed dishevelled and unwell and tried to get him to eat something. Sam H was quoted as saying they went back to Charlie’s later in afternoon to sort out some things to take to Dawn in hospital and it was then Charlie collapsed.Later that evening the police and authorities arrived at Charlie’s and closed off his flat and the street, letting neighbours think it was gas leak.

      • Doodlebug

        “well the Wiltshire police statement tallies with other accounts including the pastor at the Baptist church.”

        I think you’re missing the point, which is not what, exactly, Charlie did in Sam’s company that afternoon but the (deliberate?) inaccuracies in the media’s reporting of a fairly straightforward series of events (Woman taken ill in the morning – taken to hospital. Man taken ill in the afternoon – taken to hospital). The published contradictions are absolutely childish. Even the police cannot agree between themselves it would appear.

    • isa

      This is an interesting snippet from the article:

      “An inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess was opened and adjourned on Thursday. Coroner David Ridley said the cause of death would not be given until further tests are completed.”

    • Andyoldlabour

      Would a perfume bottle be able to dispense a gel, given that they are atomisers and a gel would be too viscous?
      If it was a gel, are we seriously considering the “fact” that a woman would spray both wrists and her “face” with it?

  • Mary Paul

    This account in today,s Telegraph (19 July) by “Telegraph reporters” :

    “…….It is understood Ms Sturgess was exposed to at least 10 times the amount of nerve agent the Skripals came into contact with.

    Investigators are working to a theory that the substance was in a discarded perfume bottle found by the couple in a park or somewhere in Salisbury city centre, and Ms Sturgess sprayed Novichok straight on to her skin, the source said.

    Mr Rowley’s brother Matthew, who lives in nearby Warminster in Wiltshire, told MailOnline how Ms Sturgess sprayed the perfume on both her wrists and that it gave off the smell of ammonia.

    It is not clear how Mr Rowley, who is still fighting for his life in hospital, came to be exposed to the nerve agent, though his brother suspects he touched Ms Sturgess after she sprayed what she thought was perfume from the bottle.

    The Metropolitan Police, who are leading the investigation, declined to comment.”

    • Tatyana

      Mary Paul, regarding your user name and avatar picture, I believe you’re a woman? Sorry if this question is impolite, but it refers to my following :
      – if a perfume bottle comes to you from unknown source, I mean, you haven’t tried a tester in the shop before purchase, just obtaned a bottle somewhere. Is it true, that you would want to smell it before applying on your body?
      – if you smell it and it is ammonia-like, would you applay it on your body?
      – how likely is that you find a bottle and spray your first wrist and then change hands and spray the second wrist, despite of strange ammonia-like smell?
      For me it is totally unbelievable, that a woman could do so, because ammonia is the smell of urine, not roses or vanilla.

      • Doodlebug

        Unbelievable indeed. I think it worth bearing in mind that the source of all these twists and turns is Charlie Rowley himself (as reported by his visiting brother), which rather begs the question as to why he should appear to be making it up as he goes along.

        A story predicated upon a genuine memory of events would at least be consistent. In terms of what has so far appeared in the media we have syringe versus bottle, liquid versus gel, perfume versus aftershave, fragrance versus ammonia, application to wrists versus damage to both hands and face, etc.

        Since every detail is completely negated, the only admissible conclusion is that things did NOT go down that way.

      • Mary Paul

        Naturally you would smell it first. If it was a well known brand, it would come in a very distinctive bottle and I suppose you might apply it directly but if it was found, lying around somewhere. you would be careful to smell it first as you would not want to get any nasty surprises. I suppose if Dawn had been drinking she might take it for granted it was OK if it was a familiar brand and bottle.Perfumes come in different forms, depending on the concentration of perfume they contain. Stronger perfume you only need a few drops, generally applied by tipping out of a glass bottle with a very narrow neck, onto your fingertips, and applying directly, onto pulse points on your inner wrists, base of your throat, behind your ears. Or you can use an atomiser and spray it . No way would either form be in a gel.

    • Doodlebug

      ‘I think this story belongs in the “ill informed and wild speculation folder”’

      said the minister. Along with all the others to date I might add.

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