Pure: Ten Points I Just Can’t Believe About the Official Skripal Narrative 890


I still do not know what happened in the Skripal saga, which perhaps might more respectfully be termed the Sturgess saga. I cannot believe the Russian account of Boshirov and Petrov, because if those were their real identities, those identities would have been firmly established and displayed by now. But that does not mean they attempted to kill the Skripals, and there are many key elements to the official British account which are also simply incredible.

Governments play dark games, and a dark game was played out in Salisbury which involved at least the British state, Russian agents (possibly on behalf of the state), Orbis Intelligence and the BBC. Anybody who believes it is simple to identify the “good guys” and the “bad guys” in this situation is a fool. When it comes to state actors and the intelligence services, frequently there are no “good guys”, as I personally witnessed from the inside over torture, extraordinary rendition and the illegal invasion of Iraq. But in the face of a massive media campaign to validate the British government story about the Skripals, here are ten of the things I do not believe in the official account:

1) PURE

This was the point that led me to return to the subject of the Skripals, even though it has brought me more abuse than I had received in my 15 year career as a whistleblower.

A few months ago, I was in truth demoralised by the amount of abuse I was receiving about the collapse of the Russian identity story of Boshirov and Petrov. I had never claimed the poisoning, if any, was not carried out by Russians, only that there were many other possibilities. I understood the case against the Russian state is still far from established, whoever Boshirov and Petrov really are, and I did not (and do not) accept Bellingcat’s conjectures and dodgy evidence as conclusive identification. But I did not enjoy at all the constant online taunts, and therefore was not inclined to take the subject further.

It is in this mood that I received more information from my original FCO source, who had told me, correctly, that Porton Down could not and would not attest that the “novichok” sample was made in Russia, and explained that the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” was an agreed Whitehall line to cover this up.

She wanted to explain to me that the British government was pulling a similar trick over the use of the word “pure”. The OPCW report had concluded that the sample provided to them by the British government was “of high purity” with an “almost complete absence of impurities”. This had been spun by the British government as evidence that the novichok was “military grade” and could only be produced by a state.

But actually that is not what the OPCW technical experts were attempting to signal. The sample provided to the OPCW had allegedly been swabbed from the Skripals’ door handle. It had been on that door handle for several days before it was allegedly discovered there. In that time it had been contacted allegedly by the hands of the Skripals and of DC Bailey, and the gloves of numerous investigators. It had of course been exposed to whatever film of dirt or dust was on the door handle. It had been exposed to whatever pollution was in the rain and whatever dust and pollen was blowing around. In these circumstances, it is incredible that the sample provided “had an almost complete absence of impurities”.

A sample cannot have a complete absence of impurities after being on a used doorknob, outdoors, for several days. The sample provided was, on the contrary, straight out of a laboratory.

The government’s contention that “almost complete absence of impurities” meant “military grade” was complete nonsense. There is no such thing as “military grade” novichok. It has never been issued to any military, anywhere. The novichok programme was designed to produce an organo-phosphate poison which could quickly be knocked up from readily available commercial ingredients. It was not part of an actual defence industry manufacturing programme.

There is a final problem with the “of high purity” angle. First we had the Theresa May story that the “novichok” was extremely deadly, many times more deadly than VX, in minute traces. Then, when the Skripals did not die, it was explained to us that this was because it had degraded in the rain. This was famously put forward by Dan Kaszeta, formerly of US Intelligence and the White House and self-proclaimed chemical weapons expert – which expertise has been strenuously denied by real experts.

What we did not know then, but we do know now, is that Kaszeta was secretly being paid to produce this propaganda by the British government via the Integrity Initiative.

So the first thing I cannot believe is that the British government produced a sample with an “almost complete absence of impurities” from several days on the Skripals’ doorknob. Nor can I believe that if “extremely pure” the substance therefore was not fatal to the Skripals.

2) Raising the Roof

Three days ago Sky News had an outside broadcast from the front of the Skripals’ house in Salisbury, where they explained that the roof had been removed and replaced due to contamination with “novichok”.

I cannot believe that a gel, allegedly smeared or painted onto the doorknob, migrated upwards to get into the roof of a two storey house, in such a manner that the roof had to be destroyed, but the house inbetween did not. As the MSM never questions the official narrative, there has never been an official answer as to how the gel got from the doorknob to the roof. Remember that traces of the “novichok” were allegedly found in a hotel room in Poplar, which is still in use as a hotel room and did not have to be destroyed, and an entire bottle of it was allegedly found in Charlie Rowley’s house, which has not had to be destroyed. Novichok was found in Zizzi’s restaurant, which did not have to be destroyed.

So we are talking about novichok in threatening quantities – more than the traces allegedly found in the hotel in Poplar – being in the Skripals’ roof. How could this happen?

As I said in the onset, I do not know what happened, I only know what I do not believe. There are theories that Skripal and his daughter might themselves have been involved with novichok in some way. On the face of it, its presence in their roof might support that theory.

The second thing I do not believe is that the Skripals’ roof became contaminated by gel on their doorknob so that the roof had to be destroyed, whereas no other affected properties, nor the rest of the Skripals’ house, had to be destroyed.

3) Nursing Care

The very first person to discover the Skripals ill on a park bench in Salisbury just happened to be the Chief Nurse of the British Army, who chanced to be walking past them on her way back from a birthday party. How lucky was that? The odds are about the same as the chance of my vacuum cleaner breaking down just before James Dyson knocks at my door to ask for directions. There are very few people indeed in the UK trained to give nursing care to victims of chemical weapon attack, and of all the people who might have walked past, it just happened to be the most senior of them!

The government is always trying to get good publicity for its armed forces, and you would think that the heroic role of its off-duty personnel in saving random poisoned Russian double agents they just happened to chance across, would have been proclaimed as a triumph for the British military. Yet it was kept secret for ten months. We were not told about the involvement of Colonel Alison McCourt until January of this year, when it came out by accident. Swollen with maternal pride, Col. McCourt nominated her daughter for an award from the local radio station for her role in helping give first aid to the Skripals, and young Abigail revealed her mother’s identity on local radio – and the fact her mother was there “with her” administering first aid.

Even then, the compliant MSM played along, with the Guardian and Sky News both among those running stories emphasising entirely the Enid Blyton narrative of “plucky teenager saves the Skripals”, and scarcely mentioning the Army’s Chief Nurse who was looking after the Skripals “with little Abigail”.

I want to emphasise again that Col. Alison McCourt is not the chief nurse of a particular unit or hospital, she is the Chief Nurse of the entire British Army. Her presence was kept entirely quiet by the media for ten months, when all sorts of stories were run in the MSM about who the first responders were – various doctors and police officers being mentioned.

If you believe that it is coincidence that the Chief Nurse of the British Army was the first person to discover the Skripals ill, you are a credulous fool. And why was it kept quiet?

4) Remarkable Metabolisms

This has been noted many times, but no satisfactory answer has ever been given. The official story is that the Skripals were poisoned by their door handle, but then well enough to go out to a pub, feed some ducks, and have a big lunch in Zizzi’s, before being instantly stricken and disabled, both at precisely the same time.

The Skripals were of very different ages, genders and weights. That an agent which took hours to act but then kicks in with immediate disabling effect, so they could not call for help, would affect two such entirely different metabolisms at precisely the same time, has never been satisfactorily explained. Dosage would have an effect and of course the doorknob method would give an uncontrolled dosage.

But that the two different random dosages were such that they affected each of these two very different people at just the same moment, so that neither could call for help, is an extreme coincidence. It is almost as unlikely as the person who walks by next being the Chief Nurse of the British Army.

5) 11 Days

After the poisoning of Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, the Police cordoned off Charlie Rowley’s home and began a search for “Novichok”, in an attitude of extreme urgency because it was believed this poison was out amidst the public. They were specifically searching for a small phial of liquid. Yet it took 11 days of the search before they allegedly discovered the “novichok” in a perfume bottle sitting in plain sight on the kitchen counter – and only after they had discovered the clue of the perfume bottle package in the bin the day before, after ten days of search.

The bottle was out of its packaging and “novichok”, of which the tiniest amount is deadly, had been squirted out of its nozzle at least twice, by both Rowley and Sturgess, and possibly more often. The exterior of the bottle/nozzle was therefore contaminated. Yet the house, unlike the Skripals’ roof space, has not had to be destroyed.

I do not believe it took the Police eleven days to find the very thing they were looking for, in plain sight as exactly the small bottle of liquid sought, on a kitchen bench. What else was happening?

6) Mark Urban/Pablo Miller

The BBC’s “Diplomatic Editor” is a regular conduit for the security services. He fronted much of the BBC’s original coverage of the Skripal story. Yet he concealed from the viewers the fact that he had been in regular contact with Sergei Skripal for months before the alleged poisoning, and had held several meetings with Skripal.

This is extraordinary behaviour. It was the biggest news story in the world, and news organisations, including the BBC, were scrambling to fill in the Skripals’ back story. Yet the journalist who had the inside info on the world’s biggest news story, and was actually reporting on it, kept that knowledge to himself. Why? Urban was not only passing up a career defining opportunity, it was unethical of him to continually report on the story without revealing to the viewers his extensive contacts with Skripal.

The British government had two immediate reactions to the Skripal incident. Within the first 48 hours, it blamed Russia, and it slapped a D(SMA) notice banning all media mention of Skripal’s MI6 handler, Pablo Miller. By yet another one of those extraordinary coincidences, Miller and Urban know each other well, having both been officers together in the Royal Tank Regiment, of the same rank and joining the Regiment the same year.

I have sent the following questions to Mark Urban, repeatedly. There has been no response:

To: [email protected]

Dear Mark,

As you may know, I am a journalist working in alternative media, a member of the NUJ, as well as a former British Ambassador. I am researching the Skripal case.

I wish to ask you the following questions.

1) When the Skripals were first poisoned, it was the largest news story in the entire World and you were uniquely positioned having held several meetings with Sergei Skripal the previous year. Yet faced with what should have been a massive career break, you withheld that unique information on a major story from the public for four months. Why?
2) You were an officer in the Royal Tank Regiment together with Skripal’s MI6 handler, Pablo Miller, who also lived in Salisbury. Have you maintained friendship with Miller over the years and how often do you communicate?
3) When you met Skripal in Salisbury, was Miller present all or part of the time, or did you meet Miller separately?
4) Was the BBC aware of your meetings with Miller and/or Skripal at the time?
5) When, four months later, you told the world about your meetings with Skripal after the Rowley/Sturgess incident, you said you had met him to research a book. Yet the only forthcoming book by you advertised is on the Skripal attack. What was the subject of your discussions with Skripal?
6) Pablo Miller worked for Orbis Intelligence. Do you know if Miller contributed to the Christopher Steele dossier on Trump/Russia?
7) Did you discuss the Trump dossier with Skripal and/or Miller?
8) Do you know whether Skripal contributed to the Trump dossier?
9) In your Newsnight piece following the Rowley/Sturgess incident, you stated that security service sources had told you that Yulia Skripal’s telephone may have been bugged. Since January 2017, how many security service briefings or discussions have you had on any of the matter above.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Craig Murray

The lack of openness of Urban in refusing to answer these questions, and the role played by the BBC and the MSM in general in marching in unquestioning lockstep with the British government narrative, plus the “coincidence” of Urban’s relationship with Pablo Miller, give further reason for scepticism of the official narrative.

7 Four Months

The official narrative insists that Boshirov and Petrov brought “novichok” into the country; that minute quantities could kill; that they disposed of the novichok that did kill Dawn Sturgess. It must therefore have been of the highest priority to inform the public of the movements of the suspects and the possible locations where deadly traces of “novichok” must be lurking.

Yet there was at least a four month gap between the police searching the Poplar hotel where Boshirov and Petrov were staying, allegedly discovering traces of novichok in the hotel room, and the police informing the hotel management, let alone the public, of the discovery. That is four months in which a cleaner might have fatally stumbled across more novichok in the hotel. Four months in which another guest in the same hotel might have had something lurking in their bag which they had picked up. Four months in which there might have been a container of novichok sitting in a hedge near the hotel. Yet for four months the police did not think any of this was urgent enough to tell anybody.

The astonishing thing is that it was a full three months after the death of Dawn Sturgess before the hotel were informed, the public were informed, or the pictures of “Boshirov” and “Petrov” in Salisbury released. There could be no clearer indication that the authorities did not actually believe that any threat from residual novichok was connected to the movements of Boshirov and Petrov.

Similarly the metadata on the famous CCTV images of Boshirov and Petrov in Salisbury, published in September by the Met Police, showed that all the stills were prepared by the Met on the morning of 9 May – a full four months before they were released to the public. But this makes no sense at all. Why wait a full four months for people’s memories to fade before issuing an appeal to the public for information? This makes no sense at all from an investigation viewpoint. It makes even less sense from a public health viewpoint.

If the authorities were genuinely worried about the possible presence of deadly novichok, and wished to track it down, why one earth would you wait for four months before you published the images showing the faces and clothing and the whereabouts of the people you believe were distributing it?

The only possible conclusion from the amazing four month delays both in informing the hotel, and in revealing the Boshirov and Petrov CCTV footage to the public, is that the Metropolitan Police did not actually believe there was a public health danger that the two had left a trail of novichok. Were the official story true, this extraordinary failure to take timely action in a public health emergency may have contributed to the death of Dawn Sturgess.

The metadat shows Police processed all the Salisbury CCTV images of Boshirov and Petrov a month before Charlie Rowley picked up the perfume. The authorities claim the CCTV images show they could have been to the charity bin to dump the novichok. Which begs the question, if the Police really believed they had CCTV of the movements of the men with the novichok, why did they not subsequently exhaustively search everywhere the CCTV shows they could have been, including that charity bin?

The far more probable conclusion appears to be that the lack of urgency is explained by the fact that the link between Boshirov and Petrov and “novichok” is a narrative those involved in the investigation do not take seriously.

8 The Bungling Spies

There are elements of the accepted narrative of Boshirov and Petrov’s movements that do not make sense. As the excellent local Salisbury blog the Blogmire points out, the CCTV footage shows Boshirov and Petrov, after they had allegedly coated the door handle with novichok, returning towards the railway station but walking straight past it, into the centre of Salisbury (and missing their first getaway train in the process). They then wander around Salisbury apparently aimlessly, famously window shopping which is caught on CCTV, and according to the official narrative disposing of the used but inexplicably still cellophane-sealed perfume/novichok in a charity donation bin, having walked past numerous potential disposal sites en route including the railway embankment and the bins at the Shell garage.

But the really interesting thing, highlighted by the blogmire, is that the closest CCTV ever caught them to the Skripals’ house is fully 500 metres, at the Shell garage, walking along the opposite side of the road from the turning to the Skripals. There is a second CCTV camera at the garage which would have caught them crossing the road and turning down towards the Skripals’ house, but no such video or still image – potentially the most important of all the CCTV footage – has ever been released.

However the 500 metres is not the closest the CCTV places the agents to the Skripals. From 13.45 to 13.48, on their saunter into town, Boshirov and Petrov were caught on CCTV at Dawaulders coinshop a maximum of 200 metres away from the Skripals, who at the same time were at Avon Playground. The bin at Avon playground became, over two days in the immediate aftermath of the Skripal “attack”, the scene of extremely intensive investigation. Yet the Boshirov and Petrov excursion – during their getaway from attempted murder – into Salisbury town centre has been treated as entirely pointless and unimportant by the official story.

Finally, the behaviour of Boshirov and Petrov in the early hours before the attack makes no sense whatsoever. On the one hand we are told these are highly trained, experienced and senior GRU agents; on the other hand, we are told they were partying in their room all night, drawing attention to themselves with loud noise, smoking weed and entertaining a prostitute in the room in which they were storing, and perhaps creating, the “novichok”.

The idea that, before an extremely delicate murder operation involving handling a poison, a tiny accident with which would kill them, professionals would stay up all night and drink heavily and take drugs is a nonsense. Apart from the obvious effect on their own metabolisms, they were risking authorities being called because of the noise and a search being instituted because of the drugs.

That they did this while in possession of the novichok and hours before they made the attack, is something I simply do not believe.

9 The Skripals’ Movements

Until the narrative changed to Boshirov and Petrov arriving in Salisbury just before lunchtime and painting the doorknob, the official story had been that the Skripals left home around 9am and had not returned. They had both switched off their mobile phones, an interesting and still unexplained point. As you would expect in a city as covered in CCTV as Salisbury, their early morning journey was easily traced and the position of their car at various times was given by the police.

Yet no evidence of their return journey has ever been offered. There is now a tiny window between Boshirov and Petrov arriving, painting the doorknob apparently with the Skripals now inexplicably back inside their home, and the Skripals leaving again by car, so quickly after the doorknob painting that they catch up with Boshirov and Petrov – or certainly being no more than 200 metres from them in Salisbury City Centre. There is undoubtedly a huge amount of CCTV video of the Skripals’ movements which has never been released. For example, the parents of one of the boys who Sergei was chatting with while feeding the ducks, was shown “clear” footage by the Police of the Skripals at the pond, yet this has never been released. This however is the moment at which the evidence puts Boshirov and Petrov at the closest to them. What does the concealed CCTV of the Skripals with the ducks show?

Why has so little detail of the Skripals’ movements that day been released? What do all the withheld CCTV images of the Skripals in Salisbury show?

10 The Sealed Bottle

Only in the last couple of days have the police finally admitted there is a real problem with the fact that Charlie Rowley insists that the perfume bottle was fully sealed, and the cellophane difficult to remove, when he discovered it. Why the charity collection bin had not been emptied for three months has never been explained either. Rowley’s recollection is supported by the fact that the entire packaging was discovered by the police in his bin – why would Boshirov and Petrov have been carrying the cellophane around with them if they had opened the package? Why – and how – would they reseal it outdoors in Salisbury before dumping it?

Furthermore, there was a gap of three months between the police finding the perfume bottle, and the police releasing details of the brand and photos of it, despite the fact the police believed there could be more out there. Again the news management agenda totally belies the official narrative of the need to protect the public in a public health emergency.

This part of the narrative is plainly nonsense.

Bonus Point – The Integrity Initiative

The Integrity Initiative specifically paid Dan Kaszeta to publish articles on the Skripal case. In the weekly collections of social media postings the Integrity Initiative sent to the FCO to show its activity, over 80% were about the Skripals.

Governments do not institute secret campaigns to put out covert propaganda in order to tell the truth. The Integrity Initiative, with secret FCO and MOD sourced subsidies to MSM figures to put out the government narrative, is very plainly a disinformation exercise. More bluntly, if the Integrity Initiative is promoting it, you know it is not true.

Most sinister of all is the Skripal Group convened by the Integrity Initiative. This group includes Pablo Miller, Skripal’s MI6 handler, and senior representatives of Porton Down, the BBC, the CIA, the FCO and the MOD. Even if all the other ludicrously weak points in the government narrative did not exist, the Integrity Initiative activity in itself would lead me to understand the British government is concealing something important.

Conclusion

I do not know what happened in Salisbury. Plainly spy games were being played between Russia and the UK, quite likely linked to the Skripals and/or the NATO chemical weapons exercise then taking place on Salisbury Plain yet another one of those astonishing coincidences.

What I do know is that major planks of the UK government narrative simply do not stand up to scrutiny.

Plainly the Russian authorities have lied about the identity of Boshirov and Petrov. What is astonishing is the alacrity with which the MSM and the political elite have rallied around the childish logical fallacy that because the Russian Government has lied, therefore the British Government must be telling the truth. It is abundantly plain to me that both governments are lying, and the spy games being played out that day were very much more complicated than a pointless revenge attack on the Skripals.

I do not believe the British Government. I have given you the key points where the official narrative completely fails to stand up. These are by no means exhaustive, and I much look forward to reading your own views.

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890 thoughts on “Pure: Ten Points I Just Can’t Believe About the Official Skripal Narrative

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  • Isa

    Regarding the roof of the house :

    It seems they were looking for something rather than decontaminating . A pen drive or any other sort of mobile storage device regarding Steele dossier would make sense . A device that would have been handed to Petrov and B. So that Skripal could return home .

  • writeon

    It’s nice to have you back, Craig. I hope you’re well. The times we live in are both dark, hysterical and grotesque. The things we are expected to believe. You repeatedly say you don’t ‘believe.’ This marks you down as a non-believer, a heretic. What’s disturbing is how completely all the other journalists across the ‘spectrum’ have shown how much they do, in fact, believe. Believe a narrative that’s full of internal contradictions, bizarre turns and extraordinary coincidences, that defy ordinary logic and demand leaps of faith that are worthy of the Catholic Church at its worst.

    I wonder what happened to ‘investigative journalism’? Where are the Skripals? Isn’t their complete absence odd too? Is it because they won’t play ball? One would imagine that if Sergie Skripal wanted to say something that implicated Russia in this strange affair, he would have been produced already, no? Why hasn’t he or Yulia contacted their family back in Russia? Supposedly Sergie telephoned his aging mother once a week. Are the Skripals dead or what? Why can’t the Russian embassy contact them? Why the refusal from the government? Given the publicity, it would appear that the Skripals are the least likely people to be assassinated on the planet.

    • Fool Mune

      In an interview with Labour’s Emily Thornberry on 14 Oct 2018, Andrew Marr referred, not once but twice, to the Skripal ‘killings’. Does the BBC know something we don’t? Noticed that Emily Thornberry didn’t contradict him. Maybe she was thinking the same?

      • Deb O'Nair

        It is an interesting sign of the times in which we live that it is not beyond imagination that corporate shills like Marr and the rest could well be in on more information than the public know. It may be an important way of recruiting their support by putting them in the ‘loop’ to a certain extent and then talk about deceiving the public being vital to national security. Arrogant people like Marr et al could then enjoy an inflated sense of their own importance, privilege and patriotism whilst maintaining the deception without their conscience being troubled.

  • writeon

    I was thinking that Sturgess and her boyfriend are expendable pawns in this dark spy game. Who would miss a couple of junkies? Their value dead far outweighs their value alive, at least to the state.

    • Jim McDonald

      How the F**k do you know these unfortunate people were “Junkies”.
      Just imagine they were your relatives and you heard them being described like that.
      How about a wee bit of compassion for your fellow man?

      • writeon

        I don’t think the state has shown much compassion for them, has it? In fact the opposite, that’s why the family has appealed to Putin to help them find out what really happened. I don’t think it’s a secret that both of them had ‘problems’ with hard drugs. The families know about this, so it can hardly come as a shock to them.

      • writeon

        Are you kidding? I was referring to the authorities attitude to these poor people, that they were expendible junkie pawns that nobody would miss.

    • Deb O'Nair

      I am reasonably convinced that the couple in the CCTV image that the police originally said were people of interest, and then within 48 hours said they were no longer of interest, are Sturgess and Rowley.

  • David Haines

    Thanks for your rational summary of some of the questions that have been buzzing around in my head! Sadly I doubt I shall still be around if and when the truth is finally revealed.

    • Yr Hen Gof

      I very much doubt the truth will ever be revealed; there are 14 miles of shelving containing ‘files’ at FCO Hanslope, many of which should by now have been released into the public domain, then there are those post colonial Africa files that were damaged when dumped at sea.
      There are secrets from Kitchener’s time in the Sudan that we’re still not allowed to know about.
      No chance of this affair ever seeing the light of day.

  • michael norton

    I would be interesting to know if Sergei had built a laboratory in his loft?

    • Blunderbuss

      Very likely. That’s why there’s an extra flue through the roof. It’s the outlet from the fume cupboard.

      • Joiningupthedots

        That stack/flow is the only one in the entire block of houses which were built as part of the same development. I have since seen a photo with steam leaving it. Why it should be painted black is up for discussion.
        The original sewage stack flow (it exits from the downstairs cloaks WC up through the house and out the roof front right) tilts down towards the street curiously enough. The only sewage stack on the entire development to do so. It has also happened since the last time 47 Christie Road was purchased and compared to Google Earth historical imagery.
        This is purely an open sewage stack vent and could easily conceal CCTV.
        Something or someone caused it to tilt?

  • sc

    The thing that struck me most during the weeks after March last year is that, as Craig says, no-one seemed as worried about dangers to the public as you’d expect if an unknown amount of nerve agent could be around, strange decontamination advice was given much later (babywipes, leave clothes out to be collected), playgrounds and bins were searched, but few warnings to local people, little advice to people in the restaurant that afternoon etc, … so either the authorities were very careless or they knew there wasn’t much danger.

    • John Goss

      There was no military-grade nerve-agent. If there had been Salisbury would have gone into lockdown.

      What annoys me is the way the media has presented some outrageous stories – hundreds of them – as fact.

      • John2o2o

        The aim of producing so many absurd narratives may be to sow confusion in the minds of members of the public.

      • Some Random Passer-by

        Precisely.

        Anyone with any doubts need to search for images relating to the Halabja chemical attack.

        Turn safe search off, and be prepared for unpleasant pictures. This is what military spec weapons really do

      • Reg

        Also not only the roof would of been removed but the entire house and any nearby houses with all the residents prevented from returning to the close until a total chemical clean-up had taken place lasing months. With anybody in contact with the Skripols or any of the sites taken into hospital for tests under full NBC conditions in isolation by people in full suits.

  • DiggerUK

    “We were not told about the involvement of Colonel Abigail McCourt until January of this year, when it came out by accident.”…….is a typo. Abigail is the daughter, Alison is the Colonel…_

  • writeon

    One wonders why, exactly, what the justification is, for asking/ordering the media not to mention the agent Pablo MIller’s connection to Sergie Skripal. I mean it’s hardly a secret. The Russian are aware of his activities. It’s only the public who aren’t supposed to hear about the connection. It seems to be because linking Miller to Skripal would ‘complicate’ the narrative the government is selling to the public. Especially as Miller is linked to the BBC through Mark Urban, the Initiative’s activities, Christopher Steel and the infamous dodgy dossier on Trump and who knows what else? What depressing, given Miller’s key position in all this, is that nobody in the media has the guts to break the D-notice and inform the public properly. This seems to be the new norm. A media that’s docile and at the same time part of the state’s hybrid warfare aimed at Russia. We seem to be living in a strange kind of liberal democracy, which is increasingly totalitarian in character, as the state prepares for possible war with Russia. I believe this is the context, why the media is so reluctant to examine the Skripal Affair in any meaningful way.

  • John2o2o

    Yes, the only thing that any of us outside of Western spook circles knows is that we don’t know what happened.

    I think a great deal of these narratives regarding: contaminated roofs, smeared doorhandles, chief nurse coincidences, perfume bottles, Urban and Miller, contaminated hotel rooms, etc etc etc, have been designed to confuse the public.

    I also think that боширов (pronounced: Bashirov) and петров (Petrov) were convenient scapegoats. The true poisoners knew they were coming and used them as cover. That does not mean that I believe their story of being tourists, only that I don’t believe that they had anything to do with the Skripal poisoning.

    I wonder if perhaps the facts are actually in the public domain and that these multiple false flags are simply designed to give nosey members of the public too much information for them to see the reality. We can’t see the wood for the trees.

    Going back to the original reports, it was believed that the Skripals were poisoned by Fentanyl. I still think it likely that they were. I also think it possible that MI6 were the poisoners, though their motives for wanting the Skripals dead are not clear.

    On this blog we are surely not so naive as to believe that we, the Brits are the lilly-white good guys, and that those nasty Ruskies are the bad guys are we?

    • Anon1

      “Traitors will kick the bucket, believe me. Those other folks betrayed their friends, their brothers in arms. Whatever they got in exchange for it, those 30 pieces of silver they were given, they will choke on them.”

      Do you people ever consider that the obvious explanation might be the actual explanation?

      • Mighty Drunken

        Anon1 may I direct you to this discussion.
        https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/40900/did-putin-threaten-to-have-traitors-assassinated

        The quote in your question comes from a March 5, 2018 broadcast of BBC Newsnight. It is a concatenation of three soundbites from a three-minute statement in which Putin says that Russia no longer kills traitors. The soundbites come from the last paragraph of his statement in which Putin paints a melodramatic picture of traitors as broken men living out their remaining days in abject misery leading to an early death.

      • Blunderbuss

        I wonder why we need three Integrity Initiative bods on this blog. Do they work in shifts?

      • Deb O'Nair

        “Do you people ever consider that the obvious explanation might be the actual explanation?”

        Obvious? Are you insane?

      • Reg

        That translation is a lie. that’s why. Newsnight of March 5, 2018 broadcast cynically cut together 3 bits of dialogue to produce a misleading ‘quote’. For example the term threat was mistranslated into choke. The piece was actually an appeal to karma suggesting traitors never prosper and die along far from home in a single room strewn with Vodka bottles, not as liars suggest that the Russian state was threatening to hunt down and kill traitors. You should know better than believe the half baked lies and propaganda from the UK or US authorities before you check it first. The term is croak by themselves, not that they would be killed. Even the Telegraph has a different translation that gives a completely different interpretation. The term choking on 30 pieces of silver clearly is an appeal to karma or providence, suggesting traitors never prosper.

        https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8207750/Vladimir-Putin-Russian-secret-services-dont-kill-traitors.html

        States ” “Russia’s special services don’t do that,” he said during a televised call-in show. “As for the traitors, they will croak all by themselves. Whatever equivalent of 30 pieces of silver they get, it will get stuck in their throats.” ”

        This is the statement in full in the Russian that was taken out of context and maliciously mistranslated.

        https://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=414412

        I do not know Russian so this is a poor automatic translation, but this is the passage.

        “M.Sittel: Vladimir Vladimirovich, I will take the question from the site, this time from the category of personal ones. Writes us obviously lover of memoirs. “When you talked about the recent spy scandals, you noticed: traitors do not live long. Leaders of many countries, as is known from the memoirs, wrote letters about the elimination of the enemies of the Motherland abroad. So did the French, the Israelis. make such decisions in the past? ”
        V.Putin: I don’t think that the leaders of states have signed such orders right in the past. This is a matter of special services. And in Soviet times, in Stalin’s times – it is not a secret – there were special units that performed, including (these are combat units, they did not only do this), if necessary they also performed the following tasks: the elimination of traitors. Such units themselves have long been eliminated. 
        It is known that, indeed, many, say, the Israeli special services used such methods, yes, to all appearances, as far as today is concerned, far from all have refused it. Russian special services do not use such means.
        As for the traitors, they themselves will be bent, I assure you, because … Here is our last case of betrayal, when they gave out a group of our illegal immigrants. These are officers, you see, officers. A man betrayed his friends, comrades in arms – these are people who put their whole lives on the altar of the Fatherland. What is to learn the language at the level of the mother, refuse relatives, not be able to come to bury loved ones! Just think about it! The man gave all his life to serving the Motherland, and there was found some kind of brute that betrays such people. How will he live with this all his life ?! How will he look into the eyes of his children, pig ?!
        So whatever that is and whatever the 30 pieces of silver these people get, they will stand in their throats with a stake, I assure you. Hiding all my life, not having the opportunity to communicate with loved ones – you know, a person who chooses such a fate will regret it a thousand times more.”

        How will someone regret it a thousand times if the Russian state is just going to kill him/her?

    • Petrov

      The symptoms of the nerve agent poisoning are totally different from that of Fentanyl. It’s impossible to take one for another. So Fentanyl it is. Or something like it. Not novichok or any other nerve agent.

  • Incestusanglosaxonicus

    Borishov, oh yeah… Incestus victimus anglo-saxonicus vulgaris.))) Degenerantos extraordinares.)))

  • Stephen

    Coincidence of “Operation Toxic Dagger” happening at the same time close by surely warrants a mention on the list.

  • John Dorset

    Unpopular answers which need to be entertained at least:

    1. “purity” never relates to the conditions in which the sample was found but to the chemical signature of the molecules themselves, so how it was created. That a “source” was not able to explain this says enough about the background or motive of the source.
    2. there is no information or claim made public on what was exactly found in the roof or that it had to be from the door knob.
    3. the odds don’t seem bad that someone with such expertise would be around, considering the location and time.
    4. there is no official conclusion that Skripals collapsed after being contaminated from the door knob. In fact if other sources of contamination were known, they almost certainly will not make that public at this stage. And point 2 suggests there were more than one vector prepared
    5. not enough information to comment but hindsight is always easier
    6. this point can also be used to suggest another motive for Russian parties to target Skripal in particular
    7. it seems the brazenness and spread surprised all expectations? Shades of the polonium circus. Which should have warned them?
    8. the idea that more people might have been involved in the murder is not a reason to doubt what’s known or claimed so far
    9. this point serves to underline the suggestion made in reply 4.
    10 might be related to point 8: transport, packaging and delivering is not the same job as targeting and murdering,

    • craig Post author

      John Dorset,

      Let me repeat the reply I made above to this popular Integrity Initiative talking point.

      Graeme,

      I believe that sounds more clever than it is. Some of the “mud, rainwater and city gunge” will have dissolved into the gel/liquid, not just be suspended in it. Some new elements would very definitely be organic, and some may have reacted with the novichok, which was already to some extent destabilised by hydrolysis and sunlight. There would also almost certainly have been some traces of other organo-phosphates in that Salisbury muck and gunge, not to mention excretions from human skin. I don’t think judging original purity would be as feasible as you claim. Remember the stuff was very thinly spread on the handle, leaving a very high surface area to volume for contamination, and also speeding hydrolysis and the effect of the sun.

        • Deb O'Nair

          Somewhat over dramatic, but then again exaggeration, hyperbole and schlock tactics seem to be der riguere for those that blindly support the guvmunt narrative.

      • Ken Kenn

        From what bit I’ve read it is the impurities which can prove where the alleged Novichok was made.

        Or conversely – where it wasn’t made.

        If PD have the signature chemistry in their files they just test against the known samples.

        A bit like DNA testing.

        My point being PD will know who’s Novichock ( organo phosphate ) it isn’t not necessarily who’s it is.

        If they don’t have a known sample of an unknown chemical weapon then it is impossible to say who’s it is.

        Then again if your the government you can always make the ownership up.

      • Mary Pau!

        Well you probably need to clarify if pure in this context means uncontaminated by the elements or pure in the sense that uncut heroin is pure.

        • Mary Pau!

          Elements = weather, environmental conditions, usage, interactions with third parties animate and inanimate

      • Graeme

        Hi Craig,
        yes you’re right – environmental degradation/reaction may well have altered the chemical make up of whatever mixture was present, I was just raising the point that analytical chemists use words like “purity” in a different context to what may be usually expected.
        However, most analysts would usually take a background sample containing the “gunge” so it can be subtracted from the sample data allowing a more definitive analysis – this wouldn’t allow for any chemical reactions but these reaction products could possibly have been accounted for in the report – without knowing any details of methods used (which we never will!) we can only engage in partially informed discussions.
        Main point really is that us scientists don’t always communicate well with the general public and often assume that everyone uses the same vocabulary, soundbite quotes to journalists in particular can often be misreported either deliberately or just through plain misunderstanding.

        • Mighty Drunken

          I don’t think the subtraction method would work very well. A door handle is a different environment to other parts of the door. Door handles will be contaminated with human hand detritus but also be wiped clean by the action of opening the door. I think point 1 stands as people seem to be guessing at possible other meanings to purity rather than the standard meaning.

          • Ken Kenn

            That scenario fits fine if the outer door handle was sprayed and the Skripals walked out for the first time. they would only personally touch the outer door handle once – if they didn’t return?

            If they came back after the spraying then the outer door handle would be contaminated as would be the inner /outer door handle after closing that door to.

            There are/were two doors and therefore four handles ( one is a storm porch door – the other is the original front door ) so, if the Skripals came back after spraying the swabs of all four door handles should have been taken.

            Any ideas as to whether that happened – anyone?

            Changing the roof and rafters is just crazy – unless their was small chemical factory in the loft?

            Has Charlies flat been decontaminated and when was the resumption of Dawn’s Inquest?

    • Scotch_Bingeington

      Unpopular, well…

      You’re right in that “purity” and “impurities“ in the OPCW report would rather refer to production than subsequent degradation or interaction with the environment once the stuff was out in the open. Apart from that, if you’re talking about a “chemical signature” of molecules of one particular substance, they will all have the same “signature”, no matter how or by whom the substance was produced. Unless of course you’re talking about isomerism, which however we can’t in the case of A-234, the substance in question. Anyway, for all practical purposes, our Salisbury poison was a mixture of substances, yes. The substance (A-234) as such plus some degree of leftover precursors, intermediates, by-products, plus a number of additives. The ratio of actual A-234 to all the other stuff, determining the level of purity, is likely what you were referring to with “chemical signature”. You meant the right thing, but your explanation was off the mark. What does that say about your background or motive – “enough” perhaps?

      Chemistry, so fascinating. But it’s pointless to get worked up about it in the case of Salisbury. No “Novichok” was used by Russia, that much we can be sure of. If it had been, Britain wouldn’t have expelled a bunch of supposed Russian spies. Instead, they would have summoned the ambassador proper, only to hand over some kind of declaration of war and send him on his way back to Moscow. Then, NATO would have convened and declared a “Casus foederis“. No more Russian warships going through the Channel.

      But not only that Russia never used a nerve agent anywhere on British soil, I doubt that any nerve agent was ever used in public places by anyone in Salisbury. It’s the pictures of the one time that a nerve agent was in fact used on an unsuspecting public that make me doubt it. As we can see from the Aum sarin attacks, all hell would have broken lose. Look at the pictures, half of Salisbury would have been evacuated and cordoned off, for days on end. None of Skripal’s neighbours would have been allowed to stay in their homes, etc. etc.

      The one thing that Russia is actually guilty of is not breaching protocol by making the secret parts of the OPCW report public. They know what substance was involved in Salisbury.

    • Blunderbuss

      “there is no information or claim made public on what was exactly found in the roof or that it had to be from the door knob”.

      According to the Daily Mail it was radioactive material. Many people have assumed this was a DM error but maybe they were dropping a hint.

  • Pedant

    Point 3, paragraph 2, sentence 3: first ‘Abigail’ should read ‘Alison’. My mother and I also share the same initials. There were 25 other possible letters with which to begin my name so, when I was a teenager, I suspected this was a deliberate ploy so she could open my post with impunity.

  • Mary Pau!

    this interview with Charlie Rowley also lists the sites in Salisbury which have been officially decontaminated. They include Charlie Rowley’s old flat.
    https://www.itv.com/news/2019-03-01/id-like-answers-rather-than-questions-all-the-time-charlie-rowley-speaks-out-as-salisbury-declared-novichok-free/

    I assume it is just another of the extraordinary coincidences in this case that the Met Police’s head of Counter Terrorism and a senior government security advisor , until his retirement in March 2018 ,(note the date), was Sir Mark Rowley.

    • Isa

      As usual they try to divert from the information now in our knowledge and clearly of public interest and focus on mean Russian hacks . Typical of them. I couldn’t care less if Martians hacked the files . I’m grateful to whoever put them out there .

      . Cadwalladr was at it this morning . I find it funny that the lady that tweets non stop against Facebook and foreign interference participated as a speaker in a conference by integrity initiative , organised a conference with Bill Browder also from the integrity initiative and is far too involved in the Damian Collins fake news committee that takes advice from several integrity initiative cluster members .

      The same integrity initiative funded by the British government , the US state department and- oh irony- Facebook .

  • King of Welsh Noir

    11. Borishov and Petrov were shown on CCTV as having one small backpack between the two of them. So where did they store the HazMat suits that they must have worn in order to smear the door knob in safety?

    • Reg

      King of Welsh Noir
      And where was the decontamination suit they would of had to use before taking them off, as in just taking the thing off would of contaminated themselves. FFS (not directed at you) even asbestos suits need decontaminated and have their own air supply.

  • John Morgan

    So pleased to see you back on this story Craig and sorry to hear of the abuse youve had to put up with. Im glad the likes of you and Jonathan Cook and others are about even though this crazy world ignores everything as they stare at Meghan’s bump etc etc !
    All very best , John

  • Ry

    Fantastic and forensic challenges to the official narrative here, Craig.

    The biggest issue for me that seems to be seldom acknowledged in this case is Yulia Skripal. It surely can’t be coincidence that Borishov & Petrov arrive just after she does. If it was in fact an attempted hit on Sergei, it seems a remarkable coincidence that it would be executed just as Yulia comes to visit. So either one of two things must be true beyond genuine coincidence; Yulia was *also* a target (why?), or something else entirely was going on (a botched exchange of some kind? A meeting gone wrong?).

    One interesting piece of information that might answer those questions is… When did Yulia book her flights to London, and when were Borishov & Petrov’s flights booked? If B & P booked after Yulia, it could suggest she was being followed. If before, her involvement could be bad luck, but then why is she turning her phone off at the same time as her Dad on the day in question?

  • Will Rowan

    I don’t understand how the Chief Nurse and her daughter were able to help the Skripals without poisoning themselves.

    • Reg

      Was their as back up in case the attempt to kill or incapacitate and kidnap the Skripols went wrong having signed OSA and was positivly vetted and had proved reliable.

  • uncle tungsten

    Devilish cunning those Ruskies. They have clearly outsmarted Theresa May so I guess she should surrender without conditions. She has just completed good practice in that activity.

    Welcome back Craig and may the fair winds of fortune fill your sails. Thanks for a clarifying and valuable post.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    My considered view is that this was all manufactured theatre and the only question is what the underlying reasons for manufacturing such theatre might be.

    1) Let us assume that the UK wished to organise a ‘Russia dun it’ killing of the Skripals.

    They would firstly have actually bumped the pair off. Secondly, they would have probably bumped off a couple of dubious Russians who President Putin would have been quite happy to have seen the back of. You know the sort, links to the mafia, relocated to UK to escape Putin’s heat. MI6 is not short of experience in bumping undesirables off and many might contend they had experience in bumping Dr David Kelly off.

    MI6 is not a bunch of alcoholic bumbling idiots, they are extremely calculating, extremely dangerous people, some of whom will either carry out contract killings or contract them out to mercenaries.

    So if MI6 wanted to kill the Skripals in public, I am sure they would have done so. They did not do so, so I am of the firm opinion that they had no intention of doing so.

    2) Let us assume that the aim was kidnapping the Skripals, questioning them under duress and either bumping them off or supplying them with new identities.

    Well then all the theatre would be about misdirecting the public whilst a jolly month of torturing/enhanced interrogation took place.

    We have nothing of the Skripals or from the Skripals for many months, so it is safe to assume that MI6 either have them on a very tight leash, or they have let Gina Haspel (doyen of CIA torture) loose on them or they have bumped them off or let them quietly start a new life in the Caribbean, leaving them absolutely clear that if they contact anyone in Russia that they will be bumped off.

    The question then arises as to why this old man suddenly needed torturing and what his daughter had to do with it. The most obvious reason would be him going off piste and building a new dodgy business which MI6 were extremely uncomfortable with.

    Perhaps he was selling Putin secrets about MI6 contracting from the Clintons to put Trump in the frame for pissing on prostitutes in Moscow? Not very good for MI6 reputation on the Hill.

    Perhaps he was doubling dealing in Ukraine, secretly helping Crimea and Donetsk in blatant contravention of all the US shenanigans putting Poroshenko in power? This seems unlikely as why would they need to kidnap his daughter too?

    I am not particularly convinced by this either…but in the absence of anything better….

    3) Was the undermining of OPCW the primary aim?

    As we all know, the US has no tolerance of any organisation that upholds its statutes if by doing so they finger the US as a dodgy operator. So if OPCW were ethically maintaining a position that the US were telling blatant lies, repeatedly, about Assad using chemicals weapons on his own people, then maybe the Us needed a way to neuter that organisation?

    A dodgy stitch up involving Russia would fit the narrative and could provide the context for high level threats to senior members of OPCW.

    I am not convinced about this one, it seems to me that the Americans could neuter OPCW perfectly happily without needing a Novichok incident.

    4) Russia bashing before the World Cup leading to England doing very well in the tournament.

    I hate suggesting World Cups are a stitch up, but getting Mr Putin at least on the side of the English rather than actively conspiring against them may have been part of a strategy to ensure very few English people went to Russia in 2018. The last thing MI6 wants is loads of Brits thinking that Russians are nice people, even worse that they were good in bed! There was media orchestration for 10 months telling people not to after all….

    All in all, I do not know why the theatre took place, but I am utterly convinced that everything was just staged-managed nonsense….

  • giyane

    As a former chauffeur I can confirm that SAS travelling on an all expenses paid jolly do use prostitutes and I’ve it up. I suppose that allows them a Hoff of James Bond in an otherwise subservient existence kowtowing to the public school empire0 mob.

    Rather indigestable chaff imho but a kind of medicine cooling the nerves in a dodgy , unpredictable errand.

  • Kenneth G Coutts

    Superb! Craig.
    The 24/7 never sleeping deep state.
    Very interesting.
    Welcome back Craig
    You are a gate keeper right enough.
    Regards??

  • DiggerUK

    I am having difficulty accepting that a mother would put her daughter in danger, (Colonel McCourt) I can believe that an officer of such status would serve above and beyond, but endanger her daughter in the process?

    The cover story for them being there, the party, is highly plausible, but I find it highly implausible that a 16 year old would be roped in to a conspiracy to play good Samaritan and become a media hero. My concerns to one side, it is another curious coincidence all the same…_

    • giyane

      DiggerUK

      I suppose it all depends how sexual user, drug user, Tory ised and brain-ducked you have to be to be the army’s top nurse.

    • defo

      Fab work Craig. Liking the self & sanity preservation technique of non-committal on certain aspects.
      Your ‘bonus’ alone, if worked well,could open monys an een to the duplicitous, conniving,cold heart’d nature of the British ruling elite.
      All in one Integrity(ycnmiu) Initiative fake news parcel.
      Re The Nurse.
      IF there were a cunning plan…The point at which the Skripals would have to be discovered (and isolated), in public, puggled, was outside the control of the planners. Establishment (bribed/blackmailed) Nursie plays the game, et viola. snafu.

      Why/who?
      A hearty tale of Russia Bad, as cover for the intentionally botched payback for the Steele fiasco, with a real frisson of Fear.
      Terrr ‘attacks’ & plots are losing impact in the manufacturing of the Fear which is required to maintain control,

  • Jo

    With your credentials Craig…..this and the blogmires latest should be sent to every MP….every member of HoL’s…Councillors of every local district and Borough…City….every Police authority member …. etc etc…..someone at those levels has got to wake up and challenge the authorities to stop the UK sinking further into the mire of unnecessary Russophobic confrontation eg Gavins efforts of “lethality.”..confrontation and containment in the arctic jointly with the USA….the pressure I am sure is still on to remove power of veto from UNSC so the USA can do its own thing anywhere by majority vote….play the blame game against China and Russia also via OCPW…..create provocations and continue cases against Syria and Assad for chemical weapons …..and what country is next-Venezuela?The stakes are getting higher and higher….more critical….more covert government agencies and “friends” having been given or assumed authority of some kind to persue the false Bill Browder Nato and UK foreign policy agendas. Thanks Craig for the article.

  • Chemical Britain

    Craig, our hero, fled the scene a year ago after promising an explosive article on the Skripal saga.

    Craig, our hero, returns a year later with stuff that other hard working bloggers have been pointing out over the last year.

    -10/10.

    • BrianFujisan

      Sometimes it is a Long time before Craig revisits a Story.

      And Craig Does NOT regard himself a hero..
      having said that, I think I can Guess that Craig is indeed a hero to many more people than you.

  • BrianFujisan

    Great Work Craig. A new take on the Skripal’s theatre.

    Yullia, Having ‘recovered’ made a t.v appearance, Where she read an Obviously prepared script By U.K Gov.

    Yullia seemed Perfectly well then.. So Where is She.. Never a word about her in the Corporate MsM.

  • mark golding

    As Jo writes the pursuance of a false agenda must lead to chaos and decay incompatible with existence; a rotting that purges the soul of all vitality. This ‘dark game was played out in Salisbury‘ contributes to a British decayserved by it’s corrupt establishment including the secret services. These are the facts of another potent lie, another ‘dodgy dossier’ of information, another insult to intelligence, courage and back-bone.

    -The UK has repeatedly denied an entry visa to Victoria Skripal. The motives have never been convincingly explained. Moreover, while Sergei and Yulia remained unconscious, a number of legal decisions were taken by British authorities on their behalf, fully ignoring the fact that the Skripals had relatives in Russia who should have been consulted as the next of kin.

    – There have been conflicting reports on the fate of Sergei Skripal’s pet animals. No satisfactory explanation has ever been given to the fact that they were killed, reportedly at Porton Down, and that they had not been tested for nerve agent poisoning.

    – The UK authorities have never announced how the prime suspects had received their visas and what information on the purposes of their visit was indicated on their visa application forms. This information would have been useful for ascertaining the credibility of the police’s and the prime suspects’ accounts of their trip.

    – The investigation has never announced where and under what circumstances Mr Rowley had found the perfume bottle allegedly containing the nerve agent. If one is to believe that the bottle was found in a charity bin, how has it been possible that nobody had found it over the several months, before Mr Rowley did?

    – As the bottle found by Mr Rowley was sealed, there has been no clarity as to whether the investigation believes this to be the very bottle used against the Skripals, or a different one. If the latter is true, where is the first bottle and how has it been possible to declare Salisbury fully decontaminated if the first bottle has never been found?

    – It is not entirely clear why Dawn Sturgess was cremated rather than buried. Did the authorities influence her family to force such a decision, so that no further examinations on her body could be ever performed?

    • Blunderbuss

      And I have not been able to establish who gave consent for Dawn’s life support to be switched off.

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