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The Official Skripal Story is a Dead Duck 586

One of the striking things about the official Skripal story is the way its more wildly improbable aspects have been released to the mainstream media over a long period, so as to manage their impact. So, for example, police acknowledgement that the perfume bottle Charlie Rowley found was sealed and could not have been the container used on the Skripals is comparatively recent, and it took nine months for us to learn that, by a truly wonderful coincidence, the first person to find the Skripals ill on the bench was the Chief Nurse of the British Army.

I covered these points in full in my article on the ten points I do not believe in the official story – an article which nobody has sought to refute, other than to yell “conspiracy theory”, as though that was an argument.

But today we learn from the Guardian (quoting the New York Times) that Donald Trump was only convinced to back the UK government line after being shown photos of dead ducks and hospitalised children by CIA director Gina Haspel.

The problem is that, there were no hospitalised children. No children have been reported as becoming ill following their duck feeding with the Skripals. We have heard from one of the parents that they were shown by the police extremely clear CCTV footage of the duck feeding, which has never been made public. Surely if the child had been hospitalised, the parent would have been mentioned it?

Dr Stephen Davies of Salisbury Hospital’s letter of 16 March 2018 to the Times has been explained away as poorly written or edited, in relation to the cause of the Skripals’ illness. But be that as it may, one thing the doctor’s letter does without any shadow of a doubt, is rule out the possibility of hospitalised children.

There were no hospitalised children.

We also know that the duck feeding was the time that “Boshirov and Petrov” were physically closest to the Skripals. But this is the first time there has ever been any mention of any harm to the ducks. Dead ducks would have been noticed by the public.

Possibly the Guardian and New York Times are inventing utter drivel, as in the Manafort meeting Assange story. That would in itself be worrying. The other possibility is that the security services produced fake photographs of hospitalised children and slaughtered some ducks, in order to convince Donald Trump. If the latter explanation is true, then the entire Skripal saga looks more and more staged.

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Notre Dame and Lateral Thinking 392

France is a country which has spent hundreds of billions of euros on nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction, and hundreds of billions of euros on other military capabilities. France possesses the technological capability to utterly flatten a city the size of Paris in minutes. Yet it does not possess the technological capability to prevent one of its greatest buildings from being destroyed by fire.

If the many trillions spent all around the world on the research, development and production of instruments of destruction had been devoted to peaceful purposes instead, what new technologies might we have now? It is not a huge step in lateral thinking to imagine that in such a world, more might have been available to save Notre Dame – and Grenfell – than too short ladders and hoses squirting water.

I posted this simple idea on twitter a couple of hours ago. As with all my twitter posts, right wing trolls came in to dispute my point very quickly. Their posts are worth reading because they so stunningly miss the point. They talk about standard lengths of firefighting ladders and about water pressure. They appear completely unable to even register, let alone extrapolate from, the notion that had the resources mankind has squandered on agents of destruction been better used, we might have different technologies.

John Stuart Mill once stated in parliament: “I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.” I have always believed that right wing “thought” is a misnomer, and right wing views are rather characterised by absence of meaningful intellectual activity. Furthermore, those touted as right wing “thinkers”, such as Roger Scruton, Patrick Minford or David Starkey, if studied with any rigour, are the greatest proof of this. But it is seldom that you see such clear evidence as the responses to that little tweet. If I had devised that tweet as an experiment to demonstrate the hypothesis of the intellectual incapacity of the conservative mind, it could not have worked better.

My condolences to all for the loss of a great building. One day, perhaps mankind will learn that we do not in reality defend what we have by spending vast amounts of our available resources and capacity for communal activity in preparing to destroy as much as we are physically capable of destroying.

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Chelsea and Julian are in Jail. History Trembles. 986

Tonight both Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange are in jail, both over offences related to the publication of materials specifying US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, and both charged with nothing else at all. No matter what bullshit political and MSM liars try to feed you, that is the simple truth. Manning and Assange are true heroes of our time, and are suffering for it.

If a Russian opposition politician were dragged out by armed police, and within three hours had been convicted on a political charge by a patently biased judge with no jury, with a lengthy jail sentence to follow, can you imagine the Western media reaction to that kind of kangaroo court? Yet that is exactly what just happened in London.

District Judge Michael Snow is a disgrace to the bench who deserves to be infamous well beyond his death. He displayed the most plain and open prejudice against Assange in the 15 minutes it took for him to hear the case and declare Assange guilty, in a fashion which makes the dictators’ courts I had witnessed, in Babangida’s Nigeria or Karimov’s Uzbekistan, look fair and reasonable, in comparison to the gross charade of justice conducted by Michael Snow.

One key fact gave away Snow’s enormous prejudice. Julian Assange said nothing during the whole brief proceedings, other than to say “Not guilty” twice, and to ask a one sentence question about why the charges were changed midway through this sham “trial”. Yet Judge Michael Snow condemned Assange as “narcissistic”. There was nothing that happened in Snow’s brief court hearing that could conceivably have given rise to that opinion. It was plainly something he brought with him into the courtroom, and had read or heard in the mainstream media or picked up in his club. It was in short the very definition of prejudice, and “Judge” Michael Snow and his summary judgement is a total disgrace.

We wrapped up the final Wikileaks and legal team meeting at 21.45 tonight and thereafter Kristian Hrafnsson and I had dinner together. The whole team, including Julian, is energised rather than downhearted. At last there is no more hiding for the pretend liberals behind ludicrous Swedish allegations or bail jumping allegations, and the true motive – revenge for the Chelsea Manning revelations – is now completely in the open.

To support the persecution of Assange in these circumstances is to support absolute state censorship of the internet. It is to support the claim that any journalist who receives and publishes official material which indicates US government wrongdoing, can be punished for its publication. Furthermore this US claim involves an astonishing boost to universal jurisdiction. Assange was nowhere near the USA when he published the documents, but nonetheless US courts are willing to claim jurisdiction. This is a threat to press and internet freedom everywhere.

These are scary times. But those may also be the most inspiring of times.

UPDATE

We are reassembling Wikileaks/Julian legal and media team from 10am Friday in Doughty Street Chambers. I and others will be available for further media interviews from then. I can be reached on 07979 691085.

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Goin’ Doon the Watter 541

UPDATE: Craig is on way back to London to be with Wikileaks following the arrest of Julian Assange under the Extradition Act. He does still intend to speak at Rothesay.

Scotland Yard statement:

Julian Assange, 47, (03.07.71) has today, Thursday 11 April, been further arrested on behalf of the United States authorities, at 10:53hrs after his arrival at a central London police station. This is an extradition warrant under Section 73 of the Extradition Act. He will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as possible.

I am speaking in Rothesay at St Paul’s Church Hall, Deanhood Place, at 2pm on Saturday. I am heading back up to Scotland today. I will be there in any circumstances, and will dash back down afterwards should events with Julian and Wikileaks require. I have incidentally had a definitive reply from the Embassy of Ecuador that I am not allowed to visit Julian even though he has asked me to; definitive evidence that Assange is now being treated by Moreno as a prisoner.

I have to confess I have never been to the Isle of Bute, despite a very bad impression of Andy Stewart singing “Goin’ Doon the Watter fur the Fair” being one of the large variety of embarrassing things I am liable to do when drunk. I look forward to it enormously and am grateful to Rothesay Historical Society for hosting me. I always fret that nobody will turn up to hear me and am very honoured when people do.

As ever, I do not know exactly what I will say until I stand up. But I have in mind touching on Scotland’s right to self-determination and the routes to Independence through international recognition. I will argue that a referendum is one route but not the only one, and while I accept it is the most desirable way forward, I shall advance other avenues that might be quite legally pursued if a referendum is blocked, stressing that a nation’s Independence is exclusively a matter of international law, not domestic law.

I shall argue that the Scottish government needs to get on with it and it is a massive mistake to allow the UK government to recover from its chaos and process the Brexit debacle. Scotland should act before the UK regroups, not after.

I shall also argue that just as the Scots have the right of self-determination, so do the English. It is not just bad tactics for the SNP to prioritise stopping Brexit over Independence, it is wrong. The English plainly voted to leave the EU and it is not Scotland’s role to thwart the democratic will of the English people. Scotland should become Independent, and remain an EU member, as its people voted. England and Wales should leave the EU as their people voted, and those who truly believe in Scottish Independence should realise it is not our right to prevent the English from doing what they self-determine. Let’s get Independence and do our own thing, leaving them to do theirs.

There needs to be a referendum on Irish unification.

I shall also ramble around Wikileaks, the Mueller report, the Skripal saga, the Integrity Initiative, and answer questions in any other area. Time now to start back up the A1!

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On the Pavement with Wikileaks 363

Entirely unexpectedly, I have been down in London this last three days outside and around the Ecuadorean Embassy, following WikiLeaks’ announcement that their sources indicate Julian might be expelled within hours or days. Plainly Julian’s position within the Embassy has deteriorated fundamentally, to the extent he is now treated openly as a closely guarded prisoner. I still have not myself been granted permission to visit him and he is now very isolated.

Nothing has happened so far this weekend, though I stated from the start that if the police were going to move in. the most likely time would be 4am on Monday morning. There is a thought that the massive media presence occasioned by Wikileaks’ announcement may have succeeded in deterring President Moreno from the expulsion. Let us hope that will prove the case.

I am very exhausted, having been more or less on 24 hour watch for three days. It was also somewhat difficult to tell Nadira her birthday celebration had shifted without notice from a restaurant in Edinburgh to a wet pavement in London. But I was very pleased to have a very fruitful in depth conversation with Kristin Hrafnsson, editor in chief of Wikileaks. Our thoughts ran along these lines, and as this does not involve secrets but rather media handling, I see no harm in sharing these thoughts with you.

When Julian does leave the Embassy, whatever the circumstances in which he does that, it will be for a day or two the largest media story in the world and undoubtedly will lead all the news bulletins across every major country. The odds are that he will be leaving and facing a fight against extradition to the United States, on charges arising from the Chelsea Manning releases which revealed a huge amount about US war crimes and other illegal acts.

It will be very important to try to focus a hostile media on why it is Julian is actually wanted for extradition. Not for the non-existent collusion with Russia to assist Trump, which is an entirely fake narrative. Not for meetings with Manafort which never happened. Not for the allegations in Sweden which fell apart immediately they were subject to rational scrutiny. And not for any nonsense about whether he hacked the communications in the Embassy or cleaned up the cat litter.

This is not going to be an easy task because pretty well all of the Western media is going to want to focus on these false anti-Assange narratives, and they will be determined to give as little attention as possible to the fact he is a publisher facing trial for publishing leaked state documents which revealed state wrongdoing. It is a classic and fundamental issue of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Drawing together a team that can get this message across in such MSM windows as are afforded, as well as through social media, is an important task. The team needs to be in readiness and to be backed by a suitable support infrastructure that can be dusted off and sprung into action. The public framing of Julian’s position will undoubtedly impact on the final outcome; that is why the MSM have put in such a consistent effort to demonise one of the most interesting figures and original thinkers of our time.

If the balloon really had gone up this weekend, we would have been woefully unprepared to deal with the task of explaining the true story. If nothing else, this weekend’s alarm has been very helpful in concentrating minds on the size of the task.

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Julian Assange: Socialists and Liberals Must Now Choose Their Side.

Cassandra Fairbanks’ account of her visit to Julian in the Ecuadorean Embassy paints a truly harrowing picture of the conditions in which he is being held. Last week after receiving a message from Julian I applied to the Ecuadorean Embassy to go and see him. I have done this many times but a new regime has established involving forms and strict time windows.

The Ecuadorean Embassy claim not to have received my email with the application, which is peculiar as I received no undeliverable message and bcc copyees received it. I therefore re-sent it with a new email advising they may change the date and time if the original is not now achievable. I have heard nothing so far in response.

Chelsea Manning is currently entering her fourth week of solitary confinement for refusing to testify against Assange before a grand jury. The United States wishes to extradite Julian Assange to face charges, not of collusion with the non-existent “Russiagate”, not with a sexual offence stitch-up. They wish to charge him with publishing the evidence of extensive US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with publishing the US diplomatic cables including the one I drew on last week which prove that the US and UK conspired to establish a marine reserve around the Chagos Islands as an environmental fraud to maintain the deportation of the islanders from what is now the US nuclear and torture base.

Many tens of billions of dollars are spent every year on western security services, and they are not stupid. The use of contrived sexual allegations to detach progressive figures from their support base is well established practice. But the allegations against Assange in Sweden are long gone, never reached the stage of a charge, and fell away immediately once Assange was finally interviewed by Swedish police and prosecutors in the Embassy. The whole Russiagate fabrication has been exploded as the media confection it always was.

The false left and liberals have until now been delighted to hide behind Russiagate or Sweden to avoid asking themselves the fundamental question. Julian Assange is merely a journalist and publisher. The fundamental question is, should a journalist or publisher be locked up for life for publishing leaked documents showing war crimes? If the answer is yes, where is press freedom?

That is now the unavoidable question. The security service patsies at the Guardian, however, prefer to retail ludicrous accusations from CIA asset Lenin Moreno – accusations motivated by the revelation of Moreno’s Panamanian offshore accounts – in frenzied efforts to maintain the tactic of diversion.

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Muellergate and the Discreet Lies of the Bourgeoisie 242

This cartoon seems to me very apposite. The capacity of the mainstream media repeatedly to promote the myth that Russia caused Clinton’s defeat, while never mentioning what the information was that had been so damaging to Hillary, should be alarming to anybody under the illusion that we have a working “free media”. There are literally hundreds of thousands of mainstream media articles and broadcasts, from every single one of the very biggest names in the Western media, which were predicated on the complete nonsense that Russia had conspired to install Donald Trump as President of the United States.

I genuinely have never quite understood whether the journalists who wrote this guff believed it, whether they were cynically pumping out propaganda and taking their pay cheque, or whether they just did their “job” and chose to avoid asking themselves whether they were producing truth or lies.

I suspect the answer varies from journalist to journalist. At the Guardian, for example, I get the impression that Carole Cadwalladr is sufficiently divorced from reality to believe all that she writes. Having done a very good job in investigating the nasty right wing British Establishment tool that was Cambridge Analytica, Cadwalladr became deluded by her own fame and self-importance and decided that her discovery was the key to understanding all of world politics. In her head it explained all the disappointments of Clintonites and Blairites everywhere. She is not so high-minded however as to have refused the blandishments of the Integrity Initiative.

Luke Harding is in a different category. Harding has become so malleable a tool of the security services it is impossible to believe he is not willingly being used. It would be embarrassing to have written a bestseller called “Collusion”, the entire premiss for which has now been disproven, had Harding not made so much money out of it.

Harding’s interview with Aaron Mate of The Real News was a truly enlightening moment. The august elite of the mainstream media virtually never meet anybody who subjects their narrative to critical intellectual scrutiny. Harding’s utter inability to deal with unanticipated scepticism descends from hilarious to toe-curlingly embarrassing.

In general, since the Mueller report confirmed that $50 million worth of investigation had been unable to uncover any evidence of Russiagate collusion, the media has been astonishingly unrepentant about the absolute rubbish they have been churning out for years.

Harding and the Guardian’s story about Manafort repeatedly calling on Assange in the Ecuador Embassy is one of the most blatant and malicious fabrications in modern media history. It has been widely ridiculed, no evidence of any kind has ever been produced to substantiate it, and the story has been repeatedly edited on the Guardian website to introduce further qualifications and acknowledgements of dubious attribution, not present as originally published. But still neither Editor Katherine Viner nor author Luke Harding has either retracted or apologised, something which calls the fundamental honesty of both into question.

Manafort is now in prison, because as with many others interviewed, the Mueller investigation found he had been involved in several incidences of wrongdoing. Right up until Mueller finalised his report, media articles and broadcasts repeatedly, again and again and again every single day, presented these convictions as proving that there had been collusion with Russia. The media very seldom pointed out that none of the convictions related to collusion. In fact for the most part they related to totally extraneous events, like unrelated tax frauds or Trump’s hush-money to (very All-American) prostitutes. The “Russians” that Manafort was convicted of lobbying for without declaration, were Ukrainian and the offences occurred ten years ago and had no connection to Trump of any kind. Rather similarly the lies of which Roger Stone stands accused relate to his invention, for personal gain, of a non-existent relationship with Wikileaks.

The truth is that, if proper and detailed investigation were done into any group of wealthy politicos in Washington, numerous crimes would be uncovered, especially in the fields of tax and lobbying. Rich political operatives are very sleazy. This is hardly news, and if those around Clinton had been investigated there would be just as many convictions and of similar kinds. it is a pity there is not more of this type of work, all the time. But the Russophobic motive behind the Mueller Inquiry was not forwarded by any of the evidence obtained.

My analysis of the Steele dossier, written before I was aware that Sergei Skripal probably had a hand in it, has stood the test of time very well. It is a confection of fantasy concocted for money by a charlatan.

We should not forget at this stage to mention the unfortunate political prisoner Maria Butina, whose offence is to be Russian and very marginally involved in American politics at the moment when there was a massive witchhunt for Russian spies in progress, that makes The Crucible look like a study in calm rationality. Ms Butina was attempting to make her way in the US political world, no doubt, and she had at least one patron in Moscow who was assisting her with a view to increasing their own political influence. But nothing Butina did was covert or sinister. Her efforts to win favour within the NRA were notable chiefly because of the irony that the NRA has been historically responsible for many more American deaths than Russia.

Any narrative of which the Establishment does not approve is decried as conspiracy theory. Yet the “Russiagate” conspiracy theory – which truly is Fake News – has been promoted massively by the entire weight of western corporate and state media. “Russiagate”, a breathtaking plot in which Russia and a high profile US TV personality collude together to take control of the most militarily powerful country in the world, knocks “The Manchurian Candidate” into a cocked hat. A Google “news search” restricts results to mainstream media outlets. Such a search for the term “Russiagate” brings 230,000 results. That is almost a quarter of a million incidents of the mainstream media not only reporting the fake “Russiagate” story, but specifically using that term to describe it.

Compare that with a story which is not an outlandish fake conspiracy theory, but a very real conspiracy.

If, by contrast, you do a Google “news search” for the term “Integrity Initiative”, the UK government’s covert multi million pound programme to pay senior mainstream media journalists to pump out anti-Russian propaganda worldwide, you only get one eighth of the results you get for “Russiagate”. Because the mainstream media have been enthusiastically promoting the fake conspiracy story, and deliberately suppressing the very real conspiracy in which many of their own luminaries are personally implicated.

Furthermore – and this is a truly tremendous irony, which relates back to the cartoon at the start – only two of the top ten news results for “Integrity Initiative” come from the Western corporate media.

And this next fact comes nearly into the “too good to be true” category for my argument. Those two MSM mentions, from Sky News and the Guardian, do not complain of the covert anti-Russian propaganda campaign that is the Integrity Initiative. They rather complain that it was an alleged “Russian hack” that made the wrongdoing public!! You could not make it up, you really could not.

According to the mainstream media, it is not Hillary Clinton’s fault for conspiring with the DNC to cheat Bernie out of the nomination, it is Russia’s fault for allegedly helping to reveal it. It is not the British government’s, or their media collaborators’, fault for running a covert propaganda scheme to dupe the public of the UK and many other countries, it is the Russians’ fault for allegedly helping to reveal it!

Which brings us full circle to the DNC leak that sparked Muellergate and the claims that it was the Russians who lost Hillary the election. Robert Mueller repeats the assertion from the US security services that it was Russian hackers who obtained the DNC emails and passed them on to Wikileaks. I am telling you from my personal knowledge that this is not true.

Neither Mueller’s team, not the FBI, nor the NSA, nor any US Intelligence agency, has ever carried out any forensic analysis on the DNC’s servers. The DNC consistently refused to make them available. The allegation against Russia is based purely on information from the DNC’s own consultants, Crowdstrike.

William Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA (America’s US$40 billion a year communications intercept organisation), has proven beyond argument that it is a technical impossibility for the DNC emails to have been transmitted by an external hack – they were rather downloaded locally, probably on to a memory stick. Binney’s analysis is fully endorsed by former NSA systems expert Ed Loomis. There simply are no two people on the planet more technically qualified to make this judgement. Yet, astonishingly, Mueller refused to call Binney or Loomis (or me) to testify. Compare this, for example, with his calling to testify my friend Randy Credico, who had no involvement whatsoever in the matter, but Mueller’s team hoped to finger as a Trump/Assange link.

Randy Emerges From His Evidence Session Displaying A Great Taste in Reading Material

The DNC servers have never been examined by intelligence agencies, law enforcement or by Mueller’s team. Binney and Loomis have written that it is impossible this was an external hack. Wikileaks have consistently stressed no state actor was involved. No evidence whatsoever has been produced of the transfer of the material from the “Russians” to Wikileaks. Wikileaks Vault 7 release of CIA documents shows that the planting of false Russian hacking “fingerprints” is an established CIA practice. Yet none of this is reflected at all by Mueller nor by the mainstream media.

“Collusion” may be dead, but the “Russiagate” false narrative limps on.

I should add it seems to me very probable Russia did make some efforts to influence the US election. I worked a a British diplomat for 20 years and spent a lot of time trying to influence political outcomes in the country in which I was posted, in Eastern Europe and in Africa. It is part of the geopolitical game. The United States is of course the world leader by a long way in attempting to influence elections abroad, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to that effect in countries including Ukraine, Georgia, Ecuador and Venezuela recently, and pretty well everywhere in Africa. It is a part of normal diplomatic life.

Mueller uncovered some high level influence-broking meetings. This is what states do. He uncovered some sleazy deals. This is what rich people do. He uncovered some US $110,000 of Facebook ad spending from Russia targeted on the USA, some of which promoted sex toys, some of which was post-election, but some of which was apparently trying to assist Trump against Clinton. Compared to the amount the USA pumps into similar arms length assistance to Putin opponents in Russia alone, it was negligible. That this tiny bit of Facebook advertising crucially impacted the US $13,000,000,000 PR campaigns of the candidates is a ludicrous proposition.

That every country stay out of every other country’s politics is arguably desirable. It is not however the status quo, and the United States is in the worst position of all to complain.

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Muellergate Maps

I would be very grateful if someone with the ability to do internet topological node mapping could produce a couple of maps for me for “Russiagate” and “Integrity Initiative” over the past nine months. It is important that other parameters are the same for a direct comparison.

I am writing a piece on the collapse of the Russiagate narrative. I make the point that the MSM promoted the crazed and untrue “Russiagate” conspiracy theory to an astonishing degree. At the same time, the MSM almost entirely ignored the very real government funded conspiracy to pervert public opinion which is the Integrity Initiative.

That the MSM promoted the Fake News Russiagate conspiracy, while only the alt media reported the genuine news of the real Integrity Initiative conspiracy, is beyond doubt true. But it would nevertheless be good to have those internet node maps to provide a striking illustration of that truth.

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Chagos and the Dark Soul of the British Labour Party

Even if you think you know all about the Chagos story – an entire population forcibly removed from their island homeland at British gunpoint to make way for a US Air Force nuclear base, the people dumped destitute over a thousand miles away, their domestic animals gassed by the British army, their homes fired and demolished – then I beg you still to read this.

This analysis shows there could be no more startling illustration of the operation of the brutal and ruthless British Establishment in an undisguisedly Imperialist cause, involving actions which all reasonable people can see are simply evil. It points out that many of the key immoralities were perpetrated by Labour governments, and that the notion that either Westminster democracy or the British “justice” system provides any protection against the most ruthless authoritarianism by the British state, is utterly baseless.

Finally of course, there is the point that this is not only a historic injustice, but the injustice continues to the current day and continues to be actively promoted by the British state, to the extent that it is willing to take massive damage to its international standing and reputation in order to continue this heartless policy. This analysis is squarely based on the recent Opinion of the International Court of Justice.

Others have done an excellent job of chronicling the human stories and the heartache of the Islanders deported into penury far away across the sea. I will take that human aspect as read, although this account of one of the major forced transportations is worth reading to set the tone. The islanders were shipped out in inhuman conditions to deportation, starved for six days and covered in faeces and urine. This was not the 19th century, this was 1972.

The MV Nordvaer was already loaded with Chagossians, horses, and coconuts when it arrived at Peros Banhos. Approximately one hundred people were ultimately forced onto the ship. Ms. Mein, her husband, and their eight children shared a small, cramped cabin on the ship. The cabin was extremely hot; they could not open the portholes because the water level rose above them under the great weight of the overloaded boat. Many of the other passengers were not as fortunate as Ms. Mein and shared the cargo compartment with horses, tortoises, and coconuts. Ms. Mein remembers that the cargo hold was covered with urine and horse manure. The horses were loaded below deck while many human passengers were forced to endure the elements above deck for the entirety of the six-day journey in rough seas. The voyage was extremely harsh and many passengers became very sick. The rough conditions forced the captain to jettison a large number of coconuts in order to prevent the overloaded boat from sinking. Meanwhile, the horses were fed, but no food was provided for the Chagossians.

Rather than the human story of the victims, I intend to concentrate here, based squarely on the ICJ judgement, on the human story of the perpetrators. In doing so I hope to show that this is not just a historic injustice, but a number of prominent and still active pillars of the British Establishment, like Jack Straw, David Miliband, Jeremy Hunt and many senior British judges, are utterly depraved and devoid of the basic feelings of humanity.

There is also a vitally important lesson to be learnt about the position of the British Crown and the utter myth that continuing British Imperialism is in any sense based on altruism towards its remaining colonies.

Before reading the ICJ Opinion, I had not fully realised the blatant and vicious manner in which the Westminster government had blackmailed the Mauritian government into ceding the Chagos Islands as a condition of Independence. That blackmail was carried out by Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The court documentation makes plain that the United States was ordering the British Government on how to conduct the entire process, and that Harold Wilson deliberately “frightened” Mauritius into conceding the Chagos Islands. This is an excerpt from the ICJ Opinion:

104. On 20 September 1965, during a meeting on defence matters chaired by the United Kingdom Secretary of State, the Premier of Mauritius again stated that “the Mauritius Government was not interested in the excision of the islands and would stand out for a 99-year lease”. As an alternative, the Premier of Mauritius proposed that the United Kingdom first concede independence to Mauritius and thereafter allow the Mauritian Government to negotiate with the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States on the question of Diego Garcia. During those discussions, the Secretary of State indicated that a lease would not be acceptable to the United States and that the Chagos Archipelago would have to be made available on the basis of its detachment.
105. On 22 September 1965, a Note was prepared by Sir Oliver Wright, Private Secretary to the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Sir Harold Wilson. It read: “Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam is coming to see you at 10:00 tomorrow morning. The object is to frighten him with hope: hope that he might get independence; Fright lest he might not unless he is sensible about the detachment of the Chagos Archipelago. I attach a brief prepared by the Colonial Office, with which the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office are on the whole content. The key sentence in the brief is the last sentence of it on page three.”
106. The key last sentence referred to above read: “The Prime Minister may therefore wish to make some oblique reference to the fact that H.M.G. have the legal right to detach Chagos by Order in Council, without Mauritius consent but this would be a grave step.” (Emphasis in the original.)
107. On 23 September 1965 two events took place. The first event was a meeting in the morning of 23 September 1965 between Prime Minister Wilson and Premier Ramgoolam. Sir Oliver Wright’s Report on the meeting indicated that Prime Minister Wilson told Premier Ramgoolam that “in theory there were a number of possibilities. The Premier and his colleagues could return to Mauritius either with Independence or without it. On the Defence point, Diego Garcia could either be detached by order in Council or with the agreement of the Premier and his colleagues….”

I have to confess this has caused me personally radically to revise my opinion of Harold Wilson. The ICJ at paras 94-97 make plain that the agreement to lease Diego Garcia to the USA as a military base precedes and motivates the rough handling of the Mauritian government.

Against this compelling argument, Britain nevertheless continued to argue before the court that the Chagos Islands had been entirely voluntarily ceded by Mauritius. The ICJ disposed of this fairly comprehensively:

172. …In the Court’s view, it is not possible to talk of an international agreement, when one of the parties to it, Mauritius, which is said to have ceded the territory to the United Kingdom, was under the authority of the latter. The Court is of the view that heightened scrutiny should be given to the issue of consent in a situation where a part of a non-self-governing territory is separated to create a new colony. Having reviewed the circumstances in which the Council of Ministers of the colony of Mauritius agreed in principle to the detachment of the Chagos Archipelago on the basis of the Lancaster House agreement, the Court considers that this detachment was not based on the free and genuine expression of the will of the people concerned.

A number of the individual judges’ Opinions put his rather more bluntly, of which Judge Robinson gives perhaps the best account in a supporting Opinion which is well worth reading:

93. … The intent was to use power to frighten the Premier into submission. It is wholly unreasonable to seek to explain the conduct of the United Kingdom on the basis that it was involved in a negotiation and was simply employing ordinary negotiation strategies. After all, this was a relationship between the Premier of a colony and its administering Power. Years later, speaking about the so-called consent to the detachment of the Chagos Archipelago Sir Seewoosagur is reported to have told the Mauritian Parliament, “we had no choice”42It is also reported that Sir Seewoosagur told a news organization, the Christian Science Monitor that: “There was a nook around my neck. I could not say no. I had to say yes, otherwise the [noose] could have tightened.” It is little wonder then that, in 1982, the Mauritian Legislative Assembly’s Select Committee on the Excision of the Archipelago concluded that the attitude of the United Kingdom in that meeting could “not fall outside the most elementary definition of blackmailing”.

The International Court of Justice equally dismissed the British argument that the islanders had signed releases renouncing any claims or right to resettle, in return for small sums of “compensation” received from the British government. Plainly having been forcibly removed and left destitute, they were in a desperate situation and in no position to assert or to defend their rights.

At paragraphs 121-3 the ICJ judgement recounts the brief period where the British government behaved in a legal and conscionable manner towards the islanders. In 2000 a Chagos resident, Louis Olivier Bancoult, won a judgement in the High Court in London that the islanders had the right to return, as the colonial authority had an obligation to govern in their interest. Robin Cook was then Foreign Secretary and declared that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office would not be appealing against the judgement.

Robin Cook went further. He accepted before the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva that the UK had acted unlawfully in its treatment of the Chagos Islanders. And he repealed the Order in Council that de facto banned all occupation of the islands other than by the US military. Cook commissioned work on a plan to facilitate the return of the islanders.

It seemed finally the British Government was going to act in a reasonably humanitarian fashion towards the islanders. But then disaster happened. The George W Bush administration was infuriated at the idea of a return of population to their most secret base area, and complained bitterly to Blair. This was one of the factors, added to Cook’s opposition to arms sales to dictatorships and insistence on criticising human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia, that caused Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell to remove Robin Cook as Foreign Secretary.

Robin Cook was replaced by the infinitely biddable Jack Straw. There was never any chance that Straw – who received large donations to his office and campaign funds from British Aerospace – would stand against the interests of the arms industry or of the USA, particularly in favour of a few dispossessed islanders who would never be a source of personal donations.

Straw immediately threw Cook’s policy into reverse. Resettling the islanders was now declared “too expensive” an option. The repealed Order in Council was replaced by a new one banning all immigration to, or even landing on, the islands on security grounds. This “coincided” with the use of Diego Garcia, the Chagos island on which the US base is situate, as a black site for torture and extraordinary rendition.

Straw was therefore implicated not just in extending the agony of the deported island community, but doing so in order to ensure the secrecy of torture operations. I don’t have the vocabulary to describe the depths of Straw’s evil. This was New Labour in action.

The estimable Mr Bancoult did not give up. He took the British Government again to the High Court to test the legality of the new Order in Council barring the islanders, which was cast on “National security” grounds. On 11 May 2006, Bancoult won again in the High Court, and the judgement was splendidly expressed by Lord Hooper in a statement of decency and common sense with which you would hope it was impossible to disagree:

“The power to legislate for the “peace order and good government” of a territory has never been used to exile a whole population. The suggestion that a minister can, through the means of an Order in Council, exile a whole population from a British Overseas Territory and claim that he is doing this for the “peace, order and good government” of the Territory is, to us, repugnant.” (Para 142)

The judgement did not address the sovereignty of the islands.

Unlike Robin Cook, Jack Straw did appeal against the judgement, and the FCO’s appeal was resoundingly and unanimously rebuffed by the Court of Appeal. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office then appealed again to the House of Lords, and to general astonishment the Law Lords found in favour of the British government and against the islanders, by a 3-2 judgement.

The general astonishment was compounded by the fact that a panel of only 5 Law Lords had sat on the case, rather than the 7 you would normally expect for a case of this magnitude. It was very widely remarked among the legal fraternity that the 3 majority judges were the only Law Lords who might possibly have found for the government, and on any possible combination of 7 judges the government would have lost. That view was given weight by the fact that the minority of 2 who supported the islanders included the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham.

The decision to empanel only 5 judges, and the selection of the UK’s three most right wing Law Lords for the panel, was taken by the Lord Chancellor’s office. And the Lord Chancellor was now – Jack Straw. The timing is such that it is conceivable that the decision was taken under Straw’s predecessor, Lord Falconer, but as he was Blair’s great friend and ex-flatmate and also close to Straw, it makes no difference to the Establishment stitch-up.

If your blood is not now sufficiently boiling, consider this. The Law Lords found against the islanders on the grounds that no restraint can be placed on the authority of the British Crown over its colonies. The majority opinion was best expressed by Lord Hoffman. Lord Hoffman’s judgement is a stunning assertion of British Imperial power. He states in terms that the British Crown exercises its authority in the interests of the UK and not in the interest of the colony concerned:

49. Her Majesty in Council is therefore entitled to legislate for a colony in the interests of the United Kingdom. No doubt she is also required to take into account the interests of the colony (in the absence of any previous case of judicial review of prerogative colonial legislation, there is of course no authority on the point) but there seems to me no doubt that in the event of a conflict of interest, she is entitled, on the advice of Her United Kingdom ministers, to prefer the interests of the United Kingdom. I would therefore entirely reject the reasoning of the Divisional Court which held the Constitution Order invalid because it was not in the interests of the Chagossians.

It is quite incredible to read that quote, and then to remember that the British government has just argued before the International Court of Justice that the ICJ does not have jurisdiction because the question is nothing to do with decolonisation but rather a bilateral dispute. Thankfully, the ICJ found this quite incredible too.

You may think that by the time it fixed this House of Lords judgement the British government had exhausted the wells of depravity on this particular issue. But no, David Miliband felt that he had to outdo his predecessors by being not only totally immoral, but awfully clever with it too. Under Miliband, the FCO dreamed up the idea of pretending that the exclusion of all inhabitants from around the USA leased nuclear weapon and torture site, was for environmental purposes.

The propagation of the Chagos Marine Reserve in 2010 banned all fishing within 200 nautical miles of the islands and, as the islanders are primarily a fishing community, was specifically designed to prevent the islanders from being able to return, while at the same time garnering strong applause from a number of famous, and very gullible, environmentalists.

As I blogged about this back in 2010:

The sheer cynicism of this effort by Miliband to dress up genocide as environmentalism is simply breathtaking. If we were really cooncerned about the environment of Diego Garcia we would not have built a massive airbase and harbour on a fragile coral atoll and filled it with nuclear weapons.

In retrospect I am quite proud of that turn of phrase. David Miliband was dressing up genocide as environmentalism. I stand by that.

While the ruse was obvious to anyone half awake, it does not need speculation to know the British government’s motives because, thanks to Wikileaks release of US diplomatic cables, we know that British FCO and MOD officials together specifically briefed US diplomats that the purpose was to make the return of the islanders impossible.

7. (C/NF) Roberts acknowledged that “we need to find a way to get through the various Chagossian lobbies.” He admitted that HMG is “under pressure” from the Chagossians and their advocates to permit resettlement of the “outer islands” of the BIOT. He noted, without providing details, that “there are proposals (for a marine park) that could provide the Chagossians warden jobs” within the BIOT. However, Roberts stated that, according to the HGM,s current thinking on a reserve, there would be “no human footprints” or “Man Fridays” on the BIOT’s uninhabited islands. He asserted that establishing a marine park would, in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago’s former residents. Responding to Polcouns’ observation that the advocates of Chagossian resettlement continue to vigorously press their case, Roberts opined that the UK’s “environmental lobby is far more powerful than the Chagossians’ advocates.” (Note: One group of Chagossian litigants is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) the decision of Britain’s highest court to deny “resettlement rights” to the islands’ former inhabitants. See below at paragraph 13 and reftel. End Note.)

Incredible to say, that is still not the end of the ignominy of the British Establishment. As the irrepressible Chagossians continued their legal challenges, now to the “Marine reserve”, the UK’s new Supreme Court shamelessly refused to accept the US diplomatic cable in evidence, on the grounds it was a privileged communication under the Vienna Convention. This was a ridiculous decision which would only have been valid if there were evidence that the communication were obtained by another State, rather than leaked to the public by a national of the state that produced it. For a court to choose to ignore a salient fact is an abhorrent thing, but it allowed the British Establishment yet another “victory”. It was short lived, however.

Mauritius challenged the UK to arbitration before a panel constituted under Article 287 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a Convention I am happy to say I was directly involved in bringing into force, by negotiating and helping draft the Protocol. Mauritius argued that the UK could not ban fishing rights which it enjoyed both traditionally, and specifically as part of the agreement to cede the Chagos Islands. The UK brought four separate challenges to the jurisdiction of the panel, and lost every one, and then lost the main judgement. It is pleasant to note that acting for the Chagos Islands was Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the FCO Legal Adviser who had resigned her position, telling Jack Straw that the attack on Iraq constituted an illegal war of aggression.

Which brings us up to the present Opinion by the International Court of Justice after the government of Mauritius finally took resolute action to assert sovereignty over the islands. Astonishingly, having repudiated the decision of the Arbitration Panel on the Law of the Sea, very much a British-inspired creation, Jeremy Hunt has now decided to strike at the very heart of international law itself by repudiating the International Court of Justice itself, something for which there is no precedent at all in British history. I discuss the radical implications of this here with Alex Salmond.

This is apposite as throughout the 21st Century developments listed here in this continued horror story, the Chagossians’ cause was championed in the House of Commons by two pariah MPs outside the consensus of the British Establishment. The Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Chagos Islands was Jeremy Corbyn MP. His Deputy was Alex Salmond MP.

Chagos really is a touchstone issue, a key litmus test of whether people are in or out of the British Establishment. The attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, the manufactured witch-hunt on anti-semitism, all are designed to return the Labour Party to a leadership which will continue the illegal occupation of the Chagos Islands; the acid test of reliable pro-USA neo-conservative policy. The SNP, at least under Salmmond, was an open challenge to British imperialism and hopefully will remain so.

Chagos is a fundamental test of decency in British public life. If you know where a politician – or judge – stands on Chagos, most other questions are answered.

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Please Cancel Your Subscriptions

The large majority of the financial support for this blog comes from supporters of Scottish Independence, and I have been extremely, extremely grateful for your support this past year.

But everybody who is OK with this particular gesture by Nicola Sturgeon, I should thank you now to cancel your subscriptions because I really don’t want your money.

For me, the death of millions of people in the Middle East, and Alastair Campbell’s role in the deliberate manufacture of a dossier of lies to cause an aggressive war that led to those deaths, were life-changing events. It led me to pursue the end of the imperialist British state.

If you think that the Iraq war was just a forgivable policy error I do not want your money. If you think that consorting gleefully with war criminals is a sensible bit of realpolitik I do not want your money.

Nicola spoke at the pro-EU rally today. It has been explained to me by countless people these five years that Nicola cannot speak at pro-Indy rallies – and she has not done so since 2013 – because as First Minister she has to maintain dignity and not take controversial political stances. If you think it is fine for Nicola to show zero interest to speak at pro-Indy rallies, yet show huge enthusiasm to join the Blairites at this event, I do not want your money.

Thank you.

Refunds are available on application.

The Independent Scotland which I want is not just for a continuation of UK neo-con defence and foreign policy. If you support that, stick with me. But not if you believe Nicola shares those goals. I have no desire to rob the deluded.

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Geoffrey Cox’s New “Legal Advice” on Brexit Incentivises Unionist Violence

Brexit has revealed further the rottenness of the British political Establishment, but I am still truly shocked now to see the Government of the United Kingdom negotiating a major international treaty on the acknowledged, discussed and now published basis that it has every intention of breaking that treaty once it is in force. Officially published by the Attorney General, no less.

The Westminster Government’s contempt for international law was fully demonstrated just two weeks ago when it repudiated the International Court of Justice – an act which is the ultimate disavowal of the rule of international law – over the decolonisation of the Chagos Islands. So in one sense it is no shock that they are prepared to sign a treaty with no intention of honoring it.

But what is quite astonishing is that the discussions with the DUP and ERG on how to sign up to the backstop and then dishonour it, have been carried out fully in public, and with the potential other party to the treaty looking on.

I simply do not see how the EU can now sign the Withdrawal Agreement which was negotiated with May, when they have been given firm evidence that the UK intends to cheat on that Agreement.

I especially cannot understand the pusillanimous attitude of the government of Ireland to this development. The UK has published in advance that it is taking Ireland and the Irish people for fools and has no intention of keeping to the Irish backstop. The reaction of the Government of Ireland is to pretend not to notice. That is an astonishing dereliction of its duty to the people of Ireland, North and South.

The more so as Geoffrey Cox’s “advice” is an unsubtle hint to the DUP, should the backstop become effective, to restart the Loyalist violence with which they were for decades so closely associated, in order to provide the pretext for cancelling the backstop. In reading this, it is essential to remember that this legal advice was written, as a matter of definite fact, directly for the DUP audience to try and influence the DUP in the next “meaningful” vote. To signal to an organisation as steeped in blood as the DUP that the way out of the “Backstop” arrangement which they so hate, would be to demonstrate it is having a “socially destabilising effect in Northern Ireland”, clearly gives a very direct incentive to Loyalists to restart violence.

Anybody who knows anything about the history and politics of Northern Ireland must be aware that what I have just written is true. At the very best reading, Cox’s “advice” is grossly irresponsible and reckless.

It is also very poor legal advice. Unlike Geoffrey Cox, I have actually negotiated a number of international treaties, including most of the UK’s continental shelf boundary agreements, the Protocol on Deep Seabed Mining to UNCLOS and the Sierra Leone Peace Agreement. Cox’s interpretation of Article 62 of the Vienna Convention on Treaties is complete nonsense. To start with, Article 62 is designed not to facilitate but to prevent treaties being dishonoured under the excuse of “unforseen circumstances”. It reads:

Article 62
Fundamental change of circumstances
1. A fundamental change of circumstances which has occurred with regard to those existing at the
time of the conclusion of a treaty, and which was not foreseen by the parties, may not be invoked as a
ground for terminating or withdrawing from the treaty unless:
(a) the existence of those circumstances constituted an essential basis of the consent of the parties to
be bound by the treaty; and
21
(b) the effect of the change is radically to transform the extent of obligations still to be performed
under the treaty.
2. A fundamental change of circumstances may not be invoked as a ground for terminating or
withdrawing from a treaty:
(a) if the treaty establishes a boundary; or
(b) if the fundamental change is the result of a breach by the party invoking it either of an obligation
under the treaty or of any other international obligation owed to any other party to the treaty.
3. If, under the foregoing paragraphs, a party may invoke a fundamental change of circumstances
as a ground for terminating or withdrawing from a treaty it may also invoke the change as a ground for
suspending the operation of the treaty.

Very plainly indeed, neither 1 a) nor 1 b) apply to the situation Cox outlines. Just not working out the way you intended is not grounds to dishonor a treaty. Social discontent in Northern Ireland would not radically transform the obligations under the treaty nor is social content the essential basis of consent to the treaty.

The second, and frankly hilarious, point is that Cox’s advice is demonstrably nonsense. To permit the dishonoring of the treaty, a change in circumstance must not only be “fundamental” it must also be “unforeseen”. Yet in his legal advice Cox foresees and specifies the “unforeseen” event that might lead to cancellation!

I rest my case.

It is worth reminding you – as the MSM refuse to do – that the Tory Brexiteers oppose the Good Friday Agreement, and destroying it is to them a potential gain from Brexit rather than a disaster to be averted. Remember this by Michael Gove, asserting that the British military option would be better than the Good Friday Agreement?

Ulster’s future lies, ultimately, either as a Province of the United
Kingdom or a united Ireland. Attempts to fudge or finesse that
truth only create an ambiguity which those who profit by violence
will seek to exploit. Therefore, the best guarantee for stability is the
assertion by the Westminster Government that it will defend, with
all vigour, the right of the democratic majority in Northern Ireland
to remain in the United Kingdom. Ulster could then be governed
with an Assembly elected on the same basis as Wales, and an
administration constituted in the same way. Minority rights should
be protected by the same legal apparatus which exists across the
UK. The legislative framework which has guaranteed the rights and
freedoms of Roman Catholics and ethnic minorities in Liverpool
and London should apply equally in Belfast and Belleek…

In such circumstances, resolute security action, the use of
existing antiterrorist legislation and the careful application of
intelligence could reduce the IRA to operating as it did in the fifties
and sixties. Combining such security measures with a political
determination not to allow Ulster’s constitutional status to be altered
by force of arms would rob the republicans of hope.
It can be done. But does any Government have the will?

Interestingly enough, after I published an article on Gove’s 58 page pamphlet attacking the Good Friday Agreement, the Tory think tank which published it, the Centre for Policy Studies, immediately took it down from the web. I have, however, copied it to my own website.

By chance, my next couple of speaking engagements are in Northern Ireland. This is not the subject I was intending to discuss, but I never know what I am going to say when I stand up anyway. Happy to answer questions on anything.

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Brexit and Bad Faith

My long article on the Chagos Islands sat unfinished yesterday, despite my passion for the subject, as I was horribly fascinated by the Gothic twists and turns of the Brexit debates in the House of Commons. I seldom write on the subject, but some observations seem now called for.

The Westminster system of handling business is designed purely to handle binary questions disputed between two major parties. Where those parties are both themselves hopelessly riven by internal conflict, and the issues not simply reduced to a manageable number of binary choices, Erskine May just cannot cope.

Parliament thus ended up yesterday with a vote in which the majority of MPs who voted against May’s Withdrawal Agreement view its Irish Backstop provision as almost the only decent thing in it – an opinion with which I tend to concur. They however were egging on the antediluvian DUP/ERG faction to join them, on the basis of an argument that the Irish Backstop is terrible and could be permanent, neither of which anyone sensible really believes.

It says something about the insanity of UK politics that the debate quite seriously hinged around discussions of what happens if the EU acts in bad faith and used the “backstop” deliberately to trap the UK permanently in the Customs Union. The notion that the EU is acting in “bad faith” is frankly ludicrous. No trading partner has ever accused the EU, which has the most transparent negotiating process on trade deals of any country or trading bloc, of acting in bad faith. In its own interest, yes. In bad faith – ie lying and tricking – no.

The notion that the EU is like SPECTRE, and its leaders sit round a table headed by Blofeld Junker conjuring up evil plots to trap the UK in a customs union, is stark raving mad. It is an absolutely crazed conspiracy theory. Yet pro-EU MPs were pretending to share this conspiracy theory in order to encourage the ERG/DUP nutters to vote down May’s deal. That is madness.

Nobody should be perplexed that the EU has absolutely had enough of May and her government today, having watched yesterday Westminster hold a debate entirely centred on the premiss that the EU acts in bad faith.

The most important demonstration of bad faith now comes from Theresa May. She proposed a motion for debate this evening ruling out “no deal”, but – her cunning plan – specifically ruling out a no deal Brexit on 29 March, so the Government can argue No Deal has not been ruled out on any other date, and also with a clause re-asserting that No Deal remains the default position in law. In live parliamentary proceedings, Yvette Cooper – a person of whom I am not the least fond – appeared the only one immediately to pick up on what May was doing, though I gather amendments now show others have cottoned on.

May’s plan is to ask for a short extension after the next two days’ votes, then pretend to be renegotiating (again), and then bring back her same hard Brexit deal yet again to the Commons for yet another vote, this time with imminent and unstoppable No Deal as the only alternative, the EU having been pissed off to the point where it will not agree to any further extensions.

The truth is, there is a Commons majority for a soft Brexit with a Customs Union. In a free vote without party whips, that would sail through. But it is not what May wants personally as it breaks her “red lines”, all of which are entirely predicated on stopping Free Movement. Hatred of immigrants remains the defining motive of her entire career. Customs Union and Single Market access are not going to be obtainable without Free Movement.

The truth is, it is May who is acting in bad faith. She has no intention of negotiating anything other than her Red Lines with the EU, and has no intention of engaging in any kind of meaningful renegotiation, delay or no. A delay to Brexit is absolutely pointless while May remains Prime Minister. May rightly calculates that her ultra-hard Brexit red lines were required to keep the Tory Party together, and thus keep her in power. She cares much more for being in power than she does for a solution. The comparison with Robert Peel is very apt. He reached across the aisle whilst PM and split the Tory Party to repeal the Corn Laws. There are many statues to Peel around the country. There will never be any to Theresa May.

The party, parliamentary and political system of the UK has simply become dysfunctional. This is a symptom of the much wider fact that the UK is no longer a viable socio-political entity and will not continue to exist much longer. Its system of economic regulation promotes the accumulation of vast wealth by a tiny minority, while not providing a decent standard of living to millions. There is massive disillusion with its political leadership and distrust of its extremely narrow mainstream media.

What we are witnessing at Westminster is plainly not a functional political system. It is essential that the SNP now strike out decisively for Scottish Independence. Westminster will never be held in more contempt by the public, so there will never be a better time to assert the right of the Scottish people to decide for themselves on Independence without being blocked by Westminster. Ian Blackford was very good on this yesterday.

The rise of Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party is not a chance; it is based on popular reaction to the failure of the UK political system to satisfy the needs of, and deliver a fair society for, the general population. Despite desperate Establishment attempts to smear the Left, I suspect these underlying factors may still propel Corbyn to victory. He needs to come to terms rapidly with Scotland’s right to self-determination, and stop regarding Scots as an irritant.

In looking at yesterday’s events in grim despair, in regarding May’s devious plans and contempt for the wider interest with profound distate, be comforted. It is all a sign that the British Establishment has its coat on a very shoogly peg. It is not long now.

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A Tale of Two Incarcerated Women

On International Women’s Day yesterday Chelsea Manning was imprisoned yet again, this time for refusing to testify against Julian Assange before a Grand Jury. Chelsea has already suffered over seven years of total imprisonment – no American had ever previously spent more than three years in jail for releasing government secrets to the public, in a land which had historically valued free speech.

I am in awe of Chelsea’s courage in refusing to testify, and shocked at a system that imprisons somebody for contempt of court for maintaining dignified silence.

Chelsea has also done a great service in finally stripping away the last vestige of excuse from the figures who refuse to support Julian Assange, pretending that they do not believe he faces extradition to the United States, and that the legal issue is not about Wkileaks’ right to publish.

The potential charges in Sweden – always based on quite ludicrous accusations – were dropped years ago after he was finally interviewed in the Ecuadorean Embassy by Swedish police and prosecutors, and it became very plain indeed there was no viable case against him.

Chelsea has gone to prison for refusing to participate in the prosecution of Wikileaks for publishing materials that revealed war crimes in the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Chelsea is a whistlebower, not a publisher. Assange is a pubisher, not a whistleblower. If Assange can be prosecuted for publishing official secrets, then so can every newspaper editor or television editor involved in the receipt of whistleblower material. There is a massive, a fundamental, media freedom issue at stake here. Even so, the MSM in the UK do not even have the guts to state the truth about what causes Julian to be confined to the Ecuadorean Embassy, let alone to support his right to publish.

Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe is in jail in Iran for spying for the British. She is certainly not an MI6 officer, and I can’t see that she would have sufficient access to information to make her of much use as an agent (as MI6 calls its informants). That she was involved in training Iranian journalists or citizen journalists in ways the Iranian government did not like is much more probable, but does not amount to espionage. Even if she were some kind of low level informant to MI6 (which I doubt), the Iranian authorities have sufficiently made their point and it is time to let her go.

The British government’s attitude to this case has been particularly interesting and extremely unusual. I cannot criticise them for the things they have done, because they are the things I used to get frustrated with them for never doing. But their handling of this case is truly out of the ordinary.

The UK allows dual citizenship. It has been longstanding Foreign Office policy that the UK does not give consular protection to UK dual nationals in the country where they are also a national. If the other state does not allow dual citizenship, it might not recognise any British standing in the matter. But there is another compelling reason for the standard policy of not assisting in these circumstances.

When working in Embassies, I used to get infuriated by cases where I wished to help people but was not allowed to, because they were dual citizens. It was explained to me, that if in Nigeria alone we accepted as consular cases all the British/Nigerian dual nationals in Nigerian jails, that would already double the FCO’s entire consular caseload worldwide. To accept dual nationals as consular cases everywhere in their other homeland would increase consular work by a large multiple and require a very large increase in FCO resources.

I nevertheless always felt we could do more. That the British government had, prior to yesterday, already done so much to try to help Nazanin Zagahari Ratcliffe, even though she was an Iranian dual national in Iran, was already extremely unusual. That the UK has now “adopted” the case, raising it to the level of a state dispute, is something not just unusual, but which I don’t think has happened since the First World War. Please note this is not the same process as granting Zaghari Ratcliffe herself diplomatic status, which has not been done.

Again, I can’t criticise the FCO for this, because adoption is something I had urged them to do in a past case while I was on the inside, (shout out to my friend John Carmichael), again being told by the FCO it was not possible as we never do it.

Whether the move is effective or wise in this case, is quite another question. It seems to me likely the Iranians will take it as confirmation that she is a spy. I would urge the Iranian government to take this course; they should now declare the the adoption of the case as a state dispute proves that Zaghari Ratcliffe is a spy, and having been proven right before the world, they will let her go as an example of mercy and compassion.

There are two fundamental points here. The first is that Iran has been subjected for years to crippling sanctions and an international campaign of hate spread by western government propaganda and their MSM. Western governments have aligned themselves with Saudi and Israeli sponsored brutal proxy wars against Shia communities across the Middle East, which look to Iran for protection. If the Iranian government is defensive and suspicious, is that really surprising? The week after the British government declare Hezbollah, the political and security organisation of Lebanese Shias, to be nothing but a terrorist organisation, do the Tories really think the Iranians will be looking kindly on them and their demands over Zaghari Ratcliffe?

The second point is that the entire purpose of the state “adopting” a case, is to make available the dispute resolution mechanisms which operate between states. But the UK only a few days ago repudiated the International Court of Justice, the final arbiter of such disputes, over the Chagos Islands. As the UK shows total contempt for international law, this attempt to access its remedies will be met with derision by the wider international community.

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

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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Sorry For the Silence

I am working on two big pieces: one on the Skripals and one on the Chagos Islands judgement. The Skripal piece in particular is occasioning a great deal of thought, so apologies for the delay. Nadira is away working so I am single parenting, which means very little Lagavulin, without which my brain synapses don’t connect properly. I hope however to get enough sparks flying and get the Skripal piece up today.

Sorry For the Silence

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UK Rejects International Court of Justice Opinion on the Chagos Islands

In parliament, Alan Duncan for the government has just rejected yesterday’s stunning result at the International Court of Justice, where British occupation of the Chagos Islands was found unlawful by a majority of 13 to 1, with all the judges from EU countries amongst those finding against the UK.

This represents a serious escalation in the UK’s rejection of multilateralism and international law and a move towards joining the US model of exceptionalism, standing outside the rule of international law. As such, it is arguably the most significant foreign policy development for generations. In the Iraq war, while Britain launched war without UN Security Council authority, it did so on a tenuous argument that it had Security Council authority from earlier resolutions. The UK was therefore not outright rejecting the international system. On Chagos it is now simply denying the authority of the International Court of Justice; this is utterly unprecedented.

Duncan put forward two arguments. Firstly that the ICJ opinion was “only” advisory to the General Assembly. Secondly, he argued that the ICJ had no jurisdiction as the case was a bilateral dispute with Mauritius (and thus could only go before the ICJ with UK consent, which is not given).

But here Duncan is – against all British precedent and past policy – defying a ruling of the ICJ. The British government argued strenuously in the present case against ICJ jurisdiction, on just the grounds Duncan cited. The ICJ considered the UK’s arguments, together with arguments from 32 other states and from the African Union. The ICJ ruled that it did have jurisdiction, because this was not a bilateral dispute but part of the UN ordained process of decolonisation.

The International Court of Justice’s ruling on this point is given at length in paras 83 to 91 of its Opinion. This is perhaps the key section:

88. The Court therefore concludes that the opinion has been requested on the matter of decolonization which is of particular concern to the United Nations. The issues raised by the request are located in the broader frame of reference of decolonization, including the General Assembly’s role therein, from which those issues are inseparable (Western Sahara, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1975, p. 26, para. 38; Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 2004 (I), p. 159, para. 50).
89. Moreover, the Court observes that there may be differences of views on legal questions in advisory proceedings (Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276 (1970), Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1971, p. 24, para. 34). However, the fact that the Court may have to pronounce on legal issues on which divergent views have been expressed by Mauritius and the United Kingdom does not mean that, by replying to the request, the Court is dealing with a bilateral dispute.
90. In these circumstances, the Court does not consider that to give the opinion requested would have the effect of circumventing the principle of consent by a State to the judicial settlement of its dispute with another State. The Court therefore cannot, in the exercise of its discretion, decline to give the opinion on that ground.
91. In light of the foregoing, the Court concludes that there are no compelling reasons for it to decline to give the opinion requested by the General Assembly.

As stated at para 183, that the court did have jurisdiction was agreed unanimously, with even the US judge (the sole dissenter on the main question) in accord. For the British government to reject the ICJ’s unanimous ruling on jurisdiction, and quote that in parliament as the reason for not following the ICJ Opinion, is an astonishing abrogation of international law by the UK. It really is unprecedented. The repudiation of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over Julian Assange pointed the direction the UK is drifting, but that body does not have the prestige of the International Court of Justice.

The International Court of Justice represents the absolute pinnacle of, and embodies the principle of, international law. In 176 decisions, such as Nigeria vs Cameroon or Malaysia vs Indonesia, potentially disastrous conflicts have been averted by the states’ agreement to abide by the rule of law. The UK’s current attack on the ICJ is a truly disastrous new development.

I have taken it for granted that you know that the reason the UK refuses to decolonise the Chagos Islands is to provide an airbase for the US military on Diego Garcia. If Brexit goes ahead, the Chagos Islands will also lead to a major foreign policy disagreement between the UK and US on one side, and the EU on the other. The EU will be truly shocked by British repudiation of the ICJ.

I have studied the entire and lengthy ICJ Opinion on the Chagos Islands, together with its associated papers, and I will write further on this shortly.

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Has the Elite’s Slavish pro-Israel Agenda Finally Gone Too Far?

Hezbollah’s defeat of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the July war of 2006 was heroic and an essential redress to the Middle East power balance. I supported Hezbollah’s entirely defensive action then and I continue to applaud it now. That, beyond any shadow of a doubt, makes me guilty ofn the criminal offence of “glorifying terrorism”, now that Sajid Javid has proscribed Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. I am unrepentant and look forward to the prosecution.

A large majority of the public, and certainly almost everyone who remembers that 2006 invasion, would revolt from my being prosecuted on those grounds. The very absurdity of it is a sure measure that Sajid Javid has simply gone too far in naming Hezbollah – the legitimate political party representing in parliament the majority rural population in Southern Lebanon – as a terrorist organisation.

Together with the largely manufactured “Corbyn anti-semitism” row, Javid’s move is aimed at achieving in the UK the delegitimisation of political opposition to Israeli aggression and absorption of the occupied territories and the Golan Heights, in the way that has been achieved in the USA. However, there is a much better educated population in the UK and a great deal of popular awareness of decades of Israeli crimes. In fact, the continuing resilience of the Labour vote shows that at least over a third of the British population does not buy the “anti-semitism” tag applied to all those concerned at the continued plight of the Palestinians.

Hezbollah has never been implicated in any terrorist attack on the UK. Its military posture in Southern Lebanon vis a vis Israel is entirely defensive; it evolved as a military force in reaction to wave after wave of Israeli invasion of Lebanon, in which the Israeli “Defence” Force casually decimated Shia communities en route to attacking Palestinian refugee camps. Hezbollah has never invaded Israel. Hezbollas played an effective and laudable role in assisting the defeat of Isis and their Jihadist allies in Syria.

Oh look, I just “glorified terrorism” again.

Javid’s move is primarily aimed at pleasing Israel and looking to score political points over Jeremy Corbyn, whose past contacts with Hezbollah can now be deemed terrorist. But it is also a move to please the UK elite’s other paymaster, Mohammed Bin Salman, by further forwarding his attempt to delegitimise and to subjugate Arab Shia communities. Coupled with the irony of announcing DFID support of £200 million for Yemeni victims of our very own bombs and “military support”, this is a shameful week for British foreign policy.

I first became devoted to the Palestinian cause as a first year student at Dundee University, when I watched a film about Israeli destruction of Palestinian olive trees in the occupied territories, to devastate their economic base and force families to leave. That film made me cry.

It is a matter of despair that, 42 years later, this practice continues, and indeed has been ongoing for that entire time. I find this almost as heinous as the continuing killing and imprisonment of Palestinian children. I find it a useful exercise every morning to ask yourself this question:

How many children has the Israeli “Defence” Force killed since the MSM last reported one?

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The Funny Tinge Group Ltd is a Boon to the SNP

It did not take me long to be proved right about this tweet, as the Funny Tinge Group Ltd was immediately promoted to a seat on BBC Question Time, and are going to be there next week too.

The BBC no longer has Westminster’s third party on QT every week, or given much airtime on other news and current affairs programmes, on the grounds the SNP are a “regional body” and thus not entitled to the consideration the Lib Dems got as third party in Westminster. The Funny Tinge Independent Integrity Initiative Group Ltd (Dir. Shai Masot) are of course not a party at all, they are a limited company, and they have no members. One thing they most certainly are is a “regional body”. Not a single vote in Scotland or Wales has ever been cast for them. Though I can think of a disused factory near Auchtermuchty that might vote for them.

What do we know of their policies? Well we know that are very much against criticism of Israel. We know they think the Cameron coalition government did a very good job on austerity. We know they are against renationalisation of utilities and against abolition of tuition fees and against higher taxes on the rich. I am sure something will eventually distinguish them from the Tories other than Brexit, but they haven’t thought of it yet.

At some stage they will have to form a political party. Once the unbounded bias of the MSM is moderately constrained by general election rules, they will need to be a party to get broadcast time. If they enter into an alliance with the Lib Dems, they will have to split the Lib Dems broadcast time; I do not see that happening.

Has anybody heard any of the “Independent Group” ever mention Scotland, once, in the vast tsunami of media coverage they have been given? I presume at some stage, somebody will alert them to the existence of Scotland, and possibly even tell them how to come here.

The political landscape of Scotland is very different to that in England and Wales. A large majority of the left-wingers who flocked to Corbyn are, in Scotland, unavailable as they are committed to the Independence movement, myself included. Scottish Labour has therefore been led by a rump of unreconstructed Blairite careerists lurking in the branch office (that may be slightly unfair on Richard Leonard, but as I still have no idea who he is I cannot be sure). With no deselection pressures, the Labour MPs have little career incentive to move, except perhaps Ian Murray, elected very largely on Tory votes and a right winger of limited intellectual grasp anyway. The Independent Group plc is both right wing and fashionable, and therefore a perfect fit for Morningside.

Scotland’s Tory MPs are mostly, aside from the Ross Thomson testicle grabbing tendency (allegedly), on the wet side, with pro-EU voters. But their voters are rural and traditionalist and unlikely to be thrilled by the appeal of a wholly new group. It should be remembered too that, contrary to incessant MSM propaganda, the media-induced Davison “surge” peaked at 28% and is now around 25% and falling faster than a Hebridean barometer.

The Funny Tinge Corporation is nonetheless going to need to insert itself into Scotland. This cannot but be great news for the SNP. It is really simple. A unionist vote split three ways will now be split four ways which, under FPTP, is a disaster for the Unionists. The corollary is that it is more important than ever that the Yes movement stay united behind the SNP. And the further corollary of that is that the SNP must listen to the voice of the Yes movement, forget the devolution settlement and push on towards early Independence.

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When is a British Person Not British?

The attitude to immigrants which is betrayed by the stripping of citizenship from Shamima Begum is truly appalling. A British citizen, born in the UK, is deemed to be a citizen of another country they have never seen, because their immigrant parents came from there. To refuse to accept first generation Britons are Britons, as in Windrush, was bad enough. To claim that second generation Britons are not British, but rather citizens of where their ancestors “came from”, is racism pure and simple.

Begum is not a sympathetic figure. Savid Javid could not have found an easier target for his macho display of vindictiveness, guaranteed to win plaudits from the bigots whose votes Javid needs for his looming Tory leadership bid. Javid knows full well his decision will eventually be overturned by the courts, but he has already achieved his political objective of personal self-aggrandisement.

I do not know everything Begum has personally been doing in Syria and to what extent she has been culpable in any of the crimes of the Saudi backed jihadist group Daesh, originally launched by the CIA as a counterweight to Shia influence in Iraq. Begum, as with other members of the ISIS community in Syria, ought initially to be subject to any legal proceedings by the Syrian authorities on behalf of the Syrian people against whom such dreadful crimes were committed. If of no interest to the Syrian justice system or once any sentence has been completed, she should be returned to the UK and then subject to investigation as to whether any UK crimes were committed. All these processes need to take into account that she arrived in Syria as a minor, has been subject to indoctrination, and may well have severe mental health issues.

In a situation where the government is falling over itself to bring members of the UK-funded jihadist support group the White Helmets to the UK, having no claim to British citizenship; in a situation where jihadist activity in Syria was entirely dependent on finance, supplies and air support from the US, UK, and its Gulf State allies; in a situation where the Royal Navy had evacuated the Manchester bomber en route back to the UK after his Western backed terrorist jaunt in Libya; in a situation where the Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge terrorists all had extensive pre-existing relationships with the British security services; in all these circumstances, the decision to crack down to general applause on a bewildered East London child is a sickening example of the lack of ethics in modern politics.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the articles, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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