|This page is disorganised, contains too much 3rd party material and doesn't properly reflect the Integrity Initiative and Pablo Miller angle.|
|Date||4 March 2018|
|Location||Salisbury, Wiltshire, England|
|Interest of||Bellingcat, Kit Klarenberg, Rob Slane, John Ward, Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media|
|Description||A purported chemical weapons attack|
The Skripal Affair began in Salisbury, UK on 4 March 2018 (co-incident with 'Exercise Toxic Danger', the largest exercise of its type in the UK) when Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia and a UK policeman (Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey) were taken ill.
John Ward summarised the progression of events by observing that "it took just over five weeks to go from largely unsubstantiated claims of a Russian nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain to the air strike against the régime of Bashar al-Assad."
- 1 Boris Johnson accuses Russia
- 2 Fentanyl poisoning?
- 3 UK responds
- 4 Russia responds
- 5 Craig Murray's advice
- 6 Related Quotations
- 7 Related Documents
- 8 References
Boris Johnson accuses Russia
|Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson: "No doubt that agent is Novichok made in Russia"|
On 19 March 2018, in an interview with Deutsche Welle's Zhanna Nemtsova, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson talked about why London believed Russia is responsible for the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and what lessons Britain learned from the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.
“I asked the guy myself, I said, 'Are you sure?' And he said there's no doubt.”
And Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Boris Johnson has "egg on his face" and "serious questions to answer" after Porton Down was not able to prove the nerve agent used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia was made in Russia.
Johnson's comments to Deutsche Welle struck many in Britain as too ambiguous. Public opinion of the top British diplomat is mixed in Britain, in part because of his backing of Brexit ahead of Britain's vote to leave the European Union in 2016. As a journalist and frequent talk show guest before that, he was seen by many critics as using a bumbling demeanour to mask a loose grip on facts.
|Skripals poisoned by Fentanyl?|
On 21 January 2019, it was revealed in the Forces Network journal that a teenager, daughter of a British Army medic, Abigail McCourt was the first person to notice the Skripal father and daughter slumped on a park bench. She tried to assist the couple. From Forces Network:
- "It has been revealed a teenage girl was the first person to help Novichok poisoning victims Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Abigail McCourt was with her family when she saw the 66-year-old ex-KGB spy and his daughter collapsed on a bench at 'The Maltings' shopping centre in Salisbury on the afternoon of March 4 last year. The 16-year-old thought Mr Skripal had suffered a heart attack and alerted her mother Alison, who is an Army colonel and chief nursing officer, and they went to administer first aid."
Neither Ms McCourt, her mother or members of her family were treated for effects of contact with the nerve agent.
On admission to Salisbury hospital nursing staff undertook treatment for Fentanyl poisoning of Yulia and Sergei. This was confirmed on March 5th in the Clinical Services Journal. The article was subsequently doctored to remove the reference to treatment for Fentanyl poisoning. Fortunately some took screenshots of the original article for reference future reference. None of the staff at Salisbury Hospital were treated for contact with the deadly nerve agent Novichok.
Fentanyl, a very strong opiate which has made inroads into the drug culture in the area, was also the subject of a Salisbury Journal article written on the day of the poisoning, 4th March 2018. It stated:
- "Emergency services suspect the powerful drug fentanyl - a synthetic opiate 50-100 times stronger than heroin - may have been involved."
Very happily, Yulia and Sergei Skripal survived their ordeal. Their whereabouts are now unknown. One has to wonder if this is for protection, but protection for what - the father and daughter, or the narrative of their poisoning which leaves many questions unanswered?
The Integrity Initiative was intensely interested in reporting of the Skripal Case and commissioned Operation Iris from Harod Associates, a review of social media reporting about the incident. This is especially interesting considering that Pablo Miller's email address was on an II list that was leaked.
"Of a type developed by Russia"
Blaming Russia for the use of a poison “of a type developed by Russia” (i.e. the Soviet Union) is like blaming Germany for all current heroin addicts because the Deutsche Reich company Bayer developed the mass-production of heroin as a sedative for coughs.
Expulsion of Russian Diplomats
On 13 March 2018 "Theresa May wrote to the Secretary-General of the United Nations accusing Russia of having ordered the attack in Salisbury, and convened an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Without waiting, she expelled 23 Russian diplomats."
The UK commercially-controlled media were largely uncritical of the government line.
Tht UK public were more sceptical of the official narrative. Web traffic to several UK-based alternative mediasites increased as the Skripal affair unfolded, including Craig Murray's blog, Wikispooks and 21st Century Wire.
"Listen, all this fuss about spies and counterspies, it is not worth serious interstate relations. This spy story, as we say, it is not worth five kopecks. Or even five pounds, for that matter," he said. "And the issues concerning interstate relations, they are measured in billions and the fate of millions of people. How can we compare one with the other?"
According to the Russian leader, Moscow and London can keep on accusing each other endlessly but any allegations about Russia’s involvement in the Skripal poisoning must be proved.
"The average person listens and says, "Who are these Skripals?" And it turns out that Skripal was engaged in espionage against us (Russia). So this person asks the next question, "Why did you spy on us using Skripal? Maybe you should not have done that?" You know, these questions are infinite," he noted. "We need to just leave it alone and let security agencies deal with it."
According to Putin, treason is "the most despicable crime that one can imagine."
"As a matter of fact, treason is the gravest crime possible and traitors must be punished. I am not saying that the Salisbury incident is the way to do it. Not at all. But traitors must be punished," he went on.
"This gentleman, Skripal, had already been punished. He was arrested, sentenced and then served time in prison. He received his punishment. For that matter, he was off the radar. Why would anybody be interested in him? He got punished. He was detained, arrested, sentenced and then spent five years in prison. Then he was released and that was it."
If the British version of the affair is to be believed former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, suffered the effects of a nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on 4 March 2018. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia ever had any program aimed at developing such an agent.
Craig Murray's advice
"Were I Vladimir Putin, I would persuade Boshirov and Petrov voluntarily to come to the UK and stand trial, on condition that it was a genuinely fair trial before a jury in which the entire proceedings, and all of the evidence, was open and public, and the Skripals and Pablo Miller might be called as witnesses and cross-examined. I have no doubt that the British government’s desire for justice would suddenly move into rapid retreat if their bluff was called in this way." Craig Murray:
"Like many, my first thought at the interview of Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov – which apparently are indeed their names – is that they were very unconvincing. The interview itself seemed to be set up around a cramped table with a poor camera and lighting, and the interviewer seemed pretty hopeless at asking probing questions that would shed any real light.
"I had in fact decided that their story was highly improbable, until I started seeing the storm of twitter posting, much of it from mainstream media journalists, which stated that individual things were impossible which were, in fact, not impossible at all.
"The first and most obvious regards the weather on 3 and 4 March. It is in fact absolutely true that, if the two had gone down to Salisbury on 3 March with the intention of going to Stonehenge, they would have been unable to get there because of the snow. It is therefore perfectly possible that they went back the next day to try again; and public transport out of Salisbury was still severely disrupted, and many roads closed, on 4 March. Proof of this is not at all difficult to find.
"Those mocking the idea that the pair were blocked by snow from visiting Stonehenge have pointed to the CCTV footage of central Salisbury not showing snow on the afternoon of 4 March. Well, that is central Salisbury, it had of course been salted and cleared. Outside there were drifts.
"So that part of their story in fact turns out not to be implausible as social media is making out; in fact it fits precisely with the actual facts.
"The second part of their story that has brought ridicule is the notion that two Russians would fly to the UK for the weekend and try to visit Salisbury. This ridicule has been very strange to me. Weekend breaks – arrive on Friday and return on Sunday – are a standard part of the holiday industry. Why is it apparently unthinkable that Russians fly on weekend breaks as well as British people?
"Even more strange is the idea that it is wildly improbable for Russian visitors to wish to visit Salisbury cathedral and Stonehenge. Salisbury Cathedral is one of the most breathtaking achievements of Norman architecture, one of the great cathedrals of Europe. It attracts a great many foreign visitors. Stonehenge is world famous and a world heritage site. I went on holiday this year and visited Wurzburg to see the Bishop’s Palace, and then the winery cooperative at Sommerach. Because somebody does not choose to spend their leisure time on a beach in Benidorm does not make them a killer. Lots of people go to Salisbury Cathedral.
"There seems to be a racist motif here – Russians cannot possibly have intellectual or historical interests, or afford weekend breaks.
"The final meme which has worried me is “if they went to see the cathedral, why did they visit the Skripal house?” Well, no evidence at all has been presented that they visited the Skripal house. They were captured on CCTV walking past a petrol station 500 yards away – that is the closest they have been placed to the Skripal house.
|RT's exclusive interview with Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov on the Skripal poisoning case in Salisbury.|
"The greater mystery about these two is, if they did visit the Skripal House and paint Novichok on the doorknob, why did they afterwards walk straight past the railway station again and head into Salisbury city centre, where they were caught window shopping in a coin and souvenir shop with apparently not a care in the world, before eventually returning to the train station? It seems a very strange attitude to a getaway after an attempted murder. In truth their demeanour throughout the photographs is consistent with their tourism story.
"The Russians have so far presented this pair in a very unconvincing light. But on investigation, the elements of their story which are claimed to be wildly improbable are not inconsistent with the facts.
"There remains the much larger question of the timing.
"The Metropolitan Police state that Boshirov and Petrov did not arrive in Salisbury until 11.48 on the day of the poisoning. That means that they could not have applied a nerve agent to the Skripals’ doorknob before noon at the earliest. But there has never been any indication that the Skripals returned to their home after noon on Sunday 4 March. If they did so, they and/or their car somehow avoided all CCTV cameras. Remember they were caught by three CCTV cameras on leaving, and Borishov and Petrov were caught frequently on CCTV on arriving.
"The Skripals were next seen on CCTV at 13.30, driving down Devizes road. After that their movements were clearly witnessed or recorded until their admission to hospital.
"So even if the Skripals made an “invisible” trip home before being seen on Devizes Road, that means the very latest they could have touched the doorknob is 13.15. The longest possible gap between the novichok being placed on the doorknob and the Skripals touching it would have been one hour and 15 minutes. Do you recall all those “experts” leaping in to tell us that the “ten times deadlier than VX” nerve agent was not fatal because it had degraded overnight on the doorknob? Well that cannot be true. The time between application and contact was between a minute and (at most) just over an hour on this new timeline.
"In general it is worth observing that the Skripals, and poor Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, all managed to achieve almost complete CCTV invisibility in their widespread movements around Salisbury at the key times, while in contrast “Petrov and Boshirov” managed to be frequently caught in high quality all the time during their brief visit.
"This is especially remarkable in the case of the Skripals’ location around noon on 4 March. The government can only maintain that they returned home at this time, as they insist they got the nerve agent from the doorknob. But why was their car so frequently caught on CCTV leaving, but not at all returning? It appears very much more probable that they came into contact with the nerve agent somewhere else, while they were out.
"I shall write a further post on these timing questions shortly."
|Integrity Initiative/Secrecy||“Implementing discernment and media literacy training prog. (using Skripal as a case-study). Activity: £90k Ben Robinson, Yusuf Desai, Greg Rowett (Tallinn University, Chester University) Teachers Unions?”||30 May 2018|
|Craig Murray||“We have a programme, the Integrity Initiative, whose entire purpose is to pump out covert disinformation against Russia, through social media and news stories secretly paid for by the British government. And we have the Skripals’ MI6 handler, the BBC, Porton Down, the FCO, the MOD and the US Embassy, working together in a group under the auspices of the Integrity Initiative. The Skripal Case happened to occur shortly after a massive increase in the Integrity Initiative’s budget and activity, which itself was a small part of a British Government decision to ramp up a major information war against Russia. I find that very interesting indeed.”||Craig Murray||21 December 2018|
|Orbis Business Intelligence||“The @Telegraph story claiming a link between Sergei #Skripal and Christopher Steele's company Orbis is wrong, I understand. Skripal had nothing to do with Trump dossier. Skripal had nothing to do with Trump dossier.”||Luke Harding||2018|
|Paschalidis Panagiotis||“The most common characteristic of the news stories found in the Greek newspapers is the insistence on the factual aspects of the story... quite understandable since in most cases the news stories of the Greek newspapers are composed by the information provided by news agencies... the strong pro-Russian sentiment in the Greek public opinion seems to have influenced the Greek newspapers not to emphasize Russia’s involvement.”||Paschalidis Panagiotis||March 2018|
|Mark Urban||“Mark Urban’s piece for Newsnight tonight was simply disgusting; it did not even pretend to be more than a propaganda piece on behalf of the security services, who had told Urban (as he said) that Yulia Skripal's phone “could have been” tapped by the Russians and they “might even” have listened to her conversations through the microphone in her telephone. That was the “new evidence” that the Russians were behind everything. As a former British Ambassador I can tell you with certainty that indeed the Russians might have tapped Yulia, but GCHQ most definitely would have. It is, after all, their job, and billions of our taxes go into it. If tapping of phones is seriously presented as evidence of intent to murder, the British government must be very murderous indeed.”||Craig Murray|
|5 July 2018|
|Document:British Skripal Narrative Fails the Occam's Razor Every Step of the Way||blog post||26 September 2018||Rob Slane||Occam’s Verdict: Where is Sergei? He’s either dead, or he can’t be prevailed upon to make a statement backing up the official narrative, because he knows it isn’t true.|
|Document:II Network Skripal||report||21 March 2018||Simon Bracey-Lane||media feedback from II members in smaller countries to HQ in London in Skripal affair|
|Document:Ideas for Ramping up IfS Contributions to the Cause||strategy document||16 March 2018||Victor Madeira||Outline of the Ifs-parts of a big covert propaganda campaign to synchronize and spread the British narrative ('the Cause') in the Skripal case.|
|Document:Metropolitan Police on 'Chepiga' and 'Mishkin'||blog post||12 October 2018||Craig Murray||I remain of the view that the best way forward would be for Putin to negotiate conditions under which Boshirov and Petrov might voluntarily come to the UK for trial|
|Document:Notes from colleagues in the Baltic States who are monitoring Russia carefully||Wikispooks Page||18 March 2018||Integrity Initiative||A document from the Integrity Initiative Leak which asserts that "A criminal investigation [into the Skripal affair] alone will not throw these essential clues up, and is unlikely to yield sufficient judicial evidence We need to be looking at, and explaining, this attack from a political and military-intelligence perspective. That means educating our audience to understand how Russia sees this world as being at war."|
|Document:Novichok Part Deux: A Fusion of Media, Government & Military||Article||10 July 2018||Kenny Coyle||BBC diplomatic and defence correspondent Mark Urban revealed this week that he had in fact been meeting secretly with Sergei Skripal over a year ago.|
|Document:Probable Western Responsibility for Skripal Poisoning||blog post||28 April 2018||Craig Murray|
|Those of us who have been in the belly of the beast and have worked closely with the intelligence services, really do know what they and the British government are capable of. They are not “white knights”.|
|Document:Russia, Novichok and the long tradition of British government misinformation||article||12 April 2018||David Miller|
|Document:Salisbury Incident - Skripal Case Investigators Could Learn From The Lockerbie Affair||Article||24 September 2018||Ludwig De Braeckeleer||Porton Down has been renamed many times: RARDE, DERA, Dstl, but it's still the same damn place.|
|Document:Sergei Skripal - "I wanted a life outside Russia"||Article||28 September 2018||Mark Urban||Adapted from "The Skripal Files, The Life and Near Death of a Russian Spy" by Mark Urban, to be published by Macmillan on 4 October 2018 at £20|
|Document:Sergei Skripal Affair: What if Russia is Responsible?||strategy document||11 March 2018||Chris Donnelly||Donnelly creates an overarching narrative, and then makes a list of British punitive measures and a PR-campaign against Russia for the the Skripal Affair|
|Document:Skripal roundup 21.3.18||Wikispooks Page||21 March 2018||some twitter reactions on the Skripal Case, half from known Integrity Initiative members|
|Document:Social Media Investigation and Monitoring Proposal - Subject Poisoning of Sergei Skripal||program proposal||15 March 2018||Greg Rowett||Establish the flow across social media of the messaging, and establish key influencers, friendly and anti, to HMG.|
|Document:Sputnik Gatecrashes Launch of Mark Urban's Book 'The Skripal Files'||Article||5 October 2018||Kit Klarenberg|
|Sputnik Gatecrashes Launch of Mark Urban's Book 'The Skripal Files'|
|Document:Spy behind Donald Trump 'golden shower' dossier feared president had been 'compromised by foreign power'||Article||10 January 2018||James Law||"It's political rhetoric to call the dossier phoney. The memos are field reports of real interviews that Chris's network conducted and there's nothing phoney about it. We can argue about what's prudent and what's not, but it's not a fabrication."|
|Document:The Four Horsemen Gallop By||blog post||11 April 2018||Craig Murray||The notion that Britain will take part in military action against Syria with neither investigation of the evidence nor a parliamentary vote is worrying indeed. Without Security Council authorisation, any such action is illegal in any event.|
|Document:The Salisbury Poisoning One Year On - An Open Letter to the Metropolitan Police||open letter||Rob Slane|
|Document:The World: What is Really Happening||blog post||25 May 2019||Craig Murray||Alleged nerve gas attack in Syria - Amanda Martin tweets to George Monbiot: "Don't you smell a set up here though? Craig Murray doesn't think Assad did it."|
|Document:Where They Tell You Not to Look||blog post||30 April 2018||Craig Murray||Craig Murray's rule number one of real investigative journalism: 1. Look Where They Tell You Not to Look|
|Document:‘No slither of evidence’ against Russia over Skripal attack, George Galloway tells RT||Video||28 March 2018||George Galloway||George Galloway concludes: "The OPCW, which is currently examining samples of the nerve agent used against the Skripals, will presumably be lent upon to obfuscate the outcome. No one will ever know the truth.”|
|Document:“Former Russian Spy Sergei Skripal May Have Been Poisoned by BZ Nerve Agent”||blog post||16 April 2018||Ludwig De Braeckeleer||Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: “Former Russian Spy Sergei Skripal May Have Been Poisoned by BZ Nerve Agent”|
- "Toxic storm for Royal Marines in major chemical exercise"
- "SKRIPAL, SYRIA, NATO & BREXIT: why they are all Siamese quads joined at the Head"
- "Where is she? Yulia Skripal's friend quizzed by Putin hoods"
- "Boris Johnson: Russia's position in Skripal case is 'increasingly bizarre'"
- "It seems Boris Johnson misled the public – Abbott"
- "Jeremy Corbyn said Boris Johnson has 'egg on his face' and 'serious questions to answer'"
- "Did Boris Johnson make false statements about Russia being responsible for Salisbury nerve agent attack?"
- "Serial liar Boris Johnson caught lying again?"
- "Army Colonel's Daughter First Person To Help Skripals After Novichok Poisoning"
- "Trump, May, Merkel, and Macron issue joint statement blaming Russia for Sergei Skripal poisoning"
- "The British Government's 'Novichok' Drama Was Written By Whom?"
- "Four days to declare a Cold War"
- "Salisbury: A Classified Case"
- "Putin says Skripal poisoning story not worth a dime"
- "The Incredible Case of Boshirov and Petrov’s Visas"
- "Lynch Mob Mentality"
- "Snow in Salisbury - weather and travel updates, pictures and video"
- "The Strange Russian Alibi"