Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Foreign Office lies and deletes evidence of its lying

Yesterday, in an interview with Sky, Gary Aitkenhead, the head of Porton Down, stated that the biological and chemical weapons organisation had not been able to identify the source of the substance that had poisoned Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. This flatly contradicted categorical assertions by Boris Johnson and the Foreign Office.

Today, the Foreign Office has denied that it claimed that Porton Down had confirmed that the substance was from Russia. A tweet from the Foreign Office making exactly that claim has been deleted. The Foreign Office has also denied that Boris Johnson said that Porton Down had categorically established that Russia was the source of the substance. With these denials, the government has descended to lying about its lying and destruction of evidence of its mendacity.

This behaviour is truly shocking. When government ministers and government departments engage in easily provable lying, they undermine the legitimacy and authority of the government and the state. When they engage in blatant and easily provably destruction of evidence of their mendacity, they undermine the legitimacy and authority of the government and the state even further. When such lies are committed in the pursuit of a course of action that could potentially result in war, they undermine the legitimacy and authority of the government and the state still further.

Boris Johnson, and the Foreign Office under his leadership, is clearly fatally compromised. Mr Johnson should acknowledge his lying, apologise and resign. It is the only honourable course of action open to him.

The replacement of Mr Johnson as Foreign Secretary should also be seen as an opportunity to reverse the dangerous deterioration in relations between Britain and Russia. Unfortunately, given the history of the British government, I cannot say I am optimistic.

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