Tuesday, 27 March 2018

The strangeness of the Skripal case

Yesterday saw a wave of expulsions of Russian diplomats. These were ostensibly carried out "in solidarity" with the United Kingdom. The expression is rather (albeit doubtlessly unintentionally) revealing. These countries are not claiming that they know Russia is guilty of the poisonings of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Rather, they are implicitly admitting that they do not know that Russia is guilty. Nevertheless, they are clearly signalling that they allying with the United Kingdom and recognising Russia as an enemy. This dangerous situation is all premised on a case that makes no sense.

The Skripals were found on a park bench more than three weeks ago. According to Theresa May, they had been poisoned by a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. She theatrically issued an ultimatum to Russia to prove its innocence in a matter of less than two days. When Russia did not do so, she concluded that Russia was guilty as charged. "There is no other plausible explanation," as she said. This course of action constituted, not only a remarkable reversal of the burden of proof, it also violated international law by its failure to observe the procedures of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Nevertheless, virtually the whole political media elite (with the exception of Jeremy Corbyn, who is now the subject of a confected anti-Semitism scandal) enthusiastically went along with this travesty.

Whilst Theresa May and Boris Johnson and the rest were repeatedly denouncing Russia, the journalists in the corporate media demonstrated an incredible lack of curiosity about the facts of the case. For example, the doctor who treated Yulia Skripal at the scene, and who did not get ill, has still not been named. She hasn't appeared on television. No pictures of her entering or leaving her place of work have been published. Indeed, no pictures of her have been published at all. There have been no interviews with her colleagues, friends, family, neighbours. There has no interest in her at all.

This lack of curiosity can also be seem in relation to Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey. He apparently attended the Skripals at the park bench and became seriously ill and was hospitalised for almost three weeks and then discharged, having made a full recovery. The lack of press interest here is even more remarkable because the official story of where DS Bailey became ill was changed from the bench to Mr Skripal's home. It obviously cannot have been both. So which was it? And when did it occur? The corporate media apparently cannot be bothered to even pose such questions. Moreover, all the while Bailey was in hospital seriously ill, there were no pictures, no interviews (unless we include on that was allegedly provided by his father in law). On Bailey's discharge from hospital, he did not appear before the press. Instead, a statement supposedly written by him was read to the press. However, it does not take much analysis to see that the statement was written by some type of public relations expert. It says virtually nothing; certainly nothing of substance. What it does say is emotive nonsense, designed to hide the fact that it does no offer any facts.

Indeed, the corporate media seem to be remarkably lacking in curiosity when it comes to DS Bailey. Why was a detective apparently acting as a first responder? What type of detective is Mr Bailey? Where does he work? Who are his colleagues? Apparently, the journalists in the corporate media are not interested.

The corporate media journalists are equally lacking in curiosity when it comes to Yulia Skripal. She is a Russian citizen, poisoned on British soil, but the government will not allow the Russians consular access to her. This is not only very strange; it is clearly contrary to international law. Yet the corporate media are completely silent about it. They have also apparently been unable to acquire even a single picture of her in hospital, interview any of the staff treating her, or even identify the hospital where she is being treated.

The corporate media have also shown a remarkable lack of interest in the ruling of the judge who gave permission for blood samples to be taken from Yulia and her father. The ruling clearly indicates that Porton Down has not identified the substance that poisoned Yulia and Sergei Skripal. It shows that the evidence before the judge asserted that the substance was a nerve agent "or related compound". This is a very long way from assertions thrown around by Boris Johnson.

Indeed, a letter published in the Times in response to an article that claimed the nerve agent attack had poisoned forty people has been studiously ignored by the corporate media: doubtless because it so obviously undermines the official narrative. Dr Davies, a senior doctor at Salisbury NHS Trust, corrected the Times article, asserting that no one had been treated for nerve agent poisoning and that there had only been three poisoning cases (presumably referring to the Skripals and Bailey).

There has also been no interest in the Christopher Steele connection. Sergei Skripal was recruited by MI6 and it requires very little attention to detail to connect Skripal with the infamous Trump Dossier, which is a foundational document in the whole Russia-gate scandal, a story that the media have been pushing for almost two years.

The Skripal case is indeed strange. This is a narrative without facts. There is much theatre, such as men in hazmat suits, which is clearly meant to convey a scary, serious message, yet they are next to people without any protective clothing. There is the fact that it took the authorities almost a whole week to issue a public health warning even though they supposedly knew almost immediately that it was a nerve agent attack. However, when the warning was issued, it merely advised people to wash their clothes and clean objects. It should hardly need mentioning that one does not carry out a chemical weapons decontamination by washing one's clothes a week later. Similarly, the police assistant commissioner in charge of the case, with hundreds of officers, and access to all the experts, has been unable to identify any person of interest, let alone a suspect. Yet, the corporate media are apparently blind to the contradiction that May and Johnson et al claim to know it was Putin.

The Skripal case does not make sense. Rather than bring that to the public's attention, the corporate media have done everything they can to obscure that fact. They have repeated the official narrative. They have added embellishments. They have surrounded the story with speculation. They have provided moral indignation, masquerading as reporting. They have focused on Boris Johnson's hyperbole. They have treated the official narrative as a loyalty test. What they have not done is investigate the case and impartially report the facts.


  1. I couldn't read it all because white writing on a black background is very hard for the eyes, especially older eyes.

    1. I have increased the font size. I hope that makes it easier to read.