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As Dead as a Door Handle

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | December 1, 2018

One of the tell-tale signs that an action or actions are being covered up is that the explanations given for them keep shifting — basically because the ones previously given do not comport with reality. Yet with each new shift, more reality contortions are seen and more questions raised. Objective reality is a kicker, isn’t it?

This is basically what the BBC Panorama programme — Salisbury Nerve Agent Attack: the Inside Story — did. It’s account of Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey is a case in point. Let me once again state that I do not know what Mr Bailey’s role was in the events of 4th March. What I do know with absolute certainty, however, is that the account he gave on the Panorama programme was completely at odds with many previous accounts we have heard from both the media and public officials of high rank. For instance:

  • The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, stated a few days after the incident that, “In particular, my thoughts are with DS Nick Bailey, one of the first responders, who remains in a serious condition in hospital.” And the then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, stated of Mr Bailey that he was “one of the first responders on Sunday, acting selflessly to help others.” It’s all very odd, though, since according to Mr Bailey not only was he not a first responder, he wasn’t even at the bench at the same time that the Skripals were said to be there.
  • According to media reports drawing on testimony from Mr Skripal’s neighbours, police arrived at 47 Christie Miller Road at 5pm on 4th March. I assume that they entered the property, or at least tried, as I cannot imagine they just turned up to admire the curtains. Yet according to the Panorama programme, Mr Bailey was the first official to attempt to enter the house, and this was around midnight.

Now I know that we live in days when subjective truth is trying very hard to knock objective truth off its perch, but this won’t do. A=A and A will never = non-A. If Mr Bailey was a hero first responder at the bench when the Skripals were there — as the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and other officials claimed — then he cannot not have been at the bench when the Skripals were there, can he? His being there as a first responder, and his not being there as a first responder cannot both be true, can they? Like I say, objective reality really is a kicker, and it’s clear that someone’s being economical with the actualité. And yet no one on that programme had the honour to explain why we’d been told something, and were now being told something completely incompatible.

But I want to focus on another attempt at reality bending, which the programme engaged in, and in so doing unwittingly put to rest the cornerstone of the whole Metropolitan Police and Government narrative of how the poisoning occurred. I am referring to the claim that the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal occurred at the door handle of his house. As far as I am concerned, thanks to the Panorama programme that explanation is now dead, kaput, expired, gone West, shuffled off its mortal coil, and is now pushing up the daisies to join the choir invisible. As dead as a doornail handle is an expression I might find myself using from this time forth.

How so?

Well, first let me preface my comments by stating that the explanation was already on a life support machine before the BBC came anywhere near it. Even before the programme, there were a number of absurdly improbable things that you needed to believe to accept this explanation, including:

  • That two highly trained GU assassins would walk in broad daylight down a cul-de-sac, to place the world’s most deadly chemical on the handle of a door, before going into town to do some window shopping.
  • That the house, bought for Mr Skripal by MI6, for whom he was still working, did not have CCTV installed around the front door.
  • That Sergei and Yulia Skripal were so unaffected after being contaminated by the world’s deadliest nerve agent that they went into town for a meal and a drink.
  • That they managed to contaminate a table in Zizzis to such an extent that it had to be burned, yet strangely enough they apparently didn’t contaminate other items or people they came into contact with prior to this, such as the door handle of the restaurant, the door handle of The Mill pub, and — most crucially — the three boys who fed ducks with them, despite reports that one of those boys actually took a piece of the bread from Mr Skripal’s hand and ate it.
  • That both Sergei and Yulia Skripal somehow managed to touch the outside door handle upon leaving the house — a thing so ridiculous that even the makers of the Panorama programme couldn’t bring themselves to show it in their reconstruction, instead just showing the actor playing Mr Skirpal touching it.
  • That it took investigators more than two weeks to point to the door handle as the location of the poisoning, even though Mr Bailey had visited the house, which therefore made it one of only two places where both he and the Skripals had been, and so one of only two locations where the source of the poison could have been.
  • That the Government very conveniently discovered an FSB manual, allegedly describing how nerve agent could be applied to a door handle, just prior to the door handle being claimed as the location of the poisoning.

Add to this that Panorama confirmed the Skripals were at home at the time of the alleged attack, with Mr Skripal’s car in the driveway, and I think it would take a brave or a foolish man — take your pick — to believe that the Skripals were poisoned at their door handle.

But there was much more than this. The programme decided to go overboard on certain claims about the substance used, only to then find itself with the impossible task of trying to explain why it is that we didn’t see what we should have seen if these claims are true. Here, for instance, are five claims about the toxicity of the substance in question — “Novichok” — that the programme made known to its viewers:

“It’s very unique in its ability to poison individuals at quite low concentrations.” – Porton Down Professor Tim speaking about Novichok.

“The Russians called it Novichok. Thought to be 10X more toxic than any nerve agent created before or since.” – Jane Corbin.

“To kill a person, you need only 1mg. To be sure, 2mg.” – Vil Mirzyanov, who worked on the Foliant project.

“The Russians weaponised Novichok for the battlefield. The tiniest dose can be fatal.”– Jane Corbin.

“It’s difficult to say, you know, possibly into the thousands.” – Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon when asked how many people could have been killed by the substance in the bottle.

Got that? The takeway points that the BBC wanted you to know are:

  1. “Novichok” is extraordinarily deadly.
  2. A tiny dose of just 2mg is enough to produce certain death in a person.
  3. The two suspects had enough of the substance in the bottle to kill 1,000s of people.

So let’s see how these claims stack up against what actually happened.

A crucial question to ask is how much “Novichok” was sprayed on the door handle? Since we don’t know this for certain, we are going to have to come up with a reasonable estimate, based on two things: firstly, we must give an estimate of how many miligrams of “Novichok” there is in a millilitre, and secondly how much would have been sprayed on the door handle.

On that first point, it is of course impossible to say exactly, without knowing the precise properties of the substance. However, most nerve agents have a liquid density of just over 1,000 kg/m3 (Tabun = 1,080 kg/m3; Sarin = 1,100 kg/m3; Soman = 1,020 kg/m3 ; VX = 1,008 kg/m3 (see here for details)), and so assuming that “Novichok” is somewhere in this range, and taking 1,000 kg/m3 as a conservative estimate, this would mean that in a 5.5ml bottle, there might have been as much as 5,500mg. According to Vil Mirzyanov, this is enough to potentially kill between 2,750 and 5,500 people.

As I say, these are estimates, but it does comport with Deputy Assistant Commissioner Haydon’s claim of there being enough of the substance in the bottle to kill “into the thousands”.

Next up is the question of how much “Novichok” would have been sprayed on the door handle of Mr Skripal’s house? Atomisers generally tend to spray between about 1/10th and 1/15th of a millilitre with every spray. And so even if we assume that the door handle was sprayed just once, if 1ml of the substance is approximately 1,000mg, this would mean that somewhere between 67-100mg would have been sprayed onto the door handle. Enough to kill getting on for 100 people, according to the Panorama programme.

I realise that the calculations I have given are not exact, but actually they don’t need to be. The claim that the Novichok in the bottle could have killed thousands, which was made by the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of The Met, along with the claim made by Mr Miryzanov that 2mg is enough to lead to the certain death of a person, are enough to know that the amount sprayed on the door handle would have been enough to kill dozens of people, and into the hundreds if multiple sprays were used.

But of course it didn’t. So how did the programme attempt to get around this glaring anomaly? Cue Mr Mirzyanov once again:

“Maybe the dose was not high enough. Salisbury was rainy and muggy. Novichok breaks down in damp conditions, reducing its toxicity. It’s the Achilles Heel of Novichok.”

So this is the BBC explanation — and I might add the official explanation since the programme was clearly made with the approval of the Metropolitan Police — for why this most deadly of substances did not kill the Skripals:

  1. Maybe the dose wasn’t high enough
  2. Novichok loses its toxicity in damp conditions.

Okay, let’s rip this folly to pieces once and for all.

On the first point, the idea that the dose was too low is impossible. The programme had Mr Mirzyanov assuring us that just 2mg was enough to cause certain death. But of course the amount sprayed on the handle would have been many times higher than this.

And it cannot be claimed that maybe it dripped off onto the doormat. Firstly, part of the Government’s case rests upon the Russians apparently testing “Novichok” on door handles. Well, if it was prone to drip off, do you think they wouldn’t have somehow realised this and eliminated it as a possible method? But much more crucially, Mr Skripal allegedly had enough of the substance on his hand to contaminate so many places in the city that they had to be cordoned off and closed for months. No, the “Maybe the dose wasn’t high enough” claim is utter nonsense, especially coming from Mr Mirzyanov who had already claimed that 2mg of the substance would lead to certain death.

What of that second explanation, that the “Novichok” may have lost its toxicity? Unfortunately for the weavers of the door handle yarn, there are a number of impossibly huge problems with this:

Firstly, the official claim only allows for the “Novichok” to be on the door handle between 12:10pm and 13:30pm – that is, 80 minutes maximum before the alleged contamination.

Secondly, during that time, there was no rain or snow — in fact it was fairly sunny — and so the only thing that the substance would have come into contact with was the air.

Thirdly, given that this substance, which according to the programme was developed for battlefield use, was in contact with nothing more than air for just 80 minutes, can any rational person believe that it was possible in this very short time for oxidation and hydrolysis to occur to such an extent that its toxicity went from having the potential to kill in the tens or even hundreds to killing nobody?

Fourthly, even if there had been some degradation by exposure to 80 minutes in the air(which is absurd), there would still be many milligrams of the substance remaining to kill people.

Fifthly, however according to a statement from the OPCW on 4th May no such degradation took place:

“The samples collected by the OPCW Technical Assistance Visit team concluded that the chemical substance found was of high purity, persistent and resistant to weather conditions.”

Here’s the crux of this matter: The BBC went out of its way to tell us that the substance allegedly sprayed on the door handle of Mr Skripal’s house was so deadly that it:

a) Only needed 1-2mg to kill people and that

b) There was enough in the bottle to kill thousands.

Yet, because it killed neither Sergei nor Yulia Skripal, who allegedly touched it less than an hour-and-a-half after it was applied, the programme then went out of its way to tell us that the reason for this was either:

a) The dose was too low or

b) The substance lost its toxicity due to the damp conditions

But both these explanations are not just highly improbable — they are impossible.

The dose could not have been too low, since the atomiser would clearly have sprayed far more than the 2mg apparently needed to be certain of killing a person. This is also attested by how much Mr Skripal apparently contaminated various places in Salisbury.

The substance could not have lost its toxicity in just 80 minutes in clement weather conditions, such that instead of certainly killing a person with a dose of just 1-2mg, it killed none of those who became contaminated by it. This is also attested by the OPCW claim that more than two weeks later they found a substance of “high purity” and “resistant to weather conditions”, which means that the BBC and The Met are essentially asking us to believe that the substance lost its toxicity in 80 minutes, only to regain it two weeks later.

And so having overreached themselves with the claims of the potency of the substance sprayed on the door handle, and the minuscule amount needed to kill a person, the BBC and The Met have come up with two explanations as to why these claims don’t comport with what actually happened. And yet both of these explanations are utterly impossible, and frankly utter nonsense. As I said at the start, objective reality really is a kicker, isn’t it?

I have remarked many times during these pieces that I am not indulging in some conspiracy theory here. All I have done above is taken the words and claims of certain officials, and analysed them against their own statements, or those made by other officials. And the result is that the idea that the Skripals were poisoned at the door handle of 47 Christie Miller Road by a substance called “Novichok”, which apparently only needs 1-2mg to kill one person, is shown to be an absolute impossibility. As an idea, it is done for, passed on, expired, bitten the dust and bought the farm. As dead as a door handle.

December 1, 2018 - Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | ,

1 Comment »

  1. Cogently and persuasively reported. What happens next? Can the BBC be confronted in broad daylight and made to admit to its “faux journalism?”

    Comment by roberthstiver | December 1, 2018 | Reply


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