Having stated in Part 1 why I believe the official story does not hold water, I want in this piece to take a look at four important aspects of the case. However, what is particularly remarkable about them is not so much the aspects themselves, but rather the fact that they seem to have been either:
Ignored altogether or
Yet in each instance they are clearly significant aspects, and so the fact that they are being ignored or forgotten, together with the official story being implausible, only goes to arouse suspicions that they may be crucial pointers to what really happened on 4th March.
Below are four of what I would consider the most important aspects that fit into this category:
The Invisible Mr Miller
Three days after the Salisbury incident, the Daily Telegraph published an article which included the following details:
“A security consultant who has worked for the company that compiled the controversial dossier on Donald Trump was close to the Russian double agent poisoned last weekend, it has been claimed. The consultant, who The Telegraph is declining to identify, lived close to Col Skripal and is understood to have known him for some time. Col Skripal, who is in intensive care and fighting for his life after an assassination attempt on Sunday, was recruited by MI6 when he worked for the British embassy in Estonia, according to the FSB, the Russian intelligence agency.”
The security consultant, whom the Daily Telegraph declined to identify, was not only the man who recruited Mr Skripal for MI6 in 1995, but was also his “handler” in Salisbury (which was presumably the reason that Mr Skripal was settled there).
We also know a number of other interesting facts: That the two men met regularly in a restaurant in the City; that Mr Skripal was still working for British Intelligence; and that the company that the handler was working for was Orbis Business Intelligence, the private firm owned by the ex-MI6 officer, Christopher Steele, who is said to have “authored” the so-called “Trump Dossier”.
This is obviously all highly relevant to the case. And yet just a day after that piece appeared in The Daily Telegraph (and perhaps because of it), the British Government slapped a D-notice on all reporting in the British media of the handler and his connection to Mr Skripal. This included not naming him, but of course D-Notices only apply to domestic media, and in any case by that time CNN had in fact named him as Pablo Miller.
All of the information above is out there in public. And yet the British Government has banned the media from discussing it further. That is indeed very odd, not least of which because the media could, if they so wished, easily use the connections between Mr Skripal, Mr Miller and Mr Steele as a reason to bolster the official narrative (I’m not saying that it would be credible, but it doesn’t take too much of a leap of the imagination to see the headlines appearing in the compliant media: “Did Putin want Skripal dead because he knew too much about the Trump/Russia collusion?”).
Yet, the fact that there is radio silence on these connections is bound to raise questions as to their significance, and whether they point to another motive entirely behind this case.
The Invisible People From the Market Walk
In the first few days after the poisoning, much was made of two people who were seen walking through the Market Walk, in the direction of the bench where Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned. According to the CCTV camera, this was at 15:47 on 4th March, which was approximately 16 minutes before one witness said she saw them collapsed on the park bench.
Many reports at first claimed that this pair, seen on the image at the top of this piece, were the Skripals. Yet although the image and the brief footage is not particularly clear, what is clear is that this most certainly was not Sergei and Yulia Skripal. I am not 100% sure whether the person nearest the camera is a male or female. He/she looks very clearly female to me, but I know some people who have disagreed with this and are convinced by the way that he/she walks and his/her build, that it is a man. Yet one thing is for sure: whoever this person is, it is not Yulia Skripal.
Of course, these two may not be important to the case at all. Yet given the next point below, I’d say that at the very least they are “persons of interest”. And yet, so far as I know, there was no ongoing call for information about who they might be, and certainly no national manhunt. If they have been found and eliminated from enquiries, the media, which had published pictures of them, had a duty to inform the public of this in a satisfactory way. Yet to my knowledge, they did not do so, but instead went very quiet about them. Indeed, if you type in some combination of CCTV, Skripals, Market Walk into a search engine, you are unlikely to find any references to them in the media after about 10th March. One might be tempted to think that their very existence has been quietly “forgotten”.
The Invisible Red Bag
In the CCTV footage mentioned above, the person nearest the camera, who is not Yulia Skripal, is seen carrying a red bag. This is very interesting for a couple of reasons:
Firstly, one of the witnesses had this to say about the female she saw on the bench:
“She was slumped over on the man’s shoulder. To be honest, I thought they might be homeless but they were perhaps better dressed. I just thought this is weird, especially as she was clearly quite a bit younger than him. She had a red bag at her feet.”
Secondly, that witness testimony is confirmed by a rather long-range photograph which appeared in a number of places. In the Evening Standard, it is accompanied by the following caption:
“Police put a red bag inside a police evidence bag immediately after the nerve agent attack on a Russian spy. Officers previously issued CCTV of a woman clutching a red bag.”
The red bag is therefore a very significant piece of evidence. It was taken away by police, and the media have not mentioned it since. What was in it? Have we been told? Or has it been quietly incinerated?
The Invisible Mr Bailey
Another person who is a key part of the case, Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, seems also to have disappeared. He was released from hospital on 22nd March, and a statement put out in his name included the following request:
“I do understand and appreciate the attention on this incident, but I would ask people to put themselves in my shoes. I want to respectfully ask the media for privacy for me and my family at this time and for no intrusion into my private life, so that my family and I can try to come to terms with what has happened.”
That seems entirely reasonable. Had I been in the same situation, I wouldn’t have wanted the media intruding.
However, this was well over two months ago, and since then we have heard nothing from Mr Bailey. We’ve heard from Yulia Skripal, whose condition was clearly much worse than his, and who also requested that her privacy be respected in the statement released on her behalf. But we’ve heard nothing from Mr Bailey.
Part of the reason that this is so curious is that there is one vital piece of the case that has never been properly explained. Where was he actually poisoned?
All initial reports claimed that he was poisoned at the park bench in The Maltings. Then in a radio interview on 9th March, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Lord Ian Blair, stated that he was actually poisoned at Mr Skripal’s house. That might have been the end of the matter, were it not for the fact that subsequent reports then swung backwards and forwards between the bench and the house as the place of poisoning.
Why couldn’t they get the story straight? I mean, it must be one of the easiest parts of the whole case to establish. I’m sure that GPS tracking could throw up an answer. Or alternatively, couldn’t we just hear from Mr Bailey himself? How difficult would that be? Yet the that we haven’t heard, and that the issue has not been settled, is surely very odd indeed.
Personally, I find it strange that he would have been called to the incident at The Maltings. He is a member of Wiltshire Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID), and for the first 24 hours there was no suspicion of a crime having taken place, it being thought that the pair on the bench had overdosed on Fentanyl. Then again, I find Lord Blair’s claim, that he was poisoned at the house, equally unconvincing. Again, why would a member of CID have gone to the house of someone who was suspected of having overdosed on a park bench on Fentanyl? A third scenario, that he was at both places, is of course even more unlikely.
So how does one process this? Given that Detective Sergeant Bailey has not been interviewed by the media to confirm where, when and how he was poisoned; given the fact that the authorities and the media appear unable or unwilling to confirm this most straightforward of facts; and given that neither The Maltings or Mr Skripal’s house seem to be wholly plausible, both for the reason given above, but also because this raises the question of why others were not poisoned at those locations, I would submit that the most reasonable view to take – until evidence confirms otherwise – is that Detective Sergeant Bailey was poisoned neither at the bench nor the house, but somewhere else altogether.
These are all important aspects of the case. Yet I am convinced that there is another even bigger aspect, which begins to join the dots together. I hope to discuss this in Part 3.
* * *
Some of my previous pieces on the Skripal Case:
♦ 30 Questions That Journalists Should be Asking About the Skripal Case
♦ 20 More Questions That Journalists Should be Asking About the Skripal Case
♦ The Skripal Case: 20 New Questions That Journalists Might Like to Start Asking
♦ The Lady and the Curiously Absent Suspect — Yet Another 20 Questions on the Skripal Case
♦ The Slowly Building Anger in the UK at the Government’s Handling of the Skripal Case
♦ The Three Most Important Aspects of the Skripal Case so Far … and Where They Might be Pointing
♦ A Bucketful of Novichok
♦ What Would Sherlock Holmes Have Made of the Government’s Explanation of the Case of Sergei and Yulia Skripal?