British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson directly lied that Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down was “categorical” about the Russian origin of the substance used in the alleged poisoning of Sergey Scripal.
During the interview with Deutsche Welle, Foreign Secretary claimed that the Salisbury nerve agent had been attributed to be made in Russia.
The German TV interviewer asked Johnson: “How did you manage to find it out so quickly? Does Britain possess samples of it?”
Foreign Secretary replied: “They do. And they were absolutely categorical and I asked the guy myself, I said, “Are you sure?” And he said there’s no doubt.”
For the avoidance of doubt – here is Boris Johnson clearly claiming that Porton Down had confirmed to him the source of the Salisbury nerve agent. Words matter. He lied. pic.twitter.com/oeuZNNxbAZ
— EL4C (@EL4JC) 3 April 2018
However, his statement, widely shared in the media, contradicts to expert’s conclusion of “Novichok” origin.
On April 3, Gary Aitkenhead, the chief executive of the DSTL at Porton Down told Sky News that they were unable to link samples of the substance, allegedly used to attack Sergei and Yulia Skripal, to Russia. The only issue the laboratory cleared up that they identified it was military-grade nerve agent. The chief insisted that, while the experts had identified the agent as A-234 [also known as “Novichok”] they had “not identified the precise source”.
Additionally, Mr Aitkenhead stated:
“It is our job to provide the scientific evidence of what this particular nerve agent is, we identified that it is from this particular family and that it is a military grade, but it is not our job to say where it was manufactured”.
Supporting their chef, the laboratory workers twitted:
“It is not, and has never been, our responsibility to confirm the source of the agent”.
Then, the UK Foreign Office responded that they still affirmed Russia was behind the attack because of the wider “intelligence picture”. This case will be discussed at the special meeting on April 4.
In a letter, Russia’s ambassador to the OPCW, Alexander Shulgin, asked the meeting to discuss Britain’s allegations “in a confidential sitting”.
On April 3, at a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Vladimir Putin stated that he hoped the future UN chemical watchdog meeting would put an end to the UK’s accusations against Russia in the Skripal poisoning case. Russian president underlined that 20 other countries could produce the nerve agent.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told media he expected London to apologize for its “insane accusations” after the reveal of Porton Down’s laboratory results.
On April 4, it appeared that the UK Foreign Office now denies claiming the nerve agent used in the Salisbury incident came directly from Russia. The UK Foreign Office cannot delete an interview with Johnson available online but it already deleted the tweet stating so.
The UK’s ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, also claimed in an official statement that the nerve agent had been produced in Russia. So far, this tweet has remained online.
This is a direct quote from the British ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow. The tweet has since been deleted by @foreignoffice. This does not look good for the UK government. pic.twitter.com/Bvp7Ir2uXA
— Liam O’Hare (@Liam_O_Hare) 4 April 2018
The UK stance towards the situation clearly shows that the British government needs no facts that may contradict to its political agenda.
British Ambassador to Russia Dr Laurie Bristow has briefed the international diplomatic community in Moscow on the UK Government response to the Salisbury attack https://t.co/TOknU0j8gb pic.twitter.com/jrB2r9MuEg
— Foreign Office 🇬🇧 (@foreignoffice) 22 March 2018