Was the Skripal Affair triggered by a gardening accident?

March 31, 2018 — 7 Comments

The Skripal Affair and apparent poisoning of Julia and Sergei Skripal have thrown up a lot of theories and the evidence appears confusing and contradictory. The purpose of this article is to outline a possible alternative scenario which accounts for much of the evidence presented in the media and found through open-source investigation. This theory does not appear to have appeared elsewhere and I am not claiming it is necessarily true but it should be examined by the OPCW and considered by the UK and Russian investigating authorities.

To outline the scenario: Sergei Skripal appears to have been a keen gardener and he may have had a wasp (or other insect) problem. He may have ordered an organophosphate-based insecticide and there may have been a spillage of this substance in his home. Perhaps this spillage occurred at the front door as Julia moved her luggage into the house. Julia and Sergei may have both participated in the clean-up of the fluid and this could have been how they were contaminated. They then went to the pub and Zizzi’s restaurant where they consumed alcohol, which is known to exacerbate the effects of organophosphate poisoning.

To outline some of the evidence behind this theory:

1) As Craig Murray has laid out brilliantly, there is considerable uncertainty about the substance which affected the Skripals. The UK government has been deliberately deceptive in saying the substance involved was Novichok, when the evidence presented in court was that “Blood samples from Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal were analysed and the findings indicated exposure to a nerve agent or related compound. The samples tested positive for the presence of a Novichok class nerve agent OR CLOSELY RELATED AGENT.”

2) Wasp problems are common in Salisbury with Wiltshire Council saying, “Wasps are becoming an increasing problem; in 2016, our pest control team treated in excess of 1,400 wasp nests.”

3) Organophosphate insecticides are closely related to nerve agents as reported in the Guardian: “Like other nerve agents, they are organophosphate compounds, but the chemicals used to make novichoks, and their final structures, are considered classified in the UK, the US and other countries. By making the novichoks in secret, from benign chemicals normally used for insecticides and the like, the Soviet Union aimed to manufacture them without interference.”

4) The symptoms of the Skripals seem to be in tune with organophosphate insecticide poisoning. See this for instance from the University of Nebraska:

In particular, it appears their symptoms came on some time after exposure at their house (which seems unlikely if the world’s “most dangerous” nerve agent was involved) and after they had probably consumed alcohol.

5) Skripal received a “potentially deadly” delivery (now in the hands of Porton Down) as reported in The Express. This may have been an organophosphate-based insecticide which are widely available in the UK and can be delivered by courier.

6) The recent Aeroflot raid suggests the “nerve agent” was found on Julia’s luggage also supported by reporting in the Daily Telegraph that “Senior sources have told the Telegraph they are convinced the Novichok nerve agent was hidden in the luggage of Yulia Skripal, the double agent’s 33-year-old daughter. They are working on the theory that the toxin was impregnated in an item of clothing or cosmetics or else in a gift that was opened in his house in Salisbury…”

It seems possible the container spilled as she was bringing in her luggage.

7) The evidence of Stephen Davies, a consultant in emergency medicine at the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust at Salisbury hospital who wrote the Times saying:

“Sir, Further to your report (“Poison Exposure Leaves Almost 40 Needing Treatment”, Mar 14), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve-agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.”

8) As revealed by Craig Murray in a recent interview, “It looks to many people like this may just be a silly amateur mixture of different insecticides.”

Obviously this scenario, if true, does not reflect well on Porton Down or Boris Johnson or Theresa May and with every passing day the failure to announce that a massive mistake has been made indicates a cover-up may be underway.

There are some obvious questions which need to be raised:
1) Did Skripal order or buy any form of insecticide?
2) What was the “potentially deadly” item delivered to the Skripal house?
3) Can insecticide poisoning be ruled out?

If this theory holds water (and just to emphasize it is just a theory and other scenarios are possible) it seems unlikely the authorities will be able to keep a lid on it.

In particular the counter-terrorism police and the OPCW seem unlikely to be prepared to go along with a cover-up – even if Porton Down, the mainstream media, MI5 and the politicians involved might prefer to continue with the farce and can somehow keep the Skripals on board in order to defend the current UK government’s credibility and their own careers.

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7 responses to Was the Skripal Affair triggered by a gardening accident?

  1. 
    Jeanmarie Amend March 31, 2018 at 15:04

    It is important the HRI bring evidence to documentation by expert analysis and through writing and by narrative of the last seven years in Syria.

    ________________________________

  2. 

    In answer to a comment on Moon of Alabama http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/03/she-is-risen-last-act-of-novichok-drama-revealed-the-skripals-resurrection/comments/page/3/ that “The probability that two individuals not having the same body weight or physiologic characteristics being affected at the same time by either food poisoning or significantly prior exposure to nerve agents, those probabilities drop to almost vanishingly small.”
    :
    1. As father and daughter, Julia and Sergei would have shared a lot of genetic characteristics.
    2. If the exposure was at home it could have come as late as around 13.15. (their car was caught on CCTV heading into town from the direction of their house at 13:30).
    3. They reportedly both consumed alcohol which exacerbates the effects of organophosphate poisoning. As they were annoyed at the service at Zizi’s they may have “drunk up” their wine in haste as they left.
    4. There was a time-gap between them leaving Zizi’s, being seen on CCTV walking towards the bench at 15.47 and the emergency services being called at 16.15.
    5. It is unclear that they were affected equally. Julia was reportedly comatose and stopped breathing. Sergei was vomiting.
    6. It is also possible that a spill of the insecticide at home contaminated Julia’s bag or other item of outer-wear. As they left Zizi’s or on the bench one of their hands came into contact with this item, still damp from the fluid. They then held hands, sealing both their fates. (They were filmed walking hand in hand in Market Walk).

  3. 

    If the Skripals were poisoned by pesticides, it’s possible that they bought them that morning and brought them back to the house. That idea is supported by what we know from publicly available information.

    Sergei Skripal’s car was seen near the cemetry around 9.30 am, and later being driven on a road that leads from his house to the city centre, at 1.30 pm. This indicates that he went out that morning and went home again before heading out for a meal with his daughter, Yulia.

    That was a Sunday morning. I assume that not many shops are open around Salisbury on Sundays, but a google search shows that a few garden centres are (although not until 10.30 or 11 am). There’s even one in Porton, near Porton Down, which doubles up as a pet shop, catering for cats and hamsters, which Sergei keeps in his house. Yulia likes animals too, from what I’ve read.

    So it would not be unusual for a keen gardener like him, who went out that morning, to pick up some garden chemicals. And it’s likely that he was accompanied by Yulia, since they both probably visited her mother’s grave in the cemetry as well.

    If one of them handled some chemicals, for example pesticides that got spilt while being loaded into the house, they could have contaminated the front door handle. The front door is the place with the highest level of contamination, according to the police.

    In that case, the poison would have been planted by an unwitting victim, not some assassin!

    Now, I’m not saying that I think that’s what happened, but it should be given serious consideration since nobody – especially the UK government – so far has presented any credible scenario involving a nerve agent..

  4. 

    Not that I subscribe to this particular theory, but wasp insecticides sold over the counter in Russia do sometimes actually contain organophophate agents. For example “Absolute” (Абсолют) anti-wasp gel, costs 80 rubles OTC and contains chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate prohibited or tightly regulated in many countries due to its health risks (poisoning symptoms similar to sarin at high doses, domestic use varieties have been used for suicides too)

    • 

      Contamination by a gel containing organophosphate sounds something like the latest version of the narrative coming from unnamed UK officials. This is hard to take seriously but it appears to come from an inside source:

      “The Novichok timebomb: Nerve agent used to poison former Russian spy and his daughter was specially designed to take four hours to kill them so their assassins could flee Britain”
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5590067/Nerve-agent-used-poison-Russian-spy-designed-4-hours-work-allow-culprits-flee.html

      “The Novichok was produced in the form of a clear, odourless gel which was smeared over the handle of Sergei Skripal’s front door in Salisbury early on Sunday March 4.”

      It was allegely used in gel form to delay its effects:

      “A source said last night: ‘The Kremlin wanted to get its agents out of Britain before the Novichok could be identified. So they reduced its toxicity and used it in a gel form rather than as a gas – had the Skripals inhaled the nerve agent they would have died very quickly.”

      That “Absolute” stuff you talk seems dangerous if it’s a gel. I guess that means that it does not wash off as easily as liquid insecticides. Anyway you might not even want to wash off if you don’t notice it on your hands, if it’s odourless and not sticky.

      Sergei apparently asked Yulia to bring over some items to him from Russia, including bay leaves, spices and buckwheat. Is it possible that he also asked for some wasp-killer that he might not be able to get himself, if it’s illegal in the UK?

    • 

      Translation of part of a web page selling Абсолют/Absolute:

      “Gel for the destruction of wasps and flies Absolute
      New insecticidal gel preparation designed to attract flying insects and their subsequent death as a result of eating the gel.
      The gel can be used in rooms of various types, as well as in outdoor areas.
      The gel contains food additives that are attractive for flying insects, as well as a significant percentage of sugar, which increases the time of contact of insects with the gel and allows them to receive a lethal dose with a single eating of the gel.
      The gel is non-toxic and non-hazardous to humans, is not accompanied by an unpleasant odor (as when using aerosols), does not spoil the appearance of the treated room.”
      https://nasekomym.net/products/-gel-dlya-unichtozheniya-os-i-muh-absolyut

      And from an online catalogue:
      “The work is carried out in the presence of people, and it does not require protective equipment and strict precautions. The transparency of the gel means that it is possible to apply the gel to any surface without leaving any evident traces. It is effective, convenient and safe to use.
      Active ingredient: chlorpyrifos 0.5%
      Form of issue: 20 ml cartridge in a box (art. AK20), 30 ml tube (art. AT30), tube 30 ml in a box (art. ATK30) ”
      http://npo-garant.com/en/katalog_products_eng.pdf

      The reassurance that it’s “non-toxic and non-hazardous to humans” and “safe to use” could give a false sense of security to users who don’t know the dangers of chlorpyrifos. Its very likely that this description only applies if skin contact is avoided by using the gel strictly according to the instructions. If it does get onto your skin, you might not even notice it, since it’s odourless and transparent.

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