MPs retweet claim that Porton Down scientists can’t identify nerve agent as Russian
Several MPs have retweeted claims that scientists at the British lab investigating the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter are actually struggling to identify the source of the nerve agent used.
Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan turned blogger, wrote on his website that scientists at Porton Down, the center responsible for identifying the nerve agent allegedly used in the attack against the Skripals, have failed to find evidence of Russian “culpability.” He said a “well-placed” source in the Foreign Office told him.
Murray added scientists had been “resentful” over the pressure put on them to prove the military-grade nerve agent is of Russian manufacture. The blogger’s comments and concerns were retweeted by Labour MP Chris Williamson, a frequent guest on RT, and the Scottish National Party’s Douglas Chapman.
Wow, if this is true Theresa May has some very serious questions to answer. It would interrsting to see what the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has to say about this. https://t.co/LUoOs9l6rg— Chris Williamson MP (@DerbyChrisW) March 16, 2018
Concerned that rumours are circulating to suggest #PortonDown scientists are not able to identify nerve gas as being of Russian manufacture— Douglas Chapman MP 🏴 (@DougChapmanSNP) March 16, 2018
Chapman’s retweet was then posted by QC Jo Maugham.
From the SNP spokesperson for Defence Procurement. https://t.co/cAr6FlIBo8— Jo Maugham QC (@JolyonMaugham) March 16, 2018
A separate Murray claim on the Salisbury incident has faced criticism. A chemist hit back at Murray, tweeting at him that it could be possible for scientists at Porton Down to identify a substance they hadn't seen before, a contradiction of the blogger's argument.
"Yet now, the British Government is claiming to be able instantly to identify a substance which its only biological weapons research centre has never seen before and was unsure of its existence. " You wouldn't recognise a mass spectrometer if it hit you smack in your stupid gob.— Clyde Davies (@deadlyvices) March 14, 2018
Claims that Russia was behind the attack stem from knowledge of the agent – known as Novichok – being developed by the Soviet Union in a covert program unveiled by defectors.
Vil Mirzayanov, a chemical weapons developer, argued only the Kremlin could have the capability to deploy the agent.
Murray's claims comes after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn defied critics as he doubled down on his position that more evidence is needed before the UK points the finger squarely at Russia. He said a lack of diplomacy in a “fevered” Parliament atmosphere could lead to “McCarthyite intolerance of dissent.”
“To rush way ahead of the evidence being gathered by the police, in a fevered parliamentary atmosphere, serves neither justice nor our national security."
He went on: “Labour is, of course, no supporter of the Putin regime, its conservative authoritarianism, abuse of human rights or political and economic corruption. However, that does not mean we should resign ourselves to a ‘new cold war’ of escalating arms spending, proxy conflicts across the globe and a McCarthyite intolerance of dissent.”
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