UKC

/ Porton Down: why did he open his gob?

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Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018

 

  The head of Porton Down's interview seems to have done huge damage to the UK's credibility. Why did he feel the need to be interviewed at all?

  I'm thinking that either he was utterly naive, thought he was saying the obvious and didn't foresee how his message would be interpreted. Or else he felt that the government was misusing the information provided and didn't want to be hung out to dry at a later date.

 

  Any thoughts?

29
Michael Hood - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat: I suspect the last, doesn't want his report to be used similarly to the one that "supported"the invasion of Iraq.

Basically they've identified the agent but can't identify its source.

Unlikely to be anywhere but Russia so the politicians open their gobs, maybe a little too wide.

 

baron - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

I have no idea what he was thinking but Sky News obviously thought they had a scoop as they put their own spin on his comments and tried to get each of their interviewees to confirm that Russia was no longer in the frame.

what the hex on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

 

Our strength, living in a democratic country with the freedom of speech, is also our weakness. The opposite is true for more repressive regimes, I fear.

Interesting times.

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Michael Hood:

> I suspect the last, doesn't want his report to be used similarly to the one that "supported"the invasion of Iraq.

> Basically they've identified the agent but can't identify its source.

> Unlikely to be anywhere but Russia so the politicians open their gobs, maybe a little too wide.


Definitely possible but I'd have thought he could he could have left an internal paper trail to cover his arse without going public?

MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Apparently PD were being pushed to say more than they felt they could. Blame Boris.

2
mypyrex - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

What he didn't say was that Russia DIDN'T do it. However, as a civil servant he should have kept his trap shut.

12
wbo - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to mypyrex:even if he feels misrepresented?  Or that the government is spinning an untruth?

 

Clarence on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

As a civil servant he has a duty to the people to tell the truth and the truth appears to be less sensational than some in our government might like at this moment in time. If we don't play by the rules we can't cry foul when others refuse also.

FactorXXX - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Interesting stuff.
If it transpires that the Nerve Agent didn't originate from Russia, then Boris is in big trouble and it might even result in May resigning.  Outside chance of a General Election perhaps on the grounds of 'Motion of no Confidence'?
If the Agent did come from Russia, then Boris is probably still in trouble and May might sack him as the sacrificial goat.  Labour also have to be careful in this respect, because it's still an extremely serious security issue and they can't be seen to be trying to make political benefit out of it in a 'told you so' type scenario.
Lets just hope that the Agent is indeed of Russian origin, as I'd rather Corbyn and Co get a bit of egg on their face than the political shit fest (nationally and internationally) that would happen if it isn't of Russian origin. This isn't a dig at Corbyn, etc. just feel that this goes way beyond petty political party one-upmanship. 

10
jkarran - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

My guess would be to preserve the integrity of his staff and institution he wanted the limitations of their findings to be known and understood. He won't have done so without security clearance so I guess this information was scheduled for release through other channels in the near future anyway.

If the British government didn't want egg on their faces from overclaiming they could have been more circumspect or clear about the relative weights put on science, intelligence and guesswork. If only someone had suggested a bit more circumspection at the time eh.

I trust they've been clearer with our allies than they were with the public or we're in deep shit.

Jk

mypyrex - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to wbo:

> even if he feels misrepresented?  Or that the government is spinning an untruth?


Unfortunately yes. One of the requirements of the civil service is to remain impartial and to support and advise the government of the day. I am sure that somebody in his position would have the ear of an appropriate politician and that the matter could have been dealt with with more discretion

13
Wiley Coyote2 - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Scientists deal in facts while Boris is famously a complete stranger to the truth. This time, either through his equally legendary carelessness or by design, he has overstated the strength and content of the info from Porton Down (clips of his tv interviews on t'internet - 'I've spoken to the chap myself. He tells me there is no doubt') and in the process has involved a string of foreign governments in  damaging diplomatic tit-for-tat expulsions with a dangerous super power.  They are likely to be less than pleased if it has been done on a Boris-style  'dodgy dossier'.  You may believe that the Director of Porton Down is a) a stickler for the truth and has therefore felt compelled to  clarify the information Boris has put in the public domain or b) he sees a 24 carat sh!t storm coming and is making sure it is Boris who faces it or c) both

3
captain paranoia - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> Apparently PD were being pushed to say more than they felt they could. Blame Boris.

Ah, another 'dodgy dossier'...

1
wbo - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to mypyrex:more discretion ? This is Boris the liar we are talking about, whos using information to spin public opinion - a quiet word in the year is painfully inadequate.

 

3
captain paranoia - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

> What he didn't say was that Russia DIDN'T do it.

Putin is a canny operator. He knows that the nerve agent can't be categorically traced to Russia; he has plausible deniability on the international arena*. But he also knows that his enemies know exactly where the nerve agent came from, and therefore that they are in danger, wherever they are. It's a great way to demonstrate how strong you are, on the eve of an election.

* Since the secrets of novichoks were revealed by a defector, they can be synthesized by any competent chemical weapons facility with access to those secrets. In order for Porton Down to be able to identify the nerve agent, they must have those secrets. Therefore, you cannot categorically state that the nerve agent wasn't created at Porton Down, or some other facility outside Russian control.

MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

> Ah, another 'dodgy dossier'...

Not really. A dodgy foreign secretary. I’m terms of Russian involvement I don’t think this changes anything. It does make the U.K. look stupid. Again.

2
captain paranoia - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> Not really.

I meant that DSTL felt they were being pressured to make exaggerated statements about the facts. Just like intelligence community were pressured into inserting the '45 minute' and other claims in the infamous dodgy dossier. So DSTL have acted to prevent their information being used to create another 'dodgy dossier'.

MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

With you. Looks something like that.

PeakDJ on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> If the British government didn't want egg on their faces from overclaiming they could have been more circumspect or clear about the relative weights put on science, intelligence and guesswork. If only someone had suggested a bit more circumspection at the time eh.

Totally agree.  What is there exactly (apart from guesswork) that puts Russia in the frame?  From what I understand, Novichok could theoroetically be made in quite a few places.  It could have been Russia...and to me it looks like we suspect them, but lack any sort of real evidence.  Is there a list of all the labs that could potentially produce the nerve agent and if so, what have we done to rule out the other possibilities?

 

 

 

2
Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> Not really. A dodgy foreign secretary. I’m terms of Russian involvement I don’t think this changes anything. It does make the U.K. look stupid. Again.


  Well, Boris seems to have most explicitly overstepped the mark (yup, probably lied) but the government has said "there can be no doubt" that Russia and its government is the source  or words to that effect, and seem to have convinced many major allies of that.

  So why couldn't the Porton Down guy make his point internally (that Porton Down alone could not finger Russia) and insist on a clarification form Boris or May? Or maybe he did and they wouldn't?

  

MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   So why couldn't the Porton Down guy make his point internally (that Porton Down alone could not finger Russia) and insist on a clarification form Boris or May? Or maybe he did and they wouldn't?

Well exactly. I can’t see a civil servant coming out well dealing with May and Johnson when asking for a clarification.

 

Andy Johnson on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Clarence:

> As a civil servant he has a duty to the people to tell the truth

As a civil servant he had a duty to do what he was told. Either he was badly briefed, or he accidentally went off-message, or it was deliberate and pre-arranged.

I suspect the second option. As a scientist he'll be aware that the nerve agent is just a chemical. Unless the sample contained additives that were deliberately included to indicate its source ("taggants" - very unlikely) or it was contaminated with something natural that points back to the environment of the place hat it was manufactured (unlikely, and it will have been contaminated by exposure to the environment in Salisbury) then a chemical analysis alone won't identify the source of any sample. I think he just got a bit honest.

If the government reaction had been a bit more organised and coherent then I could believe if was pre-arranged. But no.

Post edited at 19:36
1
summo on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to PeakDJ:

> Totally agree.  What is there exactly (apart from guesswork) that puts Russia in the frame?  

There could be a whole mountain of intelligence that will ever be made public, or none at all. Mid way through an investigation it's very unprofessional for a head of department to be making comments on tv. Imagine if they actually find an assailant and there is a trial. I can only presume he was looming forward to retiring early. 

 

2
Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> Well exactly. I can’t see a civil servant coming out well dealing with May and Johnson when asking for a clarification.


  Which raises the question of why the government went after Russia with all guns blazing. Surely they've got enough on their plate without choosing an argument with Russia on dubious grounds? Especially since it seems that as Home Secretary May fought hard to soft peddle over the Livtenko and other cases.

Stuart en Écosse - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Jesus. Maybe he has a smidgen of ethical integrity. You can look that up if you want to.

Bellie on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to PeakDJ:

It started out that way, with Amber Rudd claiming they were going to look into things correctly and not jump the gun. Then within a few days, sadly the politics kicked in and May and Johnson raced ahead of the evidence. It seemed to be knowledge early on that PD were unhapppy on being pushed to say things they couldnt be sure of.

Interesting that going on Rudds first assertions, they knew with Russia's usual denial rhetoric, they would be better getting all facts to make it less easy for them to muddy the waters with counter claims. However thats all lost now, and when Corbyn at the time called for evidence to be gathered and procedures followed he was called down as a traitor.  Since May and Johnson stepped in and trampled all over Rudd's approach, she seems to have been sidelined and is very quiet. 

 

MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   Which raises the question of why the government went after Russia with all guns blazing. 

Because they murdered (almost) two people. Even Corbyn has now agreed they are responsible.

 

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Stuart en Écosse:

> Jesus. Maybe he has a smidgen of ethical integrity. You can look that up if you want to.

When I need your advice I'll ask for it. But don't wait by the phone.

If it were an issue of ethical integrity, given that he was undermining his elected government, he should have resigned.

Post edited at 19:34
25
captain paranoia - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to summo:

> I can only presume he was looming forward to retiring early.

Only been in the job since November last year...

tom_in_edinburgh - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Seriously?   You really think we should be blaming the Porton Down guy for telling the truth rather than Boris for making sh*t up.

As usual Boris opened his mouth without figuring the angles: exaggerating what the science says is not compatible with sharing the science with other countries and agencies.   

1
captain paranoia - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> Which raises the question of why the government went after Russia with all guns blazing.

Look: a squirrel!

jkarran - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to PeakDJ:

I've no idea what's known but given the strength of international response even the redacted version must have been compelling or grossly oversold. My fear is oversold since I can't imagine we've had diplomats discussing what are likely decades deep and still active intelligence operations in foreign ministries across the globe. The known Soviet connection to the toxin is a great calling card but no more than that evidentially.

Jk

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Seriously?   You really think we should be blaming the Porton Down guy for telling the truth rather than Boris for making sh*t up.

>

  No, that's not what I said (not that that usually stops people)

 

Post edited at 19:40
6
MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> If it were an issue of ethical integrity, given that he was undermining his elected government, he should have resigned.

Utter bollocks. His job isn’t to cheerlead the government, it’s to lead PD and provide objective scienctific results for the government. If they are wilfully distorted he is quite right, probably duty-bound by professional ethics in fact, to point that out.

Edit. I’ve just checked the ethical requirements placed on me by my professional body. They include “not knowingly mislead or allow others to be misled”. I doubt science is much different.

Post edited at 19:51
Eric9Points - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   The head of Porton Down's interview seems to have done huge damage to the UK's credibility. Why did he feel the need to be interviewed at all?

When I saw the title of the thread I naturally assumed you were referring to Boris Johnson.

 

Why did we all get the impression that Porton Down *had* traced this poison back to Russia?

MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

> Why did we all get the impression that Porton Down *had* traced this poison back to Russia?

Or that it was likely they could. This is the key point, and it’s entirely Johnsons’s fault.

summo on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

> Only been in the job since November last year...

Ah well. Quick whip round and send him on his way. 

1
summo on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> Utter bollocks. His jobs isn’t to cheerlead the government, it’s to lead PD and provide objective scienctific results for the government. If they are wilfully distorted he is quite right, probably duty-bound by professional ethics in fact, to point that out.

Would agree, but if you are head of a very unique technical department that will certainly be offering it's expertise in an attempted murder investigation. You don't do press interviews telling the world what will be in your police statement. 

 

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> Utter bollocks. His jobs isn’t to cheerlead the government, it’s to lead PD and provide objective scienctific results for the government. If they are wilfully distorted he is quite right, probably duty-bound by professional ethics in fact, to point that out.

>

   He's a government employee of a top secret defence establishment. Just possibly his ethical requirements are not the same as yours?

  I agree his job is not to cheerlead the government. My OP wasn't actually a criticism. It was a musing about why he did it. There are circumstances I can agree it was justified but we don't know what was occurring behind the scenes either in terms of the investigation or his communications with the government.

It's also odd that the media doesn't seem to think that is a worthwhile question.

 

3
summo on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

I would have thought this investigation itself would carry some level security caveat. 

wintertree - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

 

>  He's a government employee of a top secret defence establishment. Just possibly his ethical requirements are not the same as yours?

Reading this and some other posts of yours, I am curious why you apparently think that the classified nature of the R&D means he should be beholden to the government’s political games?  

Saying that PD can’t identify the source of an organophosphate (let alone one likely identified by the products of its natural decomposition), isn’t breaching anything classified - it’s stating what to anyone with an A-level in chemistry is the bleeding obvious.  

That’s what’s so disjointed about this.  I would say that there is no way a government could be so disconnected from its scientific advisors, but the past 15 years (in particular the Iraq dossier and drugs policy) leave me under no illusions what so ever.

Post edited at 20:03
MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>    He's a government employee of a top secret defence establishment. Just possibly his ethical requirements are not the same as yours?

I doubt it. I can’t see his background online but assuming he is a scientist or engineer of some kind, they will be similar.

 

>   I agree his job is not to cheerlead the government. My OP wasn't actually a criticism. It was a musing about why he did it. There are circumstances I can agree it was justified but we don't know what was occurring behind the scenes either in terms of the investigation or his communications with the government.

If he had had revealed that he had had frustrating conversations with Boris when he refused to commit beyond the science, I agree he would be acting unethically. But he hasn’t.

 

Eric9Points - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> Or that it was likely they could. This is the key point, and it’s entirely Johnsons’s fault.

Hmmm, I'm trying to remember why we had all been left with the impression that Porton Down had a made a link between the poison and Russia.

According to Factcheck, BJ only blurted out something that could be interpreted as that during an interview on German television. Did the media start putting  two and two together to come up with five, something along the lines of "it is understood that...." ?

https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/did-boris-johnson-lie-about-porton-downs-evidence-against-russia

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to wintertree:

> >  He's a government employee of a top secret defence establishment. Just possibly his ethical requirements are not the same as yours?

> Reading this and some other posts of yours, I am curious why you apparently think that the classified nature of the R&D means he should be beholden to the government’s political games?  

> Saying that PD can’t identify the source of an organophosphate (let alone one likely identified by the products of its natural decomposition), isn’t breaching anything classified - it’s stating what to anyone with an A-level in chemistry is the bleeding obvious.  

>

    In a sense that was my alternative explanation in the OP: that he simply thought he was stating the bleeding obvious and didn't foresee the  ruckus it would cause.

  It's interesting that people apparently don't think that MOD employees should show any discretion let alone loyalty to a government to avoid undermining it in one of the biggest foreign policy and security issues for a decade.

jkarran - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   I agree his job is not to cheerlead the government. My OP wasn't actually a criticism. It was a musing about why he did it. There are circumstances I can agree it was justified but we don't know what was occurring behind the scenes either in terms of the investigation or his communications with the government.

This is likely just PD getting ahead of IPCW preliminary conclusions with government clearance. That it's embarrassing is Johnson's fault and problem, unavoidable because he's careless. May was notably equivocal as she misled the house and public, they heard what they wanted to hear and those that questioned the wiggle room she left were scorned.

Jk

 

MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>

>   It's interesting that people apparently don't think that MOD employees should show any discretion

Have you listened to the interview? He is very discreet and says nothing more than was already in the public domain. The problem stems from the deleted Tweet.

> let alone loyalty to a government to avoid undermining it in one of the biggest foreign policy and security issues for a decade.

Civil servants aren’t mindless automatons there to blindly parrotthe government line. Should the ONS only publish statistics favourable to government? Or the OBR only positive economic forecasts?

 

Post edited at 20:20
wintertree - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> It's interesting that people apparently don't think that MOD employees should show any discretion let alone loyalty to a government 

Conversley, it’s interesting that some government employees in high up posts continue to hold honesty and integrity as their guiding principles.  
 
I think a lot of discretion was shown in this case, with a very measured and careful statement of facts, no judgment of Borris and an open door to the impact of evidence beside the scientific analysis.  
 
> to avoid undermining it in one of the biggest foreign policy and security issues for a decade
 
I don’t think that the government need any help with undermining themselves.  They set themselves up for an unavoidable fall.  
jkarran - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   It's interesting that people apparently don't think that MOD employees should show any discretion let alone loyalty to a government to avoid undermining it in one of the biggest foreign policy and security issues for a decade.

On the contrary I think they have a duty to when the march toward war is not supported by the evidence it's claimed they produced. I doubt that's what happened here but if it is it's a brave move given how Dr Kelly ended up in similar circumstances.

Jk

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> Have you listened to the interview? He is very discreet and says nothing more than was already in the public domain. The problem stems from the deleted Tweet.

>

  That's why I wonder if he realised the ruckus it would cause.

> Civil servants aren’t mindless automatons there to blindly parrotthe government line. Should the ONS only publish statistics favourable to government? Or the OBR only positive economic forecasts?


It's a national security issue. The comparison is illegitimate on several grounds.

 

4
Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to wintertree:

 

> I don’t think that the government need any help with undermining themselves.  They set themselves up for an unavoidable fall.  

>

  On that you may be right.....

 

MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> It's a national security issue. The comparison is illegitimate on several grounds.

Except it isn’t. He said nothing new.

Interesting how you focus on the behaviour of everyone but those who caused the mess. Who just coincidentally happen to be your tribe in government.

 

The New NickB - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

I thought this was going to be about Boris!

Pursued by a bear - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>  Why did he feel the need to be interviewed at all?

I'm absolutely certain that he didn't seek an interview with the media and would rather not have been interviewed by the media. However, in his interview he has said nothing that isn't already known and refused to speculate beyond his brief. There's nothing to misunderstand.

A question worthy of an answer is who in government - and it would have been a decision taken by a government minister or similar - put him before an interviewer rather than doing the interview themselves?

T.

 

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> Except it isn’t. He said nothing new.

> Interesting how you focus on the behaviour of everyone but those who caused the mess. Who just coincidentally happen to be your tribe in government.

Because everyone is focusing on that. Boris appears to have lied. Possibly the government overall jumped the gun. That's all over the news and there's existing threads on it.

It's a perfectly legitimate question: what was happening that made the PD guy feel the need to highlight this, albeit in a low key way? Or you don't think so?

 

Post edited at 20:34
The New NickB - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Just remember, he serves us, not them!

MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>. Or you don't think so?

Having listened to what he said, not really - it’s a bland restatement of known facts. Although PbaB notes a possibly interesting angle.

 

Post edited at 20:37
Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

> A question worthy of an answer is who in government - and it would have been a decision taken by a government minister or similar - put him before an interviewer rather than doing the interview themselves?

>

  That's even more bizarre. Presumably he could easily turn down a media interview request unless ordered to appear by a political master. So either the political master was deeply naive or he/she was playing a game to undermine Boris. Is that your thought?

 

krikoman - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   The head of Porton Down's interview seems to have done huge damage to the UK's credibility. Why did he feel the need to be interviewed at all?

>   I'm thinking that either he was utterly naive, thought he was saying the obvious and didn't foresee how his message would be interpreted. Or else he felt that the government was misusing the information provided and didn't want to be hung out to dry at a later date.

>   Any thoughts?


You really don't know why he opened his gob?

I would say it's perfectly obvious, and for a few reasons, it doesn't take much working out.

  1. He wants to be honest. I realise this might be a strange concept but it does exist.
  2. What if all this escalates into a proper war, would you like to be the one who said it was the Russian's, when we all know it can't be pinned down.
  3. What if it turns out to be some other country but using the Russian cookbook?
  4. Why should he keep his gob shut, and let other people put words in it which aren't facts.
  5. What about his reputation in the scientific community, we all know Boris' reputation, and it's not a good one. Would you let Boris speak for you, telling people you'd told him something you hadn't?
  6. He might not want to end up another David Kelly.
  7. Integrity.

I could go on.

How come you're not blaming Boris for this, he's the one telling lies FFS!!

Some might think you're trolling simply from the naivety of the question you've asked.

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> >. Or you don't think so?

> Having listened to what he said, not really - it’s a bland restatement of known facts. Although PbaB notes a possibly interesting angle.


So, as I suggested in the OP, he just didn't see the impact it would have? Perefectly possible, even likely, given he is a scientist not a politico. But presumably he touched base with the government beforehand? Or maybe not?

Pursued by a bear - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

No. I just think it wasn't fully thought through. Saying it's deeply naive is too strong.

T.

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to krikoman:

 

> How come you're not blaming Boris for this, he's the one telling lies FFS!!

> Some might think you're trolling simply from the naivety of the question you've asked.

>

  Actually you could be trolling from the naivety your answer shows. He's the boss of a secret defence establishment. You're probably unfamiliar with the old saw that a "diplomat's job is to lie for his country" . He's not a diplomat but nor is he an 18 year old student who wants to "stick to the man". That's the way that world works.  If in your fairyland everyone in government went around blurting out whatever they felt like whenever because they thought they were "right" then foreign policy and security would cease to function. He knows that even if you don't.

So it raises a legitimate question of why, rather than covering his arse internally, he went public.

It's great if that question wouldn't be required in your fantasyland.

You may not have noticed but we have about three threads a day pointing out that Boris is a dishonest a**eh*le. I know it's great being one of the crowd but really, we know that. We don't need anotherthread pointing it out.

 

Post edited at 20:57
11
Pan Ron - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to FactorXXX:

> If the Agent did come from Russia, then Boris is probably still in trouble and May might sack him as the sacrificial goat. 

Given Putin's general demeanour, his willing extension of a middle finger on anything from Ukraine and the Malaysian Airlines flight to posturing in the Baltic, if we have any desire to appear vaguely "strong" and "unified", May's best approach would be to sack nobody and merely continue along as if the lack of evidence changes nothing.  Its what Putin would do.  

We have been talking for ages about "muscular responses" and putting Putin in his place for all manner of indiscretions.  Yet its abundantly clear we can't do, or are unwilling to do, anything decisive either militarily or economically.  We aren't even willing to slap down the most visible excesses of Russian gangsterism that our own government welcomes in the more salubrious areas of London. 

Putin denied wrong-doing anyway.  Why not simply pretend as if nothing has changed, point vaguely to "other evidence", and be no less antagonistic and awkward as we have been to date (which isn't much).  Give no hint of apology and contrition, and give him no quarter.  Its not as if Putin would do differently himself, so why not be just as bloody minded?

Post edited at 20:57
elsewhere on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   The head of Porton Down's interview seems to have done huge damage to the UK's credibility. Why did he feel the need to be interviewed at all?

The Head of PD said nothing that wouldn't be known to his counterparts in other countries. They too will know what can and can't be determined from a sample. Hence he said nothing that his counterparts hadn't already said to their governments.

He probably said nothing he hasn't already said to his counterparts as otherwise they'd be briefing their governments that the UK position is bollocks and the Head of PD doesn't know what he's talking about.

Do you really think maintaining a position everybody knows is false is better for our credibility?

 

Post edited at 20:56
krikoman - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> > How come you're not blaming Boris for this, he's the one telling lies FFS!!

>   Actually you could be trolling from the naivety your answer shows. He's the boss of a secret defence establishment. You're probably unfamiliar with the old saw that a "diplomat's job is to lie for his country" . He's not a diplomat but that's the way that world works. 

> You may not have noticed but we have about three threads a day pointing out that Boris is a dishonest a**eh*le. I know it's great being one of the crowd but really, we know that. We don't need anotherthread pointing it out.

Well you shouldn't have started another one, should you?

The last time this sort of shit happened we went to war, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 people lost their lives, and are still dying because of it.

How many deaths is too many for a scientist to keep quiet for? And how long is it before someone comes for you because they know that you know it was a lie?

 

1
Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to elsewhere:

> The Head of PD said nothing that wouldn't be known to his counterparts in other countries. They too will know what can and can't be determined from a sample. Hence he said nothing that his counterparts hadn't already said to their governments.

> He probably said nothing he hasn't already said to his counterparts as otherwise they'd be briefing their governments that the UK position is bollocks and the Head of PD doesn't know what he's talking about.

> Do you really think maintaining a position everybody knows is false is better for our credibility?

 

  It's another interesting idea. But if every counterpart knows that (they no doubt do) , they also know that they are not the arbiters of government policy or statements.

Most of the UK's major allies have supported the UK stance, despite the likelihood, as you say , that their own scientists pointed out that the science couldn't prove responsibility.

So the scientists can just say, either the UK government is misusing scientific evidence, in which case presumably their governments would not support the UK, or there is other convincing evidence. In which case the fact that Boris and maybe others have muddied the difference is hardly a big issue to them

 

krikoman - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Here's one, perhaps he's found something that points to some other country being involved.

And yet the whole world has already been told it was Russia, never mind that he was urging caution; it was Russia and it could only be them. Now on top of that you've got Boris telling the world it was HIM who told him it was categorically the Russians and couldn't be anyone else.

Would you still keep you gob shut then?

Maybe he knows more than we do and would rather not end up like Dr. Kelly.

My money is on truth and integrity, both in short supply these days, sadly.

1
Jim Hamilton - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

> According to Factcheck, BJ only blurted out something that could be interpreted as that during an interview on German television. Did the media start putting  two and two together to come up with five, something along the lines of "it is understood that...." ?

I'm not sure Factcheck have got their facts right. Did he actually say "They do" in the interview, as they allege?  He obviously  didn't want to answer the question directly - there was a long diversionary spiel,  by which time his "no doubt" line could then relate to pretty much anything! including what the nerve agent was, rather than where it came from.

Post edited at 21:07
Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to krikoman:

> Well you shouldn't have started another one, should you?

Which is why I didn't.

> .> How many deaths is too many for a scientist to keep quiet for? And how long is it before someone comes for you because they know that you know it was a lie?

>

    So you think that a major war is imminent  and that the PD is in a position to know that the Russian government was not actually responsible and therefore has a responsibility to undermine the government's credibility  to stop a war? There was simply no ethical alternative?

 

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to krikoman:

> Here's one, perhaps he's found something that points to some other country being involved.

> And yet the whole world has already been told it was Russia, never mind that he was urging caution; it was Russia and it could only be them. Now on top of that you've got Boris telling the world it was HIM who told him it was categorically the Russians and couldn't be anyone else.

> Would you still keep you gob shut then?

>

  I think I'd demand that government clarified the position and if they didn't I would have no choice but either to clarify it myself or resign with a clear implication that I believed the government had misused the analysis PD produced.

 The former, possibly, is what happened.

krikoman - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> Which is why I didn't.

>     So you think that a major war is imminent  and that the PD is in a position to know that the Russian government was not actually responsible and therefore has a responsibility to undermine the government's credibility  to stop a war? There was simply no ethical alternative?

I have no idea where this might end up and neither do you, would you be the bloke that let anyone get killed for a lie?

He has a responsibility to the facts, we all do really.

Remember this wasn't his doing, it was Boris.

krikoman - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   I think I'd demand that government clarified the position and if they didn't I would have no choice but either to clarify it myself or resign with a clear implication that I believed the government had misused the analysis PD produced.


And supposing you told them that, and they happened to dropped Kelly into the conversation?

It doesn't even have to have any basis in fact that Kelly might have been murdered, you'd still be resigning?

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to krikoman:

> I have no idea where this might end up and neither do you, would you be the bloke that let anyone get killed for a lie?

>

  If I were the Head of a top secret chemical and biological weapons establishment, I think I would have accepted that all sorts of very unpleasant things might happen, including deaths, as the result of my actions. The same goes for senior politicians and military. They've bought into it and only in very very special circumstances would back out.

  That's one of the myriad reasons that I wouldn't want one of those roles but I accept that outside of teenage fantasyland such stuff happens.

2
elsewhere on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Most likely the UK has credibility at the level of the briefings between scientists and between intelligence agencies because at that level they talk sense.

As you say, at the level of FS they don't take what Boris says too seriously.

There's the possibility that the Head of PD did exactly what he was told to do by the government in order to restore UK credibility as Boris wasn't man enough to admit he wasn't on top of his brief.

Post edited at 21:35
Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to krikoman:

> And supposing you told them that, and they happened to dropped Kelly into the conversation?

>

  So this is what you think? That the PD guy knew the Russians were not involved and therefore the government was raising the diplomatic stakes (well actually about to go to war) on the basis of a pure lie. When his argument  against this was ignored, and he threatened to spill the beans (which everybody knew about anyway), he was threatened with concrete overboots?

Well, it's another interesting idea.

Post edited at 21:22
Jon Stewart - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> If it were an issue of ethical integrity, given that he was undermining his elected government, he should have resigned.

I've not scrolled down to see what others made of this unbelievably stupid remark, but Christ up a drainpipe, were you on crack when you wrote that?

Post edited at 21:23
captain paranoia - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> I can’t see his background online but assuming he is a scientist or engineer of some kind, they will be similar

Originally an electronic engineer.

krikoman - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   So this is what you think?

I have no idea, and neither do you.

So why do you think it's possible to judge him, when once again, it was Boris that open the whole can of lies.

Is simple integrity not enough? Or is that fantasy too far for you?

krikoman - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   If I were the Head of a top secret chemical and biological weapons establishment, I think I would have accepted that all sorts of very unpleasant things might happen, including deaths, as the result of my actions.

Is there no way he could believe his work is for saving lives?

The recent thread about Trident seemed to support the retention of Trident to prevent war, maybe he thought the same of chemical and biological weapons.

 

Deadeye - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

My take is:

- overwhelming likelihood that Russian.  It's an agent they invented and are known to hold. 

- however, one could never say with 100% certainty that a particular chemical was produced in a particular place as it's synthesized.  Only that the synthesis is difficult and not widely known, and that very few places hold the agent.

- faced with a waddling, quacking bird, Boris has decalred it a duck.  probably reasonably but ultimately a bit ineptly.

- there's a large amount of shrouding of capability going on.  PD have shown ability to identify small traces of agent - including fine differences in coincentration and characterise it to the point where it's narrowed the field significantly.  It's possible that, with the daughter's miraculous recovery, we have also shown ability to somewhat counteract it.  And I suspect there's background intelligence that moves the suspicion of russia from very probable to nigh on certain... but the Government can't risk disclosing those strands.

- PD chap is now being leant on by the intenrational investigation to provide evidence - and is restating what got lost in the noise.

- the international community know all this and won't be shocked that it's not "officially" traceable.

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> I've not scrolled down to see what others made of this unbelievably stupid remark, but Christ up a drainpipe, were you on crack when you wrote that?


No, what would you think if the British ambassador in Moscow came out in public and undermined British foreign policy? What do you think would happen to him?

13
Wiley Coyote2 - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   If I were the Head of a top secret chemical and biological weapons establishment, I think I would have accepted that all sorts of very unpleasant things might happen, including deaths, as the result of my actions.

Since the UK is pledged not to use chemical or biological weapons I think he might feel entitled to think his work is purely defensive

 

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to krikoman:

> Is there no way he could believe his work is for saving lives?

>

  Of course, but he also knows that he work in a murky world full of lies and distortion. It seems to be broadly agreed that what he said what a statement of the obvious which all our allies knew but you appear to be arguing that it was of such import that it would stop WW3 and was therefore ethically imperative.

4
The New NickB - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> No, what would you think if the British ambassador in Moscow came out in public and undermined British foreign policy? What do you think would happen to him?

It would probably depend what Boris has just done!

Jon Stewart - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

It would depend entirely on

1. what the truth was

2. The consequences of the options (staying silent, piping up with the truth, lying to align with policy)

I suspect you agree with me? 

What made me spit my tea all over the keyboard was your assertion of the *primary, ethical* principle of towing the government line. It's batshit crazy, especially from someone who I don't usually associate with admiration for stalinist regimes!

MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   Of course, but he also knows that he work in a murky world full of lies and distortion. 

What gives you that idea? Secrets perhaps but I doubt PD are much into  lies.

 

Bob Hughes - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Craig Murray, former ambassador to Uzbekistan , wrote six days ago that his FCO sources had told him PD was feeling uncomfortable about the pressure being put on them to say I was definitely Russia. If true, it suggests Gary Aitkenhead gave the interview deliberately to st the record straight on their involvement. 

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/03/of-a-type-developed-by-liars/

 

1
Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> It would depend entirely on

> 1. what the truth was

> 2. The consequences of the options (staying silent, piping up with the truth, lying to align with policy)

> I suspect you agree with me? 

>

  Yes basically i do. My real question is why he felt the consequences of staying silent were such that they offset the impact on UK credibility globally of going public-which even if allied governments recognise that he was saying the obvious, is being spun by the Russians and their mates to undermine the UK.

 

 

1
MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Bob Hughes:

The trouble is, he is 50% batshit crazy, so unreliable as a source.

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> What gives you that idea? Secrets perhaps but I doubt PD are much into  lies.

  I wasn't suggesting PD lies but I'm sure you'd accept the world of such weapons is full of half truths and misinformation and guesswork even if the British are squeaky clean as usual. It's interesting that he decided to take a highly public and disruptive  stand against any ambiguity.

 

 

Post edited at 22:02
2
Jon Stewart - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>  My real question is why he felt the consequences of staying silent were such that they offset the impact on UK credibility globally of going public-which even if allied governments recognise that he was saying the obvious, is being spun by the Russians and their mates to undermine the UK.

I agree it's an interesting question, and I don't understand the ins and outs sufficiently to speculate. It was just the uncharacteristically stalinist line that tickled me somewhat! 

Bob Hughes - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

Possibly. But the fact he wrote it two weeks before (there was a mistake in my first post) the interview gives credence to the theory.

MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   I wasn't suggesting PD lies but I'm sure you'd accept the world of such weapons is full of half truths and misinformation

Err no. Why would I accept that? The whole point of PD and similar is to provide a scientific basis for such weapons and (much more so these days) defence. Maybe you are thinking of MI6?

> and guesswork 

 probayly some of that, yes

 

Post edited at 22:03
Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> I agree it's an interesting question, and I don't understand the ins and outs sufficiently to speculate. It was just the uncharacteristically stalinist line that tickled me somewhat! 

>

 Well, a certain correspondent in Cyprus seems think that I have sublimated (or not so sublimated) authoritarian convictions anyway, so maybe it's true to form

 

stevieb - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Do we know that the head of Porton down chose to publicise this? I saw the sky interview and it seemed more likely to me that he had been pushed into the public eye.  I think the government could easily have prevented him doing the interview. 

In the interview, I thought he tried to give the facts without undermining anyone. By being factual he maintained his credibility. It was Novichok. It was military grade, so definitely developed in an advanced national lab. And the government case was based on other sources, not just chemical analysis. This still leaves the finger strongly pointing at Russia. It cannot be criminals or terrorists.  

I have doubts about the approach by Boris, the press and the opposition, but I thought he played it pretty straight. 

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> Err no. Why would I accept that? The whole point of PD and similar is to provide a scientific basis for such weapons and (much more so these days) defence. Maybe you are thinking of MI6?

   You thinkthat  the origin and design and work on these weapons by all countries including our allies is open and transparent and Mr.PD believes everything he is told about the reasons for the work he is asked to do and that  MI6 would have no communication with PD at all? It's a murky worl even if not so within the walls of PD.

Post edited at 22:11
2
Bogwalloper - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   The head of Porton Down's interview seems to have done huge damage to the UK's credibility. Why did he feel the need to be interviewed at all?

>  

>   Any thoughts?

Because he's a mobile phone salesman and not a f*cking chemical weapons expert.

W

PS - It's Johnson who's doing the damage - not some ex Motorola stooge set up by this wank government.

 

MG - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> > 

>    You thinkthat  the origin and design and work on these weapons by all countries including our allies is open and transparent

No, as I said, secret.

> and Mr.PD believes everything he is told about the reasons for the work he is asked to do and that 

Pretty much. I think you are getting in to fantasy Le Carre land here.

 

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Bogwalloper:

> PS - It's Johnson who's doing the damage - not some ex Motorola stooge set up by this wank government.

>

  Yes, we've got a number of threads including this one pointing that out, but thanks anyway.

 

1
Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to stevieb:

> Do we know that the head of Porton down chose to publicise this? I saw the sky interview and it seemed more likely to me that he had been pushed into the public eye.  I think the government could easily have prevented him doing the interview. 

>

  Very probable but does that mean the government didn't see the PR problem it would cause?

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Anyway, bollocks, that's me back in the top ten posters. Sir Alan owes me some commission for boosting his hits.

Post edited at 22:15
thebigfriendlymoose - on 04 Apr 2018

As a general point, I am a forensic scientist and I often find that the caveats and uncertainties in my technical reports are ignored by solicitors, with my hedged overall view transformed into a "definite".  I completely understand any scientist who wants to forestall being pressured to defend a rickety position.

 

john arran - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> Anyway, bollocks, that's me back in the top ten posters. Sir Alan owes me some commission for boosting his hits.

How can you be sure you're not deterring people?

;-)

stevieb - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

I don’t know. I found it strange that he was giving an interview. Surely it’s easy to give a vague official secrets excuse why the head of your secret weapons facility can’t do tv, but if he was trying to undermine Johnson etc he did it in a very low key manner. 

1
Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to john arran:

A

> How can you be sure you're not deterring people?

>

  Because everytime I open my mouth I get an avalanche of people getting things wrong. 'Twas always the way......

1
captain paranoia - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Maybe you're just rubbish at expressing yourself clearly and unbiguously...

Postmanpat on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

> Maybe you're just rubbish at expressing yourself clearly and unbiguously...


Sometimes. But mainly people hear what they expect to hear. Keeps them busy anyway.

I blame Boris anyway (that's right isn't it?)

3
spenser - on 04 Apr 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Have you seen how the government treats scientists?

They have no regard for the detail and subtleties, I fear there probably wasn't an appropriate politician to be able to whisper into the ear of.

The idea of finding myself working for an organisation likely to end up in this kind of debacle is a huge part of why I left the civil service and moved to the private sector.

NathanP - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Well he was stating the obvious. What did people expect: a little Russian flag or "die traitor, Vlad." written in Putin's handwriting on one of the nerve agent molecules? 

Porton Down identified the chemical compound and can tell us it is difficult to make - the sort of thing only a state could really do. Everything else depends on intelligence information. For conspiracy theorists and Russia apologists that won't be enough.

I don't understand the surprise over this when it was obviously the situation from the start. It was equally obvious from that start that Russia would deny involvement, say nothing is proven and seek to muddy the waters, as they did over Litvinenko, Russian Soldiers in Eastern Ukraine, their BUK missile shooting down MH17, trying to subvert elections and multiple cyber attacks. 

The interesting question is whether Corbyn and Abbott are playing along with the Russian line out of political opportunism to further damage our buffoon of a Foreign Secretary or because they still think its the 70s and Putin is a fellow anti-Imperialist Socialist so they must side with him against the evil West.

1
Postmanpat on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to NathanP:

 

> I don't understand the surprise over this when it was obviously the situation from the start.

>

   Neither, it would seem, did the man frm PD. It's confected surprise.

> The interesting question is whether Corbyn and Abbott are playing along with the Russian line out of political opportunism to further damage our buffoon of a Foreign Secretary or because they still think its the 70s and Putin is a fellow anti-Imperialist Socialist so they must side with him against the evil West.

>

   They side with Putin and numerous other corrupt regimes and organisations because they are not the "evil West". It takes a special kind of self deception.

 (But Boris is horrid)

Post edited at 08:30
4
DubyaJamesDubya - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   Of course, but he also knows that he work in a murky world full of lies and distortion. It seems to be broadly agreed that what he said what a statement of the obvious which all our allies knew but you appear to be arguing that it was of such import that it would stop WW3 and was therefore ethically imperative.

Reading too much spy fiction?

Bellie on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

If you took your blinkers off for a minute, you might realise Corbyn wasnt siding witb Corbyn. In fact in the much criticised speech he praised those Russians who stood up to Putin and suffered fof doing so.  

Perhaps he is guilty of asking a western democracy to act like one. After all this is a criminal investigation. Yet the decision has been cast already. 

But then again, was the opportunity to get the tory ranks to fall in line behind their leader on a national issue too good an opportunity to miss for the PM and her buddies.

My opinion is that we have to be a lot smarter than this to be able to play Putin, and sadly our government jumping up and down like this is giving the Russians exactly what the needed to cry foul.  

I dont agree with Amber Rudd on much but she had it right when she first spoke on the issue.

 

MG - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Bellie:

 

> Perhaps he is guilty of asking a western democracy to act like one. After all this is a criminal investigation.

If by "this" you mean the political and diplomatic reaction, it  isn't a criminal investigation.  That's not how diplomacy works.

 

jkarran - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Jim Hamilton:

> I'm not sure Factcheck have got their facts right. Did he actually say "They do" in the interview, as they allege?  He obviously  didn't want to answer the question directly - there was a long diversionary spiel,  by which time his "no doubt" line could then relate to pretty much anything! including what the nerve agent was, rather than where it came from.

That's a fair assessment. Deliberately vague, deliberately misleading, set someone else up for a fall, failed to correct the interviewer's interpretation of his waffle but didn't actually explicitly lie, typical Johnson. He's not as good at it as May, I suspect because she prepares thoroughly. I'm not sure which approach I dislike more, they're both fundamentally dishonest, corrosive and totally normal in 2018.

jk

jkarran - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   I think I'd demand that government clarified the position and if they didn't I would have no choice but either to clarify it myself or resign with a clear implication that I believed the government had misused the analysis PD produced. The former, possibly, is what happened.

I think most likely the interview and all its revelations will have been pre-agreed with government. If PD can't say for certain where the poison was made (hardly surprising) OPCW likely won't be able to either and they won't hold back their conclusions to spare British blushes. Better the situation is defused now than to be pressed by a respected international organisation into further lying to defend lies or issuing hurried 'clarifications' then throwing someone under the bus as a sacrifice.

Would the government hold together if it lost Johnson, the last truly vociferous defender of the delusional version of brexit left in government? Even Fox sound sane by comparison these days.

jk

Post edited at 09:30
Postmanpat on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Bellie:

> If you took your blinkers off for a minute, you might realise Corbyn wasnt siding witb Corbyn.

>

  Actually, I agree with that.

 

(but Boris is horrid)

Post edited at 09:39
1
GrahamD - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   Yes basically i do. My real question is why he felt the consequences of staying silent were such that they offset the impact on UK credibility globally of going public-

Come on.  UK's credibility is far more dependent on having scrupulous scientific institutes like PD than it is on here today gone tomorrow clowns in the cabinet.

I can't believe that anyone would be stupid enough to evict anyone on BJ's say so unless they already wanted to and they wanted someone as a fall guy (not unlikely).

Pursued by a bear - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> It's interesting that he decided to take a highly public and disruptive  stand against any ambiguity.

In a number of responses in this thread, you've expressed your view that it was a deliberate move by the head of PD to seek an interview with the media.  Whilst I can't say for certain, I'm still pretty damn sure that your view on this point is wrong.

The media will have requested an interview with someone about this and when it was decided - probably in government -  that an interview about this should be given, it'd be a case of choosing the right person to do it.  Someone, and it will almost certainly have been a politician rather than a civil servant or a member of their departmental or PD's press office, will have chosen who would be the appropriate person to give this interview.  

Whilst I have no connection with PD or the corridors of Whitehall, once upon a time I was a press officer for a government science lab.  Things won't have changed so very much since then.

T.

 

Postmanpat on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

> > It's interesting that he decided to take a highly public and disruptive  stand against any ambiguity.

> In a number of responses in this thread, you've expressed your view that it was a deliberate move by the head of PD to seek an interview with the media.  Whilst I can't say for certain, I'm still pretty damn sure that your view on this point is wrong.

>

  That's not actually my view although I acknowledge that is how the OP sounded. The interview, at this stage, looks like a PR mess  so I am interested in why he would give it.

  It's perfectly possible that the government put him forward, in which case it appears that they completely missed the potential interpretation that PD is at odds with the government. Would it not have looked better if a senior memeber of the government had issued a "clarification"?

But Boris is horrid.

krikoman - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

It's a cunning plot by TM to finally get rid of Boris.

 

Either that or, the PD man poisoned the Skripal's as an early April fools joke, to demonstrate how lax security is at PD. Itwas supposed to be a weak variety of nerve agent but he got the bottles mixed up. It 's since got out of hand and now he's trying to take the heat out of things.

Post edited at 11:39
Postmanpat on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to krikoman:

> It's a cunning plot by TM to finally get rid of Boris.

>

  Well, you jest, but it was always my suspicion that Boris gave him a top job in order to give him enough rope to hang himself with. He seems to be well on the way.

PS.Boris is horrid.

jkarran - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   Well, you jest, but it was always my suspicion that Boris gave him a top job in order to give him enough rope to hang himself with. He seems to be well on the way.

Thing is he could hang draw and quarter himself on live TV while accidentally starting a war and killing kittens... May still couldn't sack him. Brexit has made a mockery of us.

jk

Jim Hamilton - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> That's a fair assessment. Deliberately vague, deliberately misleading, set someone else up for a fall, failed to correct the interviewer's interpretation of his waffle but didn't actually explicitly lie, typical Johnson. He's not as good at it as May, I suspect because she prepares thoroughly. I'm not sure which approach I dislike more, they're both fundamentally dishonest, corrosive and totally normal in 2018.

But most politicians will obfuscate when not wanting to answer a question directly.  Johnson's DW interview seemed like a fairly reasonable response on the governments position.  Would you prefer blatant lies and Russian style rhetoric? 

 

1
jkarran - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Jim Hamilton:

> But most politicians will obfuscate when not wanting to answer a question directly.  Johnson's DW interview seemed like a fairly reasonable response on the governments position.  Would you prefer blatant lies and Russian style rhetoric? 

Call me old fashioned but no, I'd prefer the truth, I don't mind if it's wrapped in caveats and nuanced.

That's very different from the modern style of sounding like you're saying one thing while carefully not quite doing so and actually meaning the polar opposite. It's destroying public trust and the consequences are going to be terrible.

jk

Post edited at 13:35
Siward on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

I would have thought that the official secrets act would have forced him to keep quiet, if nothing else. He will have signed it. 

Eric9Points - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>

. Would it not have looked better if a senior memeber of the government had issued a "clarification"?

 

It does seem like the government have just shot themselves in the foot. Time for a change of communications director I suspect.

Yanis Nayu - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

> What he didn't say was that Russia DIDN'T do it. However, as a civil servant he should have kept his trap shut.

Rubbish. 

1
Alasdair Fulton - on 05 Apr 2018

Craig Murray has called out every mis-spoken word and every bit of government sleight of hand in this whole debacle. 

 

His latest:  https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/04/knobs-and-knockers/

1
Pursued by a bear - on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

That's a riot of self-important guff. It assumes, amongst other things, that all that is known is in the public domain; and why should it be?

T.

TobyA on 05 Apr 2018
In reply to Bob Hughes:

You know why Murray is no longer with the FCO don't you?  

Bob Hughes - on 06 Apr 2018
In reply to TobyA:

> You know why Murray is no longer with the FCO don't you?  

Officially: being drunk at work, misuse of a government Land Rover. Unofficially:  speaking out about hunan rights abuses in Tashkent and the U.K. and US governments receiving intelligence which resulted from torture. Worth noting that all but two of the charges originally leveled at him were later dropped. 

As I wrote above, however unreliable he is, he still put his finger on a convincing reason for PD giving this interview, two weeks before the interview happened. 

malk - on 06 Apr 2018
In reply to NathanP:

> Porton Down identified the chemical compound and can tell us it is difficult to make - the sort of thing only a state could really do. Everything else depends on intelligence information. For conspiracy theorists and Russia apologists that won't be enough.

they couldn't identify the variant though? hopefully the OPCW should be able to do this as they have the iranian data (but so does PD?)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novichok_agent

maybe PD needs more novichok samples for variant id research? job for a russian double agent?..hold on..

malk - on 06 Apr 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> If PD can't say for certain where the poison was made (hardly surprising) OPCW likely won't be able to either

why can't PD identify the variant when the OPCW has spectral data for variants in its database?

and why destroy their pets when they could provide useful data?

Post edited at 11:23
Sir Chasm - on 06 Apr 2018
In reply to malk:

> why can't PD identify the variant when the OPCW has spectral data for variants in its database?

Because they don't have data for all variants?

gravy - on 06 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Because credibility is important - something that Boris seems to forget.

1
jkarran - on 06 Apr 2018
In reply to malk:

> why can't PD identify the variant when the OPCW has spectral data for variants in its database?

Has anyone actually said that can't? I wondered too if they might actually say what the material is or is called, mostly out of curiosity.

My guess is they know what the molecule or mixture of molecules was with some certainty, it won't have all been degraded by the time samples were taken for analysis. Whether they have a matching Soviet era name for it seems largely irrelevant and releasing such information would add nothing to the story while potentially revealing something about our (or an ally's) historic penetration of the program that developed the material and likely its successors.

jk

Post edited at 11:10
Postmanpat on 06 Apr 2018
In reply to gravy:

Boris is horrid.

4
captain paranoia - on 06 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> Boris is horrid.

You were complaining that people misunderstood or misrepresented your comments.

But you are just posting childishly now.

No doubt that will be our fault, too.

kipper12 - on 06 Apr 2018
In reply to PeakDJ:

Of course it could have been made across the world; there are a couple of problems to overcome, the availability of precursors and not killing yourself in the synthesis.  In reality many a competent chemist could do the cookery.

Once these agents were revealed to the west, I cant imagine that our scientists didn't create a few mg themselves.  There would be the need to have a sample to develop detection methods for, and to characterize thoroughly.  Hence when we come up against a situation like this we can establish the agent.

Our problem is that without a bona fide sample from the alleged Russian stock it will be well nigh impossible to establish where it came from.

The statement from Porton set out what they know with certainty; going beyond the science is not their role.  If our political masters want to do this, its their responsibility. 

 

Postmanpat on 06 Apr 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

> No doubt that will be our fault, too.

>

  So you don't think it's Boris's fault? Why not? He's horrid.

 

3
Stuart en Écosse - on 06 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   So you don't think it's Boris's fault? Why not? He's horrid.

Classy level of debate there. You used to be good for an argument. 

Anyway, if you can't beat them...Oh look, never mind Boris, Jeremy Corbyn doesn't have a car! What a bastard. I'll wager he hasn't got a telly either. He should be arrested. Etc.

SpaceCaptainTheodore on 08 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

With any current matters, normal practice in the Civil Service is to establish agreed policy lines on the subject matter. Generally, civil servants submit what's practical/factual and a ministerial representative will check/build-in the government.  Before a media engagement, it would also be very unusual not to have had a briefing or other contribution from a comms official too.   

Civil servants have much less autonomy in terms of what they say to the public than to ministers and tend to keep factual. Obviously, there's a difference between a policy official and someone working in a technical agency but people are generally very aware of what their responsibilities are and the impacts of ignoring them. 

I would be very much surprised if anything that was said departed in any meaningful way from the agreed line, which is why everyone returns to banging the same drum. It seems reasonably clear that Johnson's claims exceeded the scope of advice given and that, in other respects, the line has been consistent. The guy from Porton Down will not have been able to have this interview without approval from the appropriate ministerial department and it's vanishingly unlikely that the status of Russian responsibility was not part of any communications.

The civil servants code requires that public employees are honest, objective and impartial - thus the (carefully stated) response he gave was appropriate.  Part of a civil servant's responsibilities are to protect the interests of current and future governments - others have hypothesised motivations to avoid being  personally associated with the statements made by Johnson, it's also his job to protect the government from all the same associations. 

In consideration of the above, I simply cannot see why anyone would expect a professional with official responsibilities to compromise themselves as you suggest he should. It adds nothing practically or personally. It's when people attempt to exceed their professional competence or to be too clever by half that things start going wrong - as seen now, and attributable to others.

Postmanpat on 08 Apr 2018
In reply to SpaceCaptainTheodore:

I haven't suggest he compromise himself. I don’t know why you infer that I have.I have questioned why, in the context of the guidelines you enumerate, the interview was given.

 

Your conclusion seems to be that it was approved  by the government.

As i pointed out, this raises the question of why they didnt clarify the point themselves which might have avoided a media shitstorm.

8
RomTheBear on 08 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> I haven't suggest he compromise himself. I don’t know why you infer that I have.I have questioned why, in the context of the guidelines you enumerate, the interview was given.

> Your conclusion seems to be that it was approved  by the government.

It obviously had to be approved by the government since civil servants are not allowed to speak to the media without obtaining prior ministerial authorisation from the press office of their department. 

In any case, all he did was mostly to state the limitations of the findings, which in this case  were really no more than a statement of the obvious as far as I can tell.

Your thinly veiled accusations of something along the lines of treason seem completely politically motivated I’m afraid.

Postmanpat on 08 Apr 2018
In reply to RomTheBear:

> Your thinly veiled accusations of something along the lines of treason

>

  Rolls eyes! You've completely misunderstood, not for the first and not for the last time. xx

10
Pursued by a bear - on 08 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Given that you started with a certain point of view which has been subject to various challenges and insights from people who know more about how stuff like this gets done, and it's reasonable to assume that a point of view can evolve or even change as a result, perhaps you could summarise your current point of view to prevent misunderstanding.

T.

Postmanpat on 08 Apr 2018
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

> Given that you started with a certain point of view which has been subject to various challenges and insights from people who know more about how stuff like this gets done, and it's reasonable to assume that a point of view can evolve or even change as a result, perhaps you could summarise your current point of view to prevent misunderstanding.

> T.

I didn't have "a certain point of view". I  gave the two likely possibilities that occurred to me and asked for opinions . Several sensible options were presented but also a number of bloody stupid reactions like "why isn't this thread about Boris?" and the mistaken understanding  that I had "a certain point of view".

I think a likely option now is not that PD man (Aitkenhead?) chose to do the interview but that he was encouraged to do the interview, but whether this was by May, Boris(?), the PR department, the MOD or ANOther I'm not clear since it seems to have been a rather poor decision which resulted in undermining the UK's credibility. I remain unclear.

There is another possibility, that the government decided that undermining the UK's credibility short term was worth it to demonstrate the integrity of PD and the investigation  "process" in the longer term.

 

PS>Boris is horrid

Post edited at 18:47
9
RomTheBear on 08 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   Rolls eyes! You've completely misunderstood, not for the first and not for the last time. xx

Ho no PP, I understood very well, you quite  clearly accused him of undermining the government on a question of national security. 

Which quite obviously he hasn’t done, since all he’s done is to repeat the official line. All it did is to contradict a deleted tweet from the minister. 

And reading this thread, it seems that everybody else got the gist, despite your duplicitous attempts at back pedalling.

Post edited at 19:22
SpaceCaptainTheodore on 08 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Well, you may have chosen that as your position now but lets not pretend that that isn't a wee bit of a moving target for the rest of us.* 

It appears this was always the 'proper' line (it certainly better reflects May's speech) but the administration have rather got carried away with themselves.  Apart from the obvious, the issue comes from having politicians of interests rather than ideas (i.e. I'll cynically harness the notion of your interests to give me the leverage to pursue my own) - Boris and, by necessity, the FCO got well out of hand because the Conservatives' conduct of government is intellectually bankrupt.**

They couldn't change the line because, with foreign scrutiny coming in, it would be evidently dishonest and would significantly damage the credibility of the case. As it is, by refusing to engage and relying on an media that is equal parts craven and impotent, this'll blow over in the UK and they've already committed the other governments to action.

No readjustment would have been necessary with more honest, focussed or competent figures involved. I'm not sure they know what they're trying to achieve either on a smaller or a larger scale. This latter part being the real issue. (I'm sure if pressed May'll say "Ooh, we need to stand up to Russia" jolly good, what does that involve and what do we get?)
 

(*I suspect you genuinely believe what you just said but you fairly blow around with whatever stance'll maintain a veneer of credibility. Sad thing is, it means you're at least half-listening. However, your simultaneous refusal to openly acknowledge and accept any alternative point you suspect of being partisan while ignoring the fact that yours are at least as much so is weak. You'll never feel like you've been wrong, but neither will you ever feel like you've won an argument.)

(**In the interests of fair representation - I'd say this also applies to Corbyn's inner circle - all ideology and emptiness, no practicality no real vision, no engagement.)

Postmanpat on 08 Apr 2018
In reply to RomTheBear:

I am not going to get drawn further in to this as I have lost interest in arguing round in circles with someone who will somehow misunderstand each attempt at clarifying in different ways for 200 posts over the next 3 days whilst ignoring all clarifications in my previous posts when replying to my most recent post

13
Postmanpat on 08 Apr 2018
In reply to SpaceCaptainTheodore:

> Well, you may have chosen that as your position now but lets not pretend that that isn't a wee bit of a moving target for the rest of us.* 

> It appears this was always the 'proper' line (it certainly better reflects May's speech) but the administration have rather got carried away with themselves.  Apart from the obvious, the issue comes from having politicians of interests rather than ideas (i.e. I'll cynically harness the notion of your interests to give me the leverage to pursue my own) - Boris and, by necessity, the FCO got well out of hand because the Conservatives' conduct of government is intellectually bankrupt.**

>

> (**In the interests of fair representation - I'd say this also applies to Corbyn's inner circle - all ideology and emptiness, no practicality no real vision, no engagement.)

  No, there is no back pedalling because there was no firm position to back pedal from; except that the interview appears to have been a PR screw up (except for the possible explanation in my caveat above) . This was clear to quite a lot of posters but others jumped to their own prejudiced interpretations. on the basis of their own agendas. And yes, when people come up with crap "but why aren't you talking about Boris" comments I push back. When they add value I'll engage.

  There was an open question, with a couple of suggested answers and then a discussion of other options: some of which I agreed with, some of which seemed unlikely, and some of which I played devil's advocate to argue one way or the other. Sort of like, you know, a discussion.

 

The, "he was asked by government to clarify the situation or given their approval to do so" always seemed a tenable explanation when it was raised but still raises the question of why they chose that way to do it-which I raised myself.

 

Boris is horrid.

 

 

Post edited at 20:05
8
felt - on 08 Apr 2018
In reply to malk:

Have you checked your email?

RomTheBear on 08 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

As usual with you, when it’s been politely pointed out to you by several people that you’ve got the basic facts wrong, instead of simply being happy with having learned something new, you switch to personal attacks, sidestepping, or backpedaling.

Maybe you should listen to what SpaceCaptain said above, although my hope that you do is faint.

“However, your simultaneous refusal to openly acknowledge and accept any alternative point you suspect of being partisan while ignoring the fact that yours are at least as much so is weak. You'll never feel like you've been wrong, but neither will you ever feel like you've won an argument.)”

Post edited at 22:07
1
Postmanpat on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to RomTheBear:

> As usual with you, when it’s been politely pointed out to you by several people that you’ve got the basic facts wrong, instead of simply being happy with having learned something new, you switch to personal attacks, sidestepping, or backpedaling.

>

   I'll bite, although I know I shouldn't.

  No facts were wrong, so you are factually wrong. The OP was what we call a "question". The fact was that the interview damaged UK credibility. That  fact  is perfectly compatible with a conclusion that the government approved it in order to clarify their position.

People, including yourself, simply projected their own expectations or prejudices on the OP and replied accordingly.

 

PS. Boris is horrid.

Post edited at 08:58
4
MG - on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

The title to your OP and your question were hardly neutrally phrased were they?  They were clearly implying the head of OP was out of line.  Given your repeated (over years) dismissals of the civil service's competence and your utterly loyalty to Tory governments, this butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth "it was just a question" line doesn't really wash.

1
Postmanpat on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to MG:

> The title to your OP and your question were hardly neutrally phrased were they?  They were clearly implying the head of OP was out of line.  Given your repeated (over years) dismissals of the civil service's competence and your utterly loyalty to Tory governments, this butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth "it was just a question" line doesn't really wash.

  It's a slang phrase that you chose to infer in a particular way. It would appear (unless you adhere to "it was for the best in the long term" view that I suggested) that the interview was a mistake so the term seems appropriate.

The view that I am "utterly loyal" to Tory governments is maybe the nub of the problem. I simply generally think they are better than the others, but am often critical, although less so on UKC because anti Tory is  rather a consensus position of the drones.

Post edited at 10:20
7
RomTheBear on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>    I'll bite, although I know I shouldn't.

>   No facts were wrong, so you are factually wrong. The OP was what we call a "question". The fact was that the interview damaged UK credibility. That  fact  is perfectly compatible with a conclusion that the government approved it in order to clarify their position.

No, PP, as others and I have pointed repeatedly, you got this simple, basic fact wrong.

All he did was to repeat what was the official government position.

No, the interview did not damage the U.K.’s credibility, far from it, it was all about repairing the damage Boris had done to it when he departed from the official line in his now deleted tweet. 

Ho and your dishonnest backpedaling, trying to pretend this was all just a neutral question, nobody has bought it. 

Post edited at 10:49
RomTheBear on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> The view that I am "utterly loyal" to Tory governments is maybe the nub of the problem. I simply generally think they are better than the others, but am often critical, although less so on UKC because anti Tory is  rather a consensus position of the drones.

 

UKC is not as anti-Tory as you think, amongst the active posters there is a wide variety of views. It’s a story you like to tell yourself, in all likelihood because it’s easier to paint UKC as a bunch of fanatic left-wingers than actually listening, and trying to learn something from alternative views.

Post edited at 11:00
1
Postmanpat on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to RomTheBear:

> No, PP, as others and I have pointed repeatedly, you got this simple, basic fact wrong.

> All he did was to repeat what was the official government position.

>

  Crap. He may well have repeated the official government position, although that position was unclear which may be why he was approved to give the interview , but the interview damaged UK credibility (with the possible caveat I included above). That much was broadly agreed across the media and jumped upon by the Russians. It's perfectly possible for him to be repeating (in fact clarifying) government policy but also for UK credibility to be damaged by PD being the channel used to do it. This of course was discussed openly in the thread but you apparently missed it.

 

 I'll take no advice from you on failing to read what is written (your forte) and dishonest posting (another strength of yours).

Post edited at 11:25
6
jkarran - on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   Crap. He may well have repeated the official government position, although that position was unclear which may be why he was approved to give the interview , but the interview damaged UK credibility (with the possible caveat I included above).

The Foreign Secretary getting significantly ahead of the science has damaged UK credibility. Reporting the limitations of the science before OPCW do is just damage limitation. Johnson may well have been taking an informed and calculated risk that with time and work the science would catch up with the intelligence or he may have be technically illiterate, deaf to warnings and reckless but the facts were always going to come out once there were other agencies involved so at best it was a gamble that may have paid off or may have backfired horribly depending how informed or mislead our allies feel. My money is on reckless since May was much more circumspect, clearly working from foundations she knew were weak. It's not Porton Down that have seriously dented UK credibility, it's our government and the loose cannons they're shackled to by brexit.

jk

Bob Hughes - on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> The Foreign Secretary getting significantly ahead of the science has damaged UK credibility. Reporting the limitations of the science before OPCW do is just damage limitation. Johnson may well have been taking an informed and calculated risk that with time and work the science would catch up with the intelligence or he may have be technically illiterate, deaf to warnings and reckless but the facts were always going to come out once there were other agencies involved so at best it was a gamble that may have paid off or may have backfired horribly depending how informed or mislead our allies feel. My money is on reckless since May was much more circumspect, clearly working from foundations she knew were weak. It's not Porton Down that have seriously dented UK credibility, it's our government and the loose cannons they're shackled to by brexit.

While broadly-speaking I agree, and I have no time for Boris Johnson at all, I think the interesting question in Pat's post is: put yourself in the position of the government head of communications immediately after BJ's interview / FCO deleted tweet but before PD's interview. What is the thought process that leads you to: "I think it is a good idea for the head of PD to do a TV interview", knowing that setting the record straight on what PD was able to confirm will certainly do some damage to government credibility and rather more damage to BJ's credibility. You can argue that BJ shouldn't have over-reached in the first place but the Head of Comms didn't have the luxury of BJ not shooting his mouth off. The decision they had to make (assuming this went through them) was "I'm going to take a short-term hit for a longer-term gain (and sign off on the interview)" or "I'm going to avoid the short term hit and hope that, longer term things don't turn ugly (and block the interview)". 

 

 

1
Postmanpat on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to jkarranIt's not Porton Down that have seriously dented UK credibility, it's our government and the loose cannons they're shackled to by brexit.

>

   A shitstorm followed the PD interview. Boris screwed up/lied/jumped the gun but the situation was salvageable. The PD interview appeared to aggravate the situation rather than ameliorate it which rather suggests that it wasn't the best way to clarify the confused messages coming out of government, making it look, as it did, that PD and the government were at odds. So I wondered why it happened. Jesus, it was an idle musing not a statement of philosophical principle let alone a defence of bloody Boris (on whom I've often made my feeling clear).

 

 

 

9
RomTheBear on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> It's perfectly possible for him to be repeating (in fact clarifying) government policy but also for UK credibility to be damaged by PD being the channel used to do it.

Again, no, the UK' credibility wasn't damaged by a credible official simply repeating the obvious and supporting the official government's line.

I note that you went from "why did he open his gob", accusations of him being naive or covering his back, to him just "being the wrong channel" in a far-fetched absurd argument you cobbled together after on long-winded backpedalling exercise.

It would be shorter and easier if, in light of the facts, you simply said that indeed, the interview didn't do anything to damage the Uk's credibility, the damage was done when Boris sent his unfortunate tweet, and it's rather sad that they had no choice to send the head of Porton Down to go and pick up the pieces.

>  I'll take no advice from you on failing to read what is written (your forte) and dishonest posting (another strength of yours).

And the personal attacks for good measure... your usual last refuge.

 

Post edited at 13:32
Postmanpat on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to RomTheBear:

> Again, no, the UK' credibility wasn't damaged by a credible official simply repeating the obvious and supporting the official government's line.

>

It was.Obviously.

> And the personal attacks for good measure... your usual last refuge.

>

  Don't play the snowflake Rom. You're always happy to throw abuse around. I do it occasionally to those who start  it and since in your case it's very often, as on this  this thread,  I usually don't engage. I should have stuck with that.

 

15
RomTheBear on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> It was.Obviously.

Just repeating the same absurd falsehood won’t make it true.

No, PP, a credible official repeating the official government line, that is not what has undermined the UK’s credibility.

>   Don't play the snowflake Rom. 

I think we have bingo...

 

1
Postmanpat on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to RomTheBear:

> Just repeating the same absurd falsehood won’t make it true.

> No, PP, a credible official repeating the official government line, that is not what has undermined the UK’s credibility.

>

  I think you need to start checking the headlines and media coverage following the interview.

"Absurd falsehood", my arse. You have always had problems understanding what people write but this takes the biscuit. I'm wasting my time trying to get you to acknowledge the blindingly obvious. Have a nice day x

5
RomTheBear on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   I think you need to start checking the headlines and media coverage following the interview.

Yes, and all we can see in the media coverage, is that the PD interview just put into stark relief Boris’s incompetence.

It is Boris’s incompetence that caused a damage to the U.K.’s credibility, not some official just repeating the government’s line to avoid the government having to embarrass itself by rebuking one of its minister directly.

> "Absurd falsehood", my arse. You have always had problems understanding what people write but this takes the biscuit. I'm wasting my time trying to get you to acknowledge the blindingly obvious. Have a nice day x

Nope, it was perfectly transparent what you’ve done. You’ve been trying to backpedal the whole way through this trivial argument.

Timmd on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

Boris Johnson over egged the pudding in what he said, and the Porton Down guy just told the truth.

Postmanpat on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Timmd:

Yes, but that doesnt amswer the question. See by b how ghes post.

Post edited at 15:03
4
Postmanpat on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to RomTheBear:

You’re just being an irritating twerp for the he sake of it. Get on with your work.

Post edited at 15:28
6
Timmd on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

> Yes, but that doesnt amswer the question. See by b how ghes post.

In my humble opinion, any questions relating to him not keeping his gob shut, enter into moral grey areas, with keeping to the truth of things being morally proper. 

If democracy, and a better world, and all the things we wish for, have truthfulness as their building blocks, then he did the right thing, I think.

I think it isn't as if we're lacking credibility with him having told the truth, on looking at the steps other countries have taken. We might have lost ground in the 'war of words', but I think that's less important than credibility with other friendly countries who have taken steps against Russia, with whom the war of words isn't too important - I would suggest. Whatever Russia says or try to imply, following what the chap from Porton Down has said, I don't think it's going to wash with out EU friends and other countries.

If by some slim chance it does turn out not to have been Russia behind what has happened, he'll have done the right thing, too...

Post edited at 16:26
mutt - on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

are you a russian troll?

 

captain paranoia - on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to mutt:

> are you a russian troll?

Is that one of those trolls where, if you open it up, there's another troll inside, and another troll inside that, and...?

Dave Garnett - on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   The head of Porton Down's interview seems to have done huge damage to the UK's credibility. Why did he feel the need to be interviewed at all?

Rather belatedly I've done the minimal amount of research required to establish that Gary Aitkenhead is not really 'head of Porton Down' in the sense of being a chemical weapons boffin but is the CEO of DSTL, the umbrella company that tries to commercialise MOD research.  He's a marketing and commercial guy, not a scientist. 

krikoman - on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Rather belatedly I've done the minimal amount of research required to establish that Gary Aitkenhead is not really 'head of Porton Down' in the sense of being a chemical weapons boffin but is the CEO of DSTL, the umbrella company that tries to commercialise MOD research.  He's a marketing and commercial guy, not a scientist. 


Bravo All the more reason to be telling the truth.

Bob Hughes - on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Rather belatedly I've done the minimal amount of research required to establish that Gary Aitkenhead is not really 'head of Porton Down' in the sense of being a chemical weapons boffin but is the CEO of DSTL, the umbrella company that tries to commercialise MOD research.  He's a marketing and commercial guy, not a scientist. 

According to this DSTL provides scientific services to the rest of MOD and the British government 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/643221/Generic_factsheet_FINAL.pdf

 

jkarran - on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

> Is that one of those trolls where, if you open it up, there's another troll inside, and another troll inside that, and...?

It feels like it sometimes but I think technically that'd be a stroppy-troll.

jk

Dave Garnett - on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Bob Hughes:

> According to this DSTL provides scientific services to the rest of MOD and the British government 

Yes, it's what's called an executive agency, which is a kind of semi-autonomous arm of government (like what used to be called the Patent Office or the Met Office) which delivers services to the MOD and other government agencies whilst trying to commercialise its IP (through Ploughshare) and run various joint ventures (I used do some IP work for Porton Down).

The point I was trying to make was that Aitkenhead isn't likely to be a conscience-driven loose-cannon David Kelly-type scientist.  He is likely to be a skilled, commercially-aware communicator but is unlikely to have a detailed knowledge of nerve agents or the investigations occurring at PD or Winterbourne Gunner.   

 

captain paranoia - on 09 Apr 2018
In reply to Dave Garnett:

As I said earlier, he is originally an electronic engineer. His career has advanced into commercial management, at which he seems to have been rather successful. I would imagine part of that success is the result of listening to people working for him, and being able to grasp the essentials of the topic in hand. As such, I am pretty sure that he presented an accurate summary of the information presented to him by the 'boffins' who work 'for him'...

malk - on 16 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

interesting development (if true):

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/skripals-skripal-russia-nerve-agent-bz-novichok-poison-salisbury-attack-latest-update-a8304841.html

BZ toxin would explain the delayed response and eyewitness accounts better than novichok..

Post edited at 08:50
MarkJH - on 16 Apr 2018
In reply to malk:

> interesting development (if true):

> BZ toxin would explain the delayed response and eyewitness accounts better than novichok..

 

It's a ludicrous claim (even by Lavrov's standards) which lacks internal consistency.  At the basic level, it requires the UK to have access to large samples of the specific novichock nerve agent named in order to contaminate the bodies and the environmental sites (keeping in mind OPCW sampling protocols) .  However, instead of using their stocks of this nerve agent to poison the Skripals, they opt to use a substance that Russia does not have access to and then conduct a cover up after the event, but still knowing that the original agent would be present in samples collected by the OPCW labs.

Therefore, it requires most of the OPCW labs to be part of the conspiracy.  A small enough matter compared to the rest.  It also requires the NHS staff treating the pair to be in on the conspiracy as the atropine that that they claimed to have administered would likely have killed them if it was BZ rather than a novichock.  I suspect that this is just spin of epic proportion over a relatively small methodological or technical component of the analysis that is specific to a single lab.  The lab in question have responded about as strongly as they possibly can to the claim within the constraints of the OPCW rules.

https://twitter.com/SpiezLab/status/985243574123057152

Post edited at 12:12
Big Ger - on 16 Apr 2018
In reply to Postmanpat:

 

> PS. Boris is horrid.

Boris for PM!!

 

2
MarkJH - on 18 Apr 2018
In reply to malk:

> interesting development (if true):

> BZ toxin would explain the delayed response and eyewitness accounts better than novichok..

 

As of today, even Sputnik news are now reporting that the the result that formed the basis of Lavrov's claim was likely due to a positive control that was sent to the lab along with the test samples.  If so, it  looks like a deliberate and extremely cynical attempt to plant seeds of doubt with regard to the OPCW's work and integrity.  Presumably he knew that the truth would come out in time, but also judged (correctly??)  that the technical details of test protocols are less exciting to the general public than a vast international conspiracy.

It is astonishing to me that anyone still gives credence to a word that he says . Not aimed at you, by the way; I realise that you did qualify the claim in your post.

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201804161063626247-uk-skripal-case-toxin-positive-control-not-lethal/

 

off-duty - on 18 Apr 2018
In reply to MarkJH:

Now confirmed as a positive marker by OPCW.

I'm not entirely sure what conclusions can be drawn regarding Russian credibility....

Post edited at 20:07

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