Thursday, 5 April 2018

Where Is The Government's Evidence?

I intensely dislike Putin's regime in Russia.  That regime has undoubtedly been responsible for murdering its opponents.  In considering the murder of the Skripals, I start from a tendency, therefore, to believe that Putin's regime is responsible.  But, were I a criminal prosecutor, in what is actually a criminal case, I certainly would not be prepared, on that flimsy basis, to arrest a suspect, let alone to commence a criminal case in court.  That requires that some substantial evidence of guilt be provided.  The question remains, following the lies that the government told about Porton Down having confirmed to them that Russia was responsible, where it the government's evidence?

If we begin by looking at this case for what it actually is, an attempted murder, i.e. a criminal act that is the responsibility of the police to investigate, and consider it in the way any other such criminal act would be investigated, and reported, we find some strange differences in the way this particular criminal offence is being handled, and reported.  In any other such criminal act, if government ministers were to stand up in Parliament, and point the finger of guilt at someone, prior to anyone actually being arrested, let alone tried and convicted, there would be uproar.   Moreover, what seems to have been different in this case, is that we have heard next to nothing from the police, whose job it is to investigate criminal acts.  Compare the police response to this act with, for example, the response of the police when, as happened in the last few days, someone is stabbed, or when someone is shot, or subject to an acid attack.  In those instances, within a short period of time, the police appear on our TV screens to provide background information to the attack, to ask for witnesses of the potential attackers, to provide information about suspicious people seen in the vicinity of the attack, reports of vehicles, and so on.  Yet, a month after the attack, we have heard nothing from the police on any of these things, there has been no appeals for witnesses of suspicious people or vehicles in the vicinity of the potential sources of the attack.

Given that the latest information is that the highest concentration of nerve agent was on the Skripal's front door, that lack of appeals for witnesses, or information about suspicious individuals or vehicles near to the Skripal's house seem most peculiar.  After all, given how lethal this nerve agent is, even in small does, if allowed into contact with the skin, wouldn't the person who presumably applied it to the Skripal's front door have been rather conspicuous?  Would they not have needed to ensure their own safety by being well protected by appropriate hazmat clothing, as they then spent time walking up to the Skripal's front door, and then, by whatever means required, applied the offending material?  Is it not likely that, even if the Skripal's themselves were somehow unaware of this peculiarly garbed individual approaching their front door, and then disappearing again, that one of their neighbours would have done so?

Now, maybe all this is, in fact, the case.  Maybe the police have undertaken such investigations; maybe they have spoken to the Skripal's neighbours who have given the police details of the car used by the attacker, and given them a detailed description of the attacker themselves, but, in that case, why is this information not being disclosed to the public, as it would have been in every other such criminal case?  Why are the police not using such information to seek support from the public in identifying the actual identity and whereabouts of the attacker?

If the government want to convince us that they have actual evidence of who is guilty why have they not made this police evidence available?  Instead, the government claims that the evidence they have is not of this kind, but is "secret" intelligence evidence that they cannot share with us, because it is "secret" intelligence information.  But, the clue to the nature of evidence is given in the meaning of the word itself.  Evidence should be "evident", in other words, it should be open, transparent and obvious.  Evidence that is secret, and undisclosed is no evidence at all, it is merely an appeal to faith.  But, given that, even in this instance, the government itself has lied about what it was and was not told by Porton Down, and given the history of lying by this government over Brexit, and other issues, and given the history of lying by the state over the Iraq War and so on, why would anyone, with any sense, act on the basis of pure faith in the word of such a government?

What is even more peculiar is that, if the government really does have intelligence information that proves, beyond doubt, who was responsible for the attack, it should be even easier for them to gather and produce the police evidence to back that up.  In the event of a normal murder, or other such attack, the police have the problem of identifying potential suspects, by gathering information, from the ground, of who was seen where and when, doing what.  In the modern world, as anyone familiar with crime drama series will be well aware, the police are helped in that task by the fact that our streets and town centres are covered in CCTV cameras, along with traffic cameras, and so on.  It is not difficult using all of this extensive surveillance to track the movement of a particular vehicle from one place to another.  Moreover, given the use of GPS chips in mobile phones and other such equipment, its possible to track the movement of someone's phone and so on.

Now, the government claim that they know who is responsible, from their "secret" intelligence information.  In that case, the biggest part of the police's work has already been done for them.  Rather than having to start from the Skripal's front door, and examine CCTV and other surveillance camera images for vehicles in their road, or nearby, at the time that the nerve agent must have been deposited on the door, and then trace the ownership of those vehicles, before pulling in the potential suspects, the police could simply be told who the guilty party was.  After all, not even the government is claiming that Vladimir Putin, in person, came over to commit this act.  The secret intelligence information they have, if it amounts to anything substantive, must have told them who it was that was acting as Putin's agent, when and how they entered the country, to commit the attack, and what vehicle etc. they were using to get to Salisbury.

All the government had to do, therefore, was give this "secret" intelligence information to the police, who could then have done the simple task of checking out the CCTV pictures to identify the vehicle of the culprit, to show its trajectory, towards the Skripal's house, even if there were not cameras able to place it directly in their road, and then to send around the Sweeney, or the armed police to pick up the terrorists.  That, after all, is what they do in every other terrorist incident, where they go to pick up, for example, Islamist terrorists, who are then shown on these copious amounts of CCTV footage, and with all of the GCHQ chatter of phone calls, and so on, then released, to back up the evidence.

But, we have had absolutely nothing of that kind from the police or the government.  If the government are so absolutely 101% sure that they know who is responsible, and have the evidence to prove it, why have we not seen it?  Until we do, Jeremy Corbyn has again been proved 100% right, again, in being wary of simply accepting the word of the Tories, as they shoot from the hip, and his detractors in the Right of the Labour Party, and in the Tory media, like the BBC, which ludicrously, a month ago, on Newsnight, photoshopped him to be standing outside the Kremlin, for having the temerity to challenge the government, which is after all the job of the Opposition, have again been proved 100% wrong, and the spineless sycophants we have come to expect them to be.

No comments: