A week ago the British media were full of reports from the usual anonymous sources of a breakthrough in the Skripal case.
Allegedly the British authorities by comparing CCTV pictures from Salisbury and details of travellers to and from Britain had been to identify the persons who were supposedly responsible for the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal.
These stories came with further stories of a Russian James Bond style assassin – "Gordon” aka "Mihails Savickis” – who together with his team had supposedly carried out the attack.
The stories about "Gordon” aka "Mihails Savickis” came with a bizarre identikit picture supposedly of him, which was too ridiculous to take seriously.
In an article I wrote for The Duran on 24th April 2018 I expressed skepticism about these claims
…….it looks to me as if despite all the claims to the contrary the police investigation of the Skripal case has made little actual progress. The British seem to have little more knowledge of who carried out the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal and why than they did when the investigation began. Could it possibly be because they are looking in the wrong place?
Testimony by Sir Mark Sedwill, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s National Security Adviser, to the House of Commons Defence Committee on 1st May 2018 has now revealed that all the claims about a breakthrough in the Skripal case – not to mention the claims about "Gordon” aka "Mihails Savickis” – were (as I suspected) nonsense.
Here is how Sir Mark Sedwill’s testimony is reported by The Guardian
Police and intelligence agencies have failed so far to identify the individual or individuals who carried out the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, the UK’s national security adviser has disclosed.
The comments by Sir Mark Sedwill punctured hopes that the police and other security agencies had pinpointed suspects but were withholding the name or names from the public.
Asked by an MP at a Commons defence committee hearing if he knew the individuals responsible, he replied curtly: "Not yet.”
Sedwill, who coordinates the work of the MI6, MI5, the surveillance agency GCHQ and others, did not elaborate but among problems that have hampered the agencies is a lack of CCTV coverage in Salisbury compared with London. Known Russian spies based in Britain have also been investigated and ruled out.
In other words the investigation is going nowhere and has drawn a complete blank.
All this comes hot on the heels of suggestions – which are very likely true – that the wall of silence which has recently descended on the British media’s reporting of the Skripal case is the product of a British government D-Notice, ie. of a formal request by the British government to the media to limit their coverage of the Skripal story on grounds of national security.
It has also been suggested that despite formal denials the most likely reason for the D-Notice is the desire of the British authorities to conceal a possible connection between Sergey Skripal, his former MI6 controller Pablo Miller, and Christopher Steele, the compiler of the Trump Dossier.
There are even suggestions that Sergey Skripal may have had a hand in producing the Trump Dossier, and that this was the reason for the attack on him.
Whilst all this may be true, I have to say that Sergey Skripal – identified as a British spy by the Russians in 2004 and isolated from Russia in the leafy British town of Salisbury since 2010 – seems an unlikely source for the Trump Dossier, largely fictitious though that strange concoction is.
Moreover speculation that it was Skripal’s connection to the Trump Dossier that was the cause of the attack on him and that it is what has provoked the D-Notice – assuming it even exists – is for the moment pure speculation unsupported by fact.
To my mind a much greater cause for immediate concern is the fate of Sergey and Yulia Skripal.
On 11th April 2018 Yulia Skripal – supposedly now sufficiently recovered from the effect of the attack on her – was discharged from Salisbury Hospital.
The British police released a statement from her which spoke warmly of her family and of the attempts of the Russian consulate to contact her, but which at the same appeared to reject their offers of help.
As many have pointed out, this statement was clearly written by a native British speaker and not by Yulia Skripal herself, though it probably does reflect at least some of her views.
By way of example, the warm words about her family and about the Russian consulate in the statement appear to contradict earlier reports that she was intending to claim political asylum in Britain and had become hostile to Russia.
Since then we have heard nothing directly from Yulia Skripal at all, and there is no information about her whereabouts.
Instead we have heard at second hand and from the usual anonymous sources the strange story from a week ago of her unsuccessful attempts since her discharge to contact her fiancé Stepan Vikeev in Russia.
Meanwhile of Yulia’s father Sergey Skripal we have heard nothing since 7th April 2018, when he was reported to be recovering strongly.
There is however no information about his present condition, though he is still presumably a patient in Salisbury Hospital. I say this because there is no word that he has been discharged.
The Skripals – father and daughter – have for the time being vanished into a memory hole.
That is something which should be concerning, and the fact that there are no reports about it in the British media does suggest that a D-Notice exists, and moreover that it is principally about them.
If so then then given that a D-Notice is supposed to be used only in matters which affect national security, that is a very remarkable fact indeed.