Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov
The regurgitation by most of the British media of claims made by Bellingcat, that Ruslan Boshirov is in reality a decorated Colonel of the GU, marks a new low in the already low standards of journalism in this country.

I don't want to spend my time going through Bellingcat's claim. I have no idea whether it is true or not. However, I will say that if the purpose of the report was intended to prove to discerning people that Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga and Ruslan Boshirov are one and the same person, it failed miserably. If, on the other hand, the intention was to hoodwink less discerning people into thinking that the connection had been proved, then it was a fine job. Regardless of whether or not Boshirov turns out to be Chepiga, all Bellingcat essentially did was make an inconclusive photographic connection, and then proceed to treat readers to a biography of Chepiga, as if it had just been proven conclusively that he is Boshirov. Which it hadn't.

Another point to note is that even if it turns out that Boshirov is really Chepiga, although this would prove that he didn't tell the truth in his interview with RT, and that Vladimir Putin misled when he said that the two accused men are civilians, would it actually prove the central claim against him? As a reminder, this is that between 12:10pm and 13:30 on 4th March, he walked up to the house of Sergei Skripal at 47 Christie Miller Road, Salisbury, and applied a high purity, military grade nerve agent to the door handle of the front door in an attempt to assassinate Mr Skripal. In this Post-Truth society we find ourselves in, many apparently believe it would. But this is not so.

Footage of Boshirov or even Boshirov/Chepiga walking up to Mr Skripal's house, and applying a substance to the door handle, filmed by the CCTV camera that Mr Skripal, as an active MI6 asset and potential assassination target, would almost certainly have had installed somewhere on his house might do it. But an image of a prostitute-cavorting, dope-smoking, coin-shopping Boshirov, or even a prostitute-cavorting, dope-smoking, coin-shopping Boshirov/Chepiga, 600 yards away from Mr Skripal's house, walking constantly together with his chum, under cover of daylight, and looking like he's auditioning for the "World's Worst Impersonation of a Spetsnaz Colonel on a Mission to Kill with a Deadly Nerve Agent," is unlikely to convince the impartial and enquiring mind.

But I digress. The real point I want to make is that the media ran with this story as if it were proven fact. What is more, they don't even seem to have checked with The Metropolitan Police to see whether they think it's credible. You know, that's the guys who have spent thousands of man hours and millions of pounds on the case and who made the initial claims about Boshirov and Petrov.

To my knowledge, although the media seem to have treated the Bellingcat claims with the same importance as they might do official claims, The Met itself has maintained a conspicuous silence. So too has the Government, although in a fit of squiffy, boyish excitement, Gavin Williamson got a bit ahead of himself and Tweeted the claim as if it were proven fact, only to delete it a few minutes later, presumably when someone in his school tuck shop pointed out to him that Bellingcat is not officially in charge of the investigation and their claims had not been corroborated. Detention task for Gavin: Write out 100 times, "Must engage brain before endorsing unverified assertions and treating them as fact."

Not for the first time in this case, I am - as the King James Version would put it - astonied. Not only has Her Majesty's Government ridden roughshod over the rule of law in this case by recklessly rushing to judgement before the investigation had properly begun; not only has The Met put out clearly suspect, inconsistent and incomplete timelines; and not only has the media consistently refused to ask even the most basic and obvious questions on this case, but it now seems that the unverified and utterly uncorroborated claims made by a blogger are to be treated as if they were official statements of fact.

We really are reaching a new and dangerous phase in the disintegration of the country formerly known as Great Britain. Having seemingly forgotten basic concepts of justice, logic and reason, we now appear to be losing our collective marbles. We are run by a collection of pettifogging middle managers, whose hero seems to be Governor Gumpas from the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and who mix extreme levels of incompetence with an inability to either ask or answer basic questions in plain English, and whose role it seems is to obfuscate, confuse, and muddy waters, rather than clarify and seek the truth. And now we have a subservient media, who have steadfastly refused to ask the questions that have urgently needed to be put to The Met and the Government from day one of this case, taking a blogger's unproven claims and regurgitating them without question.

It's the road to totalitarianism folks, and we're careering down the fast lane.

But let's see if another blogger writing about this case can get the media to show some interest. Here's something that should be of interest to them, since it involves their integrity being called into question not by the likes of me, but by The Met itself.

Every single one of the early media reports that looked into the movements of the Skripals on the afternoon of 4th March stated that they went to Zizzis first, then the Mill. The reason they said this was because the journalists that were sent to Salisbury interviewed a number of people who had been in those venues, and their testimony agreed. You can read more on that here. Yet the Metropolitan Police, in their timelines of 13th and 17th March, reversed this order.

There really are only two possible explanations for that: either all those reports and witnesses were wrong, or The Met is wrong. Which is it? Won't someone who wrote one of those early pieces ask The Met why they have ignored their report and the testimony of numerous witnesses?

Just supposing there's a journalist out there who is willing to stop scraping the bottom of the barrel to ask this, allow me to arm you with ten more that you may as well ask The Met while you're at it:
  1. Do you have footage of Boshirov and Petrov any closer to the Skripal house than Wilton Road, especially that taken by a CCTV camera at Mr Skripal's house?
  2. Why was one of the images of the two men coming into Gatwick doctored (as shown convincingly here) and how does this instill confidence that the other images have not been doctored and that the times that have been added to them are correct?
  3. What were the two men doing between 13:08 on 4th March, when they were at Summerlock Approach, and 13:50:56, when according to The Met timeline, they were at Salisbury train station - a distance of less than five minutes?
  4. Does The Met endorse Bellingcat's claims about the real identity of Boshirov, and if so, why did The Met, with all its resources, not make this discovery?
  5. Why did it take two weeks to get in touch with the families of the three boys who received bread from Mr Skripal's allegedly contaminated hands on 4th March?
  6. Why was the duck-feeding incident left out of the timeline presented on 17th March?
  7. Can you now update the timeline of 17th March to include the movements of the Skripals on the morning of 4th March?
  8. Can you confirm whether Mr Skripal and Yulia were out of his house at 12:10pm on 4th March, and if so, do you have evidence showing that they returned prior to 13:30?
  9. When will Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey appear in public to speak about his part in the events of 4th March?
  10. Assuming Sergei Skripal is not dead, can it be confirmed that he endorses The Met's claims as to what happened to him and his daughter on 4th March, and if so, will he shortly be making a public statement, with members of the media able to question him?