The BBC’s new drama “The Salisbury Poisonings” concluded over the weekend. A three-part story “based on actual events”, claiming to tell the story of the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in 2018.
It’s exactly what you’d expect. Schlocky tat. Poorly researched, badly written and woefully factually inaccurate.
The Guardian gave it four stars. Because of course they did. Because when you’re dealing with government-backed narrative everything that reinforces it must be described as having value. It’s one of the hallmarks of propaganda, that no story which supports the propaganda – however ridiculous – can ever be questioned, criticised or disputed.
There’s room for an in-depth review, and indeed Craig Murray has done a fine job deconstructing the series. But here, I just want to focus on everything they don’t tell you.
Here are five key facts the BBC simply forgot to mention.
1. ALISON MCCOURT
Alison McCourt and her family were walking in Salisbury town centre when they came upon the Skripals convulsing quietly on a park bench in the early afternoon. They were, supposedly, the first people to discover the pair, and Alison and her family stopped to provide aid. Her daughter Abigail was given a special award.
There’s no reason for the BBC to omit this information.
Except that Alison’s full name is Colonel Alison McCourt OBE. And she’s the Chief Nursing Officer of the British Army.
Maybe the BBC thought that the Chief Nurse of the British Army strolling past during the (alleged) first-ever use of a “military-grade” nerve agent was just too unlikely to be believed. Which is fair.
Craig Murray, with his usual dry humour, likens it having James Dyson knock on your door asking for directions just as your vacuum cleaner breaks down. But it’s actually quite a lot less likely even than that. After all, Dyson vacuum cleaners do exist, and lots of people do own them, but – until March 2018 – “novichok” was entirely hypothetical.
Novichok didn’t officially exist in the real world at all, until it popped up just yards away from one of the few people trained to deal with it.
Weird the BBC wouldn’t mention it. But it gets weirder.
2. TOXIC DAGGER
Toxic Dagger was a military training exercise involving the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and 40 Marine CommandoBrigade. It trains special forces on how to deal with chemical, biological or neurological weapons.
Toxic Dagger ran from February 20th – March 12th 2018.
Sergei Skripal was “poisoned” on March 4th 2018.
The DSTL headquarters is in Salisbury.
That Russia should attempt to use a neurological agent to assassinate a former double agent right smack dab in the middle of a neurological weapons training exercise is unlikely. That it should also happen in the same city where the exercise is taking place apparently proved too much for the BBC to handle.
Best to just ignore it.