STOP PRESS 10th April: News is breaking that Yulia Skripal has been released from hospital and taken to a ‘secure location’, conveniently out of the way of journalisrts who might awkward questions.
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Two days ago I suggested that the Skripal case was becoming as strange as the Sherlock Holmes case in which a dog did not bark.
By coincidence, now we have a cat and two guinea pigs in the mix. Police detective Nick Bailey found the animals when he searched the Skripal house on 4th March .
Police only looked at them again on 17th March. That was almost two weeks after their first search.
Shockingly, the neglect meant the guinea pigs had starved and dehydrated to death. Astonishingly, the Guardian reported: ‘Sergei Skripal’s cat and guinea pigs die after police seal house.’ It went on: ‘A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the dead guinea pigs and a “distressed” cat were discovered when a vet was able to enter Skripal’s home, which had been sealed off during the police investigation. Defra said it believed the guinea pigs had died of thirst.’
Under a headline that a Sun sub-editor obviously thought was highly amusing, ‘Atrocity killed the cat‘, the Sun newspaper lays out a plethora of detail. But if any atrocity killed the cat it was that of the police leaving the poor animal and the two guinea pigs in the Skripal home for thirteen days with no food or water.
The Good Book says: Proverbs 12:10 A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
RSPCA cool with animal cruelty
This is indeed neglect and animal cruelty. But to date the RSPCA, usually so quick to denounce cruelty to animals and take pet owners to court, have exercised restraint to a fault.
We called Nicola Walker, senior press officer, South East England,. Miss Walker emailed us the following statement: ‘A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “It is very sad to hear that these animals have died in such tragic circumstances. However, we appreciate the emergency services were working in extreme and dangerous conditions in an incredibly fast-moving operation in an attempt to keep the public safe. We don’t currently know the details of what happened but, as part of our ongoing working relationship with police, we would like to see if there is any learning for future operations.” ‘
We received the same wording from Suzanne Norbury, the RSPCA’s South-West Press Officer. Nevertheless, ‘Emergency services … working in extreme and dangerous conditions … incredibly fast-moving operation … an attempt to keep the public safe’? It’s a string of shallow excuses. It’s nonsense. And it comes, not from the police themselves, but from the royal body supposed to prevent cruelty to animals.
Mr Howard Taylor, the Skripal’s Salisbury vet, told The Sun on 17th March: “We phoned the police on day one to offer to help if they needed it. I thought it unlikely the police would have gone to the house and not done anything.” The police, with hundreds of officers in Salisbury, had plenty of opportunity to pop round to the house, even in their bio suits, to pop some water and food out for the Skripal pets. But they didn’t.
Animal Welfare Act
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 places a duty (Section 3) on ‘a person responsible for an animal whether on a permanent or temporary basis.’
Under Section 4, (Unnecessary suffering) ‘A person commits an offence if (a)an act of his, or a failure of his to act, causes an animal to suffer,’ and ‘(b) he knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the act, or failure to act, would have that effect or be likely to do so,’
Under Section 9(1), ‘A person commits an offence if he does not take such steps as are reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which he is responsible are met to the extent required by good practice.’
Paradoxically, the police have a power under Section 18 to take virtually any steps ‘to alleviate the animal’s suffering’. Here they already had access to the premises and were themselves responsible.
Under Section 30, ‘A local authority in England or Wales may prosecute proceedings for any offence under this Act’ within six months of there being a prosecution case. So can the RSPCA, The penalties include a £20,0000 fine and / or 51 weeks in prison. Under Section 57, not only a body corporate may be prosecuted, but its officers.
Wiltshire Police were in control when DS Nick Bailey went nto the Skripal home. But soon after, the Metropolitan Police took over. So both Wiltshire Police Acting Chief Constable Kier Pritchard and the Met’s Commissioner Cressida Dick should be in the dock. But unless some public-spirited individual brings a private prosecution (and we are thinking about it) it looks as if they will simply get away with criminal conduct.
The Sun reported that Howard Taylor ‘said of Mr Skripal: “He was a nice chap and we got on well. He never said he was in fear for his life. He used the vets for some years and I had seen his cat and his guinea pigs.”’
Following the news of the deaths of the animals, the veterinary practice has been so bombarded with media interest it has put up a statement refusing to say any more. In two crucial paragraphs, on its website, the statement says:
We contacted the police straightaway upon hearing the news that Mr Skripal had been admitted to hospital, and a number of times afterwards, to make them aware of Mr Skripal’s pets and their needs.
We contacted Porton Down – in case the animals may have been taken into isolation. We also offered to take care of Mr Skripal’s pets in his absence. We were never contacted by the police or Porton Down in return regarding Mr Skripal’s pets.
The Vets Salisbury say they contacted the police ‘a number of times’. They kept reminding the police about the pets’ existence and their needs. The police did nothing.
Van Drake was starving
The Police now say they found the cat, an expensive Persian named Nash Van Drake, starving. A vet at Porton Down put him down. DEFRA said: “A cat was also found in a distressed state and a decision was taken by a veterinary surgeon to euthanise the animal to alleviate its suffering.
“This decision was taken in the best interests of the animal and its welfare.”
That is frankly indefensible. This is someone else’s beloved household pet. Why was no attempt made to get hydration and nutrition into Van Drake? Vets do this to farm animals all the time. How can it be in an animal’s ‘best interests’ and ‘its welfare’ to make no attempt to save it?
The guinea pigs had died of thirst. Now it becomes even more strange. Porton Down should have passed the carcasses to the OPCW for testing. Indeed, the Sun’s 17th March report quotes sources. These say the animals were taken away ‘for tests.’ Instead, our illustrious scientists threw them in the incinerator for fear, as the Sun reported on 5th April, of contamination from ‘the deadly nerve agent Novichok’. That is frankly ridiculous. It is as if Porton Down has no isolation facilities. Or as if the lab never tested a dead guinea pig before. (Down the years it has experimented on thousands, by all accounts.)
News forced out
One explanation is that the Government did not want these animals either alive or even for their carcases to be examined. And then, they only released the news they were dead after Russian diplomats raised the whereabouts of the animals. Being forced into releasing bad news is not the way to manage it.
Crazily, The Sun reported back on 17th March merely that the animals had been taken away. No-one from the police or DEFRA admitted at the time two of them were already dead and the third on the ropes.
Mr Skripal’s vet, Howard Taylor, says he phoned the police as soon as he heard Sergei had been found poisoned. He told the police about the pets inside the house. He even offered his assistance. Mr Skripal’s rare Persian cat was worth around £1500. He had also spent a small fortune bringing it and the guinea pigs from Moscow. Indeed, that he was able to do so hardly tells us the Russian state was vindictive towards him. We also read that the police took away Nash Van Drake on 17th March. Yet only now have they told us the feline was found in a distressed state and put down.
Sergei is improving rapidly
On top of that, Salisbury Hospital has been bounced into admitting Sergei Skripal is on the mend. That followed a phone call between Yulia and her cousin Viktoria in Moscow. During it, Yulia said ‘everyone’ was ‘ok’. There was initial scepticism around the phone call. Most commentators now accept is was genuine. But Yulia revealed her phone was disconnected and she was borrowing one. Why is that?
So it is that we come to know, according to the BBC, that Sergei Skripal is now ‘improving rapidly’.
The story is getting out of control. Moreover, it is getting out of the control of the British authorities. We have Yulia Skripal recovering and talking to here cousin. Sergei is off the critical list. Novichok was supposed to be highly deadly and kill within minutes in minute quantities. Either it’s not as good as they said. Or maybe the Skripals were not exposed to very much at all. Maybe the fear-mongering which has cost Salisbury shopkeepers thousands of pounds in lost revenue was all for show.
Or maybe it wasn’t even Novichok which poisoned the three people affected. Earlier, Stephen Davies, the Salisbury hospital consultant went off message to say no-one was affected by a nerve agent and only three people, the Skripals and DS Bailey, poisoned. Then, the head of Portion Down broke ranks. And now we have the family’s vet casting doubt on the police account of the pets. Worse, he has painted them as either incompetent or callous or both.
Refusing Viktoria a visa is callous
On top of that, the callousness of our government extends to refusing to grant Viktoria Skripal a visa to visit her cousin in hospital. The excuse here appears to be that she cannot satisfy some financial requirement. For goodness sake, we’ll crowd-fund that.
Or in the alternative, as the Guardian reports: ‘“It appears the Russian state is trying to use Victoria as a pawn,” a government source told the BBC, adding: “If she is being influenced or coerced by the Kremlin, she has become another victim.” ‘
The truth is, Mrs May does not want anyone visiting Yulia Skripal and telling her story outside the authorities’ control. Hence the peculiar ‘statement’ issued ‘on behalf of’ Yulia asking for privacy, which we have already covered, here.
In a further twist, we read here on Reuters that the Government are considering giving Sergei and Yulia Skripal new identities in New Zealand or the US. They would be safer there, we hear. They would also be conveniently out of the way of the few independent-minded journalists who might want to grab their story.
The same goes for Yulia in this ‘secret location’.
And now, Viktoria Skripal has done her chances of securing that precious UK visa no good at all. She has been telling the Daily Telegraph Yulia wants to return to Moscow. She has also insisted what we were all told was a chemical attack on the Skripals in Salisbury was really a bad case of food poisoning. Naturally, repeats the Telegraph: ‘in the last few days there has been even speculation that Viktoria Skripal is being manipulated by the Kremlin.’
Well, the OPCW is due to report any day now. Our Government is already preparing to say it has ‘intelligence’ if the OPCW comes to the wrong conclusion. Sadly, the well of ‘intelligence’ was poisoned sixteen years ago by ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and ’45 minutes’
In fact Sky News points out Viktoria’s food poisoning suggestion came just hours before she was denied a visa by the UK Home Office. Even if she is totally off-message, did the United Kingdom not at one stage believe in basic decency? All the others might be behaving badly. But we British would play the game. We should do what was right, even if it cost us. Where did that high-mindedness go? Journalist Marina Hyde, writing in the Guardian, even suggested that Boris Johnson was not just Post-Truth but Post-Shame.
Mrs May: ‘Believes in justice and rule of law’
It is not Boris Johnson alone who is ‘post-shame’. As John Helmer reports:
‘Prime Minister May told parliament on May 12 that “as a nation that believes in justice and the rule of law, it is essential that we proceed in the right way – led not by speculation but by the evidence. That is why we have given the police the space and time to carry out their investigation properly.” No details of the investigation or the evidence collected have been released officially to the public; nor the measures taken to secure the chain of evidence for admissibility, if the perpetrators of the attack are identified and a prosecution eventuates.
‘Instead, May announced in the House of Commons on March 14 the conclusions of the investigation. To explain the poisoning of the Skripals, parliament was told officially, “there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter”. The poisoning, said May, was “an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom.” ‘
And you thought ‘gay-marriage’ and abortion were the only things wrong with Britain today? Our leaders now cannot tell the truth. Moreover, they feel no shame in falsehood:
Isaiah 59:14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
This United Kingdom needs top-to-bottom national repentance right now.
But back to animal neglect. Why has there been an almost total media blackout on #VanDrakeGate? You would expect journalists from the nationals swarming over what is a shocking twist in a convoluted story. But there has been hardly anything. Will nobody hold these people to account?
Dead Guinea Pigs tell no tales. Incinerated ones, even fewer.
By the way, the dog did not bark because it knew the perpetrator of the deed.
Keep praying the truth will come out. And by God’s grace it will.
Job 5:12 He (Almighty God) disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise. 13 He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong. 14 They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night. 15 But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty.
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