'Russophobia British Gov’t Encouraged is Beginning to Boomerang' – Ex-UK Envoy

© Sputnik / Justin Griffits-Williams / Go to the photo bankAmesbury, UK
Amesbury, UK - Sputnik International
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said it is deeply disturbing to see two British citizens, who remain in critical condition in hospital, poisoned by the Novichok nerve agent. While the UK's Security Minister has stated that the Amesbury poisoning was not a targeted attack but a contamination by Novichok and not linked to the Skripal case.

Sputnik has discussed this with Peter Ford, former British Ambassador to Syria.

Sputnik: The British media has already accused Russia of the poisoning despite there being no proof, what do you think are the main reasons for that?

Peter Ford: Well, it's certainly embarrassing for the British government on more than one level. First of all, it seems as such an amazing coincidence, again it’s a man and a woman, again it was within a few miles from the Porton Down chemical research facility. You go on social media and you find many, many British people are deeply sceptical about anything the government says in the entire matter, not just about this latest incident, but about the earlier incident with the Skripal pair. In fact, this whole Skripal saga appears to be backfiring on the British government. It's become an embarrassment, even the BBC were putting ministers into uncomfortable positions trying to defend the government's apparent failure to keep people safe. Really, it’s becoming a bit of midsummer madness. It’s not helping the British government at all, they may be beginning to regret that they pointed the finger at Russia in the first place.

Sputnik: Do you think that they could actually revoke their previous accusations or make an official apology?

Police officers guard outside a branch of Boots pharmacy, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018 - Sputnik International
Laboratory Confirmed Amesbury Couple Was Affected by Novichok - Scotland Yard
Peter Ford: No, they’ve gone too far out on a limb. They’re in a hole, and they are digging themselves deeper and deeper into the hole and another coincidence as well — it is happening just as Russia is having good press because of the World Cup. Again, this contributes to the scepticism of many people. It looks to many people like it might be an attempt by somebody who wishes Russia ill, to spoil the football party with the World Cup.

Sputnik: We never got the complete results and the evidence to link Russia to the first Skripal poisoning and now we have the second one, do you think that there’s going to be an attempt to connect this with Russia this time around as well?

Peter Ford: Well, the government are saying that the police investigations must take their course and this could take weeks or months. So it looks like they’re trying to push the ball into the long grass and hoping that the whole subject will go away and be quietly forgotten, given the apparent impossibility of finding conclusive evidence establishing the guilt of Russia. Of course, the government are being careful not to pursue other lines of inquiry, all the evidence that I have seen in the public domain is consistent with an attempt on some third-party to frame Russia, very similar to what we witnessed in Syria with repeated fabrications of evidence to show that Syria has been using chemical weapons.

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Sputnik: It’s very strange that in both cases, the Skripal case and the second case. Okay, the Skripals at least had some kind of Russian link and there was reason to believe that there might be something else going on because he was a person who was returned by the government for being a double agent, but in this case there’s no links to Russia. There is no reason to believe that these people could’ve had any reason to be targeted. Also in both cases they were not fatal and if we're talking about a military grade nerve agent, shouldn’t contact with that be fatal?

Peter Ford: So many inconsistencies in the government’s story, it’s hard to know where to begin. They tried to scare people by saying that it was this deadly, contaminating agent that could be fatal to entire populations, and they’re left with the embarrassing fact that originally two people were hurt, they had bad stomach attacks but have recovered. So on every level it’s embarrassing for the government. Now this time, they may be right, that what’s happened is whoever carried out the Skripal attack threw away the syringe, and these two unfortunate people in Amesbury happened to pick it up. There are other theories which are also consistent with the evidence such as the fact that this could be another deliberate attempt to incriminate Russia. It is just impossible to say, this is not preventing the British government from going on record and pointing yet again the finger at Russia.

Sputnik: Has anybody officially pointed the finger at Russia in this case?

Peter Ford: The government is being a bit cautious. They are saying that Russia must have done the Skripal poisoning; this latest incident is linked to that. So even if the latest poisoning was not deliberate, not targeted, nevertheless Russia is responsible, because of the fallout from the first incident. Even the government has woken up to the fact that public opinion just will not buy anymore straightforward empty accusations.

Sputnik: How damaging is this for Theresa May?

British police officers stand facing a residential property in Amesbury, England, Wednesday, July 4, 2018. - Sputnik International
UK Recklessly Linking Moscow to Amesbury Without Proof - Ex-Intelligence Agents
Peter Ford: I think there is a mounting theme, been particularly in the media to blame May. May is extremely vulnerable. She has been completely obsessed with Brexit in the recent months and appears to have no time for anything else. She exudes an aura of incompetence all around. Now she’s going to be blamed for the absence of British football fans, which was very much noticed in the Colombia match because the Colombians far outnumbered the British. The British government had discouraged them from going to Russia because of hooliganism. This is all beginning to boomerang on the government now and they must be regretting the Russophobia which they have encouraged and I thought that President Putin’s suggestion that May might attend the next match was really just turning the knife in the wound.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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