It is a basic tenet of British law that the accused are innocent until proven guilty. And yet when it’s Russia in the dock, that seems irrelevant.
Top Tory ministers have squarely accused the Kremlin of the Novichok poisonings in Wiltshire, and the mainstream media has been awash with unknown sources and so-called “experts” claiming they have reasons to believe Russia is involved.
In a refreshingly articulate piece in the Guardian, however, former Times editor Simon Jenkins called out the government over its baseless allegations.
While it is disappointing that it took a MSM journalist so long to reach such an elementary conclusion, it is still comforting that a piece entitled “If the Novichok was planted by Russia, where’s the evidence?” has finally made it to print.
Jenkins, who also worked as an editor for the Evening Standard, raises points that, in truth, a primary school kid would conceive. Ergo, why on Earth would Russia attack its own citizens just before hosting the World Cup, which, Jenkins said, is of “mammoth chauvinist significance” to the country?
“I suppose I can see why the Kremlin might want to kill an ex-spy such as Sergei Skripal and his daughter, so as to deter others from defecting,” the former Times and Evening Standard editor said.
“But why wait so long after he has fled, and why during the build-up to so highly politicized an event as a World Cup in Russia?” Jenkins wrote.
He also pointed out the close proximity of the poisonings to the UK’s secretive military research facility at Porton Down, and the inability of anyone to offer a reasonable explanation as to why Russia would carry out the alleged crimes.
Dismissing Whitehall’s scaremongering campaign since the Salisbury attack in March, the columnist said that he will hold off from “capitulating to the politics of terror and fear” because he has “not a smidgen of an answer to any of these questions.”
However he added that his reasoned stance isn’t shared by those in the corridors of power. “That clearly does not apply to government ministers, for whom ignorance is not a sufficient condition for silence,” he said.
The column took aim at Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who said on Wednesday that it was time “the Russian state comes forward and explains exactly what has gone on,” despite having no evidence that the Kremlin was involved in the first place.
The newly-appointed home secretary was speaking in the House of Commons after two people from the Wiltshire city of Amesbury – just nine miles from the site of the Skripal incident in Salisbury – fell ill on Saturday as a result of exposure to Novichok.
Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess remain critically ill in hospital after they were, police claim, poisoned by a contaminated object. The object has yet to be identified.
Jenkins was echoing the words of Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said at a press conference on Thursday that Britain had yet to deliver any convincing evidence of either incident.
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