Sergei Skripal: The Shadow Home Secretary speaks out.

Today’s Diane Abbott interview with Mishal Husain in full and unedited.

She could be the next Home Secretary.

Listen here at 2.41.15



What do you think of what we’ve heard so far about this case?


Well, we, it’s important not to speculate without knowing everything about it, but it does bear a striking similarity to the death of Lityenko (sic), who was poisoned by the Russian state, and before that Markov who was killed bizarrely by somebody stabbing him with an umbrella with poison on the tip and again that was put to the Russian state and the problem with these things is that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.


And the similarities to the Litvinyenko case [inaudible] is the identity of them in the fact that they’d both had been Russian agents & the fact that unknown substances have been involved. Now, if it is established, as was the case with Litvinyenko, that it goes back to the Russian state, what should our Government do?


Well first of all we have to have confidence that these cases are investigated very thoroughly, as you know there has been a major journalistic investigation which reveals that there’s fourteen deaths or suicides connected to the Russian state but all of those cases have been closed, so in the first instance we need to be assured that these cases are being investigated properly


Do you want them all reopened? You’re referring to the Buzzfeed investigation we heard about earlier.


No, I don’t want them reopened but the investigation took place over two years it shows a disturbing pattern and certainly I will be writing to Amber Rudd to say that if it does prove to be the case that the Russian state is involved in this latest death, what assurances can she give both about the rigour of the investigation and where we go from here. I don’t like defaulting to a Red menace analysis, but we can’t allow London and the Home Counties to become a kind of killing field for the Russian state and its enemies.


But I’m not clear about what you would be, you must have a view about if you were in her job what you would do in this scenario, so say the Sergei Skripal case is another Litvinyenko, and it is traced to the Russian state, what would you do?


What would I do? What would, what I would do is first of all find out the facts and I think it’s really dangerous to speculate.


But say the facts have been established what should the British government do? We heard from a former ambassador a few minutes ago who said that the cupboard’s bare in terms of the fact that we already have sanctions in place over Ukraine, we already have individual sanctions so what would you do?


I think the key thing is the guarantee of a really through investigation and the Buzzfeed investigation alleged that the Metropolitan Police did not investigate these things with sufficient thoroughness and apparently closed down the cases prematurely.


Which is why I asked you if you wanted all of them reopened.


I don’t, you can’t, it’s not realistic to say you can reopen the cases …


How can you establish the facts in the 14 cases other than Litvinyenko, if you don’t reopen them all?


It’s not realistic to say you can reopen the cases, it is realistic to say that if the facts show that this was another operation by the Russian state and knowing the context of the very disturbing deaths and suicides that the government must give assurances ‘cos people want to know we can’t have this, these tit-for-tat killings in London and the South-East.


But some of these other cases that you are referring to that Buzzfeed looked at, I mean they included people who jumped in front of trains for example, I mean two people where that happened, they include others where police looked into them and concluded that the deaths were of natural causes


But if you read the Buzzfeed investigation thoroughly you’ll find that what they say, and that that’s what they’re saying, is the state, the Russian state is very clever at making what are actual hit jobs look like suicide. But as I’m saying, I’m not saying reopen the cases but I am saying the circumstances of this particular case are disturbing and we need to know more and I’ll be writing to Amber Rudd for assurances.


Diane Abbott, thank you.

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Author: Matthew

I have been a barrister for over 25 years, specialising in crime. You may also have come across some of my articles I have written on legal issues for The Times, Standpoint, Daily Telegraph or Criminal Law & Justice Weekly

10 thoughts on “Sergei Skripal: The Shadow Home Secretary speaks out.”

  1. Dianne Abbott is the weakest member of the shadow cabinet and she keeps demonstrating that she is not a ‘safe pair of hands’ when facing fairly predictable questions in live media interviews. All she had to say was:
    (i) I’m not going to answer hypothetical ‘what if’ questions, and
    (ii) If there is new evidence that wasn’t available/considered during the original investigations into the deaths (referred to in the Buzfeed piece) then they should indeed be reopened.

  2. Politicians should refuse to be interviewed unless they have something useful to say. I don’t suppose our Home Secretary would be willing to commit to any particular course of action if it is discovered that the Russian FSB have murdered another person on British soil – it requires very careful consideration of the options. I’m just baffled that Abbott thought she would have some useful advice to give. And I’m a Corbynite.

  3. She is supposed to be an intelligent women but every time she opens her mouth drivel comes out. And to think the Guardianistas want this women and her ilk in power. Come to think of it she’s probably upset old Jezza again going on too much about Russia, but there again she didn’t answer the hard question about what to do with the Russkies, so she may have dodged a bullet or maybe a poison umbrella ?

  4. I always found it really suspect that Litvinenko was supposedly assassinated by the ONE THING that could absolutely be traced back to Russia…so many easy ways to assassinate people, so why would they do that? To my mind it also prompts the question as to why would benefit the most for framing said Russians and driving a wedge between UK and them…..? Who has form and a long history of doing such things….?

    Same folk who had motive for assassinating Kelly and Robin Cook I would suggest. No reason to believe the ‘official version’ and every reason not to.

    1. I suggest you read the very well-researched report prepared by Sir Robert Owen, and the supporting documents. Unlike Russia, the UK has such documents in the public domain for all to see. The Russians don’t much care about British public opinion – they want to punish their traitors conspicuously so as to deter any more FSB agents from betraying the motherland. They don’t care if they kill or disable a British police officer in the process. And both Putin and Trump are able to dismiss news reports as “fake news” and huge numbers of gullible supporters will believe them, and will believe that the CIA is in a conspiracy to undermine Trump and Putin to serve the interests of some secret “establishment”. Anyway, for that Litvinenko report, go to

  5. not sure I like this. Are you speechless in admiration or stupefied in disagreement? say what you think. This has the hallmarks of a nudge nudge bullying tactic

  6. On the positive side at least you can say Abbott is consistent – no obvious intellectual preference for one subject over another.
    One wonders at what point after graduating from Cambridge things started unravelling for her.

  7. This is the woman who said that the first task of an incoming Labour government would be to sack the entire judiciary and replace them with reliable people.

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