Salisbury Incident — UK Media silenced by D-Notices Over Skripal Affair

“The issue surrounding the identify [sic] of a former MI6 informer Sergei Skripal is already widely available in the public domain. However, the identifies [sic] of intelligence agency personnel associated with Sergei Skripal are not yet widely available in the public domain.”

D-Notice issued on March 7 2018

If you think that “slapping a D-notice” on a story the establishment wants to hide from the public is the stuff of thrillers, spy stories and conspiracy theories, you are in for a shock. Last month, the “Defence and Security Media Advisory  Committee” (DSMA) has issued at least two D-Notices to request the complicity of the UK media over crucial pieces of information related to the Skripal Affair. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

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A DSMA-Notice is an official request to news editors not to publish or broadcast items on specified subjects for reasons of national security.

On March 4 2018, Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury. The UK government alleges that they were poisoned with a nerve agent — Novichok — produced in Russia.

On March 7, a DSMA-Notice 05 (Personnel and their Families who work in Sensitive Positions) was issued to all UK editors.

A DSMA-Notice 05 inter alia advises editors against the:

“inadvertent disclosure of Sensitive Personnel Information (SPI) that reveals the identity, location or contact details of personnel (and their family members) who have security, intelligence and/or counter-terrorist backgrounds, including members of the UK Security and Intelligence Agencies, MOD and Specials Forces.”

Professor David Miller has written a summary of this story.

“On the evening of 6 March a Russian opposition news outlet Meduza, styling itself ‘Russia’s free press in exile’, published a long piece on Skripal in English.

Citing a variety of online sources including in Russian, some from over a decade old, identifying Pablo Miller as the MI6 agent inside the Estonian embassy who had recruited Sergei Skripal.

By the next afternoon the notice was issued to the mainstream media. Perhaps the misspellings in the DSMA notice -‘identify’ and ‘identifies’ instead, presumably, of ‘identity’ and ‘identities’ – was due to haste in getting it out?

This was followed that evening by a report in the Daily Telegraph published online at 10.24pm. The Telegraph was the first mainstream outlet to discuss – in discreet and decorous terminology – the connection between Skripal and a ‘security consultant’ who is ‘understood to have known him for some time’ and ‘is also based in Salisbury’.

It noted that the paper was ‘declining to identify’ the consultant, and we can only suspect that this was not unconnected to the notice issued earlier that day.

The Telegraph reported that the ‘consultant’ worked at the same company (Orbis Business Intelligence) that compiled the controversial dossier on Donald Trump and Russia – paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Convention.

The consultant was, as we now know, Pablo Miller, who had ‘known’ Skripal in the specific sense that he was his MI6 handler. Some, such as Guardian journalist Luke Harding, have suggested that Miller never worked for Orbis, but this seems to be false.”

On March 14, a second D-Notice was issued.This is most likely the notice referred to in a tweet by Alex Thomson of Channel Four News.

Quick Analysis

In the aftermath of the Skripal incident, the UK government moved quickly to ‘protect’ the identity of Sergei Skripal as well as the identity of his former MI6 handler Pablo Miller who happens to live near Salisbury.

On March 7, the first D-Notice was issued, but their names had already been revealed.

At the same time, a few journalists planted false information regarding Pablo Miller and Orbis, the private Intel company that became famous because of the infamous dossier Chris Steele compiled on Trump’s Russiagate.

On March 8, Gordon Corera tweeted that his sources were certain that no link exists between Skripal and Orbis or Chris Steele.

On the same day, Luke Harding suggested that Miller never worked for Orbis, which is obviously untrue. Pablo Miller had listed his employment by Orbis Business Intelligence on his LinkedIn profile.

So, this much is certain. The UK government has quickly moved to black out the identity of Pablo Miller and his connections to both Sergei Skripal and Orbis.

In 2017, a D-Notice was already issued against British journalists revealing the identity of the Trump’s Dossier author (Chris Steele).

Multiple British outlets ignored this advice and revealed his name anyway, including BBC News, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

The use of a D-Notice is not a rare event. But it is not used very frequently either.

I believe that a couple of such notices have been issued annually on average in the UK over the last ten years. And we KNOW that at least three of these notices were issued in connection with the Skripal and Orbis Affair(s?). Stay tuned!

REFERENCES

Revealed: rebranded D-Notice committee issued two notices over Skripal affair — SpinWatch

The DSMA notices can be found here:

DSMA notice 7 March 2018

DSMA notice 14 March 2018

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Salisbury Incident — UK Media silenced by D-Notices Over Skripal Affair

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