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Burden of Proof

The Importance of Evidence and How to Create a Believable Story

by Matt Coot

Proof has always been the burden of the prosecution. The prosecution must, without any reasonable doubt, prove the guilt of the accused. This must be done by supplying enough evidence to show that the accused had the means, opportunity, and motive to carry out the crime. It is also important to note that until proven guilty, the accused must be assumed to be innocent.They are innocent until proven guilty.

Now, we live in a society that seems to have forgotten this. Our national press publishes names of suspects to crimes that are being questioned in connection to crimes. These suspects then become ‘hated’ by the public. The right-wing press also seem to delight in promoting Islamophobia and xenophobia. They generate articles that develop ‘hatred’ amongst their readers. It reminds me of the ‘Two Minutes Hate’ from George Orwell’s 1984.

This week, we have seen what happens when the government presents the ‘outcome’ of an investigation that isn’t anywhere near concluding and doesn’t seem to have much evidence behind it. I am, of course, discussing the Salisbury attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, along with the unintended target of Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey. We have been told that the evidence, so far, makes it “highly likely” that Russia is behind the attack. This has been told by the Prime Minister at the dispatch box in the House of Commons. She announced that those investigating think that Russia are behind it. However, “highly likely” is not “without any reasonable doubt”.

I must admit, as you may have read in my previous article, I believed that the Prime Minister wouldn’t have announced such a thing if the government wasn’t in possession of clear evidence pointing to Vladimir Putin ordering the attempted assassination. However, the House of Commons wasn’t given this evidence. The UN Security Council wasn’t given this evidence. Nor does it seem that our allies have been given this evidence. When the Leader of the Opposition dared to ask about evidence, he was immediately ridiculed by those opposing his party, as well as those within his party.

Evidence is important. Evidence that can allow you to build up a clear picture of guilt is important. Evidence is what the prosecutors need to build a believable story of what happened.

So, using my degree in Creative Writing, I am going to write a believable story using evidence that has built up over the years. First, I will write the accusation. I will then follow that accusation with the evidence. Finally, I will write the concluding argument of what this all points to.

Accusation: The Conservative Party has questionable links to the Russian government.

The Conservative Party relies upon donations from rich donors who donate the money to influence policy or to gain access to influential people in government. This is legal, as long as the donations are recorded with the Electoral Commission and are recorded as donations that do not require payback of any kind. But, can we really sit here and pretend that someone will donate £30,000 to meet with the Defence Minister over dinner and not expect anything back?

A problem has occurred. It seems that the Conservative Party has been receiving donations from at least 9 Russian oligarchs with clear links between them and the Russian state. Shall we explore these donors?

Evidence 1: The Russian Donor List

Lubov and Vladimir Chernukhin

Vladimir Chernukhin is a former deputy finance minister who had been nicknamed “Putin’s Banker”. He was a director of Aeroflot and chairman of Russia’s state development bank. Vladimir Putin honoured Vladimir Chernukhin with the Order of Honour. Vladimir and his wife moved to the UK claiming that he and Putin had fallen out. Lubov, his wife, is described as a banker. Recently, Vladimir has been locked in a legal battle with a rival Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska. Interestingly, the former chief of MI6, John Scarlett, was helping Vladimir with this problem.

What is their link to the Conservative Party?

Lubov Chernukhin has donated at least £514,000 to the party since 2012.
This includes £160,000 to play tennis with David Cameron and Boris Johnson, as well as £30,000 to have dinner with Gavin Williamson, the defence minister.

MoscowKremlin

Lev Mikheev

Mikheev is a Russian financier who earns his money by investing approximately $1 billion on behalf of Vladimir Putin’s wealthy friends. The location of Mikheev’s office is rather telling, as it is right next door to the Kremlin.

What is his link to the Conservative Party?

Mikheev has donated £197,000 to the party since 2010.

Alexander Knaster
Alexander Knaster

Alexander Knaster

Knaster was born in Moscow, emigrated to the States when he was a teenager, and then returned to Russia in 1995. A few years later, in 1998, he became the CEO of Russia’s largest private commercial bank, Alfa Bank. Then, in 2004, he started his own company, Pamplona Capital Management.

What is his link to the Conservative Party?

He has donated £405,000 to the Conservative Party since 2010. This includes £50,000 that he donated to the Tory ‘No to AV’ campaign for the electoral reform referendum.

Alexander Temerko

Temerko is the former vice-president of oil company Yukos. Is is said that he “fled” Russia after being charged with fraud.

What is his link to the Conservative Party?

Temerko personally donated £259,230 to the party. His company, OGN, has donated £185,325.

George Piskov
George Piskov

George Piskov

Piskov is a wealthy banker who made his money in the early post-communism years in Russia. He formed a bank known as Uniastrum and co-founded Unibank.

What is his link to the Conservative Party?

Up until 2014, Piskov had donated at least £17,378 to the Tories. I cannot find any more up-to-date information.

Gérard Lopez

Lopez – through his company Genii Capital – was the owner of the Lotus F1 team. There is a picture of him with Vladimir Putin along with the Lotus F1 team. Lopez is the chairman and CEO of Nekton Global. He was founding partner of Mangrove Capital, which funded Skype, Wix, and Nimbuzz. He is also chairman of Rise Capital. Rise recently signed deals for a string of infrastructure projects across Russia. These projects are worth billions. Rise Capital is also linked to three Russian banks that had sanctions imposed on them during the Ukraine crisis.

Lopez’s managing partner in Rise Capital, Sergey Romashov, had been the head of departments in two of Russia’s leading financial groups, and managing director of one of Russia’s first major equity funds. It is understood that Romashov is close to Vladimir Putin.

What is his link to the Conservative Party?

Gérard Lopez donated £400,000 to the Tories in April 2016.

New Century Media

This PR company has been hired by the Kremlin to promote a “positive image” of Russia to the UK. Interestingly, the company’s Director of Financial Services is linked to the next donor too. Alex Nekrassov advised BP’s management on its investment in Russia and the sale of TNK-BP to Rosneft. This gives New Century Media a direct link to Vladimir Putin, as this sale was signed off at a meeting with Putin.

What is their link to the Conservative Party?

The company has donated more than £143,000 to the Tories. This includes more than £24,000 since Theresa May became Prime Minister.

access-industries

LenBlavatnik
Len Blavatnik

Access Industries

Access Industries is owned by Sir Leonard (Len) Blavatnik. Access Industries was one of a group of oligarchs in a consortium known as AAR. AAR partnered with BP to create TNK-BP. This became the largest oil company in Russia. Blavatnik was the director of TNK-BP. Blavatnik has faced allegations of involvement with a Russian state-sponsored campaign against BP that tried to get 100 BP managers to leave Russia. BP and AAR were bought of by state-backed Russian energy company Rosneft. Blavatnik ended up with $28billion. This deal was signed off at a meeting with Vladimir Putin. As mentioned above, this links to New Century Media too, with their Director of Financial Services being instrumental in advising that this deal happen.

What is Access Industries link to the Conservative Party?

Access Industries has donated at least £94,450 to the Tories.

Oleg Deripaska

He is a Russian oligarch who owns aluminium businesses. He is the founder and owner of one of the largest Russian industrial groups, Basic Element. It is also believed that he is a close ally of Vladimir Putin.

What is his link to the Conservative Party?

Nat Rothschild accused George Osboune of soliciting a £50,000 donation from Oleg Deripaska. However, this was proven to be untrue.

Lord Greg Barker, former energy minister in Cameron’s Cabinet, has been hired by Deripaska’s aluminium firm (EN+). This gives Deripaska a direct influence with a member of the House of Lords.

Greg_Barker_Face
Tory Lord Greg Barker, former minister in David Cameron’s Cabinet

Evidence 2: Suspicious People with Boris Johnson

boris-with-russian-spy
Sergey Nalobin with “good friend” Boris Johnson

Sergey Nalobin

Sergey Nalobin is the son of a former KGB general. General Nalobin then had a top role in the FSB. It has been said that Sergey’s father was Alexander Litvinenko’s boss in the 1990’s, when Litvinenko was in the FSB. Sergey’s brother also has worked for the FSB. Sergey is suspected of also being an intelligence agent. It is also highly likely that the Nalobin family worked with, or for, Vladimir Putin when Putin led the FSB prior to his ascendency to President.

What is Sergey Nalobin’s link to Boris Johnson?

There is a photo of Boris Johnson and Sergey Nalobin together. There is also a deleted tweet of Sergey calling Boris Johnson “our friend”. This was when Boris Johnson was the London mayor.

BorisJohnsonJosephMifsudJoseph Mifsud

Joseph Mifsud

This shadowy mysterious figure is described as an academic from Malta. He has high level links to the Putin regime.

What is Joseph Mifsud’s link to Boris Johnson?

Boris Johnson has been pictured with Mifsud.

Evidence 3: Actions of the Tory Government in relation to Russia

As revealed by a question by Liz Saville Roberts MP of Plaid Cymru in this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, but which went unanswered, the UK has sold nuclear material to Russia. Russia, in fact, is the UK’s biggest customer of weapons grade uranium. This depleted uranium – which is produced from nuclear energy power stations – can be used in the manufacturing of fission bombs. In 2016, Russia bought 92% of the UK’s exports of depleted uranium. This was worth £1.2 million. Could the Prime Minister confirm that sanctions would include cancelling this arrangement? No, she avoided the question.

The UK has also sold arms to Russia. Between 2008 and 2013, Russia bought £406 million worth of military weapons. Again, there has been no confirmation of this ending.

The Conservative government has also ignored Russian money being laundered in the UK. £38 billion of ‘dirty money’ has flowed through the UK in recent years. The majority of this from Russia. In fact, in 2013, a Danish bank closed down 20 Russian accounts that had been using the bank to funnel cash through British companies. They reported that this was done by members of Vladimir Putin’s family and the FSB spy agency.

Furthermore, the Conservative government has ignored many suspicious Russian-linked deaths in the UK, including: Boris Berezovsky, Alexander Perephilchnyy, Gareth Williams, Alexander Litvinenko, Nikolai Glushkov, German Gorbuntsov, and Scot Young.

Concluding argument

Using the evidence presented in this article, it is highly likely that the Conservative Party has been compromised by the links it has with the Russian state. It is highly likely that the party has allowed itself to be compromised by accepting donations from donors who, it could be argued, has potential links to Vladimir Putin or others in the Russian government. There is also evidence to suggest that members of the Cabinet have been compromised by meetings with potential intelligence agents linked to Russia.

What needs to happen next?

If a political blogger can put this freely accessible information together and come up with a case against the Conservative Party, then it is obvious that something needs to be done.

1) Independent inquiry

There needs to be an independent inquiry launched to determine whether politicians and political groups have been compromised by dealings with individuals and organisations. The inquiry should also look into whether the Russian state has any undue influence over any politician or political group.

2) Suspension of any politician that it is proven has been compromised by any individual or organisation.

Anyone found to have been compromised should be suspended pending a full investigation.

3) Resignation and espionage criminal investigation

Anyone found to be compromised after a full investigation will be forced to resign. Furthermore, anyone found to be ‘controlled’ by the Russian state will face criminal investigation into espionage.

What about the ‘highly likely’ responsibility of Russia with regards to the Salisbury attack?

I’ve created a story about the Conservative Party using freely accessible information. It is a story that could be argued as being “highly likely” to be true. However, it could also be false. Or, it could be right in some areas and false in others. The thing is, I could stand up and back up my accusations with evidence.

Earlier this week, Theresa May stood up in Parliament and – without presenting evidence – stated that it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind an attack on this country. She presented a selection of sanctions and punitive measures against Russia.

When the Leader of the Opposition did his job, to oppose the government and give another point of view, to advise not to rush into action without the evidence to back it up, he was instead mocked and singled out as someone not supporting the government’s action. This isn’t true. He supported the action, but was stating that taking action without providing evidence would be negligent and dangerous. Which, if you think about it, is rather sensible.

During the UN Security Council meeting, later the same day, the UK representative to the UN stated that “the UK is not required to share samples” of the nerve agent used in the attack. In other words, the UK would not show the evidence.

The UN or NATO needs to request an independent analysis of the evidence found at Salisbury. This should be the next step taken in this investigation. Until the evidence is analysed by an independent body – or one made up of several nations – there should be no actions taken against any nation.

The burden of proof remains to be that of the prosecution. The defendant remains innocent until proven guilty. Without that, we do not have a civilised society.

There is still so much that is unknown with this situation and also so much unknown about how far the Conservative Party is compromised with regards to Russian influence. There needs to be a thorough investigation into both the Salisbury attack and the potential of politicians being compromised by a foreign nation.

 

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