Russian spy: Jeremy Corbyn aide queries proof of Russian guilt

Russian spy: Jeremy Corbyn aide queries proof of Russian guilt
From BBC - March 14, 2018

Jeremy Corbyn's spokesman has said there is not yet definitive proof the Russian state was behind the attempted murder of a former spy in Salisbury.

He said the most likely explanation was Russia that was "directly or indirectly responsible" for the attack but "culpability takes many forms".

He pointed to the "problematic history" of UK intelligence on chemical weapons.

It came as several Labour MPs called for their leader to be firmer in his condemnation of Russia.

A succession of Labour MPs - including many who are on record opposing Mr Corbyn as Labour leader - backed Theresa May's decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats and take other measures in response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a military grade nerve agent.

Russia has denied any involvement in the attack.

In his response to the prime minister's Commons statement announcing the measures, Mr Corbyn called for a "decisive and proportionate response based on clear evidence".

His former leadership contest rival - and current chairwoman of the Home Affairs committee - Yvette Cooper said what was needed was "unequivocal" condemnation of Russia's actions.

And former Labour minister Pat McFadden said showing resolve when your country was threatened was an "essential component of political leadership" and "more than words" was needed as a response.

Mr Corbyn's spokesman said Labour did not oppose any of the measures outlined by Mrs May - including the expulsions - but urged caution over reaching a definitive judgement on who was behind the attack.

"Whoever carried out the attack is responsible for a heinous and reckless attack in a civilian area," he told reporters after the Commons debate.

He said the Labour leadership could not disclose the detail of the security briefings it had received on the crisis.

But he said the two scenarios put forward by the prime minister on Monday - either direct Russian state involvement or a loss of control by the state of the deadly chemicals - were still both possible and that "culpability had different forms".

He said there was "a series of possibilities as to who may be responsible", including oligarchs, Mafia elements and other ex-Soviet states.


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