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by John Helmer, Moscow 

Dr James Haslam (lead image) was the doctor in charge at Radnor Ward, the intensive care unit of Salisbury District Hospital, when Dawn Sturgess was admitted on June 30, 2018, and died on July 8. She is  the woman whom the British Prime Minister, Metropolian Police, Crown Prosecution Service,  and Wiltshire county coroner David Ridley, have all declared  to have died from poisoning by a Russian-made nerve agenct called Novichok. This, they all say, was  brought to the UK by Russian soldiers who have been named and officially charged, not with killing Sturgess, but with trying to kill Sergei and Yulia Skripal, and leaving behind their weapon, a counterfeit bottle of perfume, where Sturgess and her companion found it several weeks later.

Haslam is so important to the story of this Russian weapon,  which hadn’t existed until Sturgess  used it on her herself and then died from it, that the state British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) assigned Haslam a part in each of the three episodes of the film called “The Salisbury Posionings”. Haslam is the only doctor from the intensive care unit treating the Skripals and Sturgess who is depicted in the BBC drama. The film will be broadcast next week.

Haslam himself claims he “led the team who cared for the critically ill patients during the Salisbury Nerve Agent Incident.”   A committed Christian, Haslam also gives public lectures on “how his faith and interests in challenging medicine and ethics played a role at the centre of this major incident.”

Before the make-believe Haslam does what the BBC scripted him to do in the movie, Haslam prepared a research report for his medical colleagues entitled “Organophosphorus nerve agent poisoning: managing the poisoned patient.” It was published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia,  on April 5, 2019, with three co-authors. These three are military agents – one from the Royal Navy working on a Defence Ministry grant; one from the Ministry’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the chemical warfare establishment at Porton Down; and one from the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, an armed forces hospital in Birmingham. Discovered by Liane Theuer, the report can be read here.

Haslam was the only civilian; they wrote the report together. It was then reviewed by a Navy surgeon commander before “all authors approved the manuscript”. Together, they wrote that at Salisbury Hospital between the admission of the Skripals on March 4, 2018,  and of Dawn Sturgess and Charles Rowley on June 30, “at least six patients may have had varying degrees of exposure [to Novichok poisonings]”.

“May have had” does not mean what the British Prime Minister, Metropolitan Police, Crown Prosecution Service, Coroner Ridley, and the BBC  had all concluded a year before this was published.

This week Haslam was asked to explain why he wasn’t sure about the Novichok poison a year ago, and whether he still isn’t sure. He was contacted by telephone and by email.  He refuses to answer.

Haslam is currently identified as one of six doctors working at Salisbury Hospital’s Radnor Ward Intensive Care Unit.   According to Haslam’s research paper, “only one group, Salisbury District General Hospital, and those who assisted them, have the relevant, recent, and accurate clinical information.”

Other doctors and a nurse in the group have given interviews and answered press questions about the roles they played in the Skripal case; read more.

Haslam is listed by the hospital as “faculty tutor, educational supervisor”, with a special interest in “clinical governance”.  He also lists publishing six professional medical and religious reports,  including the military one.  

Photograph of James Haslam (extreme right) with medical staff at Salisbury Hospital’s Radnor Ward, published by Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant Nicholas Bailey (3rd  from left) on his Twitter account, June 4, 2019. The picture was retrieved and preserved by Liane Theuer before publication on April 23, 2020.  Bailey then erased the tweet.  

Through footnotes, Haslam’s military research cites the British government for the claims that the Skripals and local policeman Nicholas Bailey were exposed to a toxic substance they report  as “Soviet designed”.  Haslam and his co-authors cite no medical, toxicological, blood, tissue,  or other clinical evidence they obtained themselves at Salisbury Hospital to substantiate the claims in the paper that they were treating patients with organophosphorus nerve agent poisoning.

Source: https://www.researchgate.net/

There is no explicit mention of the cases of Dawn Sturgess and Charles Rowley.

Haslam provides this excuse: “the ongoing criminal investigation means little can be said about the recognition, treatment and long-term effects of the Novichok poisonings”. This is false. British law requires that when the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced indictments and warrants for the arrest of two Russians for the Novichok poisoning attacks on the Skripals, the criminal investigation had been concluded. The CPS announcement, accompanied by a statement to the House of Commons by Prime Minister May and publication of police evidence, took place on September 5, 2018.

For the full story, and the significance of the CPS investigation, read the book.  

This means there was nothing to prevent Haslam and his co-authors reporting how the generalities of nerve agent diagnosis and treatment they describe in their research paper were applied to the Salisbury Hospital cases Haslam claims to have treated himself.  Nothing in law, that is.

Source: https://www.researchgate.net/ 
The chart originated with Commander Steve Bland, Royal Navy Defence Consultant Advisor for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Medicine. PoE on the chart stands for Point of Entry.

Haslam implies that he himself had treated Sturgess and Rowley, along with the Skripals and Bailey. He had “led the team who cared for the critically ill patients [plural] during the Salisbury Nerve Agent Incident”, he told a conference in London in November 2019.    

In the research paper he wrote: “at least six patients may have had varying degrees of exposure and only one person has died.” Haslam also congratulated himself. “This is testament to the good and timely clinical care that these patients have received. For this, the physicians, critical care doctors, nurses, health care assistants, laboratory staff, and all those involved at Salisbury hospital must be congratulated.”

The patients named in the medical report are Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal, and Nicholas Bailey.  Dawn Sturgess, Charles Rowley, and a sixth case, reportedly a police constable, are counted – Sturgess because she died — but they are not named in the report. The policeman whom Haslam counted as the sixth patient was reported here;    this is another report of the sixth patient.  On this evidence, the sixth case appears to have been treated at the Salisbury hospital’s emergency department as an outpatient and quickly released. Haslam did not treat him.   

The paper reports no trace of the methodology Haslam and the other doctors in the intensive care unit used to recognize and identify what the toxic substance was they later said they were treating. There is also no description of how Haslam and his hospital colleagues decided the clinical therapies, medications, dosages, and treatment procedures they actually provided at the ward. Between recognition, therapy, and physiological response Haslam’s paper reports no connection. There is no evidence of their testing the connection between diagnosis, treatment, and measured results.

This week Haslam was asked to clarify what tests he had relied upon to identify the molecular and other characteristics of the poison agent he was treating, and how his patients responded differently to the therapies provided, in order to measure what he reported as “successful treatments”. Haslam was also asked what differences in “good and timely clinical care” explained why five of his patients recovered and one died.

Haslam refused to answer.

In fact, the Wiltshire police evidence is that the Salisbury hospital laboratory provided toxicological evidence that Sturgess and Rowley were contaminated by Class A drugs and that Sturgess’s heart failure, which had occurred before her admission to the hospital, had been caused by a combination of these toxic drugs with a prescription for anti-depressants she had taken, and possibly alcohol served in a party of friends the evening before her collapse. Read more.

The conclusion of Haslam and the military doctors is reported this way: “The mainstay of treatment remains atropine, oximes, neuroprotection, and critical care support should casualties require ventilatory or other organ system support. The fact that the Novichok poisonings in Salisbury have resulted in only one death indicates that treatments have been successful, but it has highlighted a gap in the medical knowledge and training of most doctors and the wider clinical community. We should take time to learn from this incident to refresh our management of this toxicological emergency.”

In sequence of time,  Sturgess’s and Rowley’s admission was the second incident to have occurred; the third or fourth if the separate admissions are counted of Bailey and the other police officer, which took place after the Skripals.  It was thus misleading for Haslam to count only one incident. It was equally misleading to imply that “atropine, oximes, neuroprotection” were used for all six patients.

Coroner Ridley has added evidence to the doubt that this is what Haslam and the other medical staff actually did.  Ridley’s evidence appears in his ruling of December 20, 2019 – eight months after he and his chief investigator, Thames Valley Detective Chief Inspector Philip Murphy ought to have read the doctors’ report. “I am unaware from my investigation that there is an antidote as such to Novichok poisoning,” Ridley declared at Para 85.   “I have however tasked DCI Murphy to gather evidence relating to what treatment was given that varied as between Mr Rowley and Ms Sturgess and if there was a reason for that variation to explain why and the impact that difference may have made in relation to the outcome insofar as Ms Sturgess was concerned.”

A London newspaper reported at the time being told by an ambulance service source  that a paramedic who was called to Rowley on June 30 had “administer[ed] an anti-nerve agent drug at the scene that had never been used on a patient before in the UK.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/

The drug was not identified in the newspaper report. Haslam’s publication of the “successful” treatment which he had been directing for the Skripals and Bailey at the hospital for sixteen weeks before the newspaper report appeared, rules out the possibility that Rowley was given a drug by paramedics which “had never been used on a patient before in the UK.”  

How can it be possible that after eighteen months of further investigations, including all the hospital evidence, Coroner Ridley and DCI Murphy did not know what Haslam, his medical staff, and three military specialists on chemical warfare had already claimed success for, eight months earlier, in applying what they called “early antidotes”?  

Haslam was asked what antidote or antidotes were successful in his treatment of Novichok poisoning. He is refusing to say.

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