It's The Wrong Park! How The Ducks Raise Some Serious Questions In The Salisbury Poisonings
According to the Metropolitan Police investigation into the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, here is a timeline of events on 4th March:
13:40: Sergei and Yulia arrived at the Sainsbury’s upper level car park in The Maltings. The pair go to The Mill pub.
Approximately 14.20: They eat at Zizzi restaurant on Castle Street
15:35: They leave the restaurant
16:15: Emergency services are called by a member of the public to the bench where Sergei and Yulia are slumped on a bench
So: car park, pub, restaurant, bench. Simples? Not so, as we shall see.
On 28th March, an article appeared in the Sun, which talked about a 12-year-old boy from Salisbury, Aiden Cooper, who was apparently in a park with his parents, when he saw the Skripals and went over to them to feed the ducks:
“A schoolboy told yesterday how he was caught up in the poison spy drama after assassination target Sergei Skripal gave him bread to feed ducks. Aiden Cooper, 12, was playing in a park with pals when they saw Skripal and daughter Yulia beside a stream. They were handed bread and are among the last people to have had contact with the retired Russian military intelligence colonel, now fighting for his life.“
Of course, I would always want to have a large bucket of salt on standby when reading anything in The Sun, but in this case I see no reason why they, or the people quoted in the article, would make this up. In any case, the story was repeated in a number of other outlets (The Mirror, The Mail and Metro for instance), and it mentions that the parents only found out about the identity of the breadman when they were contacted by police.
Now, the interesting thing about The Mirror, The Mail and Metro pieces is that they are all either very wrong or very vague about a quite crucial detail. The Mirror and The Mail both tell us that the incident took place “near the Avon Playground”. And Metro tells us that the incident took place at “Riverside Park”.
For those of you not familiar with Salisbury, let me shed some light. The Avon Playground mentioned by The Mirror and The Mail is next to the Avon River, and it is also about 50 yards or so from the bench where the Skripals were found (as an aside, this is not the same Avon as in Stratford-upon-Avon. Avon is a Celtic word meaning river). As for Riverside Park mentioned by Metro, this may be a figment of their imagination, as no such named park exists in Salisbury. But the important point is that from the details given in these articles, nobody would think anything other than that the duck-feeding incident took place in the same park as the bench on which the Skripals were found.