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Tonight, the PM lays down
the gauntlet to the Kremlin.
We will consider in detail the
response from the Russian state.
Should there be no credible
response, we will conclude this
action amounts to an unlawful use of
force by the Russian state against
the United Kingdom.
the United Kingdom.
has 24 hours to come
up with an explanation
for the Salisbury attack or Britain
will consider it an unlawful use
of force against the UK.
The nerve gas crisis is escalating
into a full-blown crisis.
Authoritarianism is on the rise
in Poland and it's spooking the EU.
Europe threatens to remove
Warsaw's voting rights,
while the Poles resent
Brussels' high handedness.
I will be recommending a short,
independent lead inquiry looking
into allegations of bullying by
of bullying by staff.
of parliamentary staff provokes
action from the Leader of the House.
But does her promise satisfy the MP
who brought the issue
to the commons today?
And Steve Smith recalls
the moment Ken Dodd revealed
his love of Newsnight.
Why did you decide to talk to us?
thought it was about time you had a
bit of encouragement.
bit of encouragement.
Good evening, so what happens now?
Good evening, so what happens now?
Moscow has been given 24 hours
by the UK government
to explain what happened
in the Salisbury chemical attack.
The Foreign office has summoned
the Russian ambassador to explain
whether the poisoning
of Sergei Skripal and his daughter
was a direct action by the Russian
state or the result of that
government losing control
of its stock of nerve agents.
This afternoon in the Commons,
the Prime Minister stated
that the chemical used was a weapons
grade state-produced substance
from Russia's Novichok programme
and said if no credible response
was forthcoming from Russia
by the end of tomorrow Britain
would conclude the action amounted
to a use of force
on British territory.
So, after firm words from the PM
the ball is now in Russia's court.
What happens next?
Let's ask Mark Urban our diplomatic
editor, who's been on this
from the beginning.
Talk us through what we know of the
nerve agent or the programme,
Novichok, mentioned for the first
At the risk of sounding
like a pedant it is pronounced
Novichok. It defines things in quite
a few ways, but it is still quite a
broad category. There are something
like 100 different agents that are
contained within that programme.
Firstly, let's talk about what it
now makes clear. For a few days they
did not know what they were dealing
with. The Novichok agents were
designed not to be detectable by
standard Nato chemical agent
detectors. That would explain a lot
of things including why those
warnings to people at Salisbury did
not come for a few days, because
they had not detected it for the
first few days and that also
conditioned the treatment that was
given to Sergei Skripal and his
daughter. They were treated for
nerve agent poisoning relatively
quickly, but they did not know what
they were dealing with. The normal
ones like sarin are detectable.
Secondly, it may add some insight
into why this may have happened
earlier than many people think. The
table was found to be contaminated
in a restaurant and it could easily
have been a few hours before the
pair were finally seriously ill.
Various theories, could it have been
a liquid put on their food? That has
already been touted. Other people
are looking at one of the other
Novichok agents which is a powder.
It could have been in the
ventilation system or in the car, so
when it started it blew into the car
and it was contained within that
Shell. They parked and then they
went to the restaurant and they were
shedding contamination there and in
the pub before they fell ill. All of
these things have been defined and
now increasingly it will define the
politics, including the drama today
in the Commons.
We know we are in a
diplomatic stand-off. The Russians
have been given 24 hours to provide
an explanation of how one of the
nerve agents ended up on British
streets. An ultimatum after an act
of apparently shocking recklessness.
It is not a new strategy for Russia
for the breadcrumbs so to speak to
lead back to the Kremlin. Part of
this is revenge, but the bigger part
is really about delivering a message
to Russians inside Russia, to
Putin's own electorate in advance of
the elections. And his security
services who are enabling him to
remain in power.
took samples late last week, the
diagnosis of Britain's chemical
warfare community became clearer.
Nerve agent, part a family nicknamed
Novichok in the old Soviet Union,
highly potent and very hard to
detect. The Prime Minister today
called out Russia.
On Wednesday we
will consider in detail the response
from the Russian state. Should there
be no credible response, we will
conclude this action amounts to an
unlawful use of force by the Russian
state against the United Kingdom.
And I will come back to this house
and set out the full range of
measures that we will take in
response. Mr Speaker, this attempted
murder using weapons grade nerve
agent in a British town was not just
crime against Sergei Skripal and his
daughter. It was an indiscriminate
and reckless act against the UK,
putting the lives of innocent
civilians at risk.
What of Russia's
response? Steve Rosenberg caught up
with Vladimir Putin electioneering.
Is Russia behind the poisoning of
Sergei Skripal. Get to the bottom of
things there and then we will
discuss it came the reply. Novichok
is a family of about 100 nerve
agents developed as the Soviet Union
was on its last legs. The chemical
principles are well understood, but
the processes in constituent
chemicals create a highly signature.
It is possible to determine the
exact structure of the molecule.
Because of that it is possible to
determine which pre-cursors were
used in the manufacture of that
agent. It is possible because of the
knowledge about the precursor is to
reconstruct the method of synthesis
and these are tell-tale signs like
As the clock ticks
away on Theresa May's ultimatum to
the Russians, the wires will be
burning between the Foreign Office
and allied ministries across Europe
and of course the State Department
in the United States. What the UK
will be trying to find out is how
much support there is, whether
solidarity in backing Britain in its
calls for sanctions against Russia
extends beyond the rhetorical. The
Prime Minister did leave one
possible route out for the Kremlin,
alluding to the possibility that
Novichok, a banned weapon in any
case, might have been used without
be that it was stolen or sold at an
earlier date to another entity. In
which case the question is what is
happening? Why did that happen? What
is the security here? How could this
have been allowed to happen? That is
a very different set of questions.
But if Russia continues to deny
everything, Britain will likely by
Wednesday afternoon be asking its
allies to endure the pain of
applying new sanctions.
This is a
threat that suddenly came to
fruition in the UK. It does not mean
it would not happen in other Western
countries and together we need to
take action, whether it comes in the
form of declaring Russian officials
persona non grata in the UK, or
sanctions against specific Russians.
There is a cost we will pay, but if
we do not face the cost now, we may
pay more in the future.
developing into a fully fledged
diplomatic crisis and Britain soon
could be putting forward a whole new
raft of measures against Russia.
And what response from
the Russians tonight?
Putin brushed off the question
saying the British need to get
to the bottom of it first.
The Foreign Ministry
called it a circus show.
Joining me now, Amy Knight,
a world expert on the KGB,
and Sir Tony Brenton,
to Moscow until 2008.
Nice to have you here. I will start
with you, Amy. Theresa May laid out
those two options. The Russian state
or a rogue perpetrated that has
borrowed the agent. What do you
sense that this is?
I think the
Kremlin will undoubtedly not admit
it is the Russian state that
committed this act. But I think the
likelihood that rogue elements got a
hold of this nerve gas and were able
to transport it or bring all the
pre-cursors and make this, I think
it is highly unlikely. The FSB is
the agency that is in charge of
these sophisticated laboratories
that do this and it is really
unlikely that this would have
Mark was espousing some of
the theories of what might have
happened on that day. Do you think
this went according to plan or did
something go wrong?
You know, I was
surprised by the fact that this
substance was actually allowed to
damage other people and put people
in hospital. Even Sergei Skripal's..
But if you look back at the
Alexander Litvinenko poisoning, that
was also handled very carelessly. We
know that the two gentleman work
hired by the FSB to poison Alexander
Litvinenko. I was surprised at the
lack of professionalism if you will,
but presumably this can happen.
you still think that Putin's
fingerprints are ultimately on this
or you think it might have been
people acting, believing it was what
he would have required?
That is not
the way things operate. I have heard
this theory before in regard to
other crimes and so forth. This kind
of action would not have been taken
without the explicit approval of
Vladimir Putin. Of course there will
never be a smoking gun because that
is not the way things work. He will
just continue to deny and denied. I
am sure they will say that they will
investigate it and tried to get to
the bottom of things, but as you
know, Vladimir Putin and his very
close colleagues control all of the
investigative organs. So there is no
possibility of Russia having any
kind of an independent investigation
of the circumstances of this
Let me pick up on that
point. What does Russia do now? If
you were in that Foreign Office
meeting tomorrow, would you expect
the Russian ambassador to turn up?
What would you expect him to say?
I'm sure he will turn up and what he
will say is we did not do it and we
do not believe anybody from our side
did it either. It is clear we will
get a negative response the
Russians. And again the question has
been put to them in that way.
Theresa May taken a gamble or has
she played a blinder? Does Russia
I they spooked by this at all?
I do not think she has taken a
gamble, she is responding entirely
properly to an outrageous attack on
the UK. Do the Russians care? That
depends on how we now respond. We
have got a range of sanctions at our
disposal. We can make life
uncomfortable for Russian
intelligence agencies working in the
UK. We can hit Russian money in the
city. But the crucial question is
how much support we can get from our
allies. Our action by itself will do
some damage. But if the West at
United 's lead, that will have much
We are pretty much
alone at the moment. From the looks
of it we have not got trapped coming
to our aid. We have not got the EU
necessarily rallying round at this
point, how are we, have we?
the Alexander Litvinenko affair, the
lack of support was disappointing.
The Europeans in particular were
knocked over and beyond rhetoric.
The position has changed a lot. All
of the West is much more at
loggerheads with the Russians than
we were in 2006, so there is more
scope for persuading our western
partners. This has happened on our
streets today, it will be on your
streets tomorrow. But a lot comes
down to the skill and
professionalism and persuasiveness
of the British diplomats and
ministers over the next few days.
you think Donald Trump will have to
start taking this seriously? Will he
have to come out against the
Russians if this is where it leads?
You know I think it is interesting
that timing of this incident. Not
only did it occurred two weeks
before the Russian presidential
election, but also it occurred at a
time when the tram administration is
totally caught up in scandals. So I
think first of all the tram
administration is very distracted,
so they are not likely to be able to
react as well as they might if
things were going smoothly in the
White House. Secondly, we know
Donald Trump has bent over backwards
to apologise for everything that
Vladimir Putin has done. He has gone
on record as saying that he does not
believe Vladimir Putin ever commits
any kind of political killings. I
think it is unlikely that we are
going to get any initiative from
Donald Trump. That said, there are
people in the White House and in the
Congress who have been very
proactive when it comes to this kind
of thing. So we might see something
from them. But I hesitate to say
that it is going to be as strong as
it might be if we had an
administration that was much more
realistic about Russia.
The Leader of the House of Commons
has ordered an independent inquiry
into allegations of bullying
of staff by MPs after
an investigation by this programme.
In one of the more uncomfortable
sessions for the House,
the Speaker John Bercow,
one of those MPs named
in our investigation,
presided over today's proceedings.
Andrea Leadsom said the reports
of bullying were of "huge concern"
and that a short inquiry
would assess whether current
procedures to protect people
who work for the Commons
were fit for purpose.
Ms Leadsom chose not to address
a question on Mr Bercow's own future
but insisted bullying must be
stamped out wherever it is seen.
Chris Cook and his producer Lucinda
Day broke the story for Newsnight.
Here's Chris on the latest.
Last week Newsnight revealed a
problem inquest Mr, an issue with
the so-called plumptiousness, the
apolitical class who make the place
tick, who say they serve bullying
from MPs and they say they don't
trust management processes to
protect them. In large part because
of serious cases where MPs can be
involved in judging one another.
Management have told us to report
stuff but if I said something I
would be moved. I haven't seen one
case go against them.
from the Commons authorities is
pretty dismissive, for example we
told you how a serving Clark told us
how she lived in a culture of fear.
The authority said that was a
grotesque exaggeration. Today we
reported on a new development. We
got hold of a letter from the clerk
of the House of Commons, completely
changing his position. The letter
was sent to the House of Commons
The senior management of the house
are acknowledging that they got the
tone of their response to
Newsnight's reporting wrong, they
acknowledge there is a problem with
bullying and harassment in the
Commons and that the policy in place
to deal with it is inadequate and
must be looked at again.
was seen as a step forward but we
gathered testimony revealing
continued concerns among serving
clerks. He makes no apology or
The people who have that power are
the MPs. They met today to discuss
our report. We revealed that John
Bercow is accused of bullying. He
denies it and chaired the session.
The commission will meet on Monday
the 19th of March, next Monday and I
have given notice to my fellow
members that I will be recommending
a short, independently lead in
Querrey by the house commission
looking into allegations of systemic
bullying of parliamentary staff --
independently lead enquiry. I
propose the enquiry should hear from
current and past staff members about
their experiences and help to
provide them with closure where
It's unclear whether this
enquiry will name MPs or just
discuss the culture. That's for the
House of Commons commission to
discuss next week. A panel chaired
by John Bercow. Some MPs today were
concerned about overreaction. Here
is Paul Farrelly who denied
allegations of bullying last week.
Before members jump to judgment on
what was a very selective BBC
broadcast, approaching the cases
that have been raised in a more
A consensus has
emerged that something must be done
and the enquiry should help to
decide what. The clerks won't be
left out of efforts to reform
Westminster but any system where MPs
and still make decisions on
sanctioning MPs will not have the
support of staff. That was Chris
I am joined now by the MP
Caroline Lucas, the co-leader
of the Green Party.
And the MP who tabled the urgent
question leading to Andrea Leadsom's
statement. Did it go the way you
There was a change of tone,
which was welcome. There was a
change or deciding the complaints as
exaggerated. That was positive. We
had acknowledgement that the new
procedures will be expanded to
include all staff, which is good,
but where it fell short is the lack
of real grappling with the fact that
the whole process from start to
finish has to be independent. This
new enquiry that Andrea Leadsom
announced is supposed to be
undertaken by the House of Commons
commission, in other words another
set of MPs. If this saga has told us
anything it is that you cannot have
MPs judging other MPs. It doesn't
work, it won't breed confidence. So
in the new procedure and the old one
we have to look at, we have to get
rid of any sense that this is MPs
marking their own homework.
feel today that there was the
appetite to recognise that and
Not to the degree that
I'd have liked. Some MPs get it
across the house. But the fact that
the leader of the house can be
proposing another process that is
not independent, the commission
looking at cases indicates a lack of
understanding. We cannot have MPs
making those key decisions on fellow
That is mirrored by the
situation today, John Bercow
presiding over and calling on you to
make the urgent question. Is that
the sticking point, that actually
while you've got the judge and jury
in the same place, you can't get to
the bottom of it?
The position of
John Bercow today was different in
the sense that we weren't talking
about live complaints that are
current under existing guidelines
being discussed this was about a
structure, the systemic issue and to
be fair to him he's been very good
at calling urgent questions.
need to say something publicly about
the allegations about himself?
think it would clear the air if he
did, but there has to be an
investigation and at the moment
we've only had allegations from one
side which have been refuted. We
need an investigation. But it cannot
and must not be an investigation
undertaken by MPs. That can have no
credibility with the staff.
think there is a need, and appetite
to get to the bottom of this or
whether there is a bit of
politicking going on, especially
concerning the speaker's job, as he
has made a lot of enemies in the
Some people are using this for
political ends. James Diedrich got
up to criticise John Bercow for
deciding over the proceedings today,
that MP has no love for John Bercow,
for many years. Yes, people are
using this to settle scores and
that's disappointing because what's
at stake is the well-being of staff
who work very long hours, everyday
for MPs, so we have to tackle the
underlying culture of privilege
allowing MPs to think they can act
in ways that would not be accessible
in any other workplace. Parliament
should be the beacon of best
practice rather than constantly
running to keep up.
Thank you for
When it comes to picking fights
with the EU Britain is not alone.
Poland is now in the dock.
It's popularist right-wing
government stands accused
of threatening the independence
of the judiciary by
greatly increasing it's
control of the courts.
This has led the European Commission
to trigger an unprecedented Article
7 proceeding against Warsaw.
If Poland fails to back down by next
Tuesday, March 20th,
it could ultimately lose it's
EU voting rights.
There are also widespread concerns
that the authoritarian policies
of the ruling Law and Justice Party
are threatening liberal democracy
by attacking the media,
curbing civil rights and encouraging
cultural and religious intolerance.
Mike Thomson's been to Warsaw
to find out more about Poland's
We should get back to our tradition.
We do not need to
learn from the West.
This is against the mainstream,
against the elite.
It's the right direction.
We are very much afraid.
We are closing our society,
just to our nation,
and that's not good.
The world is multinational.
Ever since Russian forces left,
25 years ago, Poland has
faced an identity crisis.
What does it mean to be Polish?
At first, the Euro
way was the only way.
But now, a new nationalism
is sweeping the nation.
In power since 2015,
the right-wing Law and Justice party
has tapped into dissatisfaction
with liberal, western values.
Emphasising a traditional idea
of Polishness, which promises
to give people back their pride,
culture and self-belief.
But many here fear that what they
regard as the authoritarian
political party behind all this
is hijacking the government,
by subverting the judiciary,
muzzling the media and curbing civil
I'm here to investigate whether such
claims are justified
and if we are really seeing
the beginning of the end of liberal
democracy in Poland.
This is Ostrow Mazowiecka,
a Law and Justice stronghold.
Like many parts of rural
East Poland, people have long felt
neglected by liberal politicians
and the urban elite.
Here at this windswept paving stone
factory on the edge of town,
there is resentment about the way
foreign EU leaders are criticising
the party they support.
This man has worked at the plant
for more than 25 years.
The town's mayor insists
people here have long been
ignored and talked down to.
He says his party are giving
them back their dignity.
Pride, both personal and national,
isn't the only thing
being given to people here.
Welfare payments for anyone
with children is yet another
very popular policy.
struggling to raise three
children in her tiny flat,
has long felt let
down by politicians.
Not any more.
Which party do you think
you will give your vote
to in the next election?
This gathering in the capital,
of older urbanites, looks a world
away from those in Ostrow
But appearances can be deceiving.
Here at this right-wing
club in central Warsaw,
liberalism is under attack.
For the last hour or so we've been
hearing all about concerns over
the Pope's policies towards gay
marriage and divorce,
but it goes much deeper than that.
People here have big issues
with the whole subject
of Western democracy itself.
We were robbed, we have debts.
Most of the rules were
very poor, very bad.
We were servants, servants
to the Western capitalists coming
to Poland from 1989.
In Jan's view, the majority of Poles
have seen few real benefits
since the fall of Communism.
Who gained freedom, I'm asking?
Was Communists, their friends
and families and their
supporters, that's it.
One third is for the
rest of the people.
We should really pursue our own way
and our own tradition.
Of course it's very difficult
but there is a good
saying, can you count?
If you can, count on yourself.
But if Poland carries on down this
path, the biggest beneficiary of EU
grants can't count on the support
of the EU.
Brussels has condemned its move
to take over the appointment
and disciplining of judges
and to make them retire earlier.
But the party's vice president
in the European Parliament sees this
as an unwarranted interference.
Mainly when I'm talking
with my colleagues in
the European Parliament I always
say, OK, you are criticising Poland.
Look at your country.
I cannot accept situation
when the people from the other
countries which are not informed
about the situation,
do not speak Polish,
do not visit Poland,
they compare the situation of Poland
to Russia, Turkey, two different
Some believe the government
is playing an Poland's many
reminders of invasion,
to blame foreigners for their woes.
This government needs enemies,
you know, they are in desperate
search for enemies.
Each and every month
they invent a new enemy.
The European Union is one.
Germany is number one.
It is a very successful mechanism
for attracting people
and the name of the game again,
with this electorate, as I described
it, is a kind of simplicity.
Proud of being Polish,
there is this megalomaniac history
that is being proposed,
offered anew, which is not
necessarily is a real history.
Civil rights groups
have come to fear that
they're on this list too.
Through these doors is the offices
of a women's rights charity.
Just a few months ago,
police went through here,
up the stairs and raided the office,
taking with them dozens
of confidential files, none
of which have yet been returned.
Of course it was very shocking
for us and very scared,
especially when it was a day
when we had clients in our offices.
When the police came they took not
only all the financial documents
but also the documents
concerning very sensitive
data of our clients.
Sometimes we think how big an impact
it had not only on us,
on our situation, the trust
of our clients, how safe they feel.
She suspects that her organisation's
biggest crime is championing women's
rights rather than the kind
of traditional family
values espoused by the
Polish Prime Minister.
So, how is this all
being allowed to happen?
Neither will campaigns backed
by this judge to keep Poland's
But why is the government
is so intent on eroding this?
Law and Justice have insisted that
all they're doing is redressing
the long-standing liberal bias
in the country.
But is it not really
a naked power grab?
This was in your questions about
fundamental rights, civil rights.
I can assure you, they are not
in danger, in this country.
The professor believes things cannot
go on the way they are indefinitely.
One of the things that we have
to emphasise about the Poland
of today is that we have
a constituational crisis.
We have a separation of powers
that is nonexistent here,
the rule of law has been violated
on many occasions by the president
and by this party.
This is a violation of the existing
and we are asking ourselves,
when will it be that these people
will face the state tribunal?
Because this is the obvious thing.
I think it will happen
sooner or later.
Poland's radical policies
are flying high for now,
kept aloft by populist answers
to the nation's identity
crisis and the woes
of its marginalised rural poor.
But gathering storm clouds may yet
force Warsaw to change course,
as the battle with Brussels nears.
Mike Thomson reporting.
We did ask the Polish
government for an interview
but no one was available.
Ken Dodd used to say
that he loved to watch Newsnight
last thing at night.
"It's saved me a fortune
on milky drinks."
He might have stayed up
for this one though,
a tribute to a comedian
who was called many things,
perhaps the nicest of which was
simply "life affirming".
Ken Dodd was was
the son of a coalman.
He never left the home
in Knotty Ash, Liverpool,
where he grew up and indeed died
there aged 90 this weekend.
Stephen Smith looks back on the work
of one of Britain's greats.
The one and only Ken Dodd!
Tonight, ladies and gentlemen,
I feel absolutely tattyfilarious
and full of plumptiousness.
What he had in spades was that
very peculiarly British
quality of total daftness.
It makes me absolutely
disconficurated to see that
so many of you have turned up
for the free soup.
He hung out with the Beatles
and they shared jokes about hair.
We call it "herr" in Liverpool.
We say Judy with the "ferr herr".
Only the Fab four themselves had
bigger hits in the 60s.
Ken Dodd even held the record
for the longest run
at the London Palladium.
To go to one of his gigs wasn't only
a kind of beautiful experience
of Stockholm syndrome,
as he kept you inside that theatre
until you submitted to his humour,
but it was also to hear jokes that
might have been in
circulation are centuries.
might have been in
circulation for centuries.
Newsnight spoke to Ken Dodd
in his hometown a few years back.
If you want to enjoy
life, its optimism.
I always go on the stage and say,
by Jove, what a beautiful day.
What a beautiful day
for doing this and that,
what a day for ramming
a cucumber through the vicar's
letterbox and saying, look out,
the Martians are coming.
What a beautiful day for bouncing
up and down in a big
barrel of blancmange.
What a beautiful day
for rushing onto the Roland
Using the jokes, which
works to emphasise.
Willie works in the docks
in Liverpool and he's
what they call a diesel fitter,
he goes round looking in the cases
saying "these'll fit her",
"these'll fit her".
I worked for my father in a coal
business with my brother and then
I was on the knocker,
as you say, going around selling
pots and pans and tickling sticks.
Selling things like this,
saying ooh, missus and all
of that is a kind of patter,
a kind of pitch that's directed
at a working-class audience.
Here's a suggestion
from Mrs Nellie Dean who writes,
I think it's high time that
Ken Dodd got knighted.
Well, Mrs Dean, I'd like to thank
you very much for your kind letter.
Just a minute, that says
naughty, not knighted.
Class may have held Ken Dodd back,
he wasn't knighted until 2016.
He also faced trial over an alleged
tax fraud before being acquitted.
# Tears have been my
only consolation #.
Many admired his
singing voice which brought him
several hit records and directors
cast Ken Dodd in straight acting
roles or straight-ish.
But you've won the grand prize.
Well, what is it?
I've never won anything before.
Ladies and gentlemen,
please welcome Mr Ken Dodd.
Even his greatest admirers admit
it was the theatre, not telly
where Ken Dodd really shone.
Ken was addicted to a live
audience, to real people
sitting in rows of seats.
In a sense, the camera got
in the way and he never mastered
the camera like Frankie Howard did
or Bruce did or Eric and Ernie.
A live theatre, it's
a one to one experience,
there's not all this scrap iron
in the way!
Is there ever a moment...
Don't you dare say that word!
No, no, no.
People retire, men retire
when they stop doing what they don't
want to do and start doing
what they do want to do.
Now I happen to know that you'd
rather have an allotment and raise
chickens than be a journalist.
# Happiness to me is an ocean tide,
a sunset fading on a mountainside.
I watched your programme,
it is a barrel of laughs.
You have some very,
very funny people.
# Happiness, happiness #
That's all we have time for.
Evan's here tomorrow.
Till then, goodnight.