THERE is an air of manipulation surrounding the aftermath of the chemical attack in Salisbury. Attributing blame to Russia the word used by the Prime Minister was “likely”. This is not good enough and Jeremy Corbyn was right to hesitate before condemning ("Fury as Corbyn misjudges mood over Russian attack", The Herald, March 15). The patriotic scoundrels on the Labour benches need to have more respect for due process. Why has the British Government refused to show the evidence to the Russians when asked and, if necessary, call their bluff?

Not only is it shocking to discover that Russian oligarchs have donated to the Conservative Party but the muted response in parliament to Mr Corbyn’s reference to it was a disgrace, the more so since Labour MPs seemed content to ignore the issue. Hopefully Labour Party members and the public at large will not treat this news so lightly.

John Inglis,

High Corrie, Arran.

AFTER reading your front page article today, I’m left wondering if we’ve now passed peak Corbyn. Mr Corbyn’s reaction to the use of chemical weapons in Salisbury has been inept, shocking and craven. He was a serial rebel from the back benches when his own party was in government and appears unable to stop himself from objecting to any and all views he regards as coming from the establishment. Scepticism is a valuable attribute, but you can overdo it.

The substance used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal was a complex chemical that very few states have the capability, or desire, to manufacture. Mr Skripal was a Russian double agent. It’s hardly surprising, then, that suspicion fell on Russia, especially as they have form on assassination of those they see as traitors. Russia has responded to the suspicions with arrogance and disdain, which simply increases those suspicions.

This attempted murder was carried out in the centre of Salisbury. It’s simply fortuitous that none of the people who were in the vicinity of the victims, including perhaps families with children, have so far reported any symptoms. But a Wiltshire Police officer, Sergeant Nick Bailey, has been left seriously ill after rushing to help. In these circumstances, it’s alarming that the Leader of the Opposition wants to shilly-shally, desperately looking for any old excuse to avoid taking action. Mr Corbyn is good at talking the talk about social justice, “for the many not the few”, and all manner of other waffle. But give him a tough practical decision to make and he just bottles it.

Doug Maughan,

52 Menteith View, Dunblane.

I UNDERSTOOD that the bedrock of UK justice was the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. In our courts “we think you did it” is not proof of guilt, yet sanctions are being taken against Russia before proof of guilt has been definitively established.

My understanding is that the there is doubt in the expert community that the incriminated class of nerve agents, that were intended to be synthesised using basic facilities, were actually ever manufactured. I read that the centre that was trying to manufacture the new class of chemical weapons was in Uzbekistan not Russia and that following the collapse of the USSR the facility was dismantled under the watchful eye of the United States. The other imponderable is how our experts at Porton Down, our own chemical weapons facility, can be so certain of the provenance of the incriminated toxic substance without verifiable samples to compare it with.

I get a distinct feeling of déjà vu.

David J Crawford,

85 Whittingehame Court,

1300 Great Western Road, Glasgow.

ASSUMING, as I do, that intelligence agents are of above average intelligence, I cannot get to grips with the idea that Russian secret services would try to bump off the former spy Sergei Skripal with a poisoning agent knowing it would be like leaving a calling card, implicating them directly, when they could have done it in numerously more efficient ways. It simply does not wash.

It is even more implausible considering that Russia is probably the only country that could not benefit from the attack. I hope, therefore, that the Scottish Government does not fall into the trap and embrace the London Government’s Russophobic hysteria, blaming Russia without evidence when just about any country could have made the poison agent; especially Britain where nerve gases originated.

Without establishing who committed the crime or determining where the agent came from, Thresa May and her accomplices, with their seemingly pathological hatred of Russia, laid down ultimatums, which Russia quite rightly refused to accept. Sending a sample of the agent to Russia to let them inspect it for themselves could do absolutely no harm whatsoever. Why was the request refused?

Could this be but another distraction to build up support in the propaganda battle against Russia for supporting President Assad and the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party in Syria? It seems more likely to me that British agents were behind the attack in an attempted publicity murder of Vladimir Putin.

William Burns,

41/8 Pennywell Road, Edinburgh.

IN contrast to the wishy-washy performance of the Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition I believe Theresa May has shown statesmanship, with firmness, restraint and resolve, following the attempted assassination of the two Russians on British soil, and has acquitted herself well.

Her decision to expel 23 Russian spies is measured and proportionate; but, just a thought, why do we tolerate known spies in the guise of diplomats? The answer lies of course in what will be the tit-for-tat expulsion of our own "diplomats" from Moscow.

Better the devil you know ...

R Russell Smith,

96 Milton Road, Kilbirnie.

ALISON Rowat's article ("Quitting RT show can only be good news for Salmond", The Herald, March 15) neatly points out the dilemma raised by Alex Salmond's RT show.

It is surely wrong for our former First Minister to continue to be involved with a Putin-financed Russian propaganda outlet, while right-thinking people, including the present First Minister, condemn the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. Such disgraceful behaviour, stubbornly resistant to any moral influence, brings discredit upon himself, his party and his country.

If he ignores that contradiction, when can we expect the SNP to expel him from the party?

Bob Scott,

Creitendam Lodge, Balmaha Road, Drymen.