Was the Salisbury nerve agent attack which has left a former Russian spy and his daughter fighting for their lives actually a ‘false flag’ attack organised by the local council in an attempt to create publicity for the city? “It’s all just so embarrassing – some of us wanted to come clean as soon as the story started breaking, but it all got out of hand,” a confidential source within the council told The Sleaze. “First of all they started talking about nerve agents and started sending in all those guys in NBC suits, then Boris Johnson started accusing Russian President Putin of personally orchestrating the whole incident! I mean, we couldn’t say anything after that, could we?” Nevertheless, with the situation now escalating out of hand, as the Foreign Secretary compares Putin to Hitler, our source feels that he finally has to speak out, before UK-Russian relations are irreparably damaged. “It all seemed a good idea at the time – the local Chamber of Commerce certainly agreed – if we could manufacture some kind of fake terror incident here, it would get us international headlines and make the city seem more exciting,” they explained. “I mean, nothing ever happens here. Sure, we’ve got all those geriatrics coming here to see the cathedral and Stonehenge, but we needed a new, less stuffy image for the city, to attract a new, younger, breed of tourist. We reckoned that we could play on it for years. You know, ‘Tea and Terror’ tours around the scenes of the crime, ending up at some quaint tea rooms!”

But the plan seems to have backfired spectacularly, with parts of the city under quarantine and empty streets as residents cower indoors and visitors avoid the city in order to avoid contamination. “It’s ridiculous – there was never any nerve agent,” declares the source. “It was just one of the local down and outs breaking wind in their direction – we had to ply the flea ridden bastard with a couple of litres of meths to get him set up in the right position for his noxious emissions to have maximum effect. Believe me, the farts those bastards let rip could strip paint. Just to be on the safe side, the day before, we’d got another of them to piss all over the bench where the incident occurred – we knew the Russki always sat there on a Sunday afternoon!” The use of the local derelicts was part of the plan’s secondary objective: to rid the city centre of undesirables. “We thought that once the police had established their role, they’d round up all the bastards,” the source says. “If they were denounced as suspected Russian agents, then even the local bleeding heart liberal do gooders wouldn’t protest at their removal. The fact is that they are a bloody menace: pissing, puking and shitting everywhere, going on alcohol fuelled rampages, frightening and intimidating innocent shoppers! The Chamber of Commerce reckon that they’ve had a catastrophic impact on trade in the area!”

Naturally, these claims have been dismissed by the local council, Chamber of Commerce and government as being ‘utter nonsense’, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson maintaining that Vladimir Putin himself is personally responsible. “According to our latest information, Sergei Skirpal and his daughter were, in effect, collateral damage,” Johnson told the Commons. “They were merely a convenient smokescreen for a personal revenge attack against the city of Salisbury by President Putin. He has held a grievance against the city ever since he was short changed at a local tea room when he was operating undercover there as a young KGB agent, attempting to penetrate Porton Down.” Mr Johnson has declined to elaborate on exactly where this latest intelligence was obtained from. Other politicians have cast doubt upon whether the Russians actually are behind the Salisbury attack. “SPECTRE can never be discounted in these situations,” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn opined during a recent Prime Minister’s Question Time, as he demanded Prime Minister Theresa May disclose whether a ransom had been secretly demanded by the international crime syndicate, in order to stave off the possibility of further attacks. “It has been previously established that SPECTRE has the capability to produce chemical and biological weapons at its secret Alpine base. And let’s not forget those reports of a bald man stroking a long haired white cat outside the Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury in the run up to the attack.”

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable woke up for long enough to agree that SPECTRE was a prime suspect in the attack, but that it could be working on behalf of a state actor. “Obviously, SPECTRE has form for trying to create tension between Russia and the west in the hope of triggering a nuclear exchange which will leave their Chinese clients masters of the smouldering radioactive cinder left in the wake of such an outcome,” he declared to an empty chamber, as everyone else had adjourned for tea. “Ordinarily, of course, the next stage would involve SPECTRE launching that rocket from its Japanese volcano base to hijack US and Russian satellites in an attempt to ramp up the tension. Unfortunately though, said volcano recently erupted. I say erupted, but I think we all know that was simply the result of a pre-emptive strike by MI6, whose top agent infiltrated the facility and forced Blofeld to pull the self destruct lever. Even now, SPECTRE are probably negotiating with Karl Stromberg to loan them his super tanker which can swallow nuclear submarines whole.”

Wiltshire Police, meanwhile, have defended their initial investigations into the attack against allegations of incompetence, denying that its officers had originally mistaken the stricken spy and his daughter for drug addicts and had tried to arrest them. “Once the nature of the attack had been established, we moved quickly to secure key locations – including the London Road cemetery where Mr Skirpal’s wife and son are buried,” a spokesperson told The Sleaze. “We excavated those two graves and found that they contained bodies – we launched an immediate investigation.” Indeed, according to local press reports, the police have since excavated several other nearby graves and have found that they also contain bodies. “They now fear that the cemetery might contain hundreds of bodies” a local source told us. “Consequently, they have launched an investigation into the possibility that a serial killer has been dumping their victims there.” The council insider who first alerted The Sleaze to the possibility of the local council’s involvement is currently in a state of despair at the current situation. “For God’s sake, why don’t they listen to me,” he pleads. “They could stop this massive wastage of public funds and this ridiculous war of words with Russia!” The Foreign Secretary, meanwhile, has announced his plans to escalate diplomatic sanctions against Moscow by dropping his trousers and mooning at the Russian embassy in London.