Former MI6 chief says evidence of Wuhan lab-leak likely destroyed

Former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove says coronavirus Wuhan lab-leak theory will be difficult to prove as any evidence has likely been destroyed by China

  • Sir Richard Dearlove said proving the lab-leak theory will prove to be difficult  
  • Former head of the MI6 said evidence of a leak will likely have been destroyed
  • Speaking to The Telegraph, he said research into Covid’s origin is now vital
  • Sir Richard’s comments come after US President Joe Biden last week told intelligence agencies to look into the lab leak theory 

If any evidence exists that the Covid-19 pandemic was caused by a lab leak in Wuhan it would likely have been destroyed by China, the former head of MI6 has said.

Sir Richard Dearlove has said proving the theory that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was working on ‘gain of function’ experiments to create a natural coronavirus that would be more deadly to humans will be very difficult.

He also said he thought Western countries had been naive in their trust of China, which he says has infiltrated scientific institutions and journals in Britain and abroad.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph’s ‘Planet Normal’ podcast, Dearlove – who lead the British secret intelligence service from 1999 to 2004 – also said it was possible that scientists who wanted to speak about the experiments had been ‘silenced’.

If any evidence exists that the Covid-19 pandemic was caused by a lab leak in Wuhan it would likely have been destroyed by China, the former head of MI6 has said. Pictured: Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6 from 1999 to 2004

‘The People’s Republic of China is a pretty terrifying regime and does some things we consider unacceptable and extreme in silencing opposition to the official line of the government,’ he said.

‘We don’t know that’s what’s happened, but a lot of data have probably been destroyed or made to disappear so it’s going to be difficult to prove definitely the case for a “gain of function chimera” being the cause of the pandemic.’

For this reason, Sir Richard said, scientific research is now more important to determine whether the virus was created in a man-made lab experiment. 

Sir Richard’s comments come after US President Joe Biden last week told intelligence agencies to look into the lab leak theory, along with other possible origins for the coronavirus, and deliver a report to him within 90 days. 

British intelligence is working alongside their US counterparts, and have said that the theory that coronavirus leaked from a lab is ‘feasible’, while a number of respected scientists have called for a major inquiry into its origins.

Dearlove has long questioned the origins of the coronavirus and spoke of how he received ‘a lot of stick’ for sharing his beliefs in the past. 

Western intelligence agencies had seemingly written off the ‘remote’ chance that the laboratory – where research into bat-derived coronaviruses is conducted – had played a role. Pictured: Researchers in a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province, February 2017

Now, he said, people are beginning to take the theory seriously, giving him a sense of ‘vindication’ after some ‘extraordinary behaviour in the scientific community which successfully shut down any debate’ which he said could amount to bullying.

He added that people not taking the theory seriously could have been a symptom of the Trump regime in the US, with the former president’s outlandish allegations so often being dismissed.

‘In the end it’s going to boil down to scientific evidence because the data is no longer available unless some courageous Chinese individual, probably a scientist, comes forward,’ Sir Richard added.

He also case doubt over whether – if the allegations were found to be true – China would pay reparations for the global damage caused by the coronavirus, with China’s relations with the rest of the world in that scenario becoming unpredictable.

An inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus should no longer be left to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Sir Richard added. The UN’s health body has been criticised for failing to investigate the issue sufficiently. 

In an interview earlier this month President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed that a lab escape was ‘a possibility’. He said he would also back a second investigation by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Pictured: The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)

The Mail has been asking if the virus stemmed from a Wuhan lab since April 2020

The Mail has consistently questioned the early consensus that COVID-19 was transmitted to humans from animals.

Our reporters have dug into the details and challenged the assumptions about how the pandemic originated. 

APRIL 4, 2020: 

Did coronavirus leak from a research lab in Wuhan? Startling new theory is ‘no longer being discounted’ amid claims staff ‘got infected after being sprayed with blood’

Ministers fear that the coronavirus pandemic might have been caused by a leak from a Chinese laboratory, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Senior Government sources say that while ‘the balance of scientific advice’ is still that the deadly virus was first transmitted to humans from a live animal market in Wuhan, a leak from a laboratory in the Chinese city is ‘no longer being discounted’.

One member of Cobra, the emergency committee led by Boris Johnson, said last night that while the latest intelligence did not dispute the virus was ‘zoonotic’ – originating in animals – it did not rule out that the virus first spread to humans after leaking from a Wuhan laboratory. 

APRIL 15, 2020:

Mike Pompeo demands truth from Beijing as US investigates if COVID-19 escaped from Wuhan lab during experiments and China covered it up by blaming ‘wet’ food markets

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has demanded that China ‘come clean’ following reports that coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory, not as a bioweapon, but as part of bungling experiments to prove that Chinese scientists were superior to Americans in identifying emerging virus threats.

It comes after President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the U.S. is trying to determine whether the coronavirus first crossed to humans accidentally during experiments with bats at the Wuhan Institute of Virology Lab.

After word of the outbreak finally became public, Chinese leaders were quick to blame Wuhan’s ‘wet market’ where wild animals — though not bats — are sold for consumption, leading one source to tell Fox News the debacle is the ‘costliest government coverup of all time.’

MAY 2, 2020: 

Wuhan virus lab ‘cover-up’: Startling photos of scientists wearing little protection as they handle deadly bat samples vanish from website of Chinese institute at the centre of global suspicion over pandemic 

Pictures which appear to show slack safety standards at the Chinese laboratory at the centre of international sus­picion over Covid-19 have been systematically deleted from its website – as Donald Trump continues to ramp up the pressure on Beijing over its potential role in the outbreak. 

During the past month, Wuhan’s Institute of Virology has removed photographs of scientists working in its laboratories and edited out references to visits by US diplomats who subsequently raised the alarm about the laboratory’s work on bats. 

US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he had seen intelligence that gave him a ‘high degree of confidence’ that the global crisis had its origins in the institute – a month after The Mail on Sunday first revealed that British Cabinet Ministers had received classified briefings raising the possibility of a leak from the institute. 

Downing Street did not take issue with President Trump’s remarks. ‘There are clearly questions that need to be answered about the origin and spread of the virus,’ a spokesman for Boris Johnson said. 

MAY 30, 2020:

Beijing now admits that coronavirus DIDN’T start in Wuhan’s market… so where DID it come from 

China has become used to public confessions on television. But this time the words came from one of the nation’s top officials and had seismic global implications.

‘At first, we assumed the seafood market might have the virus, but now the market is more like a victim,’ said Gao Fu, director of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gao’s initial analysis had made sense after previous outbreaks of zoonotic viruses (diseases that jump from animals to humans). Yet suspicion grew over the Chinese government’s failure to share data from animals sampled in the market following its early cover-ups.

JANUARY 2, 2021: 

China lab leak is the ‘most credible’ source of the coronavirus outbreak, says top US government official, amid bombshell claims Wuhan scientist has turned whistleblower 

One of America’s most senior government officials says the most ‘credible’ theory about the origin of coronavirus is that it escaped from a laboratory in China.

Matthew Pottinger, who is President Donald Trump’s respected Deputy National Security Adviser, told politicians from around the world that even China’s leaders now openly admit their previous claims that the virus originated in a Wuhan market are false.

Mr Pottinger said that the latest intelligence points to the virus leaking from the top-secret Wuhan Institute of Virology, 11 miles from the market, saying: ‘There is a growing body of evidence that the lab is likely the most credible source of the virus.’

JANUARY 9, 2021:

New cover-up fears as Chinese officials delete critical data about the Wuhan lab with details of 300 studies vanishing – including all those carried out by virologist dubbed Batwoman

The Chinese government is facing fresh accusations of a cover-up after officials deleted crucial online data about the laboratory suspected of being the source of Covid-19.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that hundreds of pages of information relating to studies carried out by the top-secret Wuhan Institute of Virology have been wiped.

Details of more than 300 studies, including many investigating diseases that pass from animals to humans, published online by the state-run National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) are no longer available.

APRIL 24, 2021:

Worrying new clues about the origins of Covid: How scientists at Wuhan lab helped Chinese army in secret project to find animal viruses 

Scientists studying bat diseases at China’s maximum-security laboratory in Wuhan were engaged in a massive project to investigate animal viruses alongside leading military officials – despite their denials of any such links.

Documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday reveal that a nationwide scheme, directed by a leading state body, was launched nine years ago to discover new viruses and detect the ‘dark matter’ of biology involved in spreading diseases. 

British intelligence operatives now believe the theory, once discarded as a conspiracy theory, is ‘feasible’.

They are now investigating the possibility that a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a Chinese research facility, sparked the global crisis which has sparked more than 3.5 million deaths.   

Western intelligence agencies had seemingly written off the ‘remote’ chance that the laboratory – where research into bat-derived coronaviruses is conducted – had played a role, but a recent reassessment has meant the leak theory is considered ‘feasible’, sources say.

The development, which Beijing has angrily denied, has prompted US diplomatic sources to share their concerns ‘we are one wet market or bio lab away from the next spillover’, The Sunday Times reports. 

Chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, Tom Tugendhat, said: ‘The silence coming from Wuhan is troubling. We need to open the crypt and see what happened to be able to protect ourselves in the future. That means starting an investigation, along with partners around the world and in the WHO.’ 

Last week US President Joe Biden told intelligence agencies to look into the lab leak theory, along with other possible origins for the coronavirus, and deliver a report to him within 90 days. 

British intelligence is working alongside their US counterparts. 

A western intelligence source familiar with British involvement said: ‘There might be pockets of evidence that take us one way, and evidence that takes us another way. 

‘The Chinese will lie either way. I don’t think we will ever know.’

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said a World Health Organisation investigation must be able to fully investigate the origins of the pandemic. 

He told Sky News this week: ‘I think it’s really important that the WHO is allowed to conduct its investigation unencumbered into the origins of this pandemic and that we should leave no stone unturned to understand why – not only because of the current pandemic that has swept the world but also for future-proofing the world’s capability to deal with pandemics.’

Scientists who had called for an inquiry into the lab leak theory say they have been silenced by colleagues and journals over the past year.

Jamie Metzl, human genome editing advisor to the WHO, said: ‘Since the earliest days of the pandemic there were a small number of leading scientists who took it upon themselves to enforce this kind of orthodoxy.

‘We were ostracised and called conspiracy theorists.’

The origins of the virus are under fresh scrutiny with the collapse of the scientific consensus that it emerged from human contact with an infected animal, with some experts now arguing that the virus was man-made.

David Asher, who led a task force investigating the origins of Covid, said evidence pointed to a leak from a biological weapons program at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which the Chinese government has repeatedly denied. 

President Biden ordered the intelligence community to re-examine how the virus originated, including the lab accident theory. He ordered a 90-day intelligence push to get to the bottom of the question.

His announcement followed the revelation that a previously undisclosed intelligence report had been made to the White House, claiming that several researchers at the Wuhan institute were hospitalized with illness in November 2019. The document was uncovered this week by the Wall Street Journal.

Both the US and Britain are stepping up demands for the World Health Organisation to take a closer look into the origins of the virus, including a new visit to China where the first human infections were detected. 

US health officials have also come under fire for allegedly funding researchers’ controversial and risky experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

US House Republican Whip Steve Scalise and more than 200 of his GOP colleagues have also called for Nancy Pelosi to direct her Democrat-led committees to investigate China’s complicity in causing the Covid pandemic. 

In a letter to the Democratic House Speaker, the Republicans said there is ‘mounting evidence the pandemic started in a Chinese lab’ and the Chinese Communist Party ‘covered it up’.

‘If that is the case, the CCP is responsible for the deaths of almost 600,000 Americans and millions more worldwide. These questions about the CCP’s liability are not a diversion, as you falsely claimed,’ the letter reads.

Meanwhile, an explosive new study claims Chinese scientists created Covid in a Wuhan lab, then tried to cover their tracks by reverse-engineering versions of the virus to make it look like it evolved naturally from bats.

The paper’s authors, British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr. Birger Sørensen, wrote that they have had ‘prima facie evidence of retro-engineering in China’ for a year – but were ignored by academics and major journals.   

Dalgleish is a professor of oncology at St George’s University, London, and is best known for his breakthrough creating the first working ‘HIV vaccine’, to treat diagnosed patients and allow them to go off medication for months.

Sørensen, a virologist, is chair of pharmaceutical company, Immunor, which developed a coronavirus vaccine candidate called Biovacc-19. Dalgleish also has share options in the firm. 

The shocking allegations in the study include accusations of ‘deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data’ at Chinese labs, and it notes the silencing and disappearance of scientists in the communist country who spoke out. 

The journal article, obtained by, is set to make waves among the scientific community, as the majority of experts have until recently staunchly denied the origins of COVID-19 were anything other than a natural infection leaping from animals to humans. 

While analyzing COVID-19 samples last year in an attempt to create a vaccine, Dalgleish and Sørensen discovered ‘unique fingerprints’ in the virus that they say could only have arisen from manipulation in a laboratory. 

They said they tried to publish their findings but were rejected by major scientific journals which were at the time resolute that the virus jumped naturally from bats or other animals to humans.

Even when former MI6 chief Sir Richard spoke out publicly saying the scientists’ theory should be investigated, the idea was dismissed as ‘fake news’.

Over a year later, leading academics, politicians and the media finally flipped, and have begun to contemplate the possibility that COVID-19 escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China – a lab where experiments included manipulating viruses to increase their infectiousness in order to study their potential effects on humans.

Dalgleish and Sørensen have authored a new study, which concludes that ‘SARS-Coronavirus-2 has no credible natural ancestor’ and that it is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that the virus was created through ‘laboratory manipulation’. 

In the 22-page paper which is set to be published in the scientific journal Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery, the scientists describe their months-long ‘forensic analysis’, looking back at experiments done at the Wuhan lab between 2002 and 2019.     

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