Orsam Books

Lord Orsam Says....Part 27


You'd think Miss Information would understand what a source reference is, wouldn't you?

Having been repeatedly asked what her source was for the claim of Mike having denied to Shirley prior to July 1992 that he'd read Ryan's book, she FINALLY, in #8192, identified the dates of two recordings in which he is supposed to have said this.

Please don't tell me she wasn't already aware that this was the basic minimum required in order to identify a source. 

But, still, despite these apparently being recorded conversations, not a single quote is provided.  Why is that?  Don't tell me she doesn't understand the importance of direct quotes.  Of course she does.  So why are we still in the dark?

The two references are these:

1. The meeting on 18 January 1995 when 'Mike says he didn't take the diary seriously at first and had never heard of 'The Poisoned Life of Mrs Maybrick' before Shirley mentioned it to him'.

2. A conversation in April 1994 when Mike said 'the  same' about Ryan's book.

Now the thing about these two references is that they do not, on their face, support what Miss Information originally claimed they did.  She originally told us that she had a record of Mike denying to Shirley prior to July 1992 that he'd heard of Ryan (and for this reason he couldn't include any mention of Ryan in his book)

Now it's a bait and switch.   We are now told something very different, namely that, to Keith Skinner, Mike in 1994 and 1995 denied having heard of Ryan's book prior to Shirley mentioning it to him.

This is VERY different to what we were first told.

I always thought it was strange that Keith would ask Mike in Shirley's presence what he had said to Shirley when she told him about Ryan's book.  While it wasn't impossible that Mike explained to Keith the details of that conversation, it would have been something that Keith could easily have asked Shirley about if he had wanted to know about a conversation between her and Mike.  Why ask Mike at a meeting involving Shirley?

Now it makes more sense if all that Mike told Keith long after 1992 was that he hadn't heard of Ryan's book until Shirley mentioned it to him at some unspecified time.  Mike was just lying because he knew that Ryan's book was the forger's primary source of Maybrick information.


In #8194, RJ Palmer asked Miss information:

'How on earth is Mike's denial in 1995 and 1994 evidence that Shirley asked Mike about Ryan as early as 1992?'

Miss Information's answer in #8197 was:

'It's not.  I don't think I ever claimed it was.'


This is what she said in #8097, when she first dealt with the issue, with my underlining: 

'There are reasons why Mike didn't hand over his research notes until July/August 1992, having made only vague references to his sources, and not dating the notes themselves. He wanted Shirley to believe he had been researching what was in the diary since the previous August, when Tony Devereux died and gave him a provenance he could stick with. He had to have something to show for all those months of hard work, which he hadn't actually done because he didn't know the diary existed before March 9 1992, and didn't know Bernard Ryan's book from a bar of soap before Shirley mentioned it to him, at some point after April 13 1992. He couldn't then name Ryan as his source for the Maybrick research, or Shirley would have instantly rumbled that his notes had not been compiled over several months, but only after she herself had made him aware of Ryan's book.'

Thus, she was saying that at some point before Mike handed over his research notes to Shirley (which was in July/August 1992) Mike had told Shirley that he didn't know Ryan's book from a bar of soap.

She repeated this claim in #8160:

'I'll keep this really simple. Shirley asks Mike if he's read Bernard Ryan's book on Maybrick. Mike tells her he's never heard of it'. 

Then she repeated it again in #8166:

'We do have recorded conversations, between Mike, Shirley and Keith, on separate occasions, confirming that when Shirley first mentioned Ryan's book to Mike, he said...he'd not heard of it.

Mike telling Shirley prior to July 1992 that he'd never heard of Ryan's book is the key statement by Mike which MUST have happened for any of Miss Information's theory to be correct yet she clearly can't provide any evidence for him ever having said it to Shirley prior to July 1992.

It's basically the 'reminded' disaster all over again where she initially misrepresented the evidence and had to try and cover that misrepresentation up.

It also reminds me of the misrepresentation of what Mike said about Anna Koren from the Cloak & Dagger meeting.

I'm also reminded of the stunning misrepresentation of Martin Earl's description of the red 1891 diary which Miss Information wrongly stated contained information that dates were printed on the pages while ignoring the fact that it actually said that most of the pages were blank!

And let's not forget that we were told in the 2003 book 'Inside Story' that the purpose of the 18 January 1995 meeting was to question Mike about his 5th Jan affidavit, something which was only discovered to be false a full seventeen years later (when I exposed it as false).

It's essential that Miss Information is pressed to reveal every single reference that she relies on and, if the source isn't available, she needs to produce it too.  We need to see exact quotes.  Diary defenders cannot be trusted to summarize sources accurately.


The Clanger is, I see, fresh from his 'off Tithebarn Street' and sugar broker fiascos, still on his mental mission to undermine my 'Secret Source' article, even though (but possibly because) it's accepted by everyone that Mike must have used Ryan as his source.

In multiple posts he focuses on the Schweisso entry in Mike's notes which I discussed at some length in my article.

As my article makes clear, Mike's source for that single Schweisso entry could only possibly be the Liverpool Echo if he had used a combination of a report of the Police Court proceedings from 1889 AND a 1956 article containing an extract from Morland's book which he would then have had to combine in a strange and unrealistic way and which ended up, by chance, as having the same information as can be found in Ryan's book!  Neither article on its own contains the information which Mike would have needed to compile the entry.  Ryan is the obvious source for it.

The Clanger points out that I stated that Mike's notes refer to Schweisso as a porter whereas Ryan says he was a waiter.  The Clanger gives the impression of being confused at this point because he said (#8198):

'Is there anything here which could not have come from the LE, apart from a reference to 'Porter' which could have come from Morland, but didn't come from Ryan'.

It may be that he's punctuated it badly and that there should have been a comma after the word 'Porter' because, of course, Morland, like Ryan, described Schweisso as a waiter, not a porter.

Showing certain comprehension skills, the Clanger has noted that I said that Ryan doesn't describe Schweisso as a porter.  My own conclusion is that Mike simply wrote down the wrong word, muddling up 'porter' and 'waiter' in his mind.  Had it not been for James Morton also referring to 'Schweisso' as a porter in his post-1992 book I would have said it was a certainty but I allowed for the possibility of there being another unknown source.  But if there is another pre-1992 source in which Schweisso has been described as a porter, what is it?  Critically, it's not the Liverpool Echo.  It's not Morland.  It's not any other book, that I could find. I can't entirely rule out that there is one but it would have to be pretty obscure making it highly unlikely to have been used by Mike for that reason.

There is one other thing in Ryan, which the Clanger ignores, namely the description of Ryan's 'statement' which one doesn't find in the Liverpool Echo.  I explained in the article why one can't say 100% that this demonstrates Mike's use of Ryan but it's a pretty damn good pointer.

The Clanger also seems not to understand why I described the Schweisso point as 'a big one'.  I thought it was obvious from the article.  It's a big one because it's one of the few entries which Mike ascribes to the Liverpool Echo, and is thus of importance, yet was almost certainly not taken from the Liverpool Echo because it would have been extraordinary if Mike had combined information from the single 1889 article and the 1956 article to end up with the exact same information that can be found in Ryan's book, especially with the modern spelling of Schweisso's name, plus the mention of  Schweisso's statement.  

Frankly it would be extraordinary enough if Mike had even known to look in a 1956 issue of the Liverpool Echo for information on James Maybrick.  How could he possibly have done that? 

But the bigger problem with the Clanger's analysis is that he seems to want to take each point individually.  He seems to think I was saying under each heading THIS ONE ALONE IS THE PROOF whereas my article needs to be read in its entirety, as a whole. If you want to rebut it, you need to respond to the whole thing in order to provide an alternative explanation.  To repeat the point, I was showing an identifiable pattern over numerous entries. 

Take the information about the Reverend Benjamin Thurston. Looked at its own you could say it proves nothing about Mike's use of Ryan because he could have got that information from Florence's 1905 memoir.  But taken with all the other entries, including the Britannic, it becomes kind of nonsensical to even suggest that Mike might have used Florence's 1905 memoir (and without even mentioning it in his notes to boot).  It was pretty obvious that he took it from Ryan.  And then when we find other examples of Mike's notes coming from Ryan, even though some of them could in theory have come from another sources, albeit in a most complicated and unrealistic way, the pattern tells us the real story.

One other thing.  I'm also not sure why the Clanger is fighting just me.  Miss Information has made it very clear that Mike certainly did NOT spend hours sifting through microfilm newspapers at Liverpool library at any time in his life.  If the Clanger thinks that Mike DID do this, and did scour through multiple issues of the Liverpool Echo from the 1880s and 1950s on microfilm, I really look forward to him confronting her on this point.  Especially as she is a member of the Forum and can answer him directly.


I guess not everyone has in mind what Mike said at the Cloak & Dagger meeting on 10 April 1999. so it's worth repeating here:

Member of audience: Can you tell us the three books that you used to forge the diary?

Mike: Richard Whittington Egan. Okay.  Murder, Mystery and Mayhem.  That's number one - Robin Odell - Two.  And The Poisoned Life of Florence Maybrick. 

'The Poisoned Life of Florence Maybrick' was written by Bernard Ryan. 


In #8203 of Incontrovertible, the Clanger, having thought in his own mind that he'd made a good point about 'off Tithebarn Street', whereas, in reality, it was a disaster, challenged the idea that Mike had been trying to hide his source for the information about the Britannic by saying:

'Only if we accept Lord Orsam's research as gospel'

In #8213, he followed this up by saying

'Perhaps there's a 'Secret Source of Bernard Ryan Jr that has yet to be discovered'.

This set off Miss Information in #8221 who, in similar fashion to the way she initially agreed with the Clanger's batshit crazy equine derivation and meaning of 'one off instance', suggested that Mike's information on the Britannic could have come from another source (although, understanding the case a little better than the Clanger, she also said that she was 'happy to believe  Mike did find this detail in Ryan's book').

The thing about the Clanger's 'secret source of Bernard Ryan' is that it doesn't matter if Ryan did have a secret source in which he found his information about the Britannic.  The only relevant question is whether Mike Barrett could also have used that same source.

I already dealt with this in the original article The Curious Case of the White Star Line Steamer in which, referring to the point about the Britannic, I said:

'Even if Ryan got it from somewhere else, his source must have been so obscure that it couldn't possibly have been available to Mike'.

This is the absolute key.  While it might be interesting to establish how Ryan got it into his head that James and Florence met on the Britannic, it would be of academic interest only.  It would be entirely irrelevant for our purposes unless there was a conceivable chance of Mike also having consulted that same source.

When it comes to Mike researching the diary in Maybrick in 1992 there were only a limited number of sources which he could realistically and conceivably have consulted for his information about Maybrick. 

These are basically the eight books dealing in whole or in part with the Maybrick case which are listed in Ryan's bibliography, namely those by: MacDougall (1891) Florence (1905), Irving (1912, Rev 1922), Birkenhead (1929), Hodge (1950), Lustgarden (1950), Boswell & Thompson (1954) and Morland (1957) PLUS the four books by Levy (1899),  Whittington Egan (1967), Christie (1969) and Hartman (1977), not apparently consulted by Ryan because they are not in his bibliography (but Hartman was published in the same year as Ryan's book).  After all, these are the only books that Mike could have conceivably consulted in 1992 if he was looking for information on Maybrick (albeit that even some of those are highly unlikely).  We could add to this the 1990 publication 'Murder Casebook' which might conceivably have been available to Mike in 1992.   I've checked all 13 of these these publications and none of them say that James met Florence on the Britannic.

Now, Ryan also includes some newspapers and periodicals in his bibliography, one of which is the Times.  I've checked the Times and that makes no mention of the Britannic.  His other sources under this heading are all American publications, some of which are very obscure.  

It's entirely possible that Ryan found a mention in an American newspaper or periodical that James met Florence on the Britannic.  Having not apparently consulted Christie, Ryan wouldn't have known anything about the possibility of the meeting having been on the Baltic.  One of Ryan's sources, Morland, did say (wrongly) that the meeting was on the Celtic.   If Ryan found in an American source a mention of that meeting having been on the Britannic, he might have thought it trumped Morland.

Ironically, Ryan did spend a lot of research time on the the meeting in the Atlantic.  He lists a string of books in his bibliography dealing with ships and Atlantic crossings in general, with titles such as 'Atlantic Highway', 'Spanning the Atlantic', 'Queens of the Western Ocean', 'The Great Iron Ship', 'Ships',  'Ships of Steam', 'Trans-Atlantic Passenger Ships Past and Present', 'Sea Lanes', 'Atlantic Conquest' and 'Wild Ocean'.  He was probably never aware during his lifetime that he misidentified both the ship on which James and Florence met for the first time and the year in which it happened.

Anyway, the point is that when we speak of available sources in 1992 we are only speaking of those existing within Mike Barrett's universe.  If he was looking for information about James Maybrick, where could he conceivably have gone?  It had to be to a publication within his universe. It certainly wouldn't have been any American newspapers or periodicals!

Ryan's book is the only conceivable source in 1992 for Mike's 'Britannic' information.  Hence we know that Mike consulted Ryan's book.

It should also not be forgotten that Mike's entry relating to the Britannic also contains the information that James and Florence were engaged within a week, information which I only find expressly stated in Ryan's book.

Don't also forget that this information was given three exclamation marks by Mike in his research notes.   This tells us (should there be any doubt in the matter) that it wouldn't have been information given to him by Shirley Harrison (and see Researching the Notes for a discussion about the contents of Mike's notes in this respect).


In #8219, Miss Information very rudely told RJ Palmer:

'Oh for goodness sake, RJ, God gave you brains so use them.'

What brought on this outburst?

Well RJ was essentially repeating a point I'd made in Lord Orsam Says...Part 22 about the mention of St James's Church in Mike Barrett's research notes.

It will be recalled that Mike's research notes state:

'Married on 27 July 1881 at Saint James Church, Piccadilly, London, Not Saint James, Liverpool, as I first thought (See Tales of Liverpool).'

Having told RJ that God had given him brains, Miss Information's explanation for this entry was that:

'Mike read St James's in the diary, before identifying Maybrick from RWE, and simply assumed it was a reference to the one in his home town'.

But has Miss Information been using her own brains here?

Imagine you are someone reading the diary for the very first time, having no idea that James Maybrick is supposed to be the author.  You see this statement:

'I believe if chance prevails I will burn St James's to the ground'.

That's all there is.

Surely the first thing which will go through your mind is: Why on earth did Jack the Ripper want to burn St James's to the ground?

You might also wonder if St James's is St James's Palace or St James's Club or St James's School although it's certainly possible you might think it was a church in Liverpool (albeit that the only context for the statement about burning it down is the diarist saying that keeps thinking about returning to Manchester - and there were, and still are, a number of St James Churches in Manchester).

But the key thing you must want to know, and about which you, as a new reader to the diary, must be puzzling long and hard is: WHY DOES HE WANT TO BURN ST JAMES'S TO THE GROUND? 

Then you find Whittington Egan's book and all is revealed.

Aha, it was the church in which James Maybrick married Florence.  Now it all makes sense!

And THAT is surely what your research notes would reflect.

Thus you would surely have written:

Married on 27 July 1881 at Saint James Church, Piccadilly - that explains reference to wanting to burn St James down to the ground! 

To merely comment that the location of St James's is cleared up as being in London, not Liverpool, is, as I said in my entry, somewhat incongruent.

I'm not saying it's impossible.  I'm saying that if one uses one's brain one would conclude that it's rather unlikely.

The more realistic explanation is that Mike was playing games with Shirley in his research notes but he forgot to put the horse before the cart.  He makes it seem like he was perfectly aware why the diary author had wanted to burn down St James's Church and the only thing which surprised him upon reading Whittington Egan's book was to discover that it was a church in London, not Liverpool. 

It's not natural.  And that's using my brains. 


As we all know, Miss Information's views about the diary have gone through a series of shifts, pivots and u-turns over the years.  In #8223 of the Incontrovertible thread we were told for the first time by Miss Info that:

'I personally decided, in late 2003, that Anne's provenance was not credible, and this had nothing  to do with Eddie Lyons'.

Sadly, she couldn't find time to tell us what happened in late 2003 to make her change her mind. 

On 29 September 2003, she was still implying that Anne's story might be true.  Hence, she posted on that date:

'I do have to wonder what possessed Anne to put herself and her sick, elderly father in the spotlight, just so she could tell a load of rubbish about the diary’s origins, especially if she was a co-conspirator.'

In 2005 she revealed to the board that 'a new twist' in the investigation had occurred a month or two after October 2003 which was 'directly related to information I am not yet at liberty to reveal'.  If that wasn't the discovery of the timesheet I don't know what she could have been referring to.  And if it WAS the discovery of the timesheet, and this is what caused her to decide that Anne's provenance was not credible, then it surely DID have something to do with Eddie Lyons.  


In one of her so-called and now famous 'housekeeping' posts, Miss Information posted a doctor's comment about Mike Barrett dated 22 August 1994 which stated:

'Since last year patient has been drinking heavily and developed alcohol psychosis'.

So Mike had been drinking heavily since 1993, AFTER the production of the diary.

Thing is, back in 2018, on the Forum, I wrote in #366 of the Acquiring thread:

'one thing I will add is that the constant bleating about how no-one in 1992 would have trusted Mike to Barrett to do anything is absolutely ridiculous. Prior to April 1992 (and certainly prior to the time he started drinking) I have never seen any evidence to suggest Mike was an incompetent person.'

Miss Information replied in #412 to say:

'Whoa there.  How do you [know] when Mike 'started drinking'?  When was the first time he got drunk?  How often did he go to the Saddle prior to 1992, or to the British Legion club?  Never? Once a week? Five times or more a week? Do you know he wasn't a regular drinker and never had one over the eight until the diary became a nightmarish monster for him?  Do you really believe the impact of the diary could have changed his character and normal habits to that extent?'

Responding in #447 I wrote:

'Now should "started drinking" be taken literally?   Did I mean prior to the time Mike started drinking milk and water?  Of course not.  Did I mean prior to the first time Mike drank alcohol?  Of course not.  And did I mean prior to the first time he got drunk?  Equally daft. No, what I meant was prior to the time he started drinking heavily to the extent he became an alcoholic and needed treatment for alcoholism...it's perfectly obvious that Mike needs to be judged at a time when he was sober because if he was relatively sober prior to April 1992 it could  make a huge difference to his capabilities.'

In her response, in #494, Miss Information twittered on about how Anne had once said that Mike had begun drinking heavily in 1988.  But she didn't reveal that a doctor had said in writing in August 1994 that Mike had been drinking heavily 'since last year'.  That piece of highly important and relevant information, which was presumably in her possession at that time, wasn't revealed to me.  One might think it was being suppressed.

It's only now, four years later, that she produces this document, and only because she wanted to try and contradict RJ Palmer on a point about dialysis.  You see, as I've said before, that's the only time new information is produced by those diary defenders: when they want to score a cheap point on the Forum.

If Miss Information has lots of unpublished information, which she does seem to have, why doesn't she just start a new thread and start posting it?  Perhaps one document a day.  Then we might all have sufficient information to discuss the matter without having someone pull out a document like a rabbit from a hat for silly personal short-term gain. 


After the embarrassment and humiliation of Miss Information and Keith Skinner (in #8230 of Incontrovertible) denying any knowledge of any 'tape tree'  - 'I don't instantly recall this 'tape tree' and neither does Keith' - with RJ Palmer having to explain to her that it was all done very publicly in 2001, the Major tried to repair the damage for his mistress by turning the focus onto the content of the recording of the 18 January 1995 meeting, about which he said that 'not a great deal has ever been made' of it. In particular, he wanted to compare the recording of the meeting with Mike's account of that meeting in Mike's statement of 26 January 1995 (#8235 of Incontrovertible).

Of the statement of 26 January, the Major continues to describe it as an 'affidavit' even though he also says 'I'm not sure it is an affidavit as it wasn't sworn in the presence of an authority such as a solicitor'.  There's nothing uncertain about it.  If a document isn't sworn in the presence of a duly authorised notary or solicitor it cannot be an affidavit.  So stop calling it one!   It was a statement and was described as such on its face.  Let's not bring Fisherman style twisting of the language into the Maybrick discussions.

Now there are some important things to bear in mind about the recording of the 18 January 1995 meeting.  The few people who listened to it in 2001 will not have been aware that Mike had only recently been told that Robert Smith had received £70,000 from New Line Cinema of which Mike would be entitled to a share.  In fact, in December, Mike had thought that the entire £70,000 was for him.  It was only under cover of letter dated 13 January 1995 that he learnt from Smith it was only a share of that £70,000 to which he'd be entitled.  Nevertheless, he'd told Smith in December that he DID want the money, even though he'd already confessed earlier in the year to having forged the diary.

The 2001 recipients of the recording of the meeting of 18 January 1995 probably all also assumed that Mike's affidavit, sworn 13 days earlier, was public knowledge and was known to Keith Skinner, and to the other attendees at the meeting, making Mike's behaviour in changing his story hard to fathom.  None of them would have known that the affidavit was a big secret which Mike had only provided to his wife.  This is critical because what was such a big secret at the time was Mike's claim that ANNE was the forger of the diary.  All that Mike had said publicly so far, as at 18 January 1995, was that HE was the forger.  Mike wasn't yet ready to make the  explosive claim about Anne's involvement public.  He still had all kinds of hopes of either making up with Anne or at least getting access to his daughter.

None of the listeners of the recording in 2001 would also have known of Mike's secret attempt in March 1992 to acquire a genuine Victorian diary with blank pages because the Bookdealer advertisement didn't emerge until three years later.  That context is important because without it there was really no good evidence of Mike's involvement in a forgery plan, which might have put doubt in the minds of those listening to the recording (in which Mike reverted to his Tony Devereux provenance story) that Mike's affidavit was true.

It should also be noted that regardless of anything in the recording, Mike said in his statement of 26 January 1995 that:

'I was also afraid that if Anne and I get arrested for fraud what would happen to our daughter. I did not know who the Independent Advisor was and I felt a serious threat to me either through the Law or if I did'nt (sic) conform.'

As I've pointed out previously, the 'Independent Advisor' was a former police officer.  It's impossible for any of us to know - including those who have listened to the recording - what was truly in Mike's mind but it's certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that he sensed the unknown man was a police officer and genuinely thought that if he repeated the story in his affidavit about him and Anne forging the diary it might lead to their arrest.

So it's entirely possible that he decided to play safe, revert to his Tony Devereux provenance story, keep Anne happy, keep Robert Smith happy and wait to cash his share of the film money. 

After the meeting we can also speculate that Mike relayed to Alan Gray what had happened in the meeting.  It's possible that Gray had expected Mike to say exactly the same thing to Keith Skinner as he'd said in his affidavit and was horrified to learn that Mike had gone back to his Tony Devereux story.  It's also entirely possible that Mike gave Gray a false account of what had occurred in the meeting in order to get Gray off his back but also keep him on side.  Gray would certainly have felt that Mike needed to put into writing exactly why he had changed his story.  Otherwise he might have felt that Mike had put himself in legal jeopardy by swearing an affidavit saying one thing, only to tell a completely different story a couple of weeks later.

But the statement then signed by Mike on 26 January, which might well have contained lies about what happened in the meeting, was NOT an affidavit.   Mike put himself under no more legal jeopardy in signing that statement than he would have been if he wrote an untruthful letter.  It's not illegal.

One of the key things to remember about the 18 January 1995 meeting is that even Keith Skinner agrees that the story he was told by Mike during that meeting about the diary having been received from Tony Devereux was a lie.  It wasn't in other words as if, after setting out the story in his affidavit, Mike suddenly decided to tell the truth to Keith Skinner.  No, Keith agrees that he was lying.  So do I.  It's just that Mike had certain reasons not to tell Keith that the dairy was a fake and that Anne was the forger.

Having said all that, it's unclear to me how many people have even heard the 18 January 1995 tape recording.  The tape tree didn't work too well.  RJ Palmer received it and sent it to Steve Powell but the tree may well have stopped there.  So perhaps Omlor and Birchwood heard it.  Did anyone else?

What is absolutely certain is that I haven't heard it.   But I would like to.

There can't be any reason to hide it.  At the very least we should have a transcript.  We know that a transcript exists because Shirley Harrison refers to it at page 294 of her 2003 book where she refers to '45 pages of typescript'.  It should be a very simple matter to make that transcript available.

But the recording could also easily be made public, With advances in technology, rather than an antiquated tape tree, why doesn't Keith simply give the recording to the Chief Censor (Menges) for him to put up online for everyone to listen to it? After all, if it's so convincing a point in favour of Mike not being involved in a forgery attempt, he should be red hot keen to do it, shouldn't he? 

The same should go for the Gray/Barrett recordings.  If they are such a clown show in which Mike tells the same hopeless false story as they say he tells in his affidavit, why not let us all hear it?  What are they hiding?


The Error Bitha is back to his old tricks (#8236 of Incontrovertible) in a post of such misunderstanding that one loses hope for his ability ever to get anything right.

He said:

'I continue to be surprised by people's acceptance of Mike Barrett as the 'hoaxer' It genuinely baffles me'.

The first problem is that he doesn't explain what he means by the 'hoaxer'.

All people need to accept are three things. Firstly, Mike acquired an old photograph album from which he ripped out the pages containing photographs.  Secondly, Mike purchased some old style ink and writing pens.  Thirdly, Mike dictated the text of the diary to a penman, or penwoman.

That's basically all that needs to be accepted - and the last two aren't even essential because the mechanics of the forgery could have happened differently to the account in Mike's affidavit.  The text of the diary could have been drafted by someone else.  Mike certainly didn't write it out in his hand. 

Why couldn't Mike have done those three things which I set out?  What is it about Mike that excludes him from being able to go shopping and read aloud from a pre-prepared text?

He might well also have been responsible for writing the text, either in full or in part, but what's so hard to believe about that?

Why is the Bitha baffled?  That's what baffles me.

And he doesn't explain it.   All he says is this:

'If you spend any reasonable time studying the various video, audio and statements available in the public domain you can only draw the conclusion that Mike was an habitual liar with alcohol problems.'

Er... isn't being 'an habitual liar' a fucking positive qualification for having forged the diary?  What else is the diary but one big lie?

Perhaps the Bitha, thinking that the diary is true, can't compute this, but it most certainly is a huge lie.

As for Mike's alcohol problems, as I've mentioned above, we've had written confirmation from Mike's doctor that those problems only really started in earnest in 1993, after the diary had been produced.

We know very little about the level of Mike's alcohol consumption in March 1992. There is literally no 'video, audio and statements' to assist us with that.  It doesn't seem to have been any more excessive than anyone else who likes a drink.   There is no reason to think he wasn't capable of doing the few things he has confessed to having done in March 1992.  Only a few years earlier, after all, he had been a professional freelance journalist.

Once again, in labelling Mike as an habitual liar and saying that this disqualifies him from consideration as being 'the hoaxer', the Bitha makes the same mistake made by Miss Information of thinking that everyone has simply and uncritically lapped up what Mike said in his affidavit, or his other public statements, about forging the diary.

This is not the case. 

While professing himself baffled at the idea that Mike could have been 'the hoaxer', the Bitha is obviously equally baffled as to why Mike attempted to acquire a Victorian diary with blank pages in March 1992.  Funny how he hides his bafflement, ain't it?

In the last update, I demolished the feeble explanation the Bitha put forward for it.  Yet the Bitha has ignored this.  He keeps posting as if the demolition of his explanation hasn't occurred.

He then says:

'I feel many believe Mike was the hoaxer because they can see his character was questionable'.

No.  Not at all.  No one gives a fuck about his character.  Everyone is looking at the facts of this case.

Look at the secret hunt for a genuine Victorian diary with blank pages.  Why did he do that? 

Look at Mike's 1995 affidavit in which it is stated that he acquired the little red 1891 diary and THEN went to an O&L auction and THEN dictated the diary in 11 days, despite these events supposedly happening in 1990 or 1991. 

Then look at the story Mike told on 10 April 1999 in which (with Alan Gray's involvement as the middle man out of the picture) the chronology of Mike's story perfectly matches the known facts about the acquisition of the red diary.  Ask yourself how Mike managed to do that.  Was he so clever that in 1999 he was able to entirely re-juggle his fake story from 1995 to make all the facts fit with a scenario in which the diary didn't actually exist at the time he telephoned Doreen Montgomery on 9 March 1992, and had to scramble to create it with his wife in a 13-day time period?

Ask yourself how amazing that the person who Mike specifically, repeatedly and consistently identified as the author of the diary has characteristics in her handwriting which are found in the handwriting of the diary author.  Isn't that, like, a million to one shot? 

Then ask yourself why that very same person who Mike identified as the forger of the diary told a story about the provenance of the diary which is regarded by Keith Skinner, Miss Information and the Major as a tissue of lies.  Why would she have done that?  Why Bitha? Tell us! Are you baffled by that?  Or do you have an explanation?

The Bitha says that we need to 'continue this journey of truth without considering one word that came from Mike Barrett post March 1992'.

Well fine.  I mean, that's an utterly ridiculous and absurd approach to getting to the truth of the matter, but fine.  I mean, you want to refuse to consider anything said by the person who produced the diary to the world for the very first time?  Okay, sure that's fine.  I guess you don't care whether what he says can be corroborated or not?  Nor do you care if it fits in with the facts?  I mean, it's an utterly ludicrous thing for someone to say who is attempting to get to the truth, but okay, fine.  Let's do that. Let's not consider a word that came from Mike.

So why did Mike attempt to acquire a genuine Victorian diary (from a specified decade) with blank pages in March 1992?

If you want to continue 'this journey of truth', I think you need to provide a coherent and sensible answer to this question, don't you?  

Word of warning though.  No one's managed it yet.  And Keith Skinner is too scared even to attempt it. 


Funny ain't it, how the Major keeps saying on the Forum that he wants to discuss the diary without mentioning Michael Barrett?

It really is like wanting to talk about Hamlet without the prince.

So what does the Major want to talk about?

One off instance?

Er, nope.

Bumbling buffoon?

Er, nope.

Bunny's aunt?

Er, nope.

Gladys being unwell again?

Er, nope.

The breasts being on the table?

Er, nope.

The key being missing?

Er, nope. 

The tin match box empty?

Er, nope. 

The Crashaw quotation?

Er, nope. 

The Poste House?

Er, nope. 

Dr Baxendale's report? 

Er, nope. 

Chloroacetamide in the ink?

Er, nope. 

Eddie Lyons' denial of finding the diary?

Er, nope.

So what the absolute fuck DOES he want to talk about?


I see that the Chief Censor in #8250 of the Incontrovertible thread wildly fancied that he'd been accused of being involved in 'wild conspiracies' and was 'somehow involved in the suppression of the Alan Gray tapes'.

It's funny that, because in the post by RJ Palmer to which the Chief Censor was responding (#8232), his name hadn't even been mentioned!!

Nor did RJ Palmer accuse ANYONE of suppressing the tapes.  He simply said that it was curious that the tapes had not been made available for public consumption and that this gave the impression that there had been a selective release of materials.  But RJ Palmer added that he was sure that Keith Skinner would wish to avoid that impression.  He then said: 'I was [given] to understand that some effort was made to release the Gray tapes.  Has there been any progress on that front?'

Instead of calmly answering the question, Menges went loopy, ranting on about these 'wild conspiracies' and being personally accused of 'suppression'.

I guess he must be a faithful reader of this site because no one has spoken of suppression of the tapes on the Forum.... but I have on this site!  But I wasn't speaking of Menges suppressing anything.  What I suggested was that Keith Skinner had now listened closely to the tapes and decided he didn't want them released after all.

Anyway, here's Menges' account in #8250 with the hysterics removed:

'I asked Keith if I could release them and was told that they can be released once they are cleaned up.  It wasn't me who was tasked with cleaning them up.  It was James Johnston.'

So Menges has thrown Keith Skinner and James Johnston right under the bus!

Menges had previously told us that he asked Keith back in September 2019 if he could release the Gray/Barrett tapes once they were cleaned up (see #5323 of Incontrovertible).  He told us that Keith had said back then that the tapes were actually in the process of being cleaned up.  That is clear.  Menges said on 19 June 2020, that, 'I am hopeful...that they will be released eventually', Yet, as at 30 January 2022 he hadn't been given the tapes to release.

Why not? 

Is the story that they haven't yet been cleaned up, more than two years later?

And perhaps Menges has forgotten that on 19 June 2020, Yabs actually offered to assist in cleaning the tapes. Hence, in #5536, Yabs posted:

'Hi JM,

In my time I have been known to edit and clean audio. 

I would happily attempt to do this with the tapes for Keith.'

Menges replied in #5337 to say:

'Keith has someone working with the tapes already, but I appreciate your offer...'

So in June 2020 someone was already 'working with the tapes' to get them ready for release, that process having started in September 2019.

Since then, silence.

I've been asking repeatedly why they haven't been released but, despite Keith making multiple posts on the Forum via the Major on different topics, we've had nothing.

One might ask why Menges hasn't asked Keith Skinner himself about it?

If there was a problem with cleaning up the audio, why wasn't Yabs' offer taken up?

Regular readers will know that there is a history with James Johnston and Keith Skinner refusing to release - one could say suppressing - material information.

Johnston point blank refused my request to release the full transcripts of his interviews with the electricians (with any personal information redacted as appropriate).  Johnston never gave a reason why he was refusing to release the transcripts in redacted form.

Then, of course, Keith Skinner PROMISED me that he would release, via James Johnston, the transcript of the diary produced by the Barretts in 1992, but there was only silence.  Much later he admitted that he'd deliberately reneged on his promise because he'd been upset by Abby Normal saying something dismissive about a newspaper extract he'd posted and because he didn't want people to find 'meaning' in the transcript, whatever that meant.

So, when we are told that Keith Skinner promised Jonathan Menges in September 2019 that he and James Johnston would clean up and allow the release the Gray/Barrett tapes, what are we supposed to make of the fact that those tapes haven't been released?

Keith Skinner posted on the Forum via the Major as recently as December 2021.  We know he's in contact with the Major and Miss Information.  Why haven't we been told anything?  Why no update? 

And, to repeat, why hasn't the Chief Censor simply asked Keith?  In a further post, #8252, Menges wanted it known that, 'I do not know whether the restoring the tapes was a success or failure, I haven't spoken to them about it since 2019, which is why I said that as of today I have no idea what they intend on doing with the tapes'.   But that only raises the question of why he hasn't asked Keith Skinner.  

He says that 'the audio quality is so horrendous and restoring it to something listenable - if that was possible - would be very time consuming'.

But if there's a problem with the restoration why hasn't Yabs been asked to assist?  

All very strange. 


So, in #8250, Menges, as we have seen, said:

'I asked Keith if I could release them and was told that they can be released once they are cleaned up.'

That's very easy to understand it's it?

A simple two part process:

1. Clean the tapes.

2. Release them.

But within an hour of saying this, the story seemed to shift. In #8252, Menges wrote:

'I was told that if and when the audio was suitably restored, and after they decided whether or not to use portions of it in their documentary, I would be allowed to release the remaining material via Rippercast'.

So now, as if by magic, it's a THREE step process:

1. Clean the tapes.

2. Decide whether or not to use portions of it in the documentary.

3. Release them.

Jesus.  What next?   Why do these stories always change from one post to the next? 

In any event, if, back in 2019, Keith Skinner said that he wanted to use the tapes for a documentary before releasing the tapes, what is the status of the documentary today?  

Have the tapes been cleaned up or not? 

Why hasn't Menges even asked Keith these fucking questions?   Is he waiting for us all to die first?   


Trevor Marriott asked in #8253 why a transcript of the tapes can't be released. 

Whenever I've called for a release of the tapes - and this includes tapes of ALL the recordings of all of the meetings - I've said that if the tapes can't be released then produce a transcript.

Menges claims without any justification that if a transcript is released, but the inaudible parts can't be transcribed, unspecified people wouldn't be satisfied and would still be demanding to hear the original recordings.

Well, it would obviously be better to release the original recordings because sometimes it's possible to decipher something that might at first blush seem inaudible, but as far as I'm concerned, if a transcript was released, which was vouched for by the transcriber to be as accurate as possible, and passages which were inaudible were indicated as such in the transcript, that would be good enough.

Menges shouldn't be speculating about hypothetical scenarios and assuming people are unreasonable.  At the moment we are getting NOTHING!  


After conceding that the tapes can't be totally inaudible because portions of them have been quoted in the past, Menges folded, and said:

'These are all questions that should be directed to Keith.'

Well, funnily enough, that's exactly what RJ Palmer did before Menges interjected with his multiple-post rant.

Has he forgotten the question RJ asked already?

'I was [given] to understand that some effort was made to release the Gray tapes.  Has there been any progress on that front?'

That was a fucking question, directed at Keith!!!

But Keith didn't answer.

So how does one get answers to questions from  someone who isn't responding?


31 January 2022
Published Orsam Day: 9 March 2022