I thought I'd spend a bit of time digging around in the Archives in the pre-censorship Casebook Forum for the period 1998 to 2005... and, hey, I was rewarded with some treasure.
Let's see what I found....
KEITH v. CAROLINE
Everyone will surely remember Caroline Morris' response to learning that I was going to prove the diary a fake a second time. On 20 July 2020, she posted on JTR Forums (in 'Lord Orsam's Blog' thread, #334):
'I...wonder what Lord Orsam makes of the handwriting not being James Maybrick's, if not a 'mistake' which showed the diary was a fake nearly 30 years ago.
So much effort, just to convince the odd one or two, who believe it could be in JM's hand, and who almost certainly won't be reading his blog on the subject.
I tell you, it's a mad, mad, mad, mad world.'
She then repeated the point after Mini Orsam Day when, on 5 August 2020, she said ('Lord Orsam's Blog', #357):
'I think one, maybe two posters as most, don't think the handwriting proved the diary a fake back in 1992'.
So, clearly, only an idiot could think that Maybrick might have written a diary which is not in his handwriting, right?
Now, what has Keith Skinner said about the diary handwriting not being Maybrick's?
Well, the Archives reveal that on 12 October 2001, Mr Skinner posted on the Casebook Forum to say:
'How I wish that the dissimilarity of Maybrick’s authenticated handwriting versus the Diary handwriting conclusively proved that he “didn’t write the thing.”
How I wish I could be that positive and confident.'
Oh dear. That's rather different to Caroline Morris telling us that the diary handwriting proved that Maybrick didn't write the thing 30 years ago, isn't it?
I wonder what she will have to say about her hero throwing her under a bus nearly 20 years ago!!
I tell you it really is a mad, mad, mad, mad world.
PAUL v CAROLINEIt's not only Keith Skinner who was unable to rule out the diary being genuine on the basis of the handwriting. Paul Begg made an equal fool of himself in Ms Morris' eyes when writing on 6 October 2001 as follows:
'And there is solid evidence for thinking that Maybrick was the killer. That solid evidence is the ‘diary’ itself. It is real. It is tangible. You saw it and maybe even held it at Bournemouth. It’s as real as the Littlechild letter, the Swanson marginalia or the Macnaghten memoranda. It is only distinguished from those items by not being accepted as genuine. But its genuineness is part of the debate. To dismiss it as a worthless post-1987 forgery is to have reached a conclusion which in the opinion of some commentators is premature and unjustified by the available evidence.'
Oh dear. Paul was still debating with himself in 2001 about the genuineness of the diary even though the handwriting is clearly not that of Maybrick (according to Caroline Morris). And he compares this tawdry little fake with genuine items such as the Littlechild letter, the Swanson marginalia and the Macnaghten memoranda SIMPLY BECAUSE IT EXISTS!!!!
Well you know what? I have a handwritten document in my possession signed by Paul Begg, although it's not, strangely, in his handwriting. But it is real. It is tangible. You can see it and hold it. It's as real as the crown jewels. Here it is:
A warning. It would be premature to dismiss this document as a worthless post-1987 forgery created by me with a red crayon and a piece of A4 paper in my living room. The genuineness of the document is part of the debate. It's as real as a really stupid person.
CAROLINE v CAROLINE
It's certainly the case that Caroline Morris said during the period 1999-2003 that the handwriting showed that James Maybrick didn't write the diary. Hence, on 14 December 1999 she posted that she believed 'the diary to be a fake'. On 25 March 2000, she posted, 'I don't believe anyone is disputing the fact that Maybrick didn't do it.' On 5 February 2002, she posted that the 'The whole thing, to everyone's mind here (except one, while including mine), is a hoax' while she wrote an email to John Omlor on 24 October 2003 in which she said, 'Maybrick didn't write that diary - it's not in his handwriting'. However, this wasn't always her position by any means.
From August 2004 onwards she started to go weird and began babbling about the appearance of people's handwriting changing under the influence of drugs, or excitement. On 4 August 2004, she categorically posted that James Maybrick MIGHT have disguised his handwriting! Thus, she posted:
'...the real Maybrick (whether or not he ever killed more than his neighbours “damned dogs” if the suspicions of people at the time were well-founded) might have had reason not to want certain people coming across his private diary (if he kept one) and instantly recognising his writing there, prompting them to become curious enough to read all.
After all, he was an arsenic eater and was financing at least one mistress, for God's sake. So use your imagination.
If a person yearns to be someone else, and somewhere else, doing all sorts of fantastic things far away from the boring bounds of business and dull demands of domesticity, who knows who that person could become in his/her diary, and how that fantasy person might write, consciously or otherwise? The possibilities for someone as mad as a hatter - ie the Whitechapel Murderer himself - are a complete unknown, surely? I certainly would not care to admit to knowing what they were, or what their limits were, even if I thought I knew.'
So we can see that she was saying here that 'the real Maybrick...might have had reason not to want people...recognising his writing'. In other words, the diary might have been written by Maybrick despite it not being in his handwriting!!!
It's a lovely piece of diary defending that the Major himself would have been proud of but totally inconsistent with her claim this year that it's been known all along for past 30 years that the diary wasn't written by James Maybrick.
In March 2005, she posted the very carefully crafted statement that, 'it's still obvious to all of us that the diary handwriting doesn't resemble Maybrick's authenticated hand'. Sure, but does that mean that Maybrick didn't write it? Suddenly, she wouldn't say.
When Chris Phillips asked her on 31 March 2005 if she still believed that the diary wasn't written by James Maybrick she refused to answer.
Her evident and inexplicable change of belief became the subject of some controversy in November 2005 when, Chris George wrote a post addressed to her saying:
'You and I both know it is a fake. What we don't know [is] who did it or why it was done'.
In response, Caroline Morris, in her typically prickly and thoroughly disingenuous manner, wrote:
'You can put words and opinions in my mouth, that I haven't expressed, and you can make assumptions about what I know and what I don't know. But it won't help your credibility by doing so.'
This was very strange because, as John Omlor immediately pointed out, she had indeed previously stated categorically the diary was a fake (and, as we know, she now tells us that she had ALWAYS believed it be a fake).
Her response to John Omlor's post on 8 November 2005 was this:
'If I did I was naughty, because I couldn't have known that. But 'in the past' is in the past. If I said "the handwriting is not recognisable as Maybrick's" I'd be happy with that today.'
So here she was directly contradicting her current position that it's been known for 30 years that the diary was NOT written by Maybrick due to the handwriting not being Maybrick's. Suddenly, here in 2005, she won't commit to it. And by way of 'explanation' she said that her 'current position' was 'inextricably bound up with an investigation I'm not at liberty to discuss here'.
We now know that she was talking about the investigation into the timesheets provided to Keith Skinner on 2 July 2004 which suggested to her and Keith that the diary had been found by an electrician under the floorboards in Battlecrease on 9 March 1992. But how could that have possibly changed her opinion about whether Maybrick had written the diary unless she believed that Maybrick himself had placed it under the floorboards? And if that's the case then her claim that the diary was known to have been a fake 30 years ago due to the handwriting not being Maybrick's must be a load of rubbish, mustn't it?
THE SERIOUS INVESTIGATION
As mentioned above, Keith Skinner obtained Portus & Rhodes timesheets from Colin Rhodes on 2 July 2004 showing that electricians had been working at Battlecrease on 9 March 1992.
The first indication of this was posted by Caroline Morris, out of the blue, and mysteriously, on 5 August 2004, in response to a question from Chris Phillips as to whether she could suggest any plausible reason why Maybrick might have disguised his handwriting, to which she said:
'You may, or may not, like to take on board the fact that a serious investigation is ongoing in London and Liverpool. The results will not be discussed in a public forum until they have been published with full supporting documentary evidence.'
This investigation was, apparently, still ongoing as of 30 March 2005 when the same Caroline Morris posted:
'You don't know where or when this document originated, who wrote it or what motivated its author. No one here does - you are all guessing, and there's nothing wrong with that. But if I don't want to join in the guessing games, while the investigation continues, there's nothing wrong with that either .'
Here we are 15 years later and this 'serious investigation in London and Liverpool' evidently produced precisely nothing! As at 5 August 2004, Keith Skinner already had the timesheets. Despite seriously investigating in both London and Liverpool during 2005 (at least), he clearly wasn't able to find anything further in support of his Battlecrease provenance theory. Funny that.
SHE'S DIZZY, MISS LIZZY
So, to recap, between 1999 and 2003 Caroline Morris believed that the diary was definitely a fake, not written by James Maybrick. Then, in the summer of 2004, she was secretly told that new evidence obtained by Keith Skinner showed that the diary must have been found by Eddie Lyons under the floorboards of Battlecrease on 9 March 1992. Suddenly, in her mind, it might have been written by Maybrick after all. And that was the line she pushed for a few years.
But, after a while, she had second thoughts. By 2011, if not before, she was starting to think it was an old hoax. But not just an old hoax, a VERY old hoax: one created in 1889. Thus, she posted on JTR Forums on 2 September 2011 to tell of 'my gut feeling that someone wrote the diary in the immediate wake of the trial '. She held that view up to at least the end of 2016.
Well that was then and this is now. She probably changes her mind on a daily basis but she now seems to want to say it could have been created in the post-WW2 period, but just not by the Barretts. This might have been in response to the clear evidence that 'one off instance' could not have been written by a diary author in the nineteenth century. We can now add 'bumbling buffoon' to the list of impossible expressions.
But here's an interesting thing. Back in 2005, Caroline Morris was telling us that if there WERE clear anachronisms in the diary she would lose her interest in it. Thus, she wrote to Jennifer Pegg on 21 February 2005 to say that if there were 'textual anachronisms' in the diary, which she defined as 'anything that proves beyond doubt that the diary could not have been written at the right time', then:
'None of us would be here now if there was one.'
This, I think, is very revealing. Caroline Morris was saying here that no-one would have been discussing the diary at all in 2005 if it wasn't written at 'the right time'. Now what does that mean? The 'right time' for the diary is surely prior to Maybrick's death in May 1889. Any other time is the WRONG time.
As we know, while writing this, she was in a phase when she believed that Maybrick might have written the diary, despite the handwriting.
But we can see that her views are very flexible. Now that we have identified clear anachronisms in 'one off instance' and 'bumbling buffoon' (as well as 'top myself' and 'spreads mayhem') does she bow out of the discussion with an admission that the diary was written in 'the wrong time' so that it's not worth discussing? Of course not. She simply argues that it could have been a late twentieth century hoax but not by the Barretts!!! And this is still worth discussing, apparently. She's far more concerned to disprove that the Barretts wrote it than she is to prove who did write it. Why is that? Who knows?
A MIND CLOSED FOR 20 YEARS
Ask Caroline Morris why she thinks Mike and Anne couldn't have jointly forged the diary and she'll probably tell you that her opinion is based on having met them both and concluding first hand that they weren't capable.
That's interesting because on 9 April 2001, at a time when she had met neither Mike nor Anne (although she had seen Mike being asked questions in April 1999 at the Cloak and Dagger club), she posted (underlining added):
So there's the truth right there. It was her 'instincts'. Before even having met Anne or Mike she had already formed the view that neither of them faked the diary.
'Regarding what Melvin has stated on the boards about the suspected forgers, it would appear that his information and views agree to some extent with my original instincts, that neither Anne nor Mike faked the diary.'
Two years earlier, on 7 February 1999, she had posted:
'If I could sit down with Anne Graham and Mike Barratt now, and put a couple of well-chosen questions to them, not on the surface connected to the diary, their answers would let me know whether either was capable of creating the content.'
Absolute nonsense of course but showing an elevated sense of her own ability.
Then, on 4 June 1999, she wrote of Anne, who she had never met:
'She strikes me as more victim than villainess, although, as Peter Birchwood says, I don't know her' .
And I think we have found our problem. There's nothing wrong with Caroline Morris having sympathy with Anne because she was an abused wife - which is what I assume she was referring to in calling her a victim - married to the drunken, violent and cruel Mike Barrett, but that shouldn't be allowed to get in the way of the cold reality of the question as to whether she participated in the forgery of the diary. We can see that before she'd ever met Anne, Caroline Morris regarded her in her mind as a 'victim' which is no doubt why she spent the next 20+ years defending her and making excuses for her.
MORE EVIDENCE OF A CLOSED MIND
Only a few weeks ago, Caroline Morris was heaping praise on Al Bundy for keeping an open mind. But it seems that she only appreciates minds which are open to HER way of thinking. Her own mind is firmly closed to any other possibility.
Thus we find on 21 March 2005 her posting (underlining added):
'Sorry to spoil your party, but - wait for it - Michael Barrett lied in those sworn affidavits. Yes! Unbelievable isn't it? Fancy not being able to trust the word of your favoured hoax suspect! What's the world coming to?
He didn't write the diary and nor did his missus - no one will ever prove otherwise. You have allowed yourself to be fooled, in your rush to show how not gullible you are.'
Then on 8 July 2005 she responded to a statement by another poster that it was likely that Mike Barrett forged the diary by saying.
'Mike Barrett didn't do it'.
Challenged by Chris Phillips about this, she refused to provide any evidence to support her assertion. Hilariously she was reduced to claiming on 10 July 2005 that Mike should be treated as innocent until proven guilty, although that wasn't what she had said.
Her mind has clearly been closed for at least fifteen years.
PAYMENTS TO ANNE
When I read 'Inside Story', I gained the distinct impression that Anne didn't receive any money from the diary until Doreen forced 25% of the revenue from the book onto her after her marriage to Mike was over so that she could support herself and Caroline. That is certainly what seems to be said on page 213 of the book in which it is also stated that 'Anne had shown no interest at all in the spoils of the diary'. On page 195, it is stated that 'Those who believed Anne was involved in a forgery hoax might have been surprised to find that as one of the alleged conspirators she had not accepted her share of the royalties over a year and a half after the publication of the hardback edition of The Diary of Jack the Ripper' . Furthermore, we are told on page 169 that Paul Feldman introduced Anne at the Cloak and Dagger club on 7 January 1995 with the words that Anne 'has never had one penny, not one brass farthing' from the diary.
It was a surprise to me, therefore, to find in the Archives that Peter Birchwood had established as far back as 2001 that Anne received, as proceeds from the diary, a sum of £3,666.74 by cheque on or about 7 December 1993, a further £1,298.75 on or about 5 January 1994 and a further payment of £1,000 in March 1994.
Going back to page 213 of 'Inside Story' we find that Doreen Montgomery actually stated in a 1996 letter to Anne that 'the majority' of the money was sent to Mike but that, 'There were occasions when I was asked by him to make payments to you [Anne] and I did'. Doreen also wrote that Anne told her that she gave the money to Mike but it seems that we only have Anne's word for this. Doreen also noted that Anne had 'made it consistently clear' that she wanted 'no part of the Diary or any attendant revenue' but there doesn't seem to be any actual evidence that the near £6,000 sent to Anne between December 1993 and March 1994 wasn't kept by her. Nor does there appear to be any known reason why Mike would have asked for his money to be sent to Anne, bearing in mind that he had his own bank account and was capable of receiving cheques.
For some reason, almost everything Anne said was trusted whereas everything Mike said was checked and double checked.
PAUL BEGG PRESERVED IN AMBER
In a promotional video released by Paul Feldman in 1993, Paul Begg was quoted as having said, in writing, in June 1992:
'As of writing, and I neither know of nor suspect that anything will emerge during the research period to change my opinion, I incline to the belief that the diary is genuine. On the basis of the extensive scientific analysis, I cannot honestly see any reasonable alternative'.
Yes, you read that correctly. Paul Begg, in June 1992, could see no reasonable alternative to the diary being genuine!
It was the type of comment which led Philip Sugden to say it 1994 that:
'it is astonishing how many experts were fooled and allowed their names to be used in the promotional literature. They remain there, preserved like flies in amber, warnings to the complacent and credulous.'
But hey, don't worry, it wasn't Paul Begg's fault that he was talking such nonsense. As he explained in the Forum in 1998, someone whose identity he can't reveal (and never has revealed as far as I'm aware) had categorically told him that the handwriting of the diary had been positively identified as Maybrick's. He had also read a 'highly positive' report by Nick Eastaugh which led him to understand that the ink had been found to be Victorian and an equally 'highly positive' report by David Forshaw (of Broodmoor Hospital) which led him to understand that the psychopathology of the diary was accurate. So it was really all the fault of other people that he misunderstood those reports and got it all wrong.
And anyway if you think that you've just read Paul Begg saying that he believed the diary was genuine, you were wrong. DO NOT TRUST YOUR OWN EYES!
What Begg said was that he INCLINED to the belief that the diary was genuine. Now, you might think that it's pretty much exactly the same thing to say 'I believe' as it is to say 'I incline to the belief' but that's because you are not as clever as Paul Begg. Like he said in a post dated 23 November 1998:
'Of course I entertained doubts. We all did. And they were fairly serious doubts, hence the cautious words 'I incline to the belief' - far, far different for saying that I believed.'
Yep, you read that right. If I say 'I incline to the belief that the diary is a load of old bollocks' that is FAR, FAR, different from saying 'I believe the diary to be a load of old bollocks'.
So, chaps, there's one from the Master Beggster. If you ever express a belief in future, don't say 'I believe that...', say 'I incline to the belief that...' and there's your Get Out of Jail Free card if your belief turns out to be wrong. You never said you believed it, you only said you inclined to the belief!!!! And that's a very different thing.
The other good thing to know is that Paul posted on the same day in 1998:
'If I make mistakes (not that what I wrote was a mistake), I am happy to admit to them.'
It's not that what he wrote was a mistake, of course, when he said that he believed the diary was genuine.
Ah no, he was INCLINED to believe the diary was genuine which was, of course, very different and not, apparently, a mistake!
It's a funny thing. I don't remember Paul Begg EVER admitting to any of his mistakes. I've pointed out some mistakes he made in his book with Keith Skinner about Scotland Yard but, far from admitting to them, he instructed his cowardly sidekick on JTR Forums not even to ask him about them.
If anyone's ever seen Paul Begg admit to a mistake please do let me know when and were. I'm only inclined to believe it when I see it!
PAUL BEGG'S MISTAKES
Talking about mistakes made by Paul Begg, this is what he wrote in a letter dated 8 June 1993 to Nick Warren:
'Paul Feldman is a reputable businessman working on a documentary about Jack the Ripper'
Hmmmm, reputable businessman and pornographer!
But here's something else he said in that same letter:
'I have said - and I stand by it - that if the journal was written by the person who claims to have written it and at the time he claims to have written it, I would have to conclude that it is genuine. Beyond this I have made no comment and it remains to be seen whether authorship and date is proven'
Hmmmmn. Beyond this he had made no comment? What about when he said in June 1992 that he inclined to the belief that the diary was genuine and that there was no reasonable alternative to this conclusion???
And what about when, nearly a year after Dr Baxendale's report showed the diary to be a forgery, he told the Liverpool Daily Post (as cited in its issue of 26 April 1993):
'All tests which might reasonably be expected to be made have been made and the document has not been shown as a forgery'.
There looks like a mistake in there somewhere.
Keith Skinner wasn't the only person to have confused himself from Anne's cheque stub into thinking that Mike didn't acquire the little red diary until May 1992. On 14 June 1999, Paul Begg posted (underlining added):
'Mike claims that he purchased a red diary for £25 and that Anne paid for it by cheque. He claims that he purchased the diary between phoning the Literary Agent Doreen Montgomery and visiting her eleven days later. Anne, however, has produced a cheque stub which she claims to be for the diary and which her bank statement shows she wrote on 18th May 1992. This was one month after Mike had visited Doreen Montgomery with the "Diary" (i.e. the scrapbook).'
Then a further post on the same day:
'If the cheque evidence is right then Mike's story about buying the red diary before seeing Doreen is untrue. And if it is untrue, one wonders why it is untrue. What possible reason did Mike have for lying about it?'
It's funny isn't it it? Now that Begg knows that Mike's story was true, and he did buy the red diary before seeing Doreen, it doesn't seem to have changed his opinion about the diary one bit. He now just looks for a new excuse, i.e. why did Mike attempt to buy a diary not a notebook?
Is that what a closed mind looks like?
Readers of the articles on this website will know that I've been pressing Keith Skinner for years to explain to me why Mike Barrett purchased that little red 1891 diary in March 1992 but that he's so far refused to do so (despite having promised me that he would). Well here is what he posted back on 7 December 2000:
'Another explanation of why Mike bought the red diary is that perhaps he was genuinely excited at the prospect of meeting a Literary Agent and the possibility of collaborating on a book with a recognized author - so bought the red diary on impulse, just to see what a Victorian diary looked like. True, he could have found out by other, less expensive means, but he didn’t.'
By coincidence that's exactly the same story that Anne Graham had tried to convince him of five years earlier but the problem with it is that it doesn't take account of Mike specifically and expressly asking for a completely blank diary or one with a minimum of 20 blank pages. Keith didn't know about that in December 2000 but he does now.
So it's not that Keith has never tried to explain the purchase, it's evidently just that he can't do it now he knows the facts of the purchase.
PROJECTION OF KEITH SKINNER?
This was posted by Keith Skinner on 29 July 2001, about Melvin Harris:
'I personally do not believe Melvin is deluded. I think he is just a very worried man whose credibility has been seriously damaged by the existence of these two artefacts – and whose work and reputation has been eclipsed by Paul Feldman.'
So we're talking about someone whose credibility has been seriously damaged by the diary.
Hmmmm, can anyone think of a researcher who fits that bill?
Perhaps a researcher who went on record on multiple occasions saying that he entirely believed Anne Graham's story that she first saw the diary in 1968 and gave it to Tony Devereux in 1991 to give to her husband. Would that have seriously damaged such a researcher's credibility?
THOSE GRUBBY COMMERCIAL WRITERS
I found a joint post from Keith Skinner and Shirley Harrison dated 28 July 1999 in which, following what they perceived as 'dictatorial demands and expectations' from a diary critic, Peter Birchwood, they announced grandly that their 'contributions to the board are now terminated'.
At the same time, they said:
'we understand that Peter Birchwood has joined the ranks of those hoping to gain commercially from the Maybrick Diary, since we gather he is, himself, in the process of researching material for a book.'
Oh how terrible. Writing a book about the diary and 'hoping to gain commercially' from it. I guess it must have been a different aspiration which led Keith Skinner and Caroline Morris to co-write a book themselves four years later!
THE STICHING UP OF MELVIN HARRIS
I was quite shocked to discover what the three authors of the Jack the Ripper A to Z, two of whom are hard core diary defenders, did to Melvin Harris, who exposed the diary as a fake.
This is what they decided to write about him in the 1996 edition of the A to Z:
'Readers are warned that while many of the unsourced statements in Harris's earlier books rest on well-researched documentation, his occasional postulation of other writers' thought processes can be wildly wrong and actually conflict with impeccable written evidence, and his indignation when he believes he has perceived chicanery may lead him to make demonstrably unjustified assertions.'
According to Crazy Ally Ryder, posting on 21 April 2001:
'In the A-Z, no other author except Melvin Harris has his personal integrity questioned'.
It transpired, following Melvin's complaints, that two independent referees, Dr Alan Gauld and Philip Sugden, thought that the strictures in the entry were too harsh and that the actions of the authors of the A to Z were not warranted. Further, Gauld wrote that the written defence of the entry by Begg, Fido and Skinner in their response to Harris' complaint, 'strikes me as a bit of pretty desperate flailing around, and is pompous and condescending to boot' while Sugden said that he did not find the grounds set out in the defence to be adequate. The offending entry was removed from the next edition of the book.
While I have no doubt that the authors of A to Z thought in their own minds that they were being fair-minded and that their conclusions were justified, the entry they wrote certainly didn't give the appearance of fairness towards Melvin. One could certainly see why he was upset. It was obvious that there was a potential conflict of interests involved here and that Paul Begg and Keith Skinner could have had reason to be hostile towards Melvin Harris due to his views about the diary, having exposed it as a modern fake (whereas Begg, as we've seen, had already declared it to be genuine and Skinner at the time believed Anne's story that it had been in her diary for generations) while Martin Fido also had a reason to be hostile towards him because Harris had been somewhat critical of his work about Kosminski/Kaminsky. I've read the reasons that the authors of the A to Z gave to justify their entry about Harris and I personally don't find them very convincing. They smack of nit-picking criticisms of certain comments made by him (some in private correspondence!) of the type that any author might write, and nothing that can be said to be 'wildly wrong' or 'unjustified assertions'.
The purpose of me writing about this now, however, is not to go into whether the entry in the A to Z was right or wrong. I just want to look at what Paul Begg said about it. On 15 June 1999, he posted to a critic:
'the A to Z was authored by three people and all three people have to agree to and are responsible for what it says, so I am not alone responsible for the words in the book and for all you know I may not even have agreed with them but bowed to a majority decision. So not only do you speak from a position of ignorance, but whether or not I am unpleasant, threatening, conceited, and self-righteous is irrelevant because I was not alone responsible for the entry.'
It's not hard to spot the glaring contradiction within that statement is it?
On the one hand:
'all three people have to agree to and are responsible for what it says'
On the other hand:
'for all you know I may not even have agreed with them but bowed to a majority decision'.
Er...Paul mate, you just said 'all three people have to agree' then, without batting an eyelid, in the same post, suddenly turned that into the possibility of a majority 2-1 decision!
How does that work?
I also love the way Begg here throws Keith Skinner under a bus. If, as he is implying - although it's hardly clear - he didn't agree with the A to Z entry about Melvin Harris, that only leaves Keith Skinner and Martin Fido as having been responsible for it!
Did Begg ever clarify whether he did or did not agree with the entry before it was published? Did he bugger!
MY NAME IS GERARD KANE
There's a lot in the archives about Gerard Kane. Why is that?
Well, from as early as 1993, Melvin Harris suspected Kane of being one of the forgers. He told Nick Warren and Marti Fido about this in confidence. The first person to put Kane's name into the public arena, however, wasn't Melvin Harris, it was Paul Feldman in his 1997 book (although he spelt it wrongly as 'Cain'), presumably having been tipped off by Fido. It was Feldman who attributed to Harris the conclusion that Kane was the forger and that, according to Harris, Kane's handwriting 'matched that in the diary and he had mysteriously 'disappeared around the time that the diary became public'.' (Feldman 1997, p. 139).
Despite the fact that Harris had made no public statement about the role of Gerard Kane, Feldman claimed that Harris was fortunate not to have been sued by Kane who, said Feldman, had moved to a bungalow due to an inability to use stairs and hadn't disappeared at all.
But Harris hadn't said the things that Feldman attributed to him.
In a letter to Feldman's commissioning editor, Rod Green, on 4 September 1997, Harris complained that his views had been misrepresented and that he had, in fact, never identified Kane as the forger. All he had done was note that Kane's handwriting on Tony Devereux's will was similar to the diary handwriting. He also clarified that it was a newspaper reporter who had said that Kane had disappeared and that he hadn't said this himself.
Here are Melvin's own words from that letter:
'On page 139 Feldman claims that I had examined Devereux's Will and "..concluded that Mr Cain, one of the witnesses, was the forger.." and he had mysteriously 'disappeared around the time that the diary became public'" This misrepresents my views in two ways. The idea that Mr Kane (the real spelling) had disappeared was not mine, but was the conclusion of a newspaper reporter who tried to trace him. And I have never identified Mr Kane as the forger. What I did say, and stand by, is that his handwriting on the Will bore an uncanny resemblance to the writing in the Diary. But it was only a small sample; too small to indict anyone.
Every competent investigator has a duty to clear people of suspicion, and it was in that spirit that an attempt was made to secure lengthy samples of Mr Kane's handwriting. This was not undertaken by me, but by a reporter known to me. Unfortunately and, rather foolishly, Kane drew suspicion upon himself by first denying that the writing on the Will was his; then by refusing to show a single sample of his handwriting. Later on, when interviewed by DS Thomas, he finally admitted that the Will writing was his. But this man's health is so poor that no further enquiries were made by me, or by the police, and he was never pressured into supplying samples of his writing.'
So what was the handwriting on Tony Devereux's will that Melvin had seen? Here it is:
Other than Kane's signature on his 1966 marriage certificate (which is similar to the above), that's literally all that Melvin Harris had to go on at the time. It's not much. To me it doesn't particularly look like the diary handwriting. Nevertheless, I think there is a false statement in 'Inside Story' about the way the letter 'K' is written in the diary. Daily Express journalist Stephen Grey considered that both Kane and the diary author wrote the letter 'K' with 'a tiny letter z inside'. We can see that in the word 'Kane' above. But the authors of 'Inside Story' tell us on page 248 of their book that:
'it is self evident from the illustration on page 232 that there is no such idiosyncracy in the Diary'.
The illustration they refer to on page 232 is an example of the diary writer writing the word 'Kelly'. The problem, as I stated in the OP of my 'Diary Handwriting' thread on the Casebook Forum back in 2018, is that the diary author's handwriting is inconsistent throughout so that relying on a single example of a letter is unsatisfactory.
In fact, the diary author does sometimes write the letter k with a tiny letter z inside and this can be seen in the signature 'Jack the Ripper' on the last page. We can also find it on other occasions such as when the diary author writes 'I know in my heart' on page 9 of the diary, 'shiny knife' on page 40, 'that was a joke' on page 45 and 'I will think of something' on page 46.
So one can see that Harris had discovered that one of Tony Devereux's friends had handwriting that was, in some respects, similar to the diary handwriting and we can see that he had been told that Kane had initially denied that the handwriting on Tony's will was his own handwriting before later admitting it was to the police. I don't know if it's true that he did this but, clearly, if it did happen, it's quite a suspicious thing to do so that, having been told that it happened, it is quite likely to have made Kane a suspect in Harris' eyes.
Nevertheless, Harris never named Kane as the forger and he never said he was certain that Kane did forge the diary.
A few years later, on 4 February 1999, Alan Gray wrote to Kane's wife to ask for a sample of her husband's handwriting. This is what Kane provided in response:
Amusingly, as we can see, he apologizes for the handwriting, which rather undermines the purpose of the exercise!
Again, this doesn't look much like the diary handwriting but, just as with Anne's handwriting, there are some similarities in the formation of some of the characters.
There's certainly nothing, however, which screams out that Kane must have been the forger of the diary. As far as I can tell, it was other people, not Harris, who made a big fuss on the Forum about Kane, demanding that Harris provide proof of his involvement. Caroline Morris, of course, was yapping away in May 2001 about getting this handwriting sample (which she hadn't yet seen but was aware of) analysed by a handwriting expert, but if the diary author had disguised his or her handwriting that would have been pretty pointless, and a waste of money.
The authors of 'Inside Story' believed that they had identified the newspaper reporter to whom Kane had allegedly denied that the handwriting on the will was his, as referred to by Harris in his 1997 letter. He was said to be Stephen Grey of the Daily Express, who had tracked down Kane but Kane had told him that he didn't know anything about the diary and doesn't appear to have denied to Grey that the handwriting on Devereux's will was his own handwriting. If the authors of 'Inside Story' had correctly identified the reporter then Harris must have been misinformed.
The authors of 'Inside Story' DID appear to confirm one part of Harris' story namely that three reporters from the Liverpool Daily Post had 'tried to locate Kane but did not find him at the address they had'. So it would seem to be entirely possible that one of those journalists told Harris that Kane had 'disappeared'.
One other long running saga on the Forum, prior to the 'Inside Story' team's involvement, was the question of whether Harris would be prepared to put Shirley Harrison in touch with the newspaper reporter in question or identify him. From the very start, Harris made it clear that the reporter's editor, from whom he would have had to obtain permission to pass on this information, did not want to communicate with anyone about the matter. Yet, over a long period, Harris was literally bombarded and badgered on the Forum with a proposal that Shirley would write a letter which she would send to Harris for him to pass on to that editor.
Although Harris' original post had made clear that this wouldn't work because the editor didn't want to enter into any correspondence, people like Keith Skinner, Caroline Morris and Paul Begg continually pestered and badgered Harris by asking him why he wasn't agreeing to it. It became something of a cause célèbre by the diary defenders.
The whole thing turned into a joke when Shirley said that she'd sent the letter to Harris via his publishers and was wondering why Harris (who didn't have an internet connection) wasn't responding but it turned out that Harris had never even received the letter!
Melvin Harris made his position crystal clear in a post dated 17 March 2001 when he said:
'On the Mrs Harrison front; since Begg has perhaps not read my 'LAST WORD' entry let me end his distress by directing him to it. It makes clear that the newspaper Editor does not want to be involved with any queries from anyone. All such approaches are unwelcome. Since that has been stated emphatically, there the matter ends.'
Despite this, the badgering continued and it strikes me as very regrettable that the authors of 'Inside Story' used Harris' reasonable refusal to pass on this letter to the editor in question as propaganda against him in their book. Thus, while quoting a lengthy extract from an online post by Shirley Harrison dated 1 March 2001, regarding her request for Melvin to pass her letter on to the newspaper editor in which she wrote 'please, Melvin, I do hope you will pass my letter on', the authors of 'Inside Story' then comment on page 247 of their book:
'Her request does not appear to have been met'.
Yet, Melvin's explanation as to why there was no point in him meeting her request, as set out in his post of 17 March 2001, was simply not referred to. How was that in any way fair?
Furthermore, Harris was clearly right because Shirley Harrison believed the newspaper editor in question to be Christopher Williams of the Daily Express and, when she wrote to him, she received no reply! Just as Melvin Harris had predicted. Funny that.
With incidents like this I do feel more and more that 'Inside Story' was not as neutral and unbiased as the authors like to make out and it's disappointing to see that it was used to continue a longstanding grudge against Melvin Harris from the Forum.
It seems that I'm not the only one who thinks that 'Inside Story' wasn't the neutral and unbiased book the authors like to make out that it was. Back in 2004, Crazy Ally Ryder, who I believe was then Ally Reinecke, also held the same view and she expressed it in her usual unrestrained way.
On 22 March 2004 she took Caroline Morris to task for her 'supposedly neutral book slanted opinion favorably towards Anne Graham and insinuated little digs against Melvin Harris.'
On 23 March 2004 she said:
'You did not allow the facts to speak for themselves, you shaded them with your own words and subtle insinuations' adding 'Readers can judge for themselves' and anytime an author shades the "facts" to their convenience, then one always has to wonder what facts were excluded that might have presented a more balanced picture? '
Her conclusion was:
'Therefore, not a neutral book.... it is laughable to insist that the book was neutral when you were going out of your way to bait one of the key players.'
In particular, she pointed out that:
'you have proven yourself to be completely antagonistic towards Melvin throughout the entire time that you were writing your supposedly neutral book and therefore, your biases taint anything that might be said in the book. '
'Only an idiot would believe that neutrality would be maintained under those circumstances.'
On 7 September 2004, in response to Caroline Morris' claim that the various people in the story were portrayed through their own words and behaviour 'as faithfully as possible from the record', Ally responded:
'This is blatant BS and we have already been over this. You did not portray them as faithfully as possible, you liberally sprinkled your text with extremely biased and caustic leads against one character and with pity her and the life she's lead comments about another. Your text was biased, manipulative and your continual insistence that it was fair and balanced is baloney considering that you yourself spent years while involved in this project baiting and mocking and insulting a principle character you were writing about! Please do your credibility a favor and quit insisting that it was an unbiased account.'
THE KANE MUTINY
On 3 July 2000, Melvin Harris posted, quite reasonably and compassionately, in my view, a message to all diary researchers:
'Mr Kane has a very serious heart problem, AND I MEAN SERIOUS. So lay off please and let him live in peace.'
In response, a rather aggressive and, it has to be said, somewhat unpleasant and heartless sounding Keith Skinner, posted on the same day:
'No Mr Harris, I will not lay off Mr Kane!
The man should be made aware of your suspicions, whilst he is still alive, and given the opportunity of responding. No doubt he will have friends and family who can advise as to the best approach of handling this delicate situation – depending on the seriousness of his heart problem.'
Frankly, I can't see what business it was of Keith Skinner to make a seriously ill old man aware of Melvin's 'suspicions'. In any event, Keith never got to speak to Kane. He, and his co-authors of 'Inside Story', wrote to him as part of his attempt to write a book in which they were presumably 'hoping to gain commercially' from the diary but Kane, as Melvin had predicted, never responded ('Inside Story', p. 249). Funny that! The authors of 'Inside Story' wrote in 2003:
'we understand from a third party that he has a heart condition which dates back to the 1980s...and remains in very poor health.'
No shit Sherlock! They also discovered from the third party that, 'Kane had become very distressed to learn of the continuing furore'. So that letter they sent him must have been very welcome, mustn't it?
Having been warned by Melvin Harris of Kane's serious heart condition, Keith Skinner pressed on regardless because the diary was obviously more important than anything.
I must say, though, the hard approach to speaking to Kane does contrast somewhat with Keith's rather more softly softly approach to young Caroline Barrett. The authors of 'Inside Story' wanted to interview her in 2002 along with her mother, when she was 21, but she didn't turn up to the arranged interview. Nor would she agree to speak to them on the telephone, claiming the events of the diary were oh so traumatic. But why isn't Skinner pestering her today for an interview now that's she's middle aged? I do hope it's not out of any respect for Anne Graham.
After all, Caroline should be made aware of the suspicions that she witnessed her parents forging the diary, shouldn't she? And, indeed, Keith Skinner, with his new belief that the diary was only found in Battlecrease in March 1992, long after Tony Devereux's death, must be saying that he has suspicions that Caroline lied when she said that she remembered her father being given the diary by Tony and going round to Tony's house to ask him about it. Shouldn't she, therefore, be made aware of his own suspicions and be given the opportunity to respond to them?
It's a funny thing, though, because when I suggested on the Forum back in 2017 that Caroline Barrett should be interviewed, Caroline Morris not only invented an excuse for her for not showing up for the 2002 interview ('Caroline was probably at an age when social functions with friends would have been far more important to her') but implied that such an interview wouldn't be a good idea, saying (Acquiring thread, #208):
'I'm not sure what Caroline would recall of those events today, but who could blame her if she wanted to blot it all out, given marital problems she must have witnessed her parents going through in the early to mid 1990s'.
Excuses, excuses and all very different to Keith Skinner's aggressive approach to interviewing Gerard Kane: 'No, I will not lay off him!'
Well I rather think that Caroline Barrett might just have an interesting story to tell. I do hope that Skinner isn't still wasting his time with those blasted electricians.
CAROLINE MORRIS HANDWRITING EXPERT
Remember Caroline Morris saying that she couldn't possibly even look at any similarities in the handwriting of Anne Barrett and the diary handwriting because she's not a handwriting expert? Well that hasn't always been the case.
Back in 2004 she was quite prepared to consider whether Gerard Kane's handwriting resembled the diary handwriting. Thus, on 25 March 2004 she posted:
'I could see no comparison between the couple of examples of small ks in Kane's hand, and small ks in the diary. In particular, the k in Kane's Cabinet Maker looks to my untrained eye nothing like the k in the diary's The whore is now with her maker, but I suppose it is a matter of opinion, and of course Kane would presumably have tried to disguise his natural hand, if he knew Mike Barrett was involved and might one day drop him in it!'
Oh yes, she was quite prepared to have a go at some amateur handwriting analysis when she could see 'no comparison' but is not at all prepared to look when there obviously IS a comparison!
This also makes me wonder if she was responsible for the mess-up in 'Inside Story' which says that the way Kane formed his letter 'z' was different to the way the diary author did it, which isn't actually correct, as discussed above.
ANNE IN CHARGE
This post by Keith Skinner dated 2 May 2001 was a bit of a staggerer for me (underlining added):
'Permit me to correct a misapprehension I think you have concerning the discovery of the Maybrick correspondence in America. I would be most grateful if you could bring to the board's attention the historical fact that it was Anne Graham - and not myself - who spotted this useful source. By close and careful study of the Trevor Christie material which Feldy had generously photocopied for Anne and Carol Emmas to catalogue, Anne identified an archive in Virginia which yielded these letters. I remember Anne bringing this to my attention and telling me that she did not wish to be credited with tracing this material, as people would merely say it demonstrated further proof of her culpability.'
The reason I say it's staggering is because the Virginia archive was where a documentary reference to Maybrick being referred to as 'Sir James' was found which was supposed to have been a huge fact in support of the diary being genuine!
Thankfully it now seems to be generally accepted that the 'Sir James' reference is a bit of a nothing point which is unconnected to the diary author referring to himself as 'Sir Jim', but it could, in theory, have been crucial to having the diary accepted as genuine.
Now imagine if Anne was one of the forgers and, at one point in her life, had actually visited the archive in Virginia and had spotted the 'Sir James' reference which was then incorporated by the forgers into the diary.
It would mean that we would have a situation where a forger was secretly tipping off the research team as to where they should look in order to 'prove' the diary genuine! It would be like murderer suggesting leads to a murder squad investigating a murder that he himself had committed in order to throw them off the scent. It's madness.
Totally unbelievable that the diary team would accede to such a request for Anne not to be 'credited' as the person who brought the existence of the archive to Keith Skinner's attention.
And what was Anne even doing by getting herself involved in the research? Weren't there enough professional researchers available, then?
In a post dated 2 August 2001, Keith says that Anne became involved in 'the research' from about the summer of 1994. He makes out that she was part of the team although, if that's the case, it's even odder that she didn't pass to Keith a copy of Mike's affidavit when she received it shortly after it was sworn in January 1995.
Then, in January 2002, Keith Skinner wrote (underlining added):
'I am currently researching the Maybrick Case, in considerable depth, for a screenplay which has been commissioned by Columbia Pictures. It is the intention of the writer, (Bruce Robinson), and myself to make the script as accurate and historically responsible as possible – and for that reason, (in spite of our commissioning Anne Graham to work with us), the alleged Maybrick Journal – without authentication – will form no part in the dramatic reconstruction of events or character.'
So Anne Graham was even being commissioned to research the Maybrick case by Keith Skinner himself in 2002!!
Was she being considered by Keith as a suspect who, as her husband alleged in a sworn affidavit, had written out the text of the Maybrick diary, or was she being considered to be a fellow researcher of the highest ethical standards?
Given that Keith Skinner appears to now think that Anne had been lying directly to him about the provenance of the diary supposedly written by James Maybrick, does he, I wonder, regard it as a huge mistake on his part that he commissioned Anne Graham to work with him in researching the Maybrick case?
Lest anyone think that, while working with Anne Graham, Keith Skinner wasn't surreptitiously spying on her, they would be very wrong. As Caroline Morris posted on 1 May 2001:
'Since 1994, Keith has collected every scrap, which has come his way, of Anne's handwriting: Xmas and birthday cards; handwritten envelopes; notes Anne left for Keith at the PRO (when research was being done for her Florence Maybrick biog); letters etc. Keith has been looking for any changes he could detect in her writing over a long period of time.'
Right, so where are all these examples of Anne Graham's handwriting which are in Keith Skinner's possession? Let's get them online for the purpose of comparison with the diary handwriting.
Or are they being suppressed?
THE CURIOUS CASE OF SHIRLEY HARRISON
We know that Shirley Harrison spoke to Kevin Whay on 16 January 1995 and was told that 'items such as an old photo album would have been in a job lot marked "miscellaneous items"'.' Her memo recording her conversation was sent to Keith Skinner that very same day. At the end of the memo, it was stated:
'I am going to see him, with Sally on Thursday morning'.
Thursday morning would have been 19 January 1995.
So there was a second meeting with O&L in January 1995 which we don't hear much about. It's certainly not mentioned in 'Inside Story'. However, on 4 June 2001, Shirley posted on the Forum that:
'On January 19th 1995, after the interminable meeting with Mike Barrett, Sally and I went immediately to Outhwaite & Litherland where we looked at their auction lists and were told then, as we are told now, that they do not and did not auction material such as the Diary.'
That is oddly worded because it makes it seem as if O&L were being asked if they were likely to have auctioned the diary of Jack the Ripper as written by James Maybrick. The real question was not about whether they would have auctioned material 'such as the Diary' but whether they would have auctioned an old photograph album. As to that, Kevin Whay had already told her that an old photograph album would have been included in a 'miscellaneous' lot. Furthermore, when Caroline Morris recently spoke to Mr Litherland of Outhwaite & Litherland she claims to have been told that a album of World War 1 photographs would have been auctioned in one of O&L's special auctions. So the information being given out is inconsistent.
But the most important point to emerge here is that, as far as I am aware, no-one has ever seen Shirley Harrison's note of her meeting with O&L on 19 January 1995. Not only is it not referred to in 'Inside Story', it's not referred to in Shirley Harrison's books either, even though Shirley had apparently been told categorically by O&L that they didn't auction 'such material as the Diary'. Despite the importance of such a claim, we don't find it referred to anywhere by anyone other than on this one occasion by Shirley on the Forum. Why not? Why doesn't Keith Skinner appear to have a copy of the note of this meeting? Is it possible that the note makes mention of Mike Barrett's affidavit of 5 January? Was it, for that reason, suppressed?
THE MAJOR'S FIRST POST
For anyone not aware, the real name of Major Misunderstanding a.k.a. Iconcoclast, a.k.a. Soothsayer, is Tom Mitchell.
I'm not outing him here. He initially posted under his real name. At least, I'm pretty sure it's his real name because it doesn't sound like one he would have invented.
And we find Major Tom Mitchell's first post was way back on 24 April 2004.
What was his post about?
You guessed it. The supposed appearance of the letter "F" and "M" in Kelly's room.
'I can't get my head around the sheer implausibility of the letters 'F' and 'M' appearing in that order on Mary Kelly's wall after her (or her friend's, if you subscribe to that theory) murder. Those letters may have been there for five years before the murder, but the mere fact that they were at all - for me - causes a major problem for the 'hoax' theorists.'
Sixteen years later he still doesn't seem to have got his head around the fact that those letters were neither on the wall or even in the photograph and are mirages produced by reproductions of the photograph.
Then again we don't really know what he thinks these days coz he's gone into an incredible sulk!
Back in April 2004 he was saying:
'I accept that I have a real urge to believe the diary is real, which makes me a poor judge of the evidence.'
Hmmmm, plus ça change.
PHILLIPS NAILS MORRIS
I was amused to read Chris Phillips posting to Caroline Morris on 2 May 2005 to say:
'Honestly, have you really not got anything better to do with your time than posting all this endless nonsense?'
Tee hee! Fifteen years later she's still doing it. And she's been doing it non-stop since 2005.
Five days later, Chris Phillips nailed her again when he noted that her posts were so often:
'constructed in such a way as to leave a false impression in the mind of the reader while actually saying something subtly different.'
Anyone who has tried to engage Caroline Morris in an online discussion will know exactly what he means.
The main reason Caroline Morris gave fifteen years ago for believing that the diary wasn't a modern forgery was because her hero, Keith Skinner, didn't think it was. Thus, for example, responding to the problem of 'tin matchbox empty' in the diary (which another poster had said proved the diary was modern) she pathetically dropped the holy name of Mr Skinner as follows:
'Keith Skinner would have given up the investigation if he considered that it proved the diary modern'.
She also posted on 30 March 2005
'Had the 'detailed account of the whole forgery process', as provided by Mike Barrett in early 1995, produced a single piece of verifiable evidence that he (or his ex-wife, or his late friend or father-in-law) had knowingly been involved with a late 1980s hoax, I would not have spent the last five years of my life puzzling over the origins of the document, and my co-author, Keith Skinner, certainly wouldn't still be investigating those origins today, ten years after Mike's 'confession' proved to be full to the brim with porkies.'
The problem here is that, until July 2004, Keith Skinner fully believed Anne's story about having seen the diary in a trunk in 1968, something which we are told today was a complete lie, so it's rather unfortunate for Caroline Morris to have been using him as some kind of weird justification for her own beliefs.
A warning to anyone asking Caroline Morris for a favour.
On 8 July 2004, the author Neil Bell, a.k.a. Monty, made the mistake of posting to say that the diary needed to be regularly tested by modern technology.
It was a mistake because he had recently emailed Caroline Morris to ask for a favour from Keith Skinner. And he had now made what looked like an anti-diary post! Oh dear. I think you can guess what happened next.
In response to Monty's post, on the same day, Caroline Morris, in her usual charming way, posted:
'The diary is available to modern technology, as its owner, Robert Smith, confirmed, only the other day, right here, on the Maybrick boards.
You may have missed it, while you were emailing me for a favour from Keith Skinner....
How very Trumpian! Clearly, if you ask Caroline Morris privately for a favour, woe betide if you should then post anything with a hint of being 'anti-diary'. In which case, that request for a favour will immediately be thrown back in your face.
That's why I never emailed or messaged her at any time when I was on the boards, even though she asked me to. I instinctively knew she would use anything I said in any such communication, positive or negative, against me in some way in the future.
ROBERT SMITH'S BIG PROMISE
Back on 1 July 2004 Robert Smith made a promise to the members of the Casebook Forum.
'you may remember that on 23rd January 2004, I appealed on these boards for a bottle of pre-1992 Diamine ink. I had already been in lengthy correspondence with a UK laboratory, and had received a financial estimate for tests to compare the diary ink with Diamine ink, which Mike Barrett claimed he had bought to write the diary.
If I can locate a bottle of Diamine, I will announce when the tests are to take place, and when completed, promptly post the full report of them on the Casebook for all to see.'
As revealed in his 2017 book, Robert Smith obtained from Shirley Harrison in June 2012 one of two purported bottles of pre-1992 Diamine which she had received from Alec Voller in 1995. So did he then, in 2011, arrange for comparison tests of the diary ink with Diamine ink and promptly post a full report of those tests on Casebook for all to see? Did he ballocks!
14 November 2020