'Throughout his interview with Keith Skinner he sidestepped with extreme craftiness, every question put to him, and in fact, did not give a satisfactory answer to any one of these questions'.
Korsakoff syndrome causes problems learning new information, inability to remember recent events and long-term memory gaps. Memory difficulties may be strikingly severe while other thinking and social skills are relatively unaffected. For example, individuals may seem able to carry on a coherent conversation but moments later are unable to recall that the conversation took place or with whom they spoke.
Those with Korsakoff syndrome may "confabulate," or make up, information they can't remember. They are not "lying" but may actually believe their invented explanations. Scientists don’t yet understand the mechanism by which Korsakoff syndrome may cause confabulation. The person may also see or hear things that are not there (hallucinations).
In addition to whatever problems might have been caused by Korsakoff syndrome, everything said to Mike seems to have been channelled through a filter called 'Paranoia'. For he seemed to be capable of turning even the most innocent question as some kind of personal attack on him, or an accusation of some sort, and this defensiveness undoubtedly affected the way he behaved during the evening. I also don't think he was equipped with the language and mental skills to argue a case for anything. Even where he actually had reasonable points to make, his attempt to make them in an understandable way for the audience were almost invariably shambolic.
One good example of this was where it was said to him by Martin Fido that Anne's spelling in her written correspondence was too good for her to have written the Diary. Mike's response could have been made very simply and effectively. It was, in essence, that, in 1992, Anne was writing in manuscript whereas the written letters that Fido had received had (probably) been typed on a computer with a spell checker, thus enabling her to correct any spelling mistakes. Yet Mike's actual approach was to bewilder Fido by asking him what year they were in now and then saying in response to Fido's answer of "1999" that, 'That's a hell of a long time isn't it?' to which the Fido naturally responded, 'Not especially'. To make his point, Mike then counted unnecessarily from 1992 upwards saying, 'Three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine', adding, 'Modern word processors change over'. We can see the simple point he was making (even if it wasn't entirely clear to the audience at the time) but he just couldn't do it in a normal way and, as a result, he sounded bonkers, even though it was a good response to the question he was being asked.
'I couldn't keep up with the mortgage so I thought to myself, okay, I've been writing for David Burness, Celebrity magazine, I've been writing for Chat magazine, I've been writing for Look-In magazine. I've been writing for all these magazines.'
'I sat in the living room by the rear lounge window in the corner with my word processor, Anne sat with her back to me as she wrote the manuscript...Several days prior to the purchase of materials I had started to roughly outline the Diary on my word processor.'
'I had actually written the "Jack the Ripper Diary" first on my word processor...'
'I’ve been writing, god knows, I’ve been writing for an awful long time. So I phoned David Burness. And he produces a magazine. And the magazine is called Celebrity magazine. This is very, very, important. This is where the Diary starts. Now, David Burness produces Celebrity magazine. Meanwhile, I go along and, you can go and check these facts, look at the people I interviewed. I interviewed Kenneth Williams, Bonnie Langford, various people… and I do all the interviews, so I come back and I write it on a word processor. Right. And I’m only making about £120 if I’m lucky. Then Maggie dies. Now you are going to ask, 'who is Maggie?' Maggie is Billy Graham’s father, mother, sorry I do apologise. And when she dies, she dies on New Year’s Eve. And I thought to myself, my life has totally changed here, 1987, get that wrote down, 1987. So, in 1987 I turn round and thought to myself oopsie daisie and Anne - Anne - wants me to build up a mortgage. I didn’t have the money. That’s a fact. I’ll be perfectly honest with you. I only had £600 at the time. £600 wasn’t enough to pay for the mortgage. It was like that. It was half and half. So I paid the mortgage and we moved to 12 Goldie Street, G-O-L-D-I-E S-T-R-E-T-T right, and the reason I’m spelling all this is just to prove that I’m not illiterate. I think that’s exceedingly important because according to Anne I can’t string two sentences together. So we moved to Goldie Street and Goldie Street was, shall we say, a tie around my neck, and I mean literally a tie around my neck, it was hanging me, I couldn’t keep up with the mortgage so I thought to myself, okay, I’ve been writing for David Burness, Celebrity magazine, I’ve been writing for Chat Magazine, I’ve been writing for Look-In Magazine. I’ve been writing for all these magazines. And I thought to myself, okay Michael, let’s do a Sir Walter Scott. Now anybody is in here, is shall we say familiar with English literature? Sir Walter Scott, if you know anything about Sir Walter Scott. Sir Walter Scott was in a hell of a lot of trouble in the past. And what Sir Walter Scott done, he wrote himself out of it. I mean, literally, he wrote himself out of it. He wrote Ivanhoe. And that’s a god given fact. And that is a god given fact. So I thought to myself, I’ll do the same, I’ll write myself out if it. I’ll write myself out of the – well, if you forgive me ladies and gentleman, I do apologise, s-h-i-t. Right. Because I don’t want to swear. So I thought to myself I’ll write myself out of it. So I wrote myself out of it. Well, I thought I wrote myself out of it. … I’m serious.'
'Barrett said that he had written material for Dundee publisher D.C. Thomson for some years, and that he had worked on the diary for five years.'
'So when I wrote it, all of a sudden the Diary gets on the shelf [by which he means in the shops], the Diary becomes genuine and I know and I totally know that the Diary is false. I know because I know I’ve wrote it, but I haven’t wrote it. Anne’s wrote it. Now always remember that fact ladies and gentlemen. Anne wrote it. It’s in her handwriting. Now always remember that fact. That’s a god given fact. So all of a sudden, oopsie daisie. I said, “I’m not having this”. And remember I’ve got a daughter. I’ve got a daughter called Caroline. And I haven’t seen her. I’ve lost track of her. I know she lives in [gives her address] Liverpool. Or do I?.... I’ve lost a daughter. And I turned round and said to Anne, you don’t, no matter what you do, and I mean this, and I mean this today, you don’t use children, you don’t use children. Anne did. Anne did. No question about it. She used Caroline. And she used me. It’s what we call emotional blackmail for want of a better word. It’s not blackmail but I have to say it was emotional blackmail. Anne turned round to me and said "If you tell the truth about the Diary of Jack the Ripper, that you wrote it and I wrote it, right, I’ll make sure", a god given fact, – and she swore on the bible, "I’ll make sure, I’ll guarantee, that you never see Caroline again." Well that to me is totally blackmail. My advice is never to give in to blackmail. My advice will go to its grave and I'll still never give in to blackmail. But Anne said that. Anne, true to her word…And she really did say it. And she blackmailed me, and she blackmailed me with my daughter.'
'I said I think I’ve got the diary of Jack the Ripper here, do you understand? Doreen fell for it left, right and centre. So all I had to do was come out and find the Diary of Jack the Ripper and write it. It took me eleven days flat to write.'
'Yes, if she wouldn't have believed the con, I would never have carried on with the con.'
'I can well understand how this diary and its import has affected your lives.'
'Well I was doing a con. Right.'
'Just tell me. What did you say to Doreen that made her write back and say "I can well understand how this diary and its import has affected your lives"?'
'I just want to get at 10 March. Doreen writes back to you and she says "I can well understand how this diary and its import has affected your lives." What did she mean by that?'
'"And it's affected your lives". Why did she write that? Why did she say "I can understand how it's affected your lives"?'
'I said I think I've got the Diary of Jack the Ripper. Right. I'm not "sure", I'm not "certain" but I think I really have got it. Right. Remember, I know it's a con.'
'What I'm saying is why did she ask you that question about, she couldn't understand, she didn't ask you, she said she couldn't understand how the Diary affected your lives, your family life? You must have told her who you were, about your family life, you had a daughter.'
'I looked in the bookshelf and I found Pan Books. So I phoned Pan Books up and I said "Listen, I really sincerely believe I own the diary of Jack the Ripper - however, I don't have 100% proof. I can't prove it." And they advised me, they said, "We don't work it this way, we don't work it this way, you need an agent." Emphasise an agent. So, they turned round and said, "Doreen Montgomery".
KS: So, all of that, you conned her beautifully. Great. So what you’re left with now is you’ve got to produce a diary, presumably in what, 2 or 3 weeks time, because an arrangement is made to go and see Doreen. So what you’ve got to do is-
MB: No, I’ve haven’t got to do anything. What I’ve got to do is the most important thing in the world.
KS: Which is?
MB: Destroy the Diary of Jack the Ripper.
KS: You haven’t written it yet.
MB: What the hell are you talking about?
There's no reason for Mike to have been evasive here. He just switched to the present tense in which his task is to 'destroy' the Diary while Keith was, naturally, still asking him about the events of 1992. Yet, Keith's question was phrased in the present tense, i.e. 'What you've got to do is...'. This switching of tenses wouldn't cause most people a problem (and I'm doing it myself in this article!) but I think it confused Mike and his question, 'What the hell are you talking about?', was, I think, a genuine one to Keith.
In fact, at this point, Mike becomes animated and angry. He seems to think that Keith Skinner had just said that he hadn't, in fact, written the Diary of Jack the Ripper so he starts quoting from the Diary. Keith tries to get the conversation back on track but there is, again, another muddling of tenses:
KS: And this is your finest hour Mike. But what is even finer is conning Doreen Montgomery and knowing you’re in a position that you’ve got to go and see Doreen Montgomery with a Diary.
MB: She would never let me walk into her office in King's [Mews] in a million years.
KS: She wouldn’t?
KS That’s where I first met you. In Doreen’s office.
MB: Doreen Montgomery will not let me walk into her office.
KS: Perhaps not now, but then.
MB: Then? Ah, that’s the afterthought.
MB: We’re talking about?
KS: We’re talking about before. And keep to before. Because, you are creating the Diary of Jack the Ripper.
Once more, this confusion on Mike's part appears to be genuine. He's got no reason to lie about any of this. In response to Keith's statement that he is creating the Diary of Jack the Ripper, Mike makes one of his mad responses, saying:
'No, I haven't created the Diary. I have created, full stop, I created the Diary of Jack the Ripper, full stop apostrophe.'
I think that what he was trying to say here was that he wasn't creating the Diary of Jack the Ripper (as Keith had said) but that he had created it. It's just that he got his tenses muddled up in his response, thus making a nonsense of it. He then goes off on a tangent with his belief (much repeated during the evening) that the three ingredients of a bestselling novel are sex, mystery and religion, something we can safely ignore.
The Red Victorian diary
So now, as Keith Skinner put it during the interview, 'We are in March 1992. Mike is now faced with the situation where he has got to create the diary which he has sold to Doreen Montgomery'. Mike, who has successfully confused himself into initially calling this diary a 'red ledger' says:
'The red ledger, if you understand me, is so small it's untrue. And I thought to myself "Oh sugarlumps". It's no good...It's a Victorian diary but I thought to myself "no good". So I said to myself "Whoopsie daisy. I've just gone and sold the idea to Doreen Montgomery. Now I've got to produce the goods." Are you with me?...Now I'm stuck...all I've got is a little red diary".
He's about to tell the story of how he then turns to Outhwaite & Litherland and he says:
'So I turn around and I go to Outhwaite & Litherland which is operating-'
I would say that this is a good example of Mike trying to take the interview on a forward trajectory but Keith Skinner, who is supposedly doing a 'magnificent job' in keeping the interview on a forward trajectory, interrupts him and doesn't let him finish his sentence. He hasn't yet finished with the red diary. Because he wants to ask him a question to which he already knows the answer. 'How much did it cost?'
The reason Keith already knows the answer is because he has obtained from Anne the cheque stub by which the red diary was paid for. It shows that the diary cost £25. This is also the sum stated by Mike in his January 1995 affidavit. So Keith knows the answer to the question, yet has interrupted Mike from going on with his story in order to give him a pointless memory test about what it cost him or Anne to pay for it.
In fact, Mike gets confused in his answer. He's already thinking about Outhwaite & Litherland and says that the red diary cost fifty pounds (which is what he said in his affidavit it cost to purchase the black ledger from Outhwaite & Litherland). That he has confused the two diaries becomes obvious when he says that he had the fifty pounds 'in his pocket' and he paid in cash.
So Keith then corrects him and tells him that, 'In fact, Anne purchased the Diary, a red leather backed diary, for £25' thus rendering the previous questions and answers redundant. It was a known fact to Keith that the red diary cost £25, so why did he bother asking Mike to state what it cost? It was just a waste of time and oppressive for Mike.
Mike, who is unaware that Keith has already done the research on the point, insists that if he checks with Lloyds Bank in Walton, he will be able to find a cheque in the sum of £25 made out by Anne Graham for this diary. It's all true and Mike is being entirely honest and accurate here with what he says.
Keith then produces a surprise for Mike:
KS: Let me help you out with the red diary Mike. Because what you said is: check the bank statement, check the cheque, check Anne’s stubs. And you will find that there is a payment for £25 going through her account.
MB: That’s exactly what I’m saying.
KS: And that absolutely supports your story that in March 1992 you went and got this red diary, it’s no good.
MB: So will I get the apology tonight?
KS: I’ve got the apology to make because I’ve got the red diary. What I’ve also got and I got it from Anne, because she sent it to me, Christ knows why because it just incriminates her, but she sent it to me. She sent me the red diary. She sent me the cheque book with the stub. She sent me the account, a statement showing, as you say, money going through the account, £25.
MB: Now, can I get an apology?
So we've got Mike effectively saying: You see, I've been telling the truth about this all along. Can I get an apology for being called a liar?
What happens next is that Keith Skinner attempts to cross-examine Mike on an entirely false basis and I hope that, to this day, he feels ashamed of himself for what he did. However, before getting down to this piece of dreadful cross-examination, he thoroughly rattles Mike in the following exchange:
KS: But there’s a complication here and I don’t understand it and this is why I just want you to clarify it.
MB: By all means, you ask me the question, can I get an apology afterwards?
KS: Yes, of course you can. And I’ve given it to Stewart because Stewart Evans keeps this is a closely guarded secret, he used to be a policeman for 23 years.
MB: I'm not going to get nicked tonight am I by any chance?
KS: No, no no. So I’ve given it to Stewart because -
MB: Hang on a minute… am I going to get nicked tonight?
KS: No, you aren’t.
MB: Alright that’s fair enough, I’ve done my time.
What an astonishingly daft thing for Keith Skinner to have done by introducing into the picture Stewart Evans (who was sitting in the audience) who 'used to be a policeman for 23 years.' Obviously I wasn't there that evening but Mike Barrett sounds thoroughly alarmed to me from the recording. We can see that his immediate response was to ask if he was going to get arrested. In his mind, he might well have imagined that the grand finale to the evening was going to be that police officers would burst dramatically into the pub and arrest him to thunderous applause. Perhaps they were even sitting in the audience along with this Stewart Evans chap. I'm not sure if, even today, Keith Skinner has understood how alarming his mention of Evans being a policeman must have been to Mike Barrett. In Keith's world, policemen are friendly and they don't come and arrest him. In Mike Barrett's world, it's the exact opposite.
Then Keith Skinner pulls out his rabbit from the hat:
'What I don’t understand is that the statement that Anne sent me which backs your story beautifully is dated May 1992. May 1992 by which time you’ve been to see Doreen Montgomery with the Diary.'
Now, this was unfair to Mike for a number of reasons. Keith Skinner was producing a document (or rather summarizing what a document said) which Mike Barrett had probably never seen before in his life and certainly had had no chance to consider prior to his questioning that evening. He had no legal representative in the room or anyone to help him consider the meaning and significance of the bank statement. He is supposed to be able to provide an answer to Keith Skinner while on his feet, with bright lights shining in his eyes and an expectant but sceptical audience waiting for an explanation.
We now know that the answer to the conundrum posed by Keith Skinner is that the Diary was indeed purchased and received by Mike in March 1992 but wasn't paid for until May 1992. It's as simple as that and in no way undermines Mike's story that the red diary was acquired in order to forge the diary of Jack the Ripper. So let's look at Mike's reaction to this information which has been bounced on him without any warning. Keith asks him why the statement was dated May 1992 and Mike says:
MB: You’ve got to work that out. Because she’s a liar. She’s a thief.
KS: But that’s why I’ve got the statement because the statement shows that. The statement shows -
MB: She’s a liar and a thief and I can’t make no apology, Robert I’m speaking to you, and I really am speaking to you, I’m speaking to you personally, you’ve been conned beautifully, I conned you.
KS: And Anne has conned me?
MB: And that’s a god given fact. Now if you want to arrest me you can arrest me but the whole point is I never wrote the diary of Jack the Ripper. That’s a god given fact.
KS: You didn’t write it?
MB: No, Anne wrote it. It’s in her handwriting.
This is a fascinating exchange. Had Mike had a chance to consider Anne's statement beforehand, it might have occurred to him (or he might have remembered) that payment for the diary had been made late, long after it had been received. Absent that thought, the only thing he can conclude is that Anne has lied to Keith Skinner.
The key fact here is that we know that Mike is 100% telling the truth so that we can see his genuine reaction when he says that the only solution is that Anne is a liar and a thief (which isn't the case in respect of the red diary payment documents, but it's the only conclusion he is able to draw). We can see that in the middle of one of his answers he gets distracted and speaks directly to Robert Smith but that's clearly not by way of being evasive because, at the time, he was providing an entirely honest answer to Keith's question.
What's also interesting is that the fact of Stewart Evans being a police officer is weighing heavily on his mind. 'If you want to arrest me you can arrest me' he says. Then he wants to make it clear that it was Anne who wrote the diary in her handwriting. So if anyone should go to prison it's her.
You won't, incidentally, find any mention of all this in the summaries of the evening in Ripperologist. You won't find it in the summary of the meeting in 'Inside Story'. In his letter to Ripperologist following the meeting, Keith Skinner reveals that the cheque was dated 18 May 1992 which, he says, was 'a month AFTER the journal containing 'The Diary of Jack the Ripper' had been examined by Doreen Montgomery...' He goes on to say in the letter that, 'It therefore raises the question as to why Mike Barrett should have bought a Victorian diary at a time when publishers were lined up to bid for the journal'. He acknowledges the possibility (which turned out to be the case) that the Victorian diary was acquired prior to the black ledger and paid for a few months later but, despite this, he then goes on to conclude that, 'Ultimately it will resolve nothing at all except for those who are quite content to accuse Anne Barrett of fraud on the basis of Mike Barrett's testimony'. That's not really true because it does resolve that Mike was seeking a Victorian diary with blank pages at a time when no-one had ever seen the physical Diary of Jack the Ripper. In his letter, Keith also repeats Anne's bogus claim that Mike purchased the red Victorian diary because he had been 'curious to see what a Victorian diary actually looked like'. We now know that this can't possibly have been the reason due to the importance attached by Mike of obtaining a Victorian diary with a minimum of 20 blank pages or otherwise one which was completely unused. This was not the behaviour or someone who simply wanted to see what a Victorian diary looked like.
The damage of Keith's flawed questioning of Mike, and his subsequent flawed account in Ripperologist, was, however, done. Shirley Harrison, who in her own letter to Ripperologist referred to Keith's questioning of Mike during the evening as 'exemplary and diplomatic' - perhaps she was thinking of the way he diplomatically told him that an ex-copper was in their midst - stated in her 2003 book, 'The American Connection', that 'The red diary was in fact purchased after the Diary had been brought to London.' That was obviously her big takeaway from the evening. But there was no 'in fact' about it. It was a false fact. Mike had acquired the red diary before the Maybrick Diary was brought to London. This helps to explain why, for years, the notion that the diary is an old document has been so popular with people who took their information from Shirley Harrison and ignored the significance of the red diary which basically proves on its own that the Diary was a modern hoax (and that's without the additional proof of the anachronistic 'one off instance').
When I asked Keith Skinner directly in the Casebook Forum why Mike wanted to acquire a Victorian diary with blank pages in March 1992 he didn't answer me but promised he would do so in the future. He broke that promise. He never answered the question. In fact, I'm still waiting for the answer. Amazingly, Mike Barrett is presented as someone who evaded the questions he was asked by Keith Skinner during the Cloak & Dagger club evening but, as far as I can tell, he stood there and answered everything that was thrown at him. Not so for Keith Skinner though. He could have taught Mike Barrett a thing or two about evading questions.
As we've already seen, Mike was unsettled by the mention of Stewart Evans being a former police officer and this is shown clearly by what he said immediately after having stated that the diary was in Anne's handwriting:
You remember that boys. You remember that. She carried on with the fraud. I’ve been to court. And if you go back to my hotel room. I don’t think you know. I might as well tell everybody here now. I think this gentleman has seen all the papers and what have you. I got arrested. I got six months in prison and it wasn’t very nice. And I got done, six months in prison. For threatening to kill, right. Threats to kill. I was on bail all that time. It’s what you call remand, right. I served my prison sentence and what have you then I went into a court and I got cleared beyond all reasonable doubt by a jury. And a jury cleared my name.
His mind seems to be on his being arrested.
Keith presses the point about Anne's bank statement, making a canting statement in support of Mike that the documents Anne had sent him must be forged (something he failed to maintain in his letter to Ripperologist):
KS: The documents she has sent me which contradict your story I say are forged.
MB: …She’s very clever.
KS: That’s why I’ve given them to Stewart to look at because Stewart will be able to say "statement forged, the cheque you actually got, the cheque, it’s all forged, it’s all rubbish".
MB: Very clever, Anne.
Again, we see that all Mike can say is that Anne is very clever for providing Keith with a document showing that the red diary was purchased after the April 1992 meeting with Doreen. He knows it isn't true. He knows for a fact that the red diary was purchased before 13 April 1992 but he can't explain it or argue his case in any kind of convincing way. It's left hanging and it's obvious that people in the audience didn't believe him - Shirley Harrison's comment in her book four years later being a case in point. The significance of the red diary was thus lost to the world of Ripperology (until being spotted many years later).
At the end of this passage of conversation (after a short diversionary ramble with Mike telling Robert Smith that Anne was a wicked witch and a very nasty person), Keith Skinner suddenly turns from interviewer to giving evidence himself, by saying of Anne, 'She’s forged documents and she will be exposed for that because when Stewart looks at those documents he will be able to say immediately, rubbish, these are forged. And that’s the end of Anne’s credibility, if she has any credibility to lose. That will be the end of it. Wait a minute because this has to be one of your aces'. This type of speech seems to me to have been completely unnecessary. Mike hadn't actually even expressly stated that Anne has forged any documents. He just said she's a liar and very clever. Keith has decided that forgery is the only option here but I don't think he actually believed that Anne had forged anything despite what he is saying.
The Black Ledger
Finally we get to Outhwaite & Litherland, which Mike had been itching to talk about what feels like hours earlier.
Mike starts off by saying 'March 1992. First week in March 1992'. Keith starts to interrupt by saying 'That's when you' - but Mike talks over him saying, 'Lot 64..'. Keith asks him what Lot 64 means (and after another brief drunken ramble in which Mike asks Robert Smith to publish his next book) he says, 'One diary, one brass compass' (although he immediately corrects himself and says it wasn't a diary it was a black ledger). That he bought a brass compass at Outhwaite & Litherland in the same lot with a black scrapbook or ledger is entirely consistent with what he said in his 1995 affidavit (and thus, presumably, with what he told Alan Gray in 1994). When we are talking about an alcoholic, who is supposed to live in a fantasy world, it is remarkable that details of his story are consistent five years apart.
This is the point in the conversation that Keith Skinner asks Mike to produce the receipt for the goods purchased at Outhwaite & Litherland and Mike refuses. The reason he gives for his refusal is:
'It’s up to you, you’re the researchers. You check the facts. And if I’ve done a good job of writing the diary of Jack the Ripper, as a researcher, you do a good job checking your facts....You check with Kevin Whay.'
Now, as I've already mentioned, it strikes me as likely that Mike had long since destroyed the receipt but who knows? Perhaps he had it on him. If so, I would say it is understandable that the real reason he refused to produce it was fear of being arrested in view of Keith's daft mention of Stewart Evans having been a police officer for 23 years. In Ripperologist it is stated that Mike only gave this as a reason for his refusal after the meeting but that's not the case, as a close listen to the recording reveals. Towards the end of the evening, Mike was getting stick from Dave Cuthbertson for asking others to provide evidence to support their claims while refusing to provide any himself. Keith Skinner says to Mike, 'This gentleman wants to know why you will not prove things' to which Mike replies, 'I don't want to get locked up for fraud. Full stop.' I must say, on the recording he sounds genuine when he says this, but I fully accept that he might not have had the receipt in his possession at the time. Nevertheless, it was a reason he gave during the meeting, not only after it.
One other thing about the receipt. In Paul Daniels' summary of the meeting in Ripperologist of June 1999 it is stated that Mike was 'adamant that he had proof' but was unwilling to produce it when asked to do so. Not once during the interview did Mike Barrett state or give the impression that he was adamant that he had proof of anything. He never mentioned, or referred to, the receipt until he was asked directly about it by Keith Skinner.
Having failed to extract the receipt, and following the mention of Kevin Whay, Keith Skinner then hits Mike with a second unfair question based on a false premise. He says that 'we' had already checked with Kevin Whay: and he reads out Whay's statement that: 'Having searched through our files and archives either side of the alleged sale date. I can confirm that no such description or lot number corresponding with his statement exists.'
Mike responds to this by saying 'wrong' and, unknowingly, he had a very good point. Keith Skinner had failed to take into account that the alleged sale date in Mike's 1995 affidavit was given as January or February 1990 so that a search through O&L's files on the years either side of that date would only have covered 1989 and 1991 but not 1992 which is when Mike was saying he went to Outhwaite & Litherland to acquire the black ledger. So that was unfair to Mike Barrett because he was being told that the files had been checked for the relevant period when they had not, in fact, been checked.
Furthermore, there is another reason why Keith was being unfair to Mike. In a statement made by Kevin Whay to Shirley Harrison on 16 January 1995, which was, for some unexplained reason, omitted from inclusion in 'Inside Story', and is thus not very well known, Whay said that, 'Between 1990-1991 they [O&L] held about 300 or more auctions and items such as an old photo album would have been in a job lot marked "miscellaneous items".' Consequently, even a search of the records in the correct year would not have revealed the sale of the photo album (or ledger or scrapbook). Those records would, according to Whay, only have recorded it as a 'miscellaneous' item.
This is the full exchange that then takes place between Keith and Mike:
KS: Well this is what he is saying. It’s not what I’m saying. "Furthermore we do not and have never conducted our sales in the manner in which he describes."
KS: He’s wrong?
MB: Totally and utterly.
KS: Mr Kevin Whay…
MB: Totally and utterly.
KS: …who works at Outhwaite & Litherland doesn’t know what he’s talking about?
MB: Well he’s an auctioneer. Right. He’s an exceedingly busy man .
KS: Right. He’s confused?
KS: He’s not confused? I’m confused but he’s not.
MB: No. Mr Kevin Whay and his assistants. Right. Mr Kevin Whay is the man who owns the firm.
KS: They are writing to the wrong man?
MB: He’s the man who owns the firm. Do you understand? Mr Kevin Whay owns the firm. Right. So he gives it to his-
MB: Yes, that’s a good word, the minions. Do you understand?
KS: Yeah. Easy isn’t it?
MB: Actually it is...
In the circumstances, Mike is here giving a reasonable answer to the question. He is basically saying that the search hasn't been conducted thoroughly and that Whay is only relying on what he was told by his underlings. Had Mike known the true facts, namely that the files for the wrong year had been searched, and that those files probably wouldn't have included mention of a photo album (or ledger or scrapbook) anyway, being recorded only as a 'miscellaneous' item, he could have given an even better answer.
In short, though, the question as asked - which was another cross-examination type question - was unfair to Mike. He was trying to tell his story but on each issue, the red diary and now the black ledger, he was being challenged unfairly and put in a position before the audience where he couldn't possibly respond sensibly or in an informed way to Keith's questions. As a listener, what I wanted to know was what Mike actually remembered about the Diary from 1992 but Keith wasn't asking questions directed at extracting information of this nature from his memory. He seems to have been wanting him to argue his case like an advocate. That wasn't what Mike was good at.
The Eleven Days
You might recall that Mike said earlier in the interview about the Diary, 'It took me eleven days flat to write'. Astonishingly, in his 'exemplary' and 'magnificent' interview, Keith Skinner asked not a single question about this! Nor did anyone else in the audience. It was forgotten or ignored, as if Mike had never said it.
Consequently, it was never clarified if Mike was saying that he hadn't given the question of the Diary of Jack the Ripper any thought prior to his telephone call to Doreen Montgomery on 9 March 1992, so that he wrote the Diary from start to finish in 11 days in March 1992, or if he had been researching it and drafting it in the years between 1987 (when he said he wanted to write himself out of financial trouble) and 1992. As I've already mentioned, no-one asked him if Tony Devereux had any involvement in the plan to forge the diary. No-one asked him if any other person had been involved.
We don't know, therefore, what Mike would have said if he had been asked, but my own opinion is that, when he said it took him eleven days flat to write the diary, he meant him and Anne together based on a draft that was already on his word processor. I say this only because of what he appears to have told Alan Gray in 1994 in the recordings of his conversations as reflected in his affidavit of January 1995. According to 'Inside Story', p.145, Mike said to Gray in a recorded interview in late 1994 that, 'he created the Diary on his word processor from Tony Devereux's original research, but that the handwriting was Anne's'. In the 5 January 1995 affidavit he said that, 'The idea of the diary came from discussion between Tony Devereux, Anne Barrett my wife and myself...We looked closely at the background of James Maybrick and I read everything to do with Jack the Ripper.' He also says, 'During the period when we were writing the diary, Tony Devereux was house-bound, very ill and in fact after we completed the Diary we left it for a while...'. Tony Devereux had died in August 1991 so he couldn't possibly have been involved if the idea only popped into Mike's head in March 1992.
The eleven days, of course, do feature in Mike's affidavit of January 1995 when he said 'Anne and I started to write the Diary in all it took us 11 days' . So again, Mike's story from 1995 is consistent with his story from 1999.
I will deal later in this article with the supposed inconsistency between the 1990 date for the writing of the diary in Mike's 1995 affidavit and the 1992 date as claimed by Mike in his 1999 interview (and at the previous day's lunch).
Anna Koren and Anne Barrett's Handwriting
In her 'report' of 11 September 1993, graphologist Anna Koren (sometimes referred to as Hannah Koren) stated that, 'The writer of the diary was probably schizophrenic. Inside the diary I found a variety of letter formations and features indicating multiple personalities.'
During the 10 April 1992 interview, Mike made a very simple and easily comprehensible point about Anna Koren's handwriting analysis of the Diary which Keith Skinner, nevertheless, seems to have completely failed to understand. In fact, he doesn't seem to understand it to this day and, worse, has used this misunderstanding as part of a black propaganda war against Mike Barrett.
After being asked by Keith Skinner if the diary was in Anne's handwriting and saying, 'it's in her handwriting', Mike introduces Anna Koren into the interview. This is how the full exchange goes:
KS: Let’s go to the wicked witch. She is the person.
MB: Let’s go to the proof, let’s go to the heart of the story.
KS That’s her. Without any redemption. The woman without any redemption, the diary is in her handwriting, is it?
MB: Oh the way - it’s in her handwriting - Anna Koren-
KS Bring her in later.
MB No, I want to bring her in now. Anna Koren... The person who write this diary, according to Anna Koren, the world’s [greatest] handwriting expert and what have you, has got a multiple, and I mean multiple, because I’m quoting,-
KS A multiple personality.
MB Thank you.
KS That’s Anne?
MB: That’s Anne.
Let me just repeat that main answer of Mike's with underlining:
'The person who wrote this diary, according to Anne Koren, the world's [greatest] handwriting expert and what have you, has got multiple, and I mean multiple, because I'm quoting -'
As we've seen, Keith helps him out at this point saying 'A multiple personality' to which Mike says, 'Thank you'.
Keith then asks him if he is saying that Anne is a multiple personality and a schizophrenic, to which Mike says 'Yes'. There is then the following exchange:
KS: This explains. I mean, you’ve answered it for me because we’ve got Anne’s handwriting. I’ve given it to Don Rumbelow again, who can just about read. He will be able to see a pattern-
MB: Don’t be insulting him –
KS: Anne’s handwriting doesn’t seem to resemble the handwriting of the diary.
MB: Anna Koren, Anna Koren states quite categorically. Paul Feldman flies her in from Israel. She’s the world’s leading handwriting expert, agreed? Or not? Will everybody agree with me because that’s what’s in the Diary. So Anna Koren gets flied in, right, from Paul Feldman, she looks at the Diary. She doesn’t know it’s the diary of Jack the Ripper.
KS: She says whoever wrote this has a schizoid personality. That is Anne Graham. So, therefore, Anne Graham, when she actually wrote the Diary, she wrote in her other personality. Does she become schizoid to order then?
MB: Well put it this way. I haven’t seen my daughter for six years. Now hang on, hang on. Right.
In amongst all that, we see that Keith Skinner states that Anne's handwriting doesn't seem to resemble the handwriting of the diary. He doesn't produce any expert opinion on this, he just states it. He doesn't ask Mike to agree or disagree, and Mike, who was obviously determined to finish his point about Anna Koren, doesn't offer any view one way or the other.
As far as I know, the only example of Anne's purportedly 'normal' handwriting that Keith Skinner had seen at this point is a sample she provided to him on 18 January 1995 which, to my untrained eye, does not actually match her 'normal' handwriting in her private handwritten correspondence. Moreover, there are undoubted similarities between Anne's handwriting in her correspondence and the handwriting in the diary.
According to Keith, though, who is drawing his own conclusions, when Anne wrote the diary, 'she wrote in her other personality'. That is NOT what Mike has said. All he has said is that Anna Koren claimed that, based on the handwriting, the person who wrote the diary suffered from a multiple personality disorder. As he had testified that Anne wrote the diary ('in her handwriting') it must follow, as a matter of pure logic, if Anna Koren was correct, that Anne suffered from a multiple personality disorder. It's a very simple point. How Keith Skinner doesn't understand it (and I will demonstrate his failure of understanding in due course) is beyond me.
The interview moved on at this point because Keith picked up on the reference to Mike's daughter - but a questioner returned to the issue later in the evening and this was how the exchange went:
Q: Just a small point. You’ve said that your wife actually -
Q: Ex-wife, beg your pardon, actually wrote the diary and because she has psychological problems, this came through on the actual writing, this fed through into the writing?
MB: No, I didn’t say that. Anna Koren said that.
Q: Oh I beg your pardon. Well it was said, it was said, it was said by somebody.
MB: It wasn’t said by me.
MB: You asked me a question let me correct that. Anna Koren said that.
Q: It was said by somebody that the writing displayed psychological problems.
MB: That’s quite true but only by, and I must emphasise in this room, not by me, by Anna Koren.
Q: Fine, fine, I’m not mentioning any names now, it was said-.
MB: No, I’ll mention names.
Q: It was said by somebody, okay?
MB: Yeah. Well it wasn’t said by somebody, get your facts straight, it was said by Anna Koren.
Q: Fine, it was said by Anna Koren, whoever Anna Koren is. Fine. But the problem I’ve got is you’ve just been telling us is that you actually wrote it on the word processor and your ex-wife-
MB: I never hand wrote it, Anne hand wrote it, that’s the difference.
Q So it’s the handwriting that showed the psychological problems, not the content.
MB: Not the content.
Q: That’s fine. Thank you very much. That’s cleared that up.
This is an interesting exchange which not only shows Mike getting the better of his questioner (who had no idea who Anna Koren was) but makes clear that, according to Mike, it was a handwriting expert, not him, who was saying that his wife (as the author of the diary) had psychological problems. As we've seen, Mike had earlier introduced the subject by saying that the person who wrote the diary had a multiple personality according to Anna Koren. It's true that Mike then agreed with Keith that he was saying that Anne was a schizophrenic but a fair reading of what Mike was saying during the evening as a whole is that this was only based on what the handwriting expert had said. In other words, an expert was telling him that the person who wrote the diary had a multiple personality disorder. He knew that Anne wrote the Diary. Ergo his wife had a multiple personality disorder. For Mike, it no doubt explained why Anne had taken his daughter from him but the key issue here is that Mike was not saying any of this based on his own observations of Anne, it was purely on what the handwriting expert Anna Koren was saying about the handwriting in the diary, i.e. Anne's handwriting (according to Mike).
After Mike repeated that Anne physically wrote the Diary, Keith Skinner then chipped in at this point of the questioning to say (emphasis added):
And Anne’s handwriting which is different to what’s in the diary, the reason for that is that because your wife, ex-wife, is a deeply disturbed person with a schizoid personality, that is why the handwriting is different to her own natural handwriting.'
This is Keith Skinner's own personal and wrong interpretation of what Mike was saying (and Mike's response at the time was silence - he didn't say he agreed with it). Mike never once had said during the evening that the handwriting in the Diary was different to Anne's natural handwriting, nor did he once say that he was providing an explanation as to why the handwriting in the Diary was different to Anne's natural handwriting. He was making a completely different point based on the conclusion of Anna Koren which, in his mind, explained aspects of Anne's behaviour in a way that many people who have been through a divorce would probably think of their partner because it supports their belief that their partner was the bad (and sick) person in the relationship and explains why the relationship went wrong in a way that means they don't have to confront their own bad behaviour.
That's all it was. A kind of personal petty point scoring exercise by Mike but nevertheless a point for which the logic can't really be flawed, especially if, as he seems to have believed, Anne wrote the Diary in her natural handwriting.
Now, how did Keith Skinner portray this entire exchange to the world in his letter to Ripperologist dated 27 April 1999? Well, this is what he said:
'...when I queried Mike as to why the writing in the journal (JTR Diary) appeared to bear no resemblance to Anne's handwriting, he explained that this was because Anne had a multi-personality disorder - resting on Hannah Koren's published analysis of the handwriting as evidential support. Mike, by now, has implicated Anne in the forgery, accused her of emotional blackmail and inferred that she had sustained a seven year campaign of lying and cheating and deceiving for financial gain. This new accusation of a personality disorder, therefore, came as no surprise - although I did wonder when, in their eleven years of marriage, Mike may first have noticed it.'
We can see that Keith's first sentence is simply untrue. Keith has had a failure of recollection of Mike Barrettian proportions! Mike did not introduce the point about Anne's multi-personality disorder in response to a question from Keith as to why the writing in the journal appeared to bear no resemblance to Anne's handwriting. In fact, Keith never asked that question of Mike during the entire evening. Mike introduced the subject of Anne's multi-personality disorder after Keith asked him if the Diary was in Anne's handwriting, to which Mike replied that it was. In other words, that's the complete opposite of Keith's summary of the exchange! Mike never claimed that Anne's handwriting in the Diary bore no resemblance to Anne's handwriting nor did his point about Anna Koren rely on there being no such resemblance. Again, quite the opposite. The point for Mike was that the handwriting in the Diary DID resemble Anne's handwriting. As to that, this is what Mike said during the evening (without any challenge from Keith Skinner):
'Anne actually wrote it in her handwriting.'
'Anne wrote it. It's in her handwriting. Now always remember that fact. That's a god given fact.'
'Anne wrote it. It’s in her handwriting.'
Surely the point is clear. Anne wrote the Diary in her handwriting. Anna Koren said that the handwriting showed the author to be suffering from some form of multiple personality disorder. Q.E.D., Anne suffered from some form of multiple personality disorder. That's what Mike was bursting to say at the club meeting and that's what he did say.
Keith total lack of understanding of the point is evident from his snide comment that he wondered when in their eleven years of marriage Mike might have noticed the personality disorder. For Mike wasn't saying that he ever noticed such personality disorder during their years of marriage. He was saying that the point only arose after Anna Koren was flown in from Israel to pronounce that the author of the Diary (i.e. Anne, according to Mike) suffered from a personality disorder based on the handwriting (i.e. Anne's handwriting, according to Mike). It wasn't Mike who made the diagnosis of the personality disorder, therefore, it was Anna Koren. That's why Keith should not be wondering when Mike first noticed it. But no doubt every person on the planet has different moods on different days and I'm sure an expert diagnosis of a personality disorder in their former partner could explain a great deal of things for any divorced person!
So that was Keith Skinner getting it wrong in 1999. In his 2003 book, 'Inside Story', co-written with Caroline Morris who was present at the meeting, we find this about the events of the evening:
'Barrett insisted the Diary had been written by Anne but created by him. Pressed by Keith Skinner to explain why the writing was not similar to Anne's, Barrett announced that this was because Anne suffered from a multi-personality disorder, quoting Anna Koren's analysis of the handwriting of the diary as evidence.'
This account is, of course, false. Keith Skinner never pressed Mike to explain why the writing of the diary was not similar to Anne's. It was never even established during the evening that Mike believed that the writing of the diary wasn't similar to Anne's. Mike wasn't using Anna Koren's analysis to explain why Anne's handwriting wasn't similar to the diary handwriting. It's not even correct to say that Mike was using Anna Koren's analysis of the handwriting of the diary as evidence to support his claim that that Anne suffered from a multi-personality disorder. His point was that it was Anna Koren who was saying this full stop. He could hardly have made it clearer that it wasn't him but Anna Koren who was saying, in effect, that Anne had a personality disorder. Thus (by way of reminder):
Q: Ex-wife, beg your pardon, actually wrote the diary and because she has psychological problems, this came through on the actual writing, this fed through into the writing?
MB: No, I didn’t say that. Anna Koren said that.
Q: It was said by somebody that the writing displayed psychological problems.
MB: That’s quite true but only by, and I must emphasise in this room, not by me, by Anna Koren.
How could Keith Skinner have missed this? How could he have failed to understand it? I really have no idea. Yet to this very day he is obviously confused about it. When setting out his recollection of the interview in an online post on Casebook on 18 August 2019 (#1750 in the Acquiring thread), he said:
'he did mention Anne had a multi personality disorder which explained why the handwriting did not resemble her own natural hand...At the time, this disorder of Anne had gone unnoticed by most people who knew her and I remember silently wondering when, in their eighteen years of marriage, Mike may have first noticed it.'
As we've seen, that's factually incorrect because Mike did not use Anne's supposed multi personality disorder to explain why the Diary handwriting did not resemble her own natural hand and Keith's point that the disorder of Anne 'had gone unnoticed by most people who knew her' was ridiculous in the context of what Mike actually did say.
Despite not having been at the meeting or having heard the recording, I was, two days later (i.e. two days after Keith Skinner's post of 18 August 2019), able to provide the correct interpretation of what Mike had said in 1999 because I wrote the following in 'Lord Orsam Says...' of 20 August 2019:
'If we assume that Anne was skilfully able to disguise her handwriting (and, as I've pointed out elsewhere, there are similarities in the way she forms some of her characters to the way those characters are formed in the Diary) then I suspect that all that happened here is that, after his wife left him, taking their daughter with her, Mike, having noted that the experts said that the handwriting of the Diary shows that its author had a multi personality disorder (and that people with such disorder can have different styles of handwriting), rationalized Anne's decision to leave him ex post facto on the basis that it wasn't his own appalling behaviour that caused her to go but the fact that she suffered from multi personality disorder. I doubt his comments on the subject should be taken any more seriously than that.'
How right was I? I hadn't even heard Mike emphasizing that it wasn't HIM saying Anne had the personality disorder it was ANNA KOREN, yet I was still able to nail exactly what he had said that evening simply from untangling Keith Skinner's misunderstanding.
Unfortunately, Keith Skinner either did not read 'Lord Orsam Says...' (a fatal mistake for anyone) or did not absorb it for he still had the same silly idea stuck in his head when he posted to RJ Palmer on the Casebook forum (via J. Menges naturally) on 16 November 2019 in the Rippercast Archives thread (#79):
'Am I right in believing you are coming to the UK soon? If so, I hope you may swing by Liverpool and knock on Anne Graham’s door. You’ll have heard Mike state she suffers from a multi personality disorder, (which apparently explained why her handwriting did not match the writing in the Diary), so perhaps you’ll strike lucky and get her on a Diary writing day.'
We see again a fundamental misunderstanding by Keith Skinner in thinking that Mike was trying to explain away Anne's handwriting not matching the handwriting in the Diary by pinning a multi personality disorder on her, although we may note that he's subtly changed the emphasis here to 'apparently explained' which still isn't correct. He seems to think that Mike was saying that her personality changed on the day she wrote the Diary which explains why her handwriting was different to her normal handwriting. And what's worse is that Keith is saying this even though he is fully aware that I have claimed that Anne's normal handwriting, as revealed in her private correspondence, does bear similarities to the handwriting in the Diary. He knows full well, because he has mentioned it in one of his posts, that I posted extracts from Anne's handwritten correspondence and invited members of the Forum to compare the way she forms her characters with characters in the Diary. There were no dissenting voices as to the similarities between the characters I identified. He should also now be aware, therefore, that Anne's natural handwriting doesn't seem to bear much resemblance to the sample Anne gave to him for testing purposes in 1995. Perhaps he thinks she was having a different personality day at the time!
And it's not only Keith Skinner who has misunderstood Mike's claim about Anne's supposed personality disorder and uses it against him as part of a campaign to discredit the idea that the Diary is a modern forgery. Naturally, Caroline Morris does exactly the same thing. Posting on the Casebook Censorship Forum in the thread 'Maybrick - a problem in logic', on 22 November 2019 (at #93), she said
'If people are relying on dodgy suggestions from amateur sleuths, including Mike Barrett's desperate stab at claiming Anne has multiple personality disorder [which was widely ridiculed as an explanation for James Maybrick as the penman]...where is the logic there?'
So she takes a false premise - i.e. that Barrett had explained away the supposed fact that Anne's normal handwriting doesn't resemble the handwriting in the Diary on the basis that Anne had a multiple personality disorder - and then uses that false premise as a brush with with to tar all those who say that Anne could have written the Diary, even though, as far as I am aware, I've never heard a single person (including Mike) offer up as a reason in favour of Anne having written Diary being because she had a multiple personality disorder. Not a single person! It's the classic straw man argument which she only puts forward in order to mock it.
I deal separately with the rest of Caroline Morris' post about Anne's handwriting, and the 'logic' of the arguments which suggest she could have written the Diary, in the latest installment of 'Lord Orsam Says...'
After Mike mentioned that he hadn't seen his daughter for six years, Keith somewhat took his life into his own hands by asking Mike a question about her (although Mike said he didn't mind). In fact, Mike then volunteered the following bit of information:
'Anne blackmailed me with Caroline. She turned round to me...at the book launch and said I’ll never see Caroline again. I’m telling the truth.'
He was very consistent and insistent about this during the evening. Hence:
'I’ll tell you how it hurts. Excuse me ladies and gentlemen. I’ll tell you how it hurts. It hurts there through the heart. It kills me from the heart because Anne has lied and she’s used Caroline as a blackmail threat.'
He also gave an explanation as to why Caroline had lied to researchers about the Diary, saying, 'She doesn't want her mum getting nicked...Caroline's got to protect the mum. Because she's got to protect the mum. It's very simple. If the Diary is found to be a forgery, Robert, if the Diary is found out to be a forgery who goes to prison? Not me, because I’ve been telling the truth. Anne goes to prison. So Anne, Caroline is not looking at it any other way “I’ve got to protect my mum”. Very simple.'
During this exchange, Keith Skinner went off on one of his idiosyncratic lines of questioning, the purpose of which I fail to understand. He basically wanted to know how Caroline was allowed to witness the creation of the Diary (as set out in Barrett's January 1995 affidavit). In fact, he actually said this was something that disturbed him. Hence:
'In your statement and this is what also disturbs me but what also disturbs me is you say in your statement that Caroline actually witnessed you and Anne creating the diary.'
From the moral perspective, which is how Keith introduces the question, it strikes me as redundant. How does Keith think it would have been possible for Mike and Anne to have created the Diary in the timescale of eleven days in a small house without any other resident of that house knowing about it? There was no way such an undertaking could have been kept secret from their daughter. But, more importantly, it's not a crime to create a diary in the privacy of one's home, even a diary in which James Maybrick is said to be Jack the Ripper. The criminal offence is when you try and sell such a diary on the basis that it's a genuine document, because that is fraud. But what Caroline would have witnessed in 12 Goldie Street was not a criminal act.
Presumably on the basis of Caroline having witnessed the writing of the Diary (although he doesn't make it clear), Keith went on to ask Mike: 'But Mike, when you and Anne wrote this diary, created it together, what about the risk of actually being found out and going to prison, was that a risk you were prepared to take?'. They say if you ask a stupid question you get a stupid answer and Mike's answer was 'No, I'm too good a writer'. Leaving aside that writing and creating the Diary was not a crime and would not, in itself, have involved anyone going to prison, every single criminal enterprise in the whole world involves taking a risk. Every serious criminal enterprise in the world involves the risk that the person doing the act might end up in prison. Many of these people do end up in prison and us, non-criminal, law abiding people, think to ourselves how could they possibly have thought they would get away with it? And was the reward really worth the risk? But if you asked these criminals whether they thought they were taking a risk you'll probably get answers which are as nonsensical as the one Mike gave.
It reminds me, actually, of an episode of the Simpsons in which Homer Simpson is faced with the opportunity of stealing some money. We see inside his head where there are images of him wealthy and happy and living the dream with all the money he's stolen, whereas the reality is that, of course, he gets caught immediately (or would have got caught immediately - I can't now remember if he actually did go ahead with the theft in the show). No doubt this is how most criminals think. They are focused on the money - or whatever the reward is for the crime - without giving any serious thought to the risk. That's why I say that Keith's question was a stupid one.
Keith asked what ink Mike used to write the Diary and he received a clear answer: Diamine ink.
Keith then asked him, 'Why Diamine?' to which Mike replied, 'I don't know, I just wanted ink.'
Pausing there. Keith has asked Mike a question and he's answered it. He doesn't know why he bought Diamine ink. That's his answer. He hasn't evaded the question. He's answered it. There could be a perfectly innocent reason why Mike doesn't know the answer. Back in 1992 someone could have told him that if he wanted to forge a diary he should use Diamine ink because that's the same as Victorian ink but he's now entirely forgotten that conversation and, as a result, can't quite work out why he purchased Diamine particularly.
Keith Skinner, however, knew better. He said to Mike, 'Hang on, you must know'. So now Keith is telling Mike what he does and does not know! This caused Mike to react by saying 'Oh, let's go for it' and Keith says aggressively (and not in any way diplomatically!), 'I am going for it Mike because I don't believe you. On this I don't believe you.'
After quoting from the diary in response ('Sweet sugar and tea could have paid my small fee/But instead I did flee') Mike asks and then answers his own question:
'What do you do with the ink? You put a little bit of sugar in it.'
Asked why he would do this, he said: 'To mix up the molecules'. He repeats this a couple of times before attempting a demonstration with a quarter of Scotch to show that adding sugar to a quarter of Scotch changes that quarter of Scotch to 'a quarter of Scotch with a hell of a lot of sugar in it.'
Mike's remarks about the sugar have led to a lot of ridicule over the years, not least from Caroline Morris, but it's interesting to note that adding sugar would not, apparently, have harmed the ink. On the contrary, it might well have improved its fluidity. According to an 1807 'Dictionary of Chemistry and Mineralogy' by Arthur and Charles Rochement Aikin:
'Sugar is sometimes added to ink. It makes it flow somewhat easier from the pen, and gives it when dry a gloss which is admired by some.'
According to Dr Andrew Ure in 'A Dictionary of Chemistry' (1821):
'Sugar appears to have bad qualities, but it is of use in giving a degree of fluidity to ink...'
If Mike was lying about adding sugar, is it just a coincidence that he claims to have added a substance to the ink which is known to improve its fluidity and appearance? Or had Mike been told or read that adding sugar to ink is advisable?
Now, it's clear that Mike's stated reason for adding sugar to ink was nothing to do with improving fluidity or appearance. It was, apparently, because he thought it would disguise the ink if scientifically tested. He may not have been right about this but him being right or wrong is not really important. All that is important is what was in his mind.
I say that he 'may not have been right' about this rather than he was definitely wrong for one reason. It seems to me that adding sugar to ink is going to somewhat affect the chemical composition of the ink. The chemical (molecular) formula of sugar is C12H22O11. So you would be adding carbon, hydrogen and oxygen into the ink. Now I don't say that this is going to disguise the ink when tested for one second but I do wonder if adding the sugar is going to dilute the ink. Shirley Harrison tells us that the 1992 formula of Diamine ink was 92.08% water with 0.26% chloroacetamide. The only ingredient of Diamine which gives it away as a modern ink is the chloroacetamide. It seems to me that if you are adding sugar to an ink then it is no longer 92.08% water and 0.26% chloroacetamide but that these percentages must change due to the addition of the sugar. Now it would need a chemist to take this any further but it will be recalled that the Analysis for Industry test result, which found minute traces of chloroacetamide, was disputed on the basis that the amount found was much less than the 3.28% of the dried ink it should have been once the water was removed from the equation. I really don't know if dissolved sugar would have ended up in the dried ink residue that was tested by Analysis for Industry but, if it did, then might it not have reduced the amount of parts per million of chloroacetamide found in the ink? I've already noted in 'Not True, Funny How it Seems' (without any opposition whatsoever so far) that the fact that 90% of the dried ink residue tested comprised paper must significantly reduce the expected amount of parts per million of chloroacetamide that would be expected to have been found in the residue. It would be hugely ironic if, despite the ridicule that Mike's claim about the sugar has attracted, it was actually partly responsible for the low percentage amount of chloroacetamide found in the ink, which low percentage has been used to argue that the ink was not Diamine. How funny if Mike's sugar HAD disguised the Diamine after all!
One thing I will say about Mike's claim regarding the sugar is that he was keen to have it tested, saying:
'I’ll tell you what, we’ll go down there if there are any shops here open now, and we’ll go and get the ink, and we’ll go and get sugar, when you put the sugar in the ink, and you go… the molecules are totally messed up so therefore you can’t produce the exact ink.'
This is similar to they way he later wanted someone to telephone 192 to confirm the existence of the Medici Art Gallery in Liverpool (about which, as we shall see later, he most certainly was not lying).
There then followed this exchange between Keith and Mike:
KS: What would be the properties of the ink that you used? I’ll tell you what, what would you be avoiding?
MB: To find out who is writing the diary of Jack the Ripper.
KS: What you wouldn’t do is go to Woolworths and get a bottle of ink would you?
KS: Why not?
MB: I went to Bluecoat Chambers.
KS: Why wouldn’t you go to Woolworths? Woolworths is closer.
KS: Why Bluecoat Chambers?
MB Easy. Because they had Diamine ink.
KS: So you knew about Diamine ink?
KS: Right. What is the properties of Diamine ink that it has that you were looking for?
MB: Simple, when I’m writing with a two point nib, right, do you understand what I mean?
MB: Right, thank you, I’m thinking to myself I’ve got Diamine ink here, but hang on a minute, this is not and I emphasise this -
KS: Is it an iron gall ink?
MB: Will you stop! I’m going to hit him in a minute, no disrespect, I wouldn’t do with hitting you but will you let me have my say.
There's nothing wrong per se with Keith's question about Woolworths, albeit that it wasn't a store that was exactly known for selling writing ink, whereas you'd be sure of getting some at the Bluecoat Chambers art shop (and, while there was a Woolworths in Bootle, the Liverpool store of Woolies at St John's Shopping Centre was in the exact same area of Liverpool as Bluecoat Chambers, an area of the city where he would have needed to go in any case for his pens and nibs, if he was planning to get them at the 'Medici' in Bold Street) but the main problem with Keith's questioning here is that he's still trying to get to the bottom of why Mike wanted Diamine ink, about which Mike has already answered that he doesn't know why he wanted that ink!
What is wrong in my opinion is Keith's constant interruption of Mike's answers. At the end of the exchange, Mike is trying to tell us something, saying, 'I'm thinking to myself I've got Diamine ink here, but hang on a minute, this is not and I emphasise this- ' so Mike is here about to emphasise something that he wants to say in answer to Keith's question and yet Keith jumps in with a ludicrous question to Mike, namely 'Is it an iron gall ink?'. It's almost as if Keith has reached a point where he can't stop talking and has a compulsive need to interrupt Mike. Why does he even need to ask Mike if Diamine is an iron gall ink? Frankly, aside from the threat of violence (about which Mike was clearly not being serious) I have sympathy for Mike at this point. It follows a series or interruptions from Keith. Many of them were, no doubt, with the intention of getting Mike back on track but here Mike seems to be attempting to answer Keith's question and wants to emphasise something. Keith has jumped in before Mike has had a chance to really get started with his answer, causing Mike to basically, and rightly, ask Keith to shut up and let him have his say.
Unfortunately, we don't really know what Mike wanted to emphasise. The interruption might have caused him to lose his train of thought. After Keith apologised for the interruption, Mike's next remark was this:
'Right. So when you do the Diamine ink, right I’m thinking to myself oh I’ve got Diamine ink here, do you understand what I mean, I thought to myself, ooh sugar lumps here. And I mean literally sugar lumps. I thought to myself I can’t produce that Diamaine ink. That can be traced. That can be traced. So I’m putting sugar in and mixing it all up and about, that can’t be traced.'
We haven't got any further.
One final thing I will say on this topic. There is a note amongst Melvin Harris' papers by an unknown author (possibly Harris himself) which states:
'...we can only add that Mike Barrett has long claimed that he added certain ingredients (notably sugar and water) to the purchased ink, in order to alter its appearance on the page.'
At the meeting, Mike didn't say the sugar was added to alter the appearance of the ink and he didn't mention water but, at the same time, he wasn't asked if he added anything else to the ink. The mention of sugar came about after Keith Skinner said he didn't believe him about the Diamine. It wasn't in response to a specific question about what he did to the ink. If Mike did add water to the ink it might well have altered its visual appearance on the paper which might have confused Alec Voller when he concluded from a visual examination that the ink was not Diamine. The sugar might also have had the same effect, knowing as we do that it can give the ink a gloss that it otherwise would not possess.
In his affidavit of 5 January 1995, it was stated that Mike felt that Maybrick was an ideal candidate for Jack the Ripper but that, 'He was not Jack the Ripper of that I am certain'. During the interview, however, when Keith asked him if he thought Maybrick was Jack the Ripper he answered, 'Why do you think I wrote it?'. When Keith informs the audience that the previous day Mike had said that it was his conclusive belief that Maybrick was Jack the Ripper and that, on the strength of that, he wrote the diary to which Mike added a qualification, saying, '99 percent sure, I'll never be 100 percent sure'.
There is, therefore, a contradiction between what Mike said his state of mind was in 1995 as opposed to what he was saying in 1999. It's not a fatal contradiction but I would like to hear what Mike actually said in his 1994 recordings with Alan Gray before coming to a conclusion as to Mike's actual state of mind on this issue.
But we then come to the main question that Keith Skinner wanted to ask:
'So why didn't you make the diary resemble his handwriting at all?'
Before we look at Mike's answer, it's obvious that Keith has asked the wrong person. Mike was saying that Anne wrote the Diary so the question should properly have been addressed to her (albeit that she would presumably have denied any involvement). More importantly, did Anne have the ability to forge another person's handwriting with sufficient skill to fool a handwriting expert? Personally I doubt it. It's one thing to slightly disguise your own handwriting, quite another to attempt an exact replica of someone else's handwriting because attempting to do so would show in the laboured formation of characters, something which an expert would be very likely to spot.
In any event, Mike's answer was simple and to the point. 'Very, very simple', he said, 'I never had any examples of James Maybrick's handwriting.'
Once again, Mike's answer (which provides a full explanation) wasn't good enough for Keith Skinner. He says to Mike, 'But you didn't think to go and...because you'd been studying it for some time so you must have known the will existed.'
I've no idea where this came from. Mike hadn't said a word about studying anything for some time. Sure, he'd said that the idea to write the Diary had come to him following Maggie Graham's death in 1987 but Keith hadn't thought to ask him anything about that. Mike did say to Keith 'I've studied Florence Maybrick, My Poisoned Life' but gave no time period for when he had done so, and that book doesn't state that a will existed in 1992, let alone one in Maybrick's handwriting.
However, Mike has been told that he 'must have known' that the will existed so he said that he did but it's possible that he's now mixing up his tenses, speaking about his knowledge after 1992 rather than prior to that time. This is the resulting exchange:
MB: I went to the corn exchange, I went to the Liverpool library, right, and James Maybrick’s will is at the Liverpool library, and if you want to, it was at the Liverpool Library five floors up.
KS: So you knew that?
KS: You knew the original will was there?
KS: So why didn’t you use it?
MB: Because it’s not written in his handwriting, check it, it’s been written in Thomas’ handwriting.
KS: Thomas Maybrick, his brother, wrote James Maybrick’s will. Did he sign it?
KS: How did you know that?
MB: Easy I went to Liverpool William Brown Street library.
KS: And you looked at James Maybrick’s will and said James Maybrick didn’t write this, his brother Thomas did?
MB: Go check it.
KS: I believe you. I just want to know how you knew that.
MB: Well it’s easy if you’re doing documentary research, I’m a researcher. Before I do anything I research.
If you want to include this in the count of questions which Mike didn't answer you can, but it's the first one so far that he hasn't really answered. Saying he's a researcher doesn't quite answer it. At the same time, I would suggest that he's confused himself and is really trying to say that the will was in Edwin Maybrick's handwriting based on the Reed Hayes report which stated that Edwin's signature resembled the handwriting on his brother's will.
So perhaps in 1999 he thought that the will was in Edwin's handwriting but whether he thought this in 1992 is another matter.
For myself, incidentally, I would have thought it would be reckless to assume that the will is in James Maybrick's handwriting and I would not be at all surprised if it was written by a clerk (but signed by James Maybrick). A forger attempting to copy the handwriting in the will, therefore, could have made a terribly embarrassing error.
The short point is that Mike had answered Keith's question as to why no attempt was made to resemble Maybrick's handwriting. He didn't have an example of Maybrick's handwriting to even copy. It's all very well Keith saying that Mike 'must have' seen Maybrick's will but that is to put words into the mouth of a witness, possibly influencing the rest of his answers. If Mike is told that 'must have' seen the will then he might have felt the need to explain why he hadn't seen any examples of Maybrick's actual handwriting due to the will having been written by Maybrick's brother. This really does then get us into a possible area of confusion whereby Mike can't remember when he first saw Maybrick's will.
His first answer was a good and satisfactory one which explained why the Diary handwriting doesn't resemble Maybrick's handwriting. Keith should have accepted it and moved on, not tried to contradict, and possibly confuse, the 'witness'.
'Oh Costly Intercourse of Death'
A classic example of how Mike manages to mess up his arguments is with the line in the Diary which reads 'Oh costly intercourse of death'. He had a simple point to make which is that he dictated the words 'O Costly Intercourse of Death' to Anne but she added an 'h' to write 'Oh Costly....'. The audience would have understood this very quickly but Mike laboured the point, feeling the need to explain it at some length, thus losing his audience at the same time.
But it was the same point made in his affidavit of 5 January 1995 in which he had said, 'Anne Barrett made a mistake when she wrote it down, she should have written 'O' not 'OH'.
In his affidavit, Barrett also explained that he took the quotation from the 'Sphere History of Literature', volume 2. He doesn't elaborate on that in his affidavit but, during the interview, he explained how he got the entire set of nine volumes from Sphere as part of an appeal for items to auction on behalf of the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy. He said he enjoyed reading them and, 'They gave me an awful lot of knowledge'. He said that the words 'O costly intercourse of death[s]' struck him as 'very, very, good'. As he explained it, 'I was reading the book, and I love reading, and I thought to myself that's a cracking line, and I mean that's a real cracking line.' He said that the line stayed with him all the way through and he had just started to say, 'And I thought to myself' when Keith annoyingly interrupted him again to ask him to explain what the line meant. Mike's answer to that question is not one that makes any sense but he doesn't really need to have understood it. His answer that it was a cracking line which stayed in his memory seems to have been sufficient.
Keith doesn't ask about the circumstances in which Mike revealed the source of this quotation to Paul Feldman's assistant and to Shirley Harrison in 1994. Keith, once again giving evidence, says that after reading the Sphere books they went into the attic but that Mike remembered the 'costly intercourse' line when writing the Diary to which Mike says (presumably confirming Keith's account), 'Quite right'. If the book had been in Mike's attic since about 1989 this might explain why it took a bit of time for him to locate it so that he could give the title to Feldman and Harrison.
Mike's 1995 affidavit doesn't deal with the discovery of the quotation but it should be noted that, according to 'Inside Story' p. 145, Barrett's friend Jenny Morrison 'corroborated his story' regarding the Hillsborough disaster appeal and that Barrett not only did receive the Sphere books but, before they were put into the attic, they were taken round to Harrison's house for her teenage son to use for his studies (although it seems that he did not, in the event, use them).
After Mike explains that his wife added a superfluous 'h' in 'Oh costly intercourse', Keith makes another failed attempt at cross-examination. He shows Mike the transcript of the Diary that he (Mike) and Anne provided to Doreen and Shirley in 1992 (the same one he promised to produce to the world in 2018 but failed to do so) and points out that it says 'Oh costly intercourse' with the 'h'. But, as Mike points out, this wasn't the document he used to produce the diary, it was a transcript prepared from the Diary subsequently.
Keith's final question during his interview was about the inclusion of the phrase 'damn it the tin match box was empty' which was a topic Mike actually raised himself (thus keeping the interview moving forward!) presumably when he spotted it in the transcript which he had been shown, for he says:
'And damn it the tin box was empty. Robert. I’ll tell you something. Damn it the tin box was empty. Paul Harrison in 1889 (sic), I don’t suppose you’re here by the way, Paul Harrison, in his itinerary, and I mean literally in his itinerary says “damn it the match box was empty”. Check with Paul Harrison. The matchbox is empty.'
Keith's response was: 'This is extraordinary, the empty tin matchbox. It is sheer brilliance but it’s also what damns you because the empty tin matchbox is what gives us our 1987 date. Why did you include it? How did you come to include that tiny tiny detail?'
Mike's answer to this could be said to be the second question he didn't really answer for he said:
'Because I’m a writer full stop. Okay ladies and gentlemen, sorry, I’m going to stop this now. No I will stop it. First of all I’m dying for a pint. Anybody buying me a pint. I’ve been sitting here I haven’t had a drink or anything.'
Saying 'Because I'm a writer' doesn't quite answer the question of why he included a reference to the empty tin matchbox in the Diary although, at the same time, it is AN answer of sorts and, in fairness, Mike had already said that he saw in a Ripper book a mention of an empty tin matchbox and he included it in the Diary. Is there really much more he could have said to answer Keith's question?
So we've reached the end of the entire Keith Skinner interview and I've only been able to identify two questions that Mike didn't really answer. The first being how he knew Maybrick's will wasn't in Maybrick's handwriting and the second being how he came to include the line about the empty tin matchbox.
We may note that Mike was correct to say that Paul Harrison included the itinerary of Eddowes' possessions to the empty tin matchbox in his book (published in 1991, not 1989 as Mike said).
QUESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE
Although Mike had said he wanted to stop at this point, he did continue (after being promised a pint) taking questions from the audience. Let's go through them individually:
The first question was from Andy Parlour and, with all due respect to him, it was a terrible question:
Parlour: You made an affidavit on oath before a solicitor that you forged this diary. Is Anne Graham prepared to make a similar affidavit to say -?
MB: I don’t know I haven’t seen her for six years.
Parlour: I know, but would she be prepared to do the same?
I mean, for goodness sake. Mike's been separated from Anne since 1994. How is he supposed to be able to say whether she is prepared to swear an affidavit or not? What a waste of a question!Having already answered it, Mike repeated his answer, saying:
'I don’t know. I’m being totally honest. I don’t know.'
So he's answered the question in full. No evasion or dishonesty. A clearly honest answer.
At this point Keith Skinner chipped in with a dreadful question of his own, saying:
'The affidavit you made actually has no resemblance to your story, why did you change it?'
Now, Mike swore two affidavits. The first was on 26 April 1993 in which he claimed that he received the Diary from Tony Devereux. The second was on 5 January 1995 in which he confessed to forging the Diary. Keith failed to make clear in his question to which affidavit he was referring. Furthermore, if he was referring to Mike's 5 January 1995 affidavit, he hadn't clarified in which respect that affidavit has 'no resemblance' to Mike's story.
For what it's worth, this is how the subsequent exchange went:
MB: Here’s my opener. Oh what a deceive, when we practice to deceive. [He was obviously trying to say 'Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive'.] I was practising to deceive.
KS: You were deceiving solicitors?
MB: I was deceiving everybody, I didn’t want to get nicked.
There's nothing wrong with that answer, although I suspect that Mike didn't understand Keith's question about his story not resembling his affidavit, which can hardly be held against him because I'm not sure I fully understand it either.
I've already referred to Martin Fido's question in which Fido wants to say that Anne's spelling, from his experience of her typed letters, was competent, as opposed to the poor spelling in the Diary. We've seen that Mike answered this by saying that Anne had subsequently relied on a spell checker on her word processor which wasn't available to her when she was writing the Diary in 1992. But let's look at the questions and answers in full.
FIDO: A big problem. The diary is full of spelling mistakes, do you agree with that?
MB: Oh I know, I’m not the world’s greatest speller. In actual fact, I’ll take you back to my hotel room now [I think he refers to showing him a manuscript of a book he is writing called 'The Mystery Murders'].
FIDO: But you didn’t write it, Anne wrote it.
MB: Yeah. Anne’s not the world’s greatest speller and neither am I.
FIDO: Well I’ve had a lot of letters from Anne and I’ve seen a certain amount of her writing. And it doesn’t contain spelling mistakes.
MB: Ah, she’s got a word processor. She’s got a spell checker. Simple.
It's interesting here that Mike admits that he's not a good speller. Fido made a good point in response to this by countering that it's irrelevant bearing in mind that Anne wrote the Diary but Mike didn't miss a beat, responding that Anne isn't a great speller either. On this, we can say he is making a fair point. I've produced examples of Anne's handwritten letters and it shows that she was perfectly capable of making the spelling mistakes that we find in the Diary.
Although Fido said that he'd seen 'a certain amount of her writing' it turned out that he'd never seen her actual handwriting, only her typed correspondence. Hence, this is how the exchange continued:
FIDO: But you composed this on word processor?
MB: Put it this way-
FIDO: And it didn’t have a spell check?
MB: No, not my word processor.
FIDO: It didn’t have a spell check? Anne followed your spelling?
MB: No, hang on. Whoah. Woah woah woah woah. Stop a minute. We’re going back how many years? Go on tell me.
FIDO: You tell me. I mean, I don’t know when you wrote it.
FIDO: 1992 is now the-
MB: Thank you. What year are we in now?
FIDO: We’re in 1999.
MB: Thank you very much indeed. That’s a hell of a long time isn’t it?
FIDO: Not especially. The point-
MB: 1992. Three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. Right. Okay. Modern word processors change over.
FIDO: Yes. But I think I’ve seen Anne's [inaudible] that wasn’t written on a word processor.
At this point, Mike turns into Marshall Flippin' Hall with a devastating piece of cross-examination of Martin Fido:
MB: Can I ask you a question. Have you actually seen Anne’s handwriting personally?
FIDO: No, and I want to correct something Keith said. I did not rumble the handwriting immediately, the English is what I’ve-
MB: All you’ve done is seen her on a word processor. Is that correct or not?
FIDO: I beg your pardon.
MB: Anne has wrote probably, I don’t know, wrote letters to you?
FIDO: No, I think I’ve seen work of Anne’s that was not written on a word processor.
MB: Ah, you say “you think”. I hope you don’t mind. You say you think. Can you prove it?
FIDO: I can double check. I mean, I’ve still got letters from her and I can double check. The point really is I have found nothing to suggest that Anne could have misspelt - And, in addition to misspelling, the diary is full of tremendous grammatical errors. There’s a phrase, for example, a really memorable phrase “unlike I” which recurs a couple of times. Now you’ve said you’re a very good writer and you were consciously setting up as James Maybrick, would he have written “unlike I?”
That was genius from Mike, actually, thinking on his feet. He wasn't a complete idiot after all. He's managed to destroy Fido's argument that Anne was a master speller or, at the very least, he's put the matter in doubt, with Fido admitting uncertainty as to whether he's seen any correspondence from Anne not produced by a word processor with a spell check. He obviously unsettled Fido sufficiently that he couldn't even identify a single word from the Diary that Anne couldn't have misspelt, and he turned his attention to the grammar.
As to the grammar, I first noticed that Anne used the expression 'I seen' in her 1994 recorded message for Doreen and Shirley and I subsequently obtained examples of her typed and handwritten correspondence (of letters written to Mike) in which it is clear that her grammar is far from perfect and that she was not too sensible and competent to make the type of errors found in the Diary - or at least there is no reason to think that she would not have written an expression like 'unlike I' had Mike dictated it to her.
Following his masterful deconstruction of Fido's case, Mike did then let himself down with his response to Fido's question about whether Anne would have written 'unlike I'. All he needed to say was that Anne's grammar wasn't perfect. Or he could have repeated a point he had earlier made to Keith which is that he made deliberate errors in the Diary because Jack the Ripper would have been virtually illiterate and a perfectly written Diary would have raised suspicion (something which was certainly not one of Mike's better made or impressive points) but he seems to have entirely lost his way and forgotten what Fido had said. Thus we had this:
MB: Let me put it this way. James Maybrick. First of all. Let’s go back to the Florence Maybrick case. Now It’s very important that you go back to the Florence Maybrick case. She served fifteen years, okay, to kill James Maybrick supposedly, would you agree with me there?
FIDO: It’s a fact. She served fifteen years of a life sentence.
MB: Thank you, right, so what she’s doing. Florence Maybrick and she does fifteen years in prison. She’s going boom boom boom boom boom. I’ve just put myself in –
FIDO: So Florence wrote the diary not James?
MB: No, you’re missing the point. James wrote the diary.
MB: But I was putting it on his part where she was writing the Diary. And I’m getting exceedingly tired this evening. I’ve had a long day. I’m not trying to get out of it Robert. I’m not.
It's rather difficult to know what Mike was getting at here. He seems to have been saying that the Diary was being written by himself as the forger on the basis that Florence was forging it as if it had been written by her husband (which may be something he had got into his head based on the convoluted arguments by some Diary Defenders that Florence really did write the Diary in order to incriminate Maybrick) but he just got lost and appears to have forgotten what question he was actually answering. In fairness to him, he did then say he was exceedingly tired and had had a long day and I think, on that basis, he should be cut a little slack for this baffling answer. But if one wanted to be harsh, it could be said that he didn't actually answer Fido's question regarding the poor grammar in the Diary (specifically the use of 'unlike I') so this one could be identified as the third question of the evening that he's failed to answer.
The third question from the audience was asked by Donald Rumbelow and was another really TERRIBLE question.
This was the question:
'Mike, you say you’re a professional writer, then as a professional writer you’ll know that one of the tricks of a professional writer is that it takes a writer a little time to get into the subject, therefore, one of the pieces of advice you’re always given is to delete the first paragraph or the first page. If you look at the diary, did you have a run-in? And if so what did you actually delete?'
I say this is a terrible question because it's nonsense to say that one piece of advice that a professional writer is 'always given' is to delete the first paragraph or the first page. It's just ludicrous. Who is supposed to be the person going round to all these professional writers and giving them this advice? And some professional writers presumably get into a subject immediately while others might struggle. How was Donald Rumbelow possibly able to say what a professional writer will always do?
He certainly confused Mike who didn't understand the question at all. Thus we had the following exchange:
MB: Okay then you want to know if I’m a writer?
DR: No I didn’t ask that. I asked what you deleted.
MB: You’re damn right.
MB: No, I said you’re a professional writer, you told me you were. So I’ve asked you: What did you delete?
MB You’ve asked me a question. Right. Can we just forget the diary just for one second?
DR: No because that’s what I’m asking -
MB Just for one second can we forget the diary?
DR: I’d rather not, I’d rather stay with it.
Unfortunately, at this point, Mike for some reason, decided to repeat the three things he believed a writer needed to include in a bestseller (although in fairness to him, it's been triggered by Rumbelow appearing to suggest, by the way he phrased his question, that he wasn't a professional writer, which is, think, how Mike continued to understand the question, despite Rumbelow's denial).
After this interlude, Rumbleow attempted to recast his question. Now it's not what Mike is supposed to have deleted, it's something to do with a 'run-in', an expression which Mike can't reasonably have been expected to understand.
DR: I’m not interested in that. What was it you actually wrote in the first part of the diary? What was your run-in?
MB: What was my run-in?
DR: So what was your run-in? How did you actually get going? You didn’t just start on the page that we’ve actually got. What did you actually -
MB: [inaudible] Baxendale report Robert.
DR: We’re not in to Baxendale.
MB: Hang on, you’re not the Ripper. He’s my publisher. Woah.
DR: You came up here to answer, to put yourself up as the author. We want to know what you actually put in this context. A reasonable question.
MB: How do you mean what I put in this context?
DR: Before you run-in to the text, what did you actually write? What was your first page?
DR:There was a page you had to start with. What was page one
MB: Rendezvous was the opening word.
[someone from the audience] No, it’s halfway down the first page.
MB: Thank you very much. That’s where I made a mistake.
DR: No, you had to have a run-in.
MB: "I curse Lowry for making me rip." I curse Lowry for making me rip. As in the Diary of Jack the Ripper. "I curse Lowry for making me rip." Because I had to get rid of all the pages in between.
I can't include this as a question that Mike failed to answer because, frankly, the question asked by Rumbelow was incomprehensible as it was phrased. I assume that what Rumbelow was trying to ask was something like this:
'The Diary starts in the middle of a sentence which says "what they have in store for them would stop this instant." Why does it start in the middle of a sentence? Did you write anything before this which was not included in the Diary?'
Had Rumbelow asked a question of this nature, we could have said that Mike was evading it and failing to provide an answer but instead he asked him what his 'run-in' was. Frankly if I was the forger and had been asked such a question I wouldn't have been able to answer it either. A 'run-in' could mean just about anything. And how did he actually 'get going'? What did that mean?
Then Rumbelow tried to clarify his 'reasonable' question by saying, 'We want to know what you actually put in this context'. I think Mike's response was perfectly reasonable as he said, 'How do you mean what did I put in this context?' I don't think that Rumbelow's response was at all helpful. As we can see, he said 'There was a page you had to start with. What was page one?' It seems that Mike was regarding this as a memory test. What was on page one of the Diary? The answer to that could be provided by anyone with a copy of the Diary. Mike was perfectly correct that the word 'rondavous' appears on the first page of the Diary, albeit not the first word. But why would Donald Rumbelow be asking him what the first word of the Diary was in any case? It's there in black and white in the Diary!
To the extent that Mike thought 'rondavous' was the first word in the Diary, he's answered Rumbelow's question. Rumbelow then inexplicably and incomprehensibly says to Mike, 'you had to have a run-in' but of course he didn't have to have any such thing and 'run-in' is an obscure technical term which, possibly, only Rumbelow understood. I think that Mike's response was directed to the issue of pages supposedly ripped from the Diary - which seems to relate in some way to what Rumbelow was getting at - but, as I don't think that Rumbleow's question, in the way he asked it, was capable of a sensible answer, I do not categorize this as Mike failing to answer his question.
A rather better response was produced by Mike to the next question asked by someone whose identity is unknown to me. This person asked for an explanation of the words 'no heart, no heart' in the Diary and here, I think, Mike gave a rather good answer. He said:
'Actually at the time, I didn’t know if Mary Kelly’s heart’s been taken away. I still don’t know to this day…I wouldn’t mind getting the documents, right, so I guessed it. In the first instance, and I mean literally in the first instance “no heart, no heart”. That’s in the first instance. That’s when you’re writing as a writer. Right, and I wrote “no heart, no heart”. Do you know the way I meant it? Not Mary Kelly had no heart. James Maybrick had no heart. That’s a fact.'
To me, that's a perfectly plausible interpretation of the Diary. The idea that it was Maybrick, not Kelly, who had no heart is rather clever. It doesn't prove that Mike wrote it because it could just be his own interpretation of what the author was saying but for someone who is supposed to be very stupid and supposedly evading the questions, he's given a full answer that is at least consistent with him being the author of the Diary.
Keith Skinner intervened at this point to ask why Mike didn't know that Kelly's heart had been taken, bearing in mind that he would have had access to Dr Bond's report which was, he said, included in the 1989 reprint of Martin Fido's book (although it wasn't in the 1987 edition). Mike's answer was: 'I didn't read it. I'm being honest'. However, he said he checked in other books about the Ripper but 'nobody seemed to know'. Again, that strikes me as fair enough and a reasonable answer.
When being questioned about the 'no heart' issue, Mike says that to establish whether Kelly's heart had been taken by the Ripper, he checked in Paul Begg's book - presumably meaning his 1988 book, 'The Uncensored Facts' and in Paul Harrison's book - presumably his 1991 'Mystery Solved' book, although Mike refers to it as a 1987 book - and he also checked with Odell and Wilson, presumably meaning their 1987 'Summing Up and Verdict'. As a matter of fact, none of these included the relevant extract from Bond's report about Kelly's heart being absent (something which, itself, is not 100% conclusive that Kelly's heart had been taken away by the killer, as Trevor Marriott would no doubt argue).
Mike then tells Keith 'I read three books'. Keith says he doesn't believe him to which Mike replied, 'I'm being serious, I read three books.'
Mike's already listed three Ripper books but someone else chips in to ask 'officially' for Mike to reveal 'the three books that you now used to forge the diary'. Mike then says the three books he used were Richard Whittington Egan's 'Murder, Mystery and Mayhem', Bernard Ryan's 'The Poisoned Life of Florence Maybrick' and Robin Odell (from which it's not clear if he meant his 1965 book, 'In Fact or Fiction' or his 1987 book with Colin Wilson to which he already appears to have referred). From this answer, it's unclear where the Begg and Harrison books that he's already mentioned enter the equation of the three books.
Amazingly, no-one asked him if he had consulted any other books on the Ripper or the Maybrick crimes prior to the creation of the Diary. The apparent inconsistency between his mention of three Ripper books and two Maybrick books, making a total of at least five books, wasn't resolved.
The next question came from David Russell who obviously thought he had a killer point which would destroy Mike's credibility. It didn't quite turn out like that.
Here's how it went in the first round of questions:
Russell: Can I confirm something about the pens and nibs. Did you say in 1990 that bought the pens and nibs?
MB: No, I didn’t say 1990. 1992.
Pausing there, it's obvious that Russell had come prepared with a question based on Mike's affidavit which appeared to suggest that the pens and nibs had been purchased in 1990. But Mike is clear that the purchase was in 1992. The exchange continued (with a couple of interventions from Keith Skinner)...
Russell: 1992. That you bought the pens and nibs from the Medici Art Gallery in Bold Street.
MB :Ah, ah, ah. No, Bluecoat chambers.
KS: That’s where the ink came from.
MB: Bluecoat chambers.
Russell: The pens and nibs.
MB: Oh yeah, I bought them in Bold Street. I thought you meant- I’m backtracking. I bought the ink originally in Bluecoat Chambers. And then I went to Bold Street.
Russell: Did you buy the pens and nibs in the Bold Street Medici Art Gallery?
MB: Yes, I did.
Russell: You did?
Russell: Well I’ve worked for the Medici Art Gallery for 22 years now.
MB: I’m not wrong because I’ve still got the nibs back in my hotel.
Russell: That’s fair enough but I worked for Medici for 22 years and we closed the branch down in Bold Street in 1988.
MB: You’re wrong.
Russell: I’ve got fucking proof and I can prove it.
Russell: I have.
KS: So this gentleman is wrong, the branch was not closed, it could not have been closed down in 1988 because Mike got the nibs from there in 1992?
MB: Totally wrong and if you go to Bold Street in Liverpool, I’m a Liverpudlian, I know my Liverpool inside out and back to front, and I know my Bold Street, the Medici Art Gallery is still open and that’s a god given fact.
Russell: I helped to clear it out in 1988. I worked there for 22 years.
MB: Well go and check it. There’s a phone there. Go and check it. Go on. All you gotta do is phone up 192 and check if the Medici Art Gallery, don’t be trying to be clever. You can’t shake me off. All’s you gotta do is phone up 192, right, and ask if the Medici Art Gallery exists and they will tell you it exists.
By the end of this exchange, Mike is sounding angry and animated. But he is standing his ground. He insists that he is right and he bought the pens and nibs from the Medici Art Gallery/Shop in Bold Street in 1992. This is despite David Russell saying that he actually helped to clear out the shop in 1988. From that, you'd think that Mr Russell had actually been to the shop in Bold Street wouldn't you? Well you'd be wrong. It was only later, in a second round of questioning on the subject, that he confessed he had never been to Liverpool.
In this second round, Mike reverts to being Marshall Hall once more and goes on the attack with another devastating line of cross examination.
MB: Would you allow me to ask that gentleman one question. Right. A very simple question: where is the Medici Art shop? Let him answer the question.
Russell: We certainly do not have a branch in Bold Street, we do not have a branch in Bold street, it closed in 1988 and I worked there for 22 years. I was one of the people who helped clear out the building.
MB: Totally wrong.
Just pausing there. We can see that Mr Russell has clearly given the impression that he worked 'there', in Bold Street, and physically helped to 'clear out the building', i.e. the store in Bold Street.
Keith intervenes with a perceptive comment to Russell:
KS: What took its place? Did another art shop take its place?
Russell: I don’t know what took its place.
MB: Well it’s probably another art shop. It’s the Medici Art Shop. You go to Liverpool now. I guarantee. I mean this, I’m very serious. I’m a Liverpudlian. I know my Liverpool inside out. You go to Bold Street now. Tomorrow, so to speak. You walk up Bold Street. You walk up the top of Bold Street. Tell me where the Medici Art Shop is in Bold Street.
Russell: It does not exist.
MB: Tell me where it was originally.
Russell: In Bold Street?
MB: Yeah, bottom end or top end? Go on, I’m asking you a simple question. You’re the person who owns it. So tell me where it is – is it top or – well you’re the person saying - is it top end or the bottom end?
Russell: I don’t own the building. I worked there for 22 years. I’m one of the people who helped clear the goods out.
Pausing there. Russell's done it again. He refers to 'the building' and then says he worked 'there', giving the impression that he physically helped clear the goods out from the Bold Street store. Mike, however, is undaunted and he's noticed that Mr Russell has avoided answering his question. So he repeats it.
MB: I’m asking you one question: where is the Medici Art shop in Bold Street? Top end or bottom end?
Russell: I’m not prepared to answer the question.
MB: Why not? Why not? Because you can’t answer it!
Russell: I can prove to you that we closed down the art shop.
Let's pause there again. Mike has been criticised for being evasive but, hell's bells, what's happening here with David Russell? He's 'not prepared' to answer the very simple question as to where in Bold Street the Medici Art shop was???!!!!
Well, let's see what excuse he came up with when writing to Ripperologist after the event. In his letter, published in Rip of June 1999, he says this:
'I may have caused a bit of confusion when Mike Barrett asked me to place the exact spot of the Medici Art Gallery in Bold Street, Liverpool, and I could not answer. Please let me explain.'
He then goes on by way of supposed explanation to say that he worked in the London HQ of the Medici Art Gallery and that:
'We also had an Art Gallery in Bold Street Liverpool which I had never visited - the reason I couldn't answer Mike's question'.
Now will all due respect to Mr Russell, this is bullshit. It's not just that he couldn't answer Mike's question, he point blank refused to do so. As we can see, his actual words during the evening were 'I'm not prepared to answer that question'. His letter to Ripperologist doesn't begin to explain this statement. If he hadn't visited the Liverpool store that's all he had to say. He knew perfectly well that he hadn't visited the Liverpool store, yet still said that he wasn't prepared to answer the question. And his refusal to answer the question has to be viewed in the context of the clear impression he was giving to the other members of the Cloak & Dagger club that he had physically been inside the building in Bold Street and had helped to clear out its contents in 1988.
Who was the person being frank and open with the audience here? Mike Barrett or David Russell?
Mike continued with his line of attack, believing that the Medici shop still existed in Bold Street as of April 1999.
MB: You’re wrong. I’ll tell you what, there must be a phone here somewhere.
Russell: I can prove to you.
MB: There must be a phone with 192.
KS: David, did you work in Liverpool?
Russell: No I did not.
KS: Ah, that’s the point. David didn’t work at the shop in Liverpool. He worked from a branch that’s in London.
Russell: In London. Once the goods came down to London I helped clear it out.
MB Thank you. So you’re not saying categorically-
Russell: I did not go to Liverpool.
KS: That’s the point. He didn’t go to Liverpool.
So, finally, the truth has been dragged out of him by Keith Skinner. Mike continued:
MB: So you’re not saying categorically that the Medici Art Shop has closed down?
Russell: But I can prove to you it closed down.
MB: No you can’t - because you’ve got a phone.
Russell: It doesn’t exist.
[audience member: It won’t be open.]
KS: But it can be checked.
MB: They will have an answering machine. It will have an answering machine.
Russell: No, because it doesn’t exist.
MB: The Medici Art Gallery is right opposite in Bold Street.
The truth of the matter is that they were both right... and both wrong. As Shirley Harrison's enquiries revealed, the name of 'Medici' remained on the front of the art shop in Bold Street until 1997 so that, in 1992, anyone could reasonably have described it as the Medici Art Shop (or Gallery) even if it wasn't owned by Medici.
But the technicalities of ownership should not obscure the fact that Mike could well have bought his pens and nibs from the 'Medici' art shop in 1992 as he claimed at the meeting. Far from him being shown to be a liar, the facts supported his claim.
Mike was then asked to confirm what he had said the previous day about removing pages from the black ledger with a stanley knife. After again quoting, 'I curse Lowry for making me rip', Mike said:
'All the other pictures were all photograph albums. And it was all people from, well I wouldn’t like to say around about 1912, 1914, something like that and they were photographs of [inaudible]…a donkey… and all of that.'
The questioner asked: 'So tell us about the bit of the photograph interleaved in the pages that you told us about last night. Tell everybody about that. The little bit of the photograph.'
'Oh yeah. In Baxendale’s report, and Robert do you remember this? Baxendale’s report. And you can’t argue with Baxendale’s report. Baxendale, we went down to Birmingham. Shirley Harrison, Sally Evemy and myself, right, and we went down there. Baxendale made a complete report on the Diary and what he said, within the Diary, he found and I quote, and I mean literally, inverted brackets, a piece of a photograph. Tell me Robert and look at me straight. Is that true or not?'
Mike here was perfectly correct. This is what Baxendale's report of 9 July 1992 said:
'I have found a fragment of paper lodged in the binding of the book which is different from the paper of the pages. It has straight edges and is similar in length to one dimension of the rectangular stains. It is coated in a glue like material. It could well be the torn edge of a small photograph.'
The questioning of Mike continued:
KS: When was the photograph taken Mike? I mean, what sort of period are you talking about?
KS: Got it. So what you’ve done is you’ve actually gone down to Doreen Montgomery with a 1912 photograph in-
MB: I made a mistake, I made one mistake ladies and gentleman.
KS: You must have thought shit. I’ve put a 1912 photograph in an 1888 diary.
MB: No, I hadn’t put it in.
KS: Oh you hadn’t put it in?
MB: No. When I bought it from Outhwaite and Litherland it was already there, I just missed it.
KS: You forgot to take it out?
MB: I didn’t see it.
KS: Oh Jesus.
MB: It was cut in between the folds. [SPILLS DRINK] Sorry, I didn’t mean that, I’m sorry I’m getting excited. There’s folds in the diary. They are very, very, thick. And I mean very, very, thick. Are you with me?
MB: And they are very thick pages. So I’m reading the diary -
MB: Or writing the diary, right, and, sorry, and what I’ve got to miss was the folds…all cut -
KS: And that had the photograph in there?
MB: And that had the photograph in it.
KS: What a bummer.
It has to be said that we see here a tremendous piece of misunderstanding from Keith Skinner who seemed to think that Mike was saying that he had put a 1912 photograph into an 1888 diary when he clearly wasn't saying that at all.
But what we do get is Mike telling a story which is entirely consistent with the scientific evidence in which he thought he had cut out all of the photographs from the album but later, on hearing from Baxendale, realized that he had made a mistake by leaving one small piece of a photograph hidden in the thick folds of the scrapbook.
I think that what is quite telling in the exchange is that Mike said of the photograph that, 'When I bought it from Outhwaite & Litherland it was already there, I just missed it'. That statement was made naturally, in the flow, and confirms in my mind that Mike did indeed acquire the scrapbook from Outhwaite & Litherland.
On the other side of the coin, it's true that Mike says that he missed the folds when he was'reading' the Diary and had to be corrected to say 'writing the Diary' but Mike was jumbling his words up all the way through the evening and, while some may wish to see significance in this mistake, I don't.
About the piece of paper (or photograph) that Baxendale discovered, there was a startling revelation made by Keith Skinner during the evening who said that Nicholas Eastaugh had been given it to examine but had lost it! I don't remember reading this in any book about the case and it's quite astonishing that a vital piece of evidence was lost by one of the experts. If that piece of paper could have been dated to the twentieth century, it would have comprehensively disproved the notion that the Diary had been sitting under the floorboards of Battlecrease since about the time of Maybrick's death in 1889.
In respect of the photographs that Mike said during the evening were in the Diary when he acquired it, it may be recalled that in his January 1995 affidavit it was stated that there were photographs in the album he purchased from O&L and that:
'They were old photographs and they were all to do with the 1914/1918 1st World War...I then took a 'Stanley Knife' and removed all the photographs, and quite a few pages...When I disposed of the photographs from the Album by giving them to William Graham, I kept one back. This photograph was of a Grave, with a Donkey standing nearby.'
Once again, Mike was telling a story to the Cloak & Dagger club in April 1999 which was consistent with the story in his 1995 affidavit.
The next question was the question about the handwriting revealing Anne to have a personality disorder by the person who didn't know who Anne Koren was. As we've already seen, Mike answered this one perfectly.
The next question from the audience was another complete waste of time. The question was:
'Am I understanding you correctly Mike that the legal position is that the person who did the actual writing of the diary, the handwriting, is the forger?And if the law is going to descend it will come down on the person who hand wrote it, not the person who created it?'
I mean seriously, someone was asking Mike Barrett to explain the legal position regarding forgery??!! As he wasn't a lawyer, that was totally pointless.
Mike seems to have taken the question as another threat to his liberty and responded by saying that he had just been cleared by a jury for threatening to kill his wife.
At this point, Keith made another attempt at extracting the Outhwaite & Litherland receipt from Mike by saying that if he proved he had forged the diary it would clear Caroline from the stigma of possibly being related to the wife of Jack the Ripper. Although he didn't produce the receipt, Mike's response was nevertheless very interesting:
'You want the receipt. Okay. Right. Ladies and gentlemen. No dis- I hope to god you’re going to make a hell of a lot of phone calls. You phone Kevin Whay, Outhwaite & Litherland.'
Here Mike was pointing the entire audience to where the truth could be found. Did anyone actually telephone Kevin Whay of Outhwaite & Litherland? Did they heck! Of course not. No-one was listening to Mike. No-one was taking him seriously.
In fact, so completely was Mike being ignored that when Keith Skinner embarked on carrying out research for his 2003 book 'Inside Story', he didn't even bother to consider the possibility that his account was true. Thus, he posted on the Casebook Forum on 17 August 2019 (Acquiring thread, #1741).
'...in 2001-2002, we were not even considering the possibility of Mike having obtained the scrapbook as late as March/April 1992...’.
Having now listened to the recording, I find that an absolutely unbelievable statement bearing in mind what Mike had been repeatedly insisting on during the entire evening of 10 April 1999.
KS: Can’t you just give it to me?
MB: No…I want to know what happens afterwards. I don’t mind when I go back on Tuesday.
KS: What is more important, Mike, giving me the receipt or actually living with, Caroline living with the stigma that she may be descended from-
MB: No, It’s not for me to decide, it’s for you people to decide. I know the truth. Do you understand where I’m coming from? I know the truth, it’s not for me to give you the receipt. It’s up to you. If you’re all so Ripperologists and what have you. Right. Go and check the facts. And I’m telling you the facts. Phone Kevin Whay.
Another appeal from Mike for Kevin Whay to be contacted. But he never was. I can only assume that Keith Skinner failed to appreciate that Whay had searched the records for the wrong time period and that the records for March 1992 had never been considered. Mike was repeatedly giving him the clue to potentially solve the mystery and he never followed it up.
And we can see that Mike was saying 'phone Kevin Whay' in the same fashion as he had been saying 'phone 192' in respect of the Medici Gallery, about which he was clearly telling the truth. Why would he have been persistently telling Keith and the members of the Cloak and Dagger club to contact Kevin Whay if his whole story was a lie?
I mean, Keith had already read out a statement from Kevin Whay denying that Mike had bought the scrapbook from Outhwaite & Litherland. Yet, despite Mike being unable to properly counter what Whay had said (and evidently not appreciating that Whay had searched the files for the wrong period), he STILL demanded that Whay be contacted. In his mind, the job had not been done properly (having been carried out by Whay's minions) and he believed that the truth could be found in O&L's records, if only they were properly searched.
But no-one listened.
Mike was next asked about the Manchester murders in the Diary. Although he got a bit confused in his answer (by appearing to suggest that both murders in the Diary occur before the Ripper murders) his answer was nevertheless a perfectly good one. Thus, he said:
'Put it this way, right. We all know there were five murders in Whitechapel. Right. We all know that there’s five murders in Whitechapel. Right. Thomas, that’s Maybrick’s brother, lived in Manchester, a cotton merchant, well, more or less. I thought it was rather appropriate. You see. Two murders, two prostitutes. Excuse the language ladies and gentleman. We’ve got to talk practical haven’t we? Nobody can ever prove that in any way shape or form....Can’t prove it. No way at all. Very simple isn’t it? When you get to know the Diary it’s very very simple. Five prostitutes were murdered, right, in Whitechapel, that’s a god given fact but you’ve got to remember, James Maybrick had a brother, Thomas, in Manchester, right, so what’s to say before I begin my campaign, and remember that, very appropriate word, before I begin my campaign. Two murders in Manchester. No-one’s got the proof. No prostitutes killed…. There was plenty of people and plenty of prostitutes killed every day on the streets in Manchester at that time. Not necessarily in Manchester but all over the country. Clever isn’t it?'
To my mind, there's nothing wrong with that answer. Indeed, it helps to answer the puzzle of why the Diary has Maybrick spending Christmas of 1888 with Thomas. If Mike is right, it was nothing more than a device to get Maybrick to Manchester where he could murder a fictional prostitute.
We may note that, at about the end of October 1994, Mike informed Alan Gray (on tape) that the Manchester murders were purely 'my imagination' ('Inside Story', p. 149). So, again, he was telling the same story more than four years later in 1999.
The next question was by Keith Skinner who asked why Mike lost his nerve in 1993 and 1994, ditched the story that he had received the Diary from Devereux and decided to expose the Diary as a forgery.
Mike's answers were very revealing. He said that on the morning of Shirley Harrison's book launch in October 1993, he told Anne that he didn't want to go to the book launch but instead wanted to expose the Diary as a forgery to which Anne replied that, if he did so, he would never see Caroline again.
His explanation for wanting to expose the Diary was that, as a standard bearer for the British Legion, he basically had an attack of conscience and wanted to tell the truth. 'Once I created it', he said, 'I realised I created Frankenstein’s monster and once I created Frankenstein’s monster, that’s when I wanted to stop it.' Nevertheless he went to the book launch but, 'I wasn’t too happy with myself. I didn’t like myself. Because I felt, and I mean, honestly and truly, I felt I’d let myself down....I'd let my moral standards down'. He said Anne left him, 'because she knew I was telling the truth. I tried to tell the truth...I hope to god you know where I’m coming from. I was trying to establish the truth. Anne left – well, I let the standard down. Right. Anne blackmailed me and I wouldn’t be blackmailed. Full stop'.
If Anne was part of the forgery effort, as alleged by Mike. it would certainly make sense that she might tell him that he would never see Caroline again if he exposed the Diary as a fake.
As for carrying the Standard for the British Legion, we may note that in an interview by Martin Howells in September 1993 (when he was claiming he received the Diary from Tony Devereux) he asked the interviewer, '...what do I carry? I carry the Standard. That's a matter of honour.' So being the Standard bearer for the British Legion was certainly on his mind in the few weeks before the book launch.
Another complete waste of time. The questioner wanted to know why the hoax had taken so long ('five or six years') to come out compared to the forgeries of the Howard Hughes diaries and the Hitler diaries. Apart from being something that Mike was hardly in a position to answer, the premise of the question was fundamentally flawed because there are plenty of forgeries that have taken years to be revealed as such - and those are only the ones we know about. Furthermore, it was hardly Mike's fault that the hoax had taken years to 'come out' bearing in mind that he had confessed to the forgery as long ago as 1994.
But, as the questioner undiplomatically mentioned that Clifford Irving had gone to prison, Mike in his paranoid state thought that it was being suggested he should go to prison too. He said, 'How the hell can I go to prison when I haven't made a penny?...I haven't made one damn bloody penny how the hell can I do a fraud?'
Mike didn't actually answer the question of why the hoax had taken so many years to come out but, as it wasn't a question he could sensibly answer, I don't count this as a question he evaded.
The next question was another one that Mike couldn't possibly answer because it related to whether the American publisher had shredded 200,000 copies of Harrison's book and it was left to Robert Smith to answer it. Another wasted question.
Yet another daft question. This one was, I think, rhetorical.
'Mike you say you are a writer. And you say you’ve done a book. What have you written since the Diary?'
Mike started to say, 'You know exactly what I haven't -' by which he undoubtedly meant that his questioner knew that he hadn't had anything else published. But he did answer the question, saying that he had been writing some kind of murder mystery and someone in the audience confirmed that they had seen it.
THE END OF THE EVENING
And that was basically it. That was the final question from the audience.
Keith Skinner made a comment that the topic of debate now was about how good a hoax the Diary was, to which Mike replied 'Bloody brilliant if you don't mind me saying.'
Mike promised to provide Andy Ayliffe with a photocopy of his receipt. The issue of the Medici art gallery was re-ignited but I've dealt with that already and, as I've also said, Mike explained that the reason for not producing the receipt that evening was that he didn't want to get locked up for fraud.
Someone then apparently said something about Caroline which isn't audible on the recording, to which Mike took offence and threatened the chap with violence in a tender part of the anatomy, although he then did say, 'I do apologise, I certainly apologise.'
In amongst it all, entirely unnoticed by the audience, Mike made a little speech which, it could be said, rises to the level of pathos.
'When you write you write, and I'll tell you something else. Please forgive me ladies and gentlemen. When you write, you write from here. And you write from the heart. It might be a hoax, I might be a fool and what have you, but when you write and you're a publisher you write from the heart. That's the secret and that's the secret of writing.'
The man who is undoubtedly a fool admitting that he might be a fool. It's quite Shakesperian really. He might only have written a silly hoax but he wrote that Diary from the heart. That's what he was saying. I think he might well have been telling the truth. But no-one was listening.
If you've been following carefully you will have concluded that, far from avoiding questions, Mike appears to have done his best during the evening to answer all the questions that were thrown at him. Of the two or three that he didn't answer, none were material and any answers he could have given to those questions wouldn't have taken us much further. The fact that so many of the questions were dreadful, either being irrelevant, badly worded, wrongly directed or simply misguided wasn't Mike's fault. Nor was it Mike's fact that a number of questions were unfairly asked of him on a false premise which meant that his answers looked bad at the time, even though they were not in reality. I'm perfectly satisfied that he was telling the truth during the evening, with the one area where he might not have made full disclosure being in respect of whether he had assistance in writing the text of the Diary which would be understandable due to his obvious desire to be seen as a brilliant writer (although he wasn't really asked about it). Other than this aspect of the forgery, I feel certain that we have been told the true story of the origins of the Diary.
Allow me to develop this point in detail.
THE COHERENCE OF MIKE'S CONFESSION
Now that I've been able to hear Mike's words, it's clear to me that there has been a sustained propaganda campaign against him for many years which falsely portrays him as someone who lied and lied, who kept changing his story and never ever told the truth. As recently as 4 December 2019, Caroline Morris said in JTR Forums to another member of the Forums (in my thread, 'Lord Orsam's Blog', at #103): 'Which of Mike's forgery scenarios are you going with? I believe there are upwards of three or four?'. Sadly she didn't identify the three or four scenarios that she had imagined. In fact, as I will demonstrate, during his lifetime (and certainly during the six year period when he spoke about it) Mike told a remarkably consistent and coherent story about the forgery of the Diary and, when one considers it fairly and properly, it would have been virtually impossible for him to have fabricated such a story over this long period.
Of course, Mike's story as a whole, about where the Diary came from, did change during those six years. At times he would say the Diary was a forgery while at other times he said he received it from Devereux and knew nothing more about it. There is, I think, a straightforward explanation for these shifts. I can't say that the following is definitely what happened but the scenario seems to me to fit with the facts.
Mike's story during the Cloak & Dagger club evening was that he didn't want to show up at the launch of Shirley Harrison's book on 4 October 1993 due to a desire to tell the truth about the Diary but that he was compelled to do so due to his wife using the threat of not seeing Caroline again should he start to wobble and confess to the forgery. I can certainly understand that the pressure of telling a lie about obtaining the Diary from Devereux, which he was having to repeat to journalists and researchers for a over a year now, was getting to Mike. We can see from his approach to questions during the evening that he was a naturally paranoid man. Even innocent questions were perceived as a challenge to his veracity about forging the Diary, so in circumstances where he was actually telling a lie, he might have felt stress and paranoia every time someone asked him to relate the story of how he had been given it by Devereux. With that story, he was on his own, with no corroboration and no-one to support him.
The Baxendale report from 1992 had been overcome but September 1993 saw the Rendell report, questioning the authenticity of the Diary, which would have brought more pressure upon Mike. The Liverpool Echo of 9 September 1993, for example, carried the headline 'DIARY OF RIPPER IS CON SAYS U.S. EXPERT', Then, ten days later, the Sunday Times denounced the Diary as a 'Fake'. By late September 1993, Barrett was complaining to Liverpool Post journalist Harold Brough about his health and was described in the Liverpool Post of 28 September 1993 as having aged visibly over the past few months, being said to be walking slowly with a stick. In the same month he told Martin Howells, 'I must be honest with you because...that diary has killed me here, and you know I've had a stroke because it really has killed me.'
During October 1993, to add to his problems, there was a Scotland Yard investigation during which Mike was interviewed by police, and the pressure on him during this period must have been immense. In that interview with the police, he denied possessing a word processor, said that he could not recall to whom he had given his copy of Whittington-Egan's 'Murder, Mystery and Mayhem' (it was Tony Devereux) and refused to sign his statement ('Inside Story', p. 68).
Mike's mood would not have been helped by his wife leaving him on 2 January 1994, taking their daughter with her. He was now drinking heavily and behaving in the most appalling manner. The Diary had not turned out to improve his life. He must have viewed it as a curse.
While we can, perhaps, take Mike's claim to have had an attack of conscience, due to being the standard bearer of the British Legion, with a pinch of salt, he might nevertheless have felt that being a man telling lies to the world about the Diary was not the man he wanted to be. He wanted to be a writer. That was his dream and his ambition. The internal desire to reveal the truth about his own authorship of the Diary (even if he had been assisted by others) could well have been overwhelming, even if it was objectively against his own financial interests.
On Wednesday, 22 June 1994, Barrett privately confessed to Shirley Harrison that he had forged the Diary ('Inside Story', p. 92). Two days later, on Friday 24 June, he signed a statement for the Liverpool Post admitting to the forgery. At this point, he kept Anne out of it, claiming to have been the forger of the Diary, the 'greatest in history'. No doubt he didn't want his wife to prevent him from seeing Caroline again. As we have seen, he claimed at the Cloak & Dagger meeting that she was using this possibility as 'emotional blackmail' against him.
Having confessed, Barrett told Brough that he now felt 'at peace' with himself. I think this was probably true... for that day at least. But the drinking continued.
As we've seen, Anne was inexplicably quoted as saying that, in making this confession, Mike was trying to get back at her because she had left him. She was never able to explain the meaning of this comment.
The intensity of the situation appears to have got to Mike and, on 29 June, he was admitted to an alcohol treatment unit. His solicitor, Richard Bark-Jones, issued a statement saying that Mike was not in full control of his faculties when he had confessed that 'he himself had written the diary of Jack the Ripper' which was a confession'totally incorrect and without foundation'. Well it was perfectly true that Mike did not actually forge the Diary himself. We've seen him state repeatedly during the Cloak & Dagger meeting that it was Anne who did it. If Mike told Bark-Jones that the fact was that he didn't do the forgery, his wife did it, then SHE would be the one going to prison, not him. If one reads Bark-Jones' statement in that way, it explains everything. But we don't need to go that far. Bark-Jones has explained that the statement was put out by him after being told by Mike's doctor of Mike's tendency towards confabulation so that nothing he (Mike) said should be believed ('Inside Story', p. 254-5). If the account in 'Inside Story' is entirely accurate, Bark-Jones wasn't even acting on instructions from his client but taking the initiative himself.
No doubt to Mike's astonishment, after he was released from hospital, he found that none of the main players in the Diary world believed him. Robert Smith, Shirley Harrison and Paul Feldman all continued to maintain that the Diary was a genuine item. As Mike told Paul Feldman on 5 July 1994, 'I'm one of the world's greatest writers and no-one happens to believe it'. From that statement, it's clear that Mike was still maintaining that he was the author of the Diary's text (but one of the world's greatest writers, not necessarily one of the world's greatest forgers). It's equally clear that still no-one believed him.
This must have been frustrating. He was telling the truth but it changed nothing. He was simply not believed. Mike was just no good at putting forward his case to the world. Even after he informed Feldman's assistant of the source of the 'Oh costly intercourse of Death' line on 30 September 1994, he still had a problem in getting anyone to believe that he could have been responsible for the creation of the Diary. It seems that, at about this time, he employed the services of Alan Gray (a private detective and former police officer) to assist him in telling his story. On 25 October 1994, he told Alan Gray on tape that he had perpetrated the fraud but, by this time (and certainly by November 1994), he had abandoned the claim that he was the penman who forged the Diary. In a statement lodged at Walton Street Police Station on 5 November 1994 (two months prior to his affidavit of 5 January) he stated that 'My wife Anne Barrett wrote the 'Jack the Ripper Diary' the actual manuscript'. This is, of course, entirely consistent with what he told the audience at the Cloak & Dagger club meeting.
By this time, he probably realized that neither Anne nor his daughter were coming back to him. He now felt able to state that Anne wrote the Diary. He also seems to have been full of righteous indignation at being blackmailed by Anne (and it doesn't matter if she really was or was not blackmailing him, just that he believed she was) so that he wanted to teach her a lesson. As we've already seen, during the Cloak & Dagger club evening, he said with unintentional hilarity, 'My advice will go to its grave and I'll still never give in to blackmail.' He meant, of course, that he would go to his grave before giving in to blackmail and, I think, he's decided to show Anne that he won't be bullied.
Furthermore, and perhaps of even more relevance in understanding his actions, Mike received a royalty statement during September 1994 showing that his royalties for 'The Diary of Jack the Ripper', after various deductions, were precisely zero. For Mike, who was now broke, this would have come as a big shock. Indeed, he appears to have sought legal advice as a result ('Inside Story, p. 147). Although he been given an advance on royalties of some thousands of pounds during 1993, it was undoubtedly this royalty statement that would lead him to claim in 1999 that he hadn't received a penny for the book.
In recorded conversations during 6 and 7 November 1994, Mike told Alan Gray that he created the Diary on his word processor from Tony Devereux's original research but that the handwriting was Anne's. This was repeated in Mike's affidavit of 5 January 1995.
There is a interesting incident captured in the recordings, as summarized by 'Inside Story', when Alan Gray spots a tape of an interview Mike had conducted with the clairvoyant Dorothy Wright for Celebrity magazine. The existence of this recording, incidentally, destroys the suggestion made by Robert Smith in his latest book that Mike didn't conduct the interviews for Celebrity magazine himself. Of course he did! Anyway, Gray spotted that the letter 'y' written on the side of the cassette matched the letter 'y' in the Diary. Mike apparently gave Gray the impression that the writing on the cassette was his handwriting but I'll be prepared to wager that it was, in fact, Anne's handwriting. Don't ask me why Mike decided to let Gray think it was his writing but we know the guy was a confabulist and I'm sure he sometimes lied for its own sake. Gray pointed out that Mike had told him that Anne had written the Diary and Mike, no doubt trapped in a pointless lie of his own making, said 'it was fifty-fifty' (Inside Story, p.152). Having said that, I'd prefer to listen to the recording myself before accepting the truth of this account but it's currently not possible. Without having heard the tape which has not been made available, it's not possible to come to any firm conclusion about this episode.
What is perfectly clear, however, is that Mike said that Anne wrote the Diary in his statement of 5 November 1994 and this is also stated in his affidavit of 5 January 1995 so that Gray must have been satisfied that this was what Mike was telling him in order for him to include it in the affidavit. It's consistent with what Mike told the Cloak & Dagger club in April 1999.
Now, there is, of course, an inconsistency between the date of January or February 1990 which is stated to be the year of the writing of the diary in Mike's 1995 affidavit and the March 1992 date as claimed by Mike in his 1999 interview (and at the previous day's lunch). Let us now look more closely at that affidavit.
The 5 January 1995 Affidavit
Many people may not be aware of this but the usual way that an affidavit or a witness statement is created is not for the deponent or witness to sit down and write or type everything out like they are writing a novel or a letter. What normally happens is that the deponent or witness will meet with a solicitor for one or more so-called 'proofing' sessions. They will give their account of their evidence and, using notes taken during the session, the solicitor will subsequently draft the statement or affidavit in their (i.e. the witness's) own words. This will be sent to the witness for correction or approval and then the final version will be signed. An affidavit is normally sworn to, and signed, in the presence of a commissioner for oaths or a solicitor. That commissioner for oaths or solicitor must be an independent person (i.e. not the solicitor of the deponent).
While that system normally works, I can tell you that, on occasion, a witness who finds himself (or herself) in trouble during cross-examination in court, because their evidence is inconsistent with the evidence in their affidavit or witness statement, may be tempted to claim that this was the fault of the solicitor who drafted it and that they signed it without reading it properly. This can and does happen and it's a real problem for the solicitor involved who could easily find themselves criticized by the judge and up on a charge before the tribunal of the Solicitors Regulation Authority for including false information in an affidavit or witness statement that wasn't derived from the witness.
When it comes to Mike Barrett's affidavit of 5 January 1995 we need to be realistic. Did he draft it himself? Almost certainly not. He was drinking heavily at the time. It seems to me that the interviews recorded by Alan Gray were, in effect, proofing sessions for the purpose of Gray taking Barrett's evidence and writing it up (as if in Barrett's own words) in an affidavit for Barrett to swear to and sign. Certainly, when Mike provided a statement to Liverpool Police on 5 November 1994 it was drafted by Alan Gray for it states on its face, 'Statement taken by Alan Richard Gray'. I'm sure the same thing would have happened in respect of Mike's affidavit. And while he would have had to have assured the solicitor that he had read and understood the affidavit he was signing, this doesn't necessarily mean that he had done so.
That being so, the possibility of error by Gray, who may have misunderstood what he was being told by Mike, is a real one. To deny this is to stick one's head in the sand. For, while it might be in the interests of some people to focus on any inaccuracy in Mike's affidavit, so that they can claim he is an unreliable liar, we need to consider what Mike actually told Gray for Gray to put into the affidavit.
In this respect, the recordings made by Gray are CRUCIAL evidence in this case and it's essential that they are made available. I haven't heard them - they are presumably in the possession of Keith Skinner - and the best I can do is to use the fragments that have been cited or summarized in 'Inside Story' to try and reconstruct what Barrett actually said to Gray.
Before considering those recordings, however, we need to take into account one really important factor in the chronology of events as Barrett would have relayed to Alan Gray.
According to the Liverpool Daily Post of 27 June 1994, Mike 'took the diary to a London publisher in 1991'. This misdating (which presumably came from Mike himself) might have confused Alan Gray, if this is what Mike also told him, when he was trying to work out a coherent chronological sequence for Mike's affidavit.
We've already seen that Mike's affidavit makes references to Tony Devereux's involvement in the creation of the Diary. Imagine if Mike did tell Alan Gray that he created the Diary only after contacting Doreen Montgomery in March 1992. This would have seriously confused Gray bearing in mind that Devereux died in August 1991. It's possible that Gray believed he died in the summer of 1990, based on what Mike told him, but, if so, his confusion would only have been greater. He might well simply have discarded the information about the Diary having been created in 1992 as not being consistent with the rest of the story.
I'm not saying that Mike did say anything quite as specific as this to Alan Gray but if he (Mike) thought in 1994 that he had taken the diary down to Doreen Montgomery in 1991 (as he told Harold Brough of the Liverpool Daily Post) he might well have been very confused about the chronology himself. With Anne having long since departed, he had no-one to ask for help with sorting out the chronological sequence of events and can only have relied on his undoubtedly imperfect memory (and I assume that he was only reminded of the correct dates at the lunch on 9 April 1992 so that he was able to mention them at the C&D meeting the next day).
Now, in the affidavit we find this:
'Roughly around January, February 1990 Anne Barrett and I finally decided to go ahead and write the diary of Jack the Ripper'.
'I feel sure it was at the end of January 1990 when I went to the auctioneer, Outhwaite & Litherland'.
Speaking of the purchase of the pens and nibs, Mike says:
'This all happened in late January 1990 and on the same day...we decided to purchase the ink....'
It is also stated that:
'Tony Devereux...died late May early June 1990' .
It is known for a fact that Devereux died in August 1991
Now, if one is so minded, one can say that the appearance of the 1990 dates in the Diary means that this must be what Mike said and that, in 1995, he was telling a story that the Diary was forged in 1990 (something that he later changed to 1992). I don't suppose I can stop those people from insisting that this is what happened and they will continue to do so because they want to paint Barrett as a liar on this point however at odds with the facts or the probabilities that this may be.
To get to the bottom of why the affidavit refers to a date of 1990 for the purchase of the materials and the creation of the Diary, one needs to consider the recordings of the conversations between Gray and Barrett to which I don't have access. All I have to go on are selected quotes or summaries from those recordings which can be found in 'Inside Story'. I'm afraid that I don't entirely trust the summaries that can be found in that book. This isn't to claim that the authors were including deliberately wrong or misleading information but we can see from the 1999 recording how difficult it can be to understand what Mike says, at times, and it's also obvious from the recording that Keith Skinner doesn't always understand what Mike is saying. The same might also have been true of Alan Gray.
If 'Inside Story' is correct (p.153), Barrett told Gray that Devereux died in June 1990 when they were 'all getting into it'. If that is the case then it must be obvious that Barrett got his chronology confused. Perhaps he thought that Devereux died in June 1990 and he contacted Doreen the very next year in March 1991 which is when he went to the O&L auction and purchased the writing materials before forging the diary. To repeat, Barrett appears to have told Harold Brough in June 1994 that he took the Diary down to London in 1991 so it seems to me perfectly possible that Barrett had garbled his dates. If you know in your mind that the Diary was written the year after Devereux died but you think that Deveruex died in 1990 then it's obvious that you will get the date of the writing of the Diary wrong.
Nowhere in 'Inside Story' is Barrett quoted on the recordings as saying that the Diary was forged in 1990 or that the O&L auction occurred in 1990. What the authors of that book say can be found on the tape regarding the purchase of the scrapbook from O&L (p.154) is this:
'There was a problem with the timing though. Barrett initially claimed this was in 1987. 'Now we've had another date. 'We had 1990 the other day', Gray reminded him. However, while Barrett tried to work out the correct date, the conversation moved on.'
We can see that the authors of 'Inside Story' are saying that Barrett initially claimed that the Diary was purchased from O&L in 1987 but, for some reason, they don't actually quote him saying this on the tape. One has to wonder why not. In a summary set out on the previous page of the book, they say that (as previously mentioned) Mike stated that the story of the forgery began with the death of Maggie Graham on New Year's Eve 1987. This was precisely what Mike said during the Cloak & Dagger evening. I can only conclude from this that the authors of 'Inside Story' and/or Alan Gray became confused about this reference to 1987 and thought that this was a reference to when the forgery of the Diary had actually occurred as opposed to this being the year of Maggie Graham's death which triggered Mike's move to Goldie Street thus placing him in financial difficulty.
It's true that Gray is quoted as telling Mike that he (Mike) mentioned 1990 to him 'the other day' but the context of this isn't made clear from the recording. Was it in respect of obtaining the scrapbook from O&L (as Gray appears to be suggesting) or was it in respect of the drafting of the Diary in collaboration with Tony Devereux? I suggest that Mike must have been referring to the latter. In Gray's mind, presumably, the Diary couldn't have been forged without the scrapbook having first been purchased so that any reference to the Diary having been written in 1990 must have meant that the scrapbook was purchased in 1990 (or earlier).
I've already mentioned the confusion that can be caused by the use of the expression 'writing the Diary'. For the text could have been written while Tony Devereux was alive (either in 1990 or 1991) yet the Diary could still only have been written in March 1992. It just depends what one means by 'written'. My suggestion is that Gray, probably not helped by a drunken Mike, undoubtedly slurring and confusing his words and going off on verbal tangents, just as on the 1999 recording, was confusing and unclear in the way he spoke about the distinctions between drafting and writing the Diary.
In respect of the chronology of the affidavit, it should be noted that amongst the papers of the late Melvin Harris which he obtained from Alan Gray, there is a copy of Mike's affidavit with all the 1990 dates changed in manuscript to 1991 (as well as other corrections to errors in the affidavit). I believe this was done by Alan Gray, realizing, on reflection, that 1990 couldn't have been when Barrett had told him that the Diary had been forged.
It's certainly obvious that the mention of Devereux dying in May or June 1990 can only be an error - nothing to do with whether Mike was telling the truth or lying - and should have been August 1991.
So I think that what Alan Gray was either intending to say on behalf of Barrett in the 5 January 1995 affidavit - or quickly realized what he should have said - was this:
'Roughly around January, February 1991 Anne Barrett and I finally decided to go ahead and write the diary of Jack the Ripper'.
'I feel sure it was at the end of January 1991 when I went to the auctioneer, Outhwaite & Litherland'.
Speaking of the purchase of the pens and nibs, Mike says:
'This all happened in late January 1991 and on the same day...we decided to purchase the ink....'
Now, none of that is March 1992 and I just want to stress at this juncture that nothing I am saying in this article DEPENDS on 1990 in the affidavit being an error for 1991. What I'm trying to do by way of correcting it has nothing to do with attempting to make Mike's argument more consistent but with trying to establish the reality of the situation. My argument remains the same, regardless of whether the intended date in the affidavit was 1990 or 1991. The reason for this is that my explanation of the (intended) date of 1991 in the affidavit (or the actual date of 1990 if you prefer) is that this was when Barrett was telling Mike that the Diary of Jack the Ripper was drafted by him and Tony Devereux but that Gray became confused and thought he was being told that this was when it was forged.
The key thing is that Alan Gray did not appreciate or understand that the acquisition of both the red Victorian diary and the black scrapbook, as well as the subsequent handwriting of the text of the Diary in manuscript, didn't take place until much later (after Mike had contacted Doreen Montgomery, as to which Gray probably didn't know that this was in March 1992 and might have thought it occurred at some point in 1991).
There is one clue in the affidavit, however, which reveals that Mike must have said to Gray that there was a gap between the completion of the first draft of the Diary and the start of the forgery because it is stated that, 'in fact after we completed the Diary we left it for a while with Tony being severely ill and in fact he died...'. Knowing that Devereux died in August 1991 means that, in Barrett's story, there must have been a period where it was left alone after August 1991. That fits with a draft of the Diary having been prepared prior to Devereux's death and a gap of some six or seven months before Mike decided to make his call to Doreen Montgomery.
In this respect, it's interesting that this is how the authors of 'Inside Story' summarize what Mike told Gray in the recordings about the creation of the Diary (p.153):
'Devereux had given Barrett his research, which Barrett then checked for himself. Barrett created the Diary on his word processor and Anne wrote it into the journal.'
If this is what Mike told Gray, it could easily be consistent with the Diary having been drafted in collaboration with Devereux (or anyone else) during either 1990 or 1991, with the Diary being physically written by Anne into the journal, purchased from O&L, in March/April 1992.
The authors of 'Inside Story' continue their summary of what Mike is supposed to have told Gray by saying:
'The money needed to buy the journal - £50 - was donated by Billy Graham. When the forgery was completed, they sought a literary agent and made the phone call to Doreen Montgomery'.
The last sentence is rather important Did Mike use the expression 'When the forgery was completed' or is this the interpretation of the authors of 'Inside Story'? It doesn't sound like Mike. What exactly did he say? No mention is made of Doreen Montgomery (or a literary agent) in Mike's affidavit and it's unclear if Mike even mentioned her to Gray or if the authors of 'Inside Story' are filling in the gaps. Again, this demonstrates the importance of the tape recordings being made public.
What is absolutely crucial in trying to establish the correct chronological sequence of the story which Mike was telling Gray in late 1994, as reflected in his January 1995 affidavit, is that Mike said that the scrapbook was purchased from O&L only AFTER he had first acquired and received a small red Victorian diary.
We know for a fact that Mike didn't receive the red Victorian diary until about 28 March 1992 so that, as a matter of absolute fact and logic, the story being told in the affidavit HAS to be that he purchased the scrapbook from Outhwaite & Litherland after this date. He certainly couldn't have purchased it before this, according to the internal chronology of the account in the affidavit.
Then we have the fact that Mike obviously told Alan Gray, as reflected in his affidavit, that 'Anne and I started to write the Diary in all it took us 11 days'. This means that his story in his affidavit is entirely consistent with the scrapbook having been purchased from O&L on 31 March 1992 (on which date it is known that they did hold an auction of Victorian and Edwardian effects) and the Diary being written between that date and 13 April when it was brought to London for the very first time.
In putting this argument forward, I can only repeat that I am doing so without having heard the crucial recordings of the conversations between Gray and Barrett. These recordings need to be made available. But in the absence of any evidence that Mike Barrett ever told Gray that he either purchased the scrapbook or physically wrote the Diary in 1987, 1990 or 1991, the default assumption surely HAS to be that Gray didn't understand the chronological sequence of events (being particularly influenced by the fact that he thought that Devereux was alive when the Diary was created) and that, consequently, the story told by Barrett to Gray in 1994 is consistent in terms of chronology with the story that he told to the guests at the lunch on 9 April and to Keith Skinner and the members of the Cloak & Dagger club.
Certainly without the release of those recordings, the so-called 'Diary Defenders' cannot plausibly continue to maintain that Barrett shifted his story of the forgery between 1994 and 1999 on the basis of a difference between the date for the forgery stated in his affidavit and at the 1999 meeting. I suggest that, with the exception of having initially withheld Anne's involvement (for which he might well have had good reason) his entire story about the forging of the Diary remained the same over those five years.
After the Affidavit
Two weeks after Mike swore his affidavit. a delegation came round to his house consisting of Keith Skinner, Shirley Harrison, Sally Evemy and what 'Inside Story' describe as a mutually agreed 'independent witness' called Kenneth Forshaw. Although Mike might have agreed to an independent witness being present, it's not clear if he had been told in advance (or during the meeting) that Forshaw had been a police detective in the Liverpool C.I.D. for 32 years. According to Shirley Harrison, 'Michael was unaware of his full identity' ('American Connection', p.294). However, Forshaw would surely have had 'copper' written all over him. I'm not sure if Skinner et al fully appreciated what effect it would have had on Mike in bringing round to Mike's house a man who would have had the bearing and appearance of a police officer. He'd just confessed in an affidavit to being part of a conspiracy to forge the Diary of Jack the Ripper and commit a fraud on Doreen Montgomery. It's hard to think that he wasn't worried about the possibility of going to prison. Now he is confronted with someone whom he might well have suspected was a police officer in his house. This could well explain why he immediately denied the forgery claim to the delegation, saying it was false, and a story he had invented to get back at Anne.
This isn't just me speculating. In a signed statement (witnessed by Alan Gray) dated 23 January 1995, five days after after the meeting, Mike, noting that the 'independent adviser' did not give his name, said that, 'I was frightened by the situation because I didn't really know what they were about or if I was likely to be prosecuted or something like that.' In a second signed statement a few days later, Mike also said that, 'I did not know who the independent adviser was and I felt a serious threat to me either through the Law or if I didn't conform personal injury maybe', adding that he was 'afraid that if Anne and I get arrested for fraud what would happen to our daughter'.
He also said in his 23 January statement that the possibility of getting more money was on his mind. In December 1994 he had been told that Robert Smith would receive £70,000 from New Line Cinema and, thinking that he would be getting the entire amount (although the truth was that he was due to receive only about £7,000), he had said in a letter to Smith dated 19 December 1994 that, 'I do want this money but I don't want it to be seen as "hush money" or payment to me to shut my mouth'. Mike referred to this money in his statement when he said, 'I didn't know which way to go, run or jump, the inducement of money in June 1995 led me to agree [with the story that he had received the Diary from Tony Devereux]. I backed it 100%'. However, he stated: 'The truth of the matter is that I have already informed the Police it is a Forgery, that is 'the Diary of Jack the Ripper' and I have also made a sworn affidavit that it is a Forgery.'
Mike made a second signed statement on 26 January 1995 (said to have been taken by Alan Gray 'at the dictation of Mr Barrett'). Although often referred to as an 'affidavit' - and wrongly stated to be an affidavit on Casebook - it wasn't sworn before a commissioner for oaths or solicitor and is, on its face, described as a 'statement' not an affidavit. In this statement, Mike said that he had been advised by his solicitor that if he stayed quiet (and didn't persist with his forgery allegations) he would get his outstanding money, 'so this being the case I decided to collaborate with these people and Anne's story by supporting the Diary'.
Mike obviously made these statements after speaking to Alan Gray who might have told him that if he continued to deny what he had said in his 5 January 1995 affidavit (as he had done in the 18 January meeting), he opened himself up to a possible charge of perjury.
As late as 20 July 1995, Mike was still saying that Anne wrote the Diary. Paul Feldman describes in his book a meeting with Mike on that day in which Feldman asked Mike to recreate the handwriting of the diary (p.196). Hence it is stated by Feldman (at p.196 of the 1997 edition), 'I asked him to re-create the handwriting of the diary'. A different impression is given in 'Inside Story' (p.202) where it is said to be Mike who wanted to re-create the handwriting of the diary. Either way, it would appear that Mike asked for a pen and blotting paper before revealing the futility of this request by admitting that the handwriting in the diary was Anne's. According to Inside Story (p.202), Mike said that 'he created the diary on his word processor and Anne wrote it.' It's a familiar refrain.
So Mike stuck it out for over twelve months in saying that the Diary was a fake. However, the lure of money was too great for him. There was a lucrative film based on the Diary in the works. Jack Nicholson, Daniel Day-Lewis and Anthony Hopkins had all been mentioned in the press as being in the frame for starring roles. If Mike came back on board the Diary train, there was a good chance he would get a slice of the action. He seems to have changed his mind at the end of the meeting with Feldman on 20 July 1995, reverting to his original story, and, on 13 and 20 September 1995, he appeared as a guest on Radio Merseyside saying that he did receive the Diary from Tony Devereux after all. He purported to barely recall that he had ever said anything different and claimed that, if he had done, he'd been drunk. He actually stated that, 'I've always maintained that the Diary in my belief is genuine'. He was lying.
By this time, of course, a new story had emerged, whereby Anne was now saying that she had given the Diary to Tony who gave it to Mike. This was particularly helpful to Mike because he now had a living person to corroborate his story. He was no longer isolated and alone in telling a suspicious tale about which no-one could possibly back him up. Suddenly the pressure was off him and now on Anne who had to explain to the world how SHE discovered the Diary. Anne followed Mike on Radio Merseyside in October.
By February 1996, however, after the film deal collapsed and the money failed to roll in, Mike appears to have returned to claiming that Anne wrote the Diary ('Inside Story', p. 210). In October 1996, Alan Gray was apparently trying to get a newspaper deal lined up for Barrett to prove the Diary as a fake ('Inside Story', p. 221). In early 1998, Barrett apparently told Gray that he wrote the Diary 'with a little bit of help from Devereux - he was a very knowledgeable man, very intelligent and Anne Barrett wrote it down.' In September 1998, Mike stated under oath from the witness box in Liverpool Crown Court that 'he and Anne had forged the Diary, using an old photo journal, with he composing the text and she writing it' (Inside Story, p. 228). As we know, over two days in April 1999 Mike repeated that Anne wrote down the diary. Astonishingly, no-one during those two days appears to have asked him about Devereux's involvement in the preparation of a draft of the text, or just assistance with basic research, while Tony was alive.
Ten weeks after the Cloak & Dagger meeting, Mike was still saying - this time in writing - that Anne wrote the Diary, although he was now also identifying Billy Graham as a collaborator (about which it should be recalled that in his 5 January 1995 affidavit it was stated that Billy Graham had been aware of the forgery plan and had said that it was 'a good idea, if you can get away with it'). Once more, Mike said that,'the Diary is in her [Anne's] handwriting.'
As far as I can see, Mike didn't change this position until 2002 when he started to play games with Keith Skinner, telling him that the Diary came from his own family, not Anne's, and disparaged the idea that he and Anne and played a part in the forgery. At this time, however, Shirley Harrison was writing her book, 'The American Connection', based on the notion that the Diary was a genuine item, and the front of that book states, 'Text copyright, Shirley Harrison and Michael Barrett 2003'. This isn't a reference to the copyright of the Diary which is said to be the copyright of 'Robert Smith 1993' and thus must relate to the text of Shirley's 2003 book . That being so, I can only assume that, at the time he spoke to Keith Skinner in 2002, Mike was expecting royalties from that book after it was published and was thus back on board with the Diary team, no longer wanting to undermine the credibility of the Diary.
THE INCREDIBLE MEMORY MAN
Prior to the meetings of 9 and 10 April 1999, Mike only once told the story of how he forged the Diary in any detail. This was during tape recorded interviews with Alan Gray during late 1994 in preparation for his January 1995 affidavit. Yet, in the 10 April 1999 meeting, more than four years later, Mike's story matches that told in the affidavit to a remarkable extent.
1. Mike said in his 1995 affidavit that prior to acquiring the black scrapbook a red Victorian diary was first purchased which was of no use. That is also what he said in 1999.
2. Mike said in his 1995 affidavit that he then purchased a black photograph album from Outhwaite & Litherland. That is also what he said at the 1999 meeting.
3. Mike said in his 1995 affidavit that the black photograph album was in a lot with a brass compass. That is also what he said at the 1999 meeting.
4. Mike said in his 1995 affidavit that one of the photographs was of a donkey. That is also what he said at the 1999 meeting.
5. Mike said in his 1995 affidavit that he cut the photographs out of the scrapbook with a stanley knife. That is what he said at the 1999 meeting.
6. Mike said in his 1995 affidavit that he bought pens and nibs in an art shop in Bold Street. That is also what he said at the 1999 meeting.
7. Mike said in his 1995 affidavit that he purchased Diamine manuscript ink from the Bluecoat Chambers Art shop . That is also what he said at the 1999 meeting.
8. Mike said in his 1995 affidavit that he had written the Diary text on his word processor and that Anne wrote it into the scrapbook in her handwriting. That is also what he said at the 1999 meeting.
9. Mike said in his 1995 affidavit that it took him and Anne eleven days in total to write the Diary. That is also what he said at the 1999 meeting.
10. Mike said in his 1995 affidavit that he took the quotation 'O costly intercourse...' from volume 2 of a Sphere History of Literature and that Anne wrote the 'h' in the 'Oh' in 'O costly intercourse' by mistake. That is also what he said at the 1999 meeting.
Although Mike made a bit of a mess of the story during the 1999 meeting, he clearly also recalled that the scrapbook was purchased for £50 cash, as stated in his 1995 affidavit.
How does Mike manage to remember all these points of the story so many years later? One possibility is that he re-read his affidavit in 1999 to refresh his memory. But that doesn't seem to be the likely explanation because he does confuse certain details during the 1999 meeting (something which would not be surprising for any person telling the truth about a story from some years earlier). Thus, whereas the affidavit says that the lot number for the scrapbook was Lot 126, during the 10 April meeting he said it was Lot 64. He also said in his affidavit that he went to the Bold Street store to buy the pens and nibs before going to the Bluecoat shop to buy the ink, whereas in the 10 April 1999 interview it's stated as having been the other way round. Most obvious of all, he expressly said at the 10 April meeting that the scrapbook was only purchased from O&L, and Anne only wrote the Diary, after the first telephone call with Doreen Montgomery which he dated as 12 March 1992 and before the visit to Doreen on London on 13 April 1992, whereas his affidavit places these occurrences in early 1990. Why would he have refreshed his memory from his affidavit only to change the entire chronology?
The truth is that he must have been speaking from memory and, that being so, it's just remarkable that he not only tells a consistent big picture story between 1994 and 1999 but that in 1999 he is telling a BETTER story, chronologically speaking, which fits perfectly with, and makes sense of, all the facts from his 1995 affidavit.
If there is one thing about this whole story that we know for certain, it's that the Diary is a twentieth century document due to the mistake by the forger in including the modern expression, 'one off instance'. Given that this is the case, the story of Eddie Lyons finding the Diary underneath the floorboards can be eliminated, as can the idea that the Diary had been passed to one of Anne Graham's ancestors by someone who had lived at Battlecrease. The Diary was not written in the nineteenth century. Therefore, in reality, the only game left in town is that it was Michael Barrett and his accomplices (whoever they might have been) who produced the forgery in order to make money so that Barrett could pay off his mortgage and escape from his financial difficulties.
SOME COMMENTS ABOUT THE MEETING
We've already seen the praise heaped on Keith Skinner in Ripperologist of June 1999 and his own book wasn't above some back patting in 2003 with the following comment about the meeting (p.235)
'It soon became evident that Keith Skinner's attempt to keep the interview along chronological lines would not be successful - Barrett was not to be restrained.'
Listening to the recording of that interview, it's clear that Keith could have asked whatever questions he wanted in chronological sequence but he didn't seem to know where to go next, often following Mike's cue (such as when Mike mentioned Caroline, and Keith decided to ask a question about Caroline). It seems to me that one of the reasons that the interview didn't successfully move forward chronologically was Keith Skinner's somewhat obsessive desire to get bogged down in trivial minor details which seem to have been important to him if no-one else. There are other reasons, of course, why the interview didn't go well but I don't think it was because Mike wasn't allowing Keith to keep the interview along chronological lines. If anything, Mike was often too keen to jump ahead, missing out things Keith wanted to discuss, so Keith had to bring him back. But too often he wasn't brought back for a sensible purpose.
However, it wasn't so much Mike not keeping the interview along chronological lines as him occasionally losing his focus during his answers and drunkenly rambling off on an irrelevant tangent. That was certainly problematic for Keith but, at the end of it all, I don't see that Mike prevented any questions from being asked that could have been asked. The audience questions were, on the whole, a disaster. Indeed, in my opinion it was the audience that failed on that evening as much as Mike. I could think of twenty better questions they could have asked Mike than the ones they did ask (even allowing for hindsight and the extra knowledge we have now).
In a post about the interview on the Casebook Censorship Forum on 18 August 2019 (#1750 in the Acquiring thread), Keith said, 'Mike did not want to stick to my line of questions and instead turned the whole evening into what he wanted to talk about'. Having listened carefully to the tape, I don't think that's a fair portrayal. Mike did answer almost all of Keith's badly worded and falsely premised questions (even allowing himself to be cross-examined by Keith on several occasions) and he did then go on to answer almost all the audience questions. Just because Mike didn't give the answers that Keith wanted doesn't mean he didn't give answers.
Sure, Mike was paranoid at times with his answers but then paranoia doesn't seem to be confined to Mike Barrett. In response to R.J. Palmer making a fairly innocuous statement in a Forum post that, '...from the outside, it is difficult not to see Barrett as being depicted as a salt-of-the earth Jekyll before his public confession, and as an unruly and trustworthy Hyde afterwards', Keith Skinner responded in the following way on the Casebook Forum (Rippercast Archives thread #73) on 16 November 2019:
'For all I know thousands of people may agree with you – I don’t know. What I do know however is that the point of Jonathan’s series of Diary podcasts is to let people, who may be interested in the 27 year old controversy, hear the voices of key figures involved, at precise moments in time which have been caught on tape. These recordings have not been doctored. There is no hidden agenda to present anything but the facts. What reason would we have for giving a bias Roger? What would we – or anybody - gain from this? How does being deceitful and manipulative get us any closer to the truth? In short, I resent the inference as, I suspect, does Jonathan.'
I struggled on reading that then, as I do now, to understand how Keith could possibly have thought that R.J. Palmer was inferring that the recordings had been doctored. His response strikes me as being as paranoid as anything Mike Barrett ever came up with.
Added to the paranoia, Keith has also got avoiding providing the answers to difficult questions down to a fine art. As I've already mentioned, he promised me in early 2018 that he would provide an explanation as to why Mike wanted a Victorian diary in March 1992 but he never did. It's an answer I'm still waiting for to this day. Having read Caroline Morris' latest attempt at explaining it (for which see the latest 'Lord Orsam Says...) I can well see why Keith might want to exercise his fifth amendment rights. But surely it's something he needs to confront if, as he says, he is 'honest and sincere' in his belief that Mike and Anne did not create the Diary, as he tells us.
He's not the only 'Diary Defender' to avoid answering difficult questions. Over in JTR Forums (my thread, #90), R.J. Palmer asked 'from what event is Caz measuring her 11 days and why?' (in response to her having claimed that Barrett 'found himself with just eleven days' before his meeting with Doreen after acquiring the Diary in the Saddle). In the same post, he asked another simple question about the Barretts' research notes, said to have been created in August 1991: 'Get better Caz. Maybe when your head clears you'll be able to explain how this works. The Barretts are guilty of one hoaxed document, but not the other?' In her purported reply of over 850 words (#92) Caroline Morris not once mentioned the Barretts' research notes nor did she explain from what event she was measuring her 11 days. Instead it was just another long ramble that Mike Barrett himself would have been proud of. A classic example of avoidance. I deal with what she did say to RJ in the latest edition of 'Lord Orsam Says...'.
When it comes to avoiding questions, or giving unsatisfactory answers, let's look at this one. On 15 November 2019 (in thread Rippercast Audio Archives), Hunter asked Paul Begg a very simple question on the Casebook Forum about Mike and his wife (#65):
'Do you believe he and Anne were incapable of concocting such a thing?'
Paul's answer (in #69) was this:
'No. It's surprising what the most unlikely people are able to do, but I question whether Mike had the application to complete such a project'.
Well, yeees, but the question was about Mike AND Anne. In giving the reason for his answer, Paul Begg has simply avoided any mention of Anne. If Mike Barrett had given an answer of this nature to a question he had been asked he would have been rightly criticized.
Asked separately why he didn't think that Mike was capable of writing the Diary, Paul Begg said (in #70):
'One of my initial feelings was that Mike seemed ignorant of both the Maybrick and Ripper cases to have done much research.'
That doesn't strike me as a very good answer. Listening to the recording (as well as other interviews by Mike) he never seems to have a particularly good grasp of anything, including the contents of the Maybrick Diary yet no-one can be in any doubt that, if he wasn't the author of that Diary, he must have read it a number of times. Furthermore, it's difficult to see why the forger of the Maybrick Diary should have done 'much research' into the Ripper and Maybrick cases. Surely they only needed to have read a small number of books about the Ripper case and an equally small number of books about the Maybrick case. After the forgery was done, there's no reason to think they would have remembered the details of those cases.
Paul's other reason for saying that Mike didn't create the Diary is really odd. He says that he thought the idea of forging a Diary must have been 'so daunting' that Mike wouldn't have done it because he was 'too canny'. So if Mike had not been 'canny' he presumably might have done it! For me, this is just too much of Paul Begg trying to put himself into the mind of someone he will never understand.
Paul concluded his post by saying of Mike Barrett, 'I think most were aware he'd written something for a kid's paper, but what else had he published?'. This just shows that Mr Begg is not up to speed on the case. How could he possibly not have known about Mike's articles in Celebrity?
When his mistake was pointed out to him by R.J. Palmer, he replied (in #79) to say, 'Writing a few gossipy, show-biz articles, whatever they are for, isn't quite the same thing as plotting a whole book'. No, but the Diary, comprising a mere 63 pages (which has been typed up into just 20 pages), is hardly a 'whole book' and it didn't need much plotting, being based on real events. It just needed some interleaving. Maybrick the arsenic eater, being cheated on by his wife, decided to murder and mutilate prostitutes in London with each victim being a surrogate for his wife. I mean, that's basically it. He travels down to London to commit the murders then travels back to Liverpool again. In the meantime we read of a cast of characters from Battlecrease who had already been mentioned in books on the Maybrick case. The few fictional characters, such as Mrs Hammersmith, don't exactly get much space or dialogue.
But by this time, Paul now has a different take on the question of whether Mike and Anne could have jointly written the Diary:
'...my point was not that Mike was incapable of writing the text of the diary or that Anne couldn't have knocked it into shape, but that lots of people want to write a book, and many people think they can write a book, but very few people actually write a book.'
So let's look at the logic here. Having initially questioned whether Mike had the application to complete such a project, he now admits that he's not saying that Mike and Anne together couldn't have written the Diary and knocked it into shape but that he doesn't think they did so because 'few people actually write a book'. Paul Begg is an intelligent man so he must be able to see the complete failure of that argument. I mean, if we accept that few people in the world write a book as being a reason why Mike and Anne couldn't have forged the Diary then that applies to every other non-author in the world too. He's basically saying that the Diary must be genuine because only a few people write books. To me, that's crazy and not befitting of someone like Paul Begg to put forward such an argument.
He reverts to the point that plotting, researching and writing a book takes application and suggests that Mike didn't have it but we're not talking about a book, we're talking about 63 pages and all it needed was the imagination to see that Maybrick, the arsenic addict, could have committed the Ripper murders during 1888. Once you've got that basic idea I suggest that writing the 63 pages of the Diary (many of which pages feature poor poetry and wasted space) would have been a doddle.
The least convincing part of Paul's post was that Mike didn't come across to him as a forger when he met him (as if it's possible to identify such a person). He says of Mike that, 'He betrayed no sense of pride in what he'd achieved, of having brought a bunch of people in a posh car all the way to see him. He wasn't trying to build up the 'diary' to sell it. He seemed as curious about it as we were. When the financial rewards were mentioned, he just said he'd like a small greenhouse for his garden.' Ha! So if Paul Begg believed him when he said that he just wanted a small greenhouse what does he make of his claim in the 1999 interview that he needed money to pay off his mortgage?
I love the fact that Paul says of Mike that 'he seemed to be someone who was genuine'. Of course he did! That's what a con man does to his victims.
'Maybe he suckered us all', says Paul. Yes, exactly. That's the whole point. He suckered everyone. As he said during the interview, he was doing a con. He conned Doreen. Then he conned Shirley. Conning Paul Begg seems to have been simplicity itself.
Amongst all the uncertainties regarding the Diary, what I feel is quite certain about is that Mike purchased the scrapbook in March 1992 (having failed with the red diary) and that the Diary was then written out in his house in Goldie Street in about eleven days before being taken to Doreen Montgomery on 13 April 1992.
I think it's also certain that Mike purchased the ink and the pens and nibs from Bluecoat and Medici respectively. But I doubt if Mike knew the name of the ink he had purchased. I assume he asked for a 'Victorian' ink and was given such an ink in the shop (or someone might have told him beforehand what ink he should be getting). It might have been Diamine but we've never got to the bottom of whether Bluecoat sold other similar 'Victorian' inks.
What is uncertain is whether Mike (and Anne) were entirely responsible for drafting the text of the Diary or whether others were involved. Tony Devereux and Billy Graham are two obvious examples but Mike could have had other acquaintances whose names are not known to us.
The similarities between Mike's expressions (as revealed in his oral interviews and in some of his written notes) and those in the Diary, not to mention that Mike was a professional freelance journalist, lead me to conclude that Mike probably did have an involvement in drafting the Diary. Whether he wrote it all or some of it I don't know. But frankly I don't think it would matter if someone gave him a pre-prepared text so that he simply dictated to Anne something that someone else had written or, alternatively, if he drafted it all himself.
To me, the text of the Diary is nothing special. It didn't need a genius or a published author to write it. The grammar and spelling is, of course, very poor. It's all based on the simple idea of a drugged up Maybrick substituting East End prostitutes for his wife because she was having an affair with another man. Once you've had this simple idea, the rest of it isn't difficult.
For all I know, the text was written in the 1980s or the 1970s or the 1960s. If, however, the expression 'one off instance' was a later addition to a pre-existing draft then the rest of it could have been written in the nineteenth century. But Mike's acquisition of the red Victorian diary tells us that he was looking for something to write the text of the Diary into, allowing us to conclude that the forgery was created in 1992.
The key was to find someone who could use a fountain pen to write the Diary in fancy handwriting. Mike says it was Anne. This makes sense to me but for all I know he was acquainted with someone else who could do it. I don't really care.
The only thing that I have ever wanted to know about the Diary is whether it was written by James Maybrick or not. The expression 'one off instance' disposes of that idea. As it happens, it also disposes of the idea that it was a nineteenth century fake but I barely care if it was or wasn't. The precise identity of the forger or forgers is of such little importance.
The most simple and obvious explanation is that Mike Barrett was behind the forgery. I've never seen a convincing argument that he couldn't have done it. Not the writing itself because I fully agree that he didn't have the penmanship skills to pull that off but I see no reason to think that he couldn't have drafted the text himself or in collaboration with someone else. The consistency between the story he told to Alan Gray in 1994 (as set out in his January 1995 affidavit) and the story he told to the Cloak & Dagger club in April 1999 is a compelling reason to think that this story was essentially true. The fact that both stories involved an eleven day period in which the Diary was written, consistent with where the documentary evidence takes us, is a very good reason to think that this was how long it took and it's hard to see why Mike would have repeated this if it wasn't true for the reasons I've already given at length in 'The Eleven Days'.Lord Orsam
Addition 1 July 2020
The Yellow Pages and the Red Diary
One other point I would like to deal with is in respect of the red Victorian diary.
In his 5 January 1995 affidavit, when speaking of the acquisition of the red diary, Mike said that his wife 'made the purchase through a firm in the 1986 Writers Year Book'.
As I've written previously, Martin Earl (a.k.a. HP Bookfinders) did not have an entry in the 1986 Artists' and Writers' Year Book. Nor did he have an entry in any Artists' and Writers' Year Book of any subsequent years. So that is wrong. But we know that somehow Mike did contact Martin Earl so this is a good example of him getting a fact wrong but not actually lying.
Mike wasn't asked about this in his 1999 interview but a breakthrough seemed to come from Keith Skinner's letter to Ripperologist dated 27 April 1999 which was recently posted on the Censorship Forum. In that letter, Keith said that Anne'thought that Mike had bought the red diary by phoning Yellow Pages...'.
It looked like the sensible and competent Anne Barrett had solved the mystery. The contact details from Martin Earl came from the Yellow Pages.
Except that an examination of the Yellow Pages for the Liverpool (Mersey) region from 1992 reveals that Martin Earl did not advertise in the Yellow Pages, and his contact details are not to be found in there. In fact, the only firms which are listed in the 1992 Yellow Pages for the Liverpool region under the category heading of 'Books -rare and secondhand' were those based in the Liverpool area.
So Anne Barrett was wrong too. The number for Martin Earl did not come from the Yellow Pages, at least not directly.
But there was a company involved in the Diary story, specifically relating to the scrapbook, which DID advertise in the Liverpool edition of the Yellow Pages in 1992. The auctioneers, Outhwaite & Litherland. Their advert told the reader that they held 'Weekly Sales'.
Is it possible, one wonders, that Anne's memory was confused and that she was thinking of how she or her husband obtained the telephone number of Outhwaite & Litherland from the Yellow Pages, not Martin Earl? Did Mike or Anne call them to be told that their next auction was on Tuesday 31 March?
Either way, the mystery of how Mike or Anne managed to contact Martin Earl in March 1992 continues.
If there is one lesson from this article, it should be the importance of disclosing evidence relating to the Maybrick Diary. Until now, the recording of the Cloak & Dagger meeting was restricted to a small number of people and, as a consequence, an unfair portrayal of that meeting was given to the public without any opportunity for that portrayal to be challenged. There is other 'hidden' evidence that now should also be released and, unless those who control that evidence are scared of what it will reveal, there should no longer be any reason for it to be withheld. Here is my Top 5 list of what should immediately be made public.
1. The Barrett/Gray Recordings
Keith Skinner is apparently in possession of another tape, or tapes, of interview sessions between Alan Gray and Michael Barrett during late 1994 upon which, it seems reasonable to suggest, the text of Barrett's January 1995 affidavit was based. It is, in my view, critical that these tapes are made available in order to allow us once and for all get to the bottom of what Mike Barrett's story of the Diary was in 1994. We need to hear it from his own mouth rather than what is likely to have been the translation of Alan Gray into what HE thought Mike was trying to say. I appreciate that Keith Skinner doesn't listen to me or do anything I ask but I think it's important for me nevertheless to make the request and it's up to him whether he takes any action. If the tapes are not of sufficient quality for release then at the very least a transcript of those recordings should be made available.
2. The Barretts' Transcript of the Diary.
I've mentioned this before and readers will recall that Keith Skinner promised me he would make this transcript public in early 2018 but failed to keep that promise. Late last year he gave a very poor reason for reneging on his promise - basically he said that he thought any material he revealed would be 'clinically dissected' to show that the Diary was a hoax. Well I can't think of any serious researcher who would object to material being clinically dissected but what's worse is that he revealed at the same time that there are textual differences between the Diary and the transcript and, in his words,'meaning could be gleaned from the discrepancies'. Alas, he doesn't want anyone to glean that meaning (whatever it is) from those discrepancies, so prefers to hide the evidence.
I have recently discovered that, in the past, the Barretts' transcript has been used by Caroline Morris, quoting selectively from it, as evidence to support the argument that the Diary is an old document. Shortly after Christmas, R.J. Palmer dug up a 2001 forum post by Robert Smith in which he stated that the opening line of the Barretts' transcript is, 'what I have in store for them they would stop this instance' compared to what is in the Diary of 'what they have in store for them they would stop this instant.' When I googled this line I found a 2005 thread here in which Caroline Morris also cited it to argue that it is 'much more reasonable' to suggest that these words were mistranscribed from the Diary than that they represented a first draft from which the Diary was subsequently written (see her post of 24 June 2005 at 6:42am). As an argument, that's fine but the problem here is with the selective quotation from a document that no-one else is allowed to see other than, apparently, Keith Skinner, Caroline Morris and Robert Smith. Why is the entire document not made available to everyone?
I note that Caroline Morris then said, a few posts later (27 June 2005, 6:34am), that she had started comparing the Barretts' transcript with the Diary but she never seems to have reported the results of that comparison. Instead, she went on a weird ramble about the words 'inclination' and 'inkling' about which she eventually had to accept she had made an embarrassing error, one that distracted from the main topic.
I also note that, in his 2001 post, Robert Smith also argued that the Diary came before the transcript by noting that there are no correct spellings in the transcript which are misspelt in the Diary manuscript. Again, that's fine. So why the terror in Keith Skinner's eyes at the prospect of independent observers being able to make the comparison for themselves? Why the fear that someone might find 'meaning' in the discrepancies between the two?
3. The 'missing' pages from the Diary.
According to 'Inside Story' at page 271, in March 2002 Mike Barrett handed to Keith Skinner ten handwritten pages which he said he had transcribed from the missing pages of the Diary. He told Keith that he had removed the pages from the Diary when he first received it. Not a single line from these pages is cited in the book, nor anywhere else to the best of my knowledge. The authors comment that, 'The content, in truth, bore no resemblance to that of the Diary' but it would be helpful to see what Mike Barrett could actually come up with when trying to create Diary text. I've never seen a single example of any attempt by Mike Barrett at fiction and, other than the letters to his wife that I've produced, all we have to show us what Mike Barrett could do solo is a note he wrote to Robert Smith in 2009 which Smith proudly published to show how bad his English and comprehension skills were. But I find it amazing that Mike wrote ten pages of supposedly dreadful Diary pastiche and not a single page of it has ever been revealed to the public.
4. Skinner/Rhodes interview notes
Shortly after publication of Robert Smith's 2017 book, Caroline Morris started to quote selectively from an interview (or interviews) which Keith Skinner had carried out with the now deceased Colin Rhodes of Portus & Rhodes. The entirety of Skinner's notes of his discussions with Rhodes should be published.
5. James Johnston Interview Transcripts
During the short period that he was posting on the Casebook Censorship Forum, James Johnston quoted selectively from transcripts of interviews he had carried out with the Portus & Rhodes electricians. It's surely now time for the entirety of those transcripts to be published, with redactions if necessary to protect any private information.