Orsam Books

Blackmail, or Mrs Barrett

On 1 February 1995, Anne Barrett sent a typed letter to her husband, Mike, in response to an incident earlier that evening when Mike had come round to the house in which she was then living and had pushed a five pound note through the door of her house, hoping she would use it to pay for a taxi to come and see him.   Mike desperately wanted to speak to Anne but, in the letter she wrote him, she made clear that she was refusing to speak to him.

The somewhat interesting thing is that Anne writes to Mike in this letter to tell him:

'I will NOT be blackmailed into speaking to you.' 

Here it is in context:


That's a rather odd choice of word isn't it?  Blackmail.  How could Mike have been blackmailing her?

Blackmail usually involves a threat to reveal some kind of compromising or damaging information about someone.  Is that what Anne meant?  If so, what kind of compromising or damaging information about Anne was Mike threatening to reveal? 

Are there any other clues in the letter as to what Anne was talking about? Well we have this passage: 

I transcribe this in full below:

'Your messages of tonight have gone in the bin were (sic) they belong.  If you want to destroy the diary then get on with it! Because nothing I can say or nothing I can do will stop you doing what you want to do.  And writing to me saying "speak to me or I'll........  will not work.

Your yob like mentality completely disgusts me, so if you want to make a public exhibition of yourself that is your decision not mine.  But don't expect me to sit quietly back and take it because I won't. What you do reflects on your daughter and your parents and your sisters and none of them deserve to be humiliated by you.' 

We see that Mike has clearly not just been pleading with Anne to speak to him but also threatening her with something.  If she doesn't speak to him he will do something in response. Thus, Anne paraphrases the demand as: 'speak to me OR I'LL...'.  What is Mike threatening to do to Anne if she doesn't speak to him?  Is this the blackmail of which she speaks earlier in the letter?

And note that she threatens him in return, if he goes ahead and does the thing he is threatening.  Thus, she says, 'don't expect me to sit quietly back and take it because I won't'.  This is in response to the possibility that Mike might 'make a public exhibition' of himself.

In other words, it seems that Mike is threatening to go public with some information that will compromise or damage Anne but that Anne is saying that, if he does so, she won't sit quietly back but will respond with some sort of public statement or action herself.  

One possibility is that Mike was simply threatening to destroy the diary but it seems unlikely that this would cause Anne to respond that she wouldn't just sit back and take it. 

There may be some clues as to what Mike was threatening on some manuscript notes apparently addressed to Anne which Mike wrote on Anne's letter, after he had received it, including (with spelling corrected):

'You got one chance [or choice].  Speak to me.

It's all photographed

You still don't understand do you?  I never give in.  You and me wrote the diary.  That's a fact.

You know the truth. And so help me god I will prove it. Back off now!!! Or I fucking well will come out with the truth.  I have your voice on tape. You never win until you speak to me.'

It looks here to me like Mike is threatening to come out with the truth about the creation of the Diary.  Could this be the 'blackmail' being referred to by Anne in the letter.  Is it what Anne means by the "OR I'll..." which she says Mike was telling her?  In other words, if she didn't speak to Mike, was he threatening to come out with the truth about the Diary?

Food for thought, no?

And, by the way, if this article doesn't have the best title for a Ripper related article in the history of the world, I don't know what does! 


1 AUGUST 2020

p.s. Don't miss the next 'Orsam Day' for the exciting sequel to this article in which we will consider further what the blackmail might have been.