It's a little known but perfectly true fact that the rank above Commissioner on the JTR Casebook Forum - the highest rank one can ever attain - is Asterisk. Indeed, such a senior rank is this that one is relieved of all menial posting duties; the responsibility of drafting forum posts being left to a host of unpaid minions who can be found arguing back and forth without any resolution on a 24/7 round-the-clock basis.
One of my old posting chums, Iconoclast (at the time of writing a mere Sergeant, I see), spotting my promotion, made an innocent post on the Forum on 22 August 2018 in which he foolishly typed the word 'reduced' instead of 'promoted':
'By the way, Lord Orsam is now reduced to an asterisk in history (not even a footnote) which suggests he's been turfed-off for a while or for good.
Something tells me he'll be back, though, probably sporting some cool pseudonym such as 'Bookseller', or 'Archivist' or 'Know It All'.
I quite liked him, mind.'
Admin on Casebook, who, I believe, is someone called Ally Ryder, normally seems to take about 3 months to respond to anything in my experience but on this occasion, taking Iconoclast's lighthearted comment very seriously, she posted a reply, dripping with poison, inside 90 minutes:
'Dave Orsam will not be returning to Casebook. If anyone believes he has returned under an assumed name, please immediately inform the Admin.
People who threaten to sue us don't get posting privileges on our boards.'
Leaving aside the odd familiarity with which she referred to me as 'Dave', while at the same time suggesting I was American's Most Wanted, for whom members needed to be on high alert, and also leaving aside that I had not, of course, returned under an assumed name as Iconoclast had jokingly speculated, nor will I ever be doing so, I can reveal that Admin was not telling the members of the Casebook Forum the full story, or anything like it, in her poisonous little post.
She did not reveal, for example, that, only two days earlier, I had expressly requested, in writing, that Admin terminate my membership of Casebook. The so-called precious 'posting privileges', therefore, were removed at my own request and had nothing whatsoever to do with me threatening to sue Casebook, however much Admin would like to portray that as being the case.
What she also did not inform the members of Casebook is that just hours earlier she had quietly, without any announcement, deleted one of her own posts, a post that I had complained about to her on 20 August 2018, and requested its retraction, saying that it contained a false and defamatory statement about me. The deletion of that post is something that I regard as a huge moral victory, easily worth the 'privilege' of ten thousand additional posts on the Forum.
For yes (cue music) there are times when one has to take a moral stand on principle. I never expected the hill of Francis Tumblety to be one on which I would fight to the death but as soon as I saw Admin's post of 20 May 2018 - the one now deleted - I knew that my time on the Forum was at an end.
While that post remained, it wasn't possible for me to continue as a member of the Forum and, knowing that most Administrators of internet forums aren't very good at admitting error and correcting their mistakes, I prepared for my departure. By the time it was deleted, it was, of course, too late because I had already asked for my account to be deactivated, although why Admin could not have deleted that post as soon as I first complained about it is baffling.
In her post of 20 May 2018, a day after she had closed the thread relating to Michael Hawley's book (a thread which can be found here), Admin said, 'I will be sending private messages to parties and this thread will remain closed until I receive communication back from them.' In actual fact, she never did. At least, she never contacted me, and I was clearly one of the parties; I have no idea if she contacted Hawley. Even today, I have absolutely no idea what she wanted to say to me, if anything was actually in her mind. But it is one of my complaints that despite saying she was going to contact 'the parties' she never did write to me, yet other members of the Forum would have expected that she had done so and concluded, quite reasonably, from the continuing closure of the thread, that I hadn't provided a satisfactory response.
Here is Admin's full post of 21 May 2018 (which was quietly deleted three months later):
As of today's date, the thread remains closed and no new thread has been opened.
At the time, I had a number of images of never before published documents that I wanted to post on the Forum relating to the so-called Maybrick Diary - not least because I felt I had a duty to the person who provided them to me in the expectation that I would do so - and, expecting Admin to contact me any day, with the subsequent discussion to inevitably result in my expulsion from the Forum (because I wasn't going to allow the defamatory comments about me made by Admin to go unchallenged and I didn't think that Admin would respond to criticism in any other way than expelling me), I rushed to post everything I needed to post, doing everything virtually in one go and much quicker than I would have liked to have done. Once I finished that, apart from a short post to someone who was talking nonsense about the Coroner's Inquisition from the Kelly inquest, I stopped posting and waited for Admin to write to me, as she had publicly stated she would.
A full month passed and I heard nothing from Admin. Then, despite me taking the initiative by writing to Admin myself, another month passed. Silence. Then, after another month of me chasing every week, I finally did receive a miserable, unhelpful and contemptuous response (as appears below). The thread entitled 'Jack the Ripper Suspect Dr Francis Tumblety' in which I had been posting original unpublished evidence relating to an important issue concerning Jack the Ripper remained closed. It remains closed as at time of writing so that, if I understand the Forum rules correctly, no-one is allowed to post anything on the Forum about the issues in that thread, including the issue of the 12 constables (and presumably about the book which is the subject of the thread too). And, yes, in case you are not familiar with what happened, I was stopped in the middle of posting actual documentary evidence on the Casebook Forum about an important issue relating to Jack the Ripper. Can you believe it? Is this actually possible?
Not only that, but Admin decided that what I was posting was 'tedious', which suggests to me that she simply didn't understand the issue.
The issue, for anyone unfamiliar with it, is that a character called Michael Hawley has suggested in two books that Scotland Yard assigned no fewer than twelve constables to two mainline London train stations on 20 November 1888 (bang in the middle of the Ripper investigation) in order to catch their prime suspect for the Whitechapel murders (Francis Tumblety) who was then attempting to flee the country and abscond from justice.
If anyone can identify a more important issue relating to Jack the Ripper than this I'll be very surprised. If true, it would mean that Tumblety was Scotland Yard's prime suspect and that there must have been huge urgency in apprehending him. It's massive! Yet I was censored and preventing from discussing this very topic.
I was actually in the middle of posting evidence in chronological order which proved that the deployment of those 12 constables, or rather their proposed deployment, had absolutely nothing to do with Francis Tumblety, or Jack the Ripper, or any Whitechapel murder suspect, when the thread was suddenly closed by Admin who, at the same time as closing the thread, called the discussion 'tedious'. (i.e. her actual words being, 'at this point, it's just become tedious').
One does have to comment, with all due respect to my former fellow members of the Casebook Forum, if a thread being 'tedious' was good a reason for the closure of a thread on the Forum then about 90% of them would have to be closed forthwith! And, like I say, I wouldn't mind but I was actually posting new evidence about an important topic relating to Jack the Ripper on the Jack the Ripper Forum and, moreover, a topic that was bang ON topic in respect of the thread in which I was posting because it had been raised in Hawley's book.
Furthermore, I had been posting in that thread for less than two weeks, my first post being on the 7 May, the last being on 19 May before the thread was closed that day. Some threads run for months, if not years, of sheer tedium but I never seem to see Admin closing them for reasons of tediousness.
Here is a screenshot taken on 21 May 2019 showing the Tumblety thread still closed one year later!
Now, I will deal further with Admin's thread closure and explanation for doing so below. It may be indulgent of me to do so but I think I should be allowed the space to air my grievances at the actions of Admin in what is essentially an issue of free speech, especially as no-one is allowed to challenge any decisions of Admin on the Forum itself and especially as this issue is what has led to me requesting a termination of my membership of the Casebook Forum with the loss of all its precious 'posting privileges'. Before doing so, however, I must state that I regard myself as having been absolutely vindicated in the way I posted in that thread by a very unlikely source, namely Michael Hawley himself!
For, shortly after the thread was closed, Hawley gave an interview on Rippercast with Jonathan Menges (someone who contributed to the thread in question and whose role in its closure remains unknown). I had noticed that Hawley was going to give this interview due to it being pre-advertised on the Forum by Menges on 1 June 2018 with the comment:
'Please know that I will ask Mike ALL questions that are submitted to the show.'
It was a highly amusing post for me because, as Menges was fully aware, I had been asking Hawley a number of questions in the thread about his book on the Forum, in particular about the deployment of the 12 constables referred to above, but he had failed to answer any of them and, indeed, had pointedly, blatantly and transparently evaded those questions. Obviously, I wasn't going to play along and submit any questions for the interview. If Hawley wasn't going to answer them in the Forum, where I could respond immediately to any of his nonsense, I wasn't going to give him the opportunity to waffle on without any real opposition, which is of course what happened.
For, while I did not submit any questions myself, I later discovered, when I listed to the recording at the end of August, that Menges had taken it upon himself to ask this question (my underlining):
'I want to also talk about the whole twelve detectives being...this was not a question submitted by a listener I should point out, it's something that's in your book and I follow the Casebook message boards, as we all know, so in your book you state that extra constables were summoned to search the train stations and inspect American travellers' luggage in an attempt to find evidence against Tumblety, is what you suggest, but from the correspondence that was posted on Casebook, by Prowse and Monro and folks like that, the extra constables that were requested seemed to have been intended for passengers coming from America to Liverpool and then proceeding to London in an attempt to search for, like, explosives, as opposed to Tumblety who was, whichever way he was going, was going in the opposite direction so to me there didn't seem to be any indication that they were requesting to search American's baggage outgoing, they were concerned with searching American passengers' baggage incoming, so would you like to address than one for us?'
The question wasn't quite right because Hawley's suggestion was that the constables were searching for Tumblety himself, as opposed to evidence against him, but Hawley's answer to it is a real scream. If you haven't heard it then, boy, you are in for a treat. It's something really special. A form of answer that I doubt there is any equivalent of in the whole of recorded Ripperology. Don't worry, though, you don't need to waste your time actually listening to him speak for I have transcribed his entire answer here, or rather answers, because Menges didn't understand what he was saying (naturally, because Hawley was talking pure gobbledigook and incomprehensible nonsense) so needed to ask a couple more questions for clarification (which never came) and the discussion on this topic went on for a full nine minutes. In fact, one might say that Menges relentlessly badgered the author Mike Hawley for an answer to his question even though it was clear that Hawley was never going to answer it! (The significance of me putting it that way will soon become clear.)
There were, in fact, two reasons for me being vindicated here. The first is that the only source that Menges put forward to challenge what Hawley had said in his book was the collection of posts I had made on the Casebook Forum in the very thread that Admin had, in its wisdom, decided to permanently close due, it seems, to those very same posts. These included the previously unpublished correspondence by Prowse and Monro and others to which Menges referred. So we have a situation whereby the interviewer of a Ripper Podcast, who would presumably not waste his time asking trivial or tedious questions, asks the author of a Ripper book a question based entirely on information which he is only aware of because I posted it on the Casebook Forum! And that information is labelled by Admin as 'tedious' so I wasn't allowed to post any more of it!!
I had, of course, already posted selected extracts from that information on this website in my article 'The English Detective' (which, for those unfamiliar with it, can be read here) but it seems that Menges was unaware of that article. So what greater acknowledgment can there be that I was posting important information on the Casebook Forum than Menges basing his entire questioning of Hawley on the subject on that very same information? Without it, he simply wouldn't have been able to frame the question. He wouldn't even have known on what basis Hawley's claim about the 12 constables could be challenged. Yet the thread in which I posted that information was actually closed before I could post all the available documents and before I could round up, by way of conclusion, what those documents told us.
Furthermore, what is so very ironic is that when the thread was closed, I was at that time engaged in further research on the topic at the National Archives and had located further hitherto unpublished documents, yet I was literally unable to post that evidence on the forum. It's quite amazing really dontcha think?
The main source of vindication for me, however, was Hawley's answers to the questions asked of him by Menges on the subject of the 12 constables. My goodness, no-one can ever have got themselves into more of a tangle of nonsense and twisted verbal gymnastics than Hawley did when desperately trying and failing to provide an answer to the question. Even when responding to Menges' mention of the information I had posted on Casebook he couldn't seem to express himself properly, saying:
'Now, you’re exactly right and when you look at the reports on Casebook that - and there are a ton of them now, I mean multiple pages...'
I just love that unfinished comment. He was trying to say that multiple pages of evidence, a ton of it, is a bad thing. And what serious researcher takes that kind of attitude? So he can't quite say it's a bad thing can he? He just has to leave it hanging. Poor author, oppressed by a ton of evidence in multiple pages that disprove everything on a particular subject that he has already published in his books!
Nevertheless, Hawley admitted to Menges, as he simply had to - but it was still astonishing - that 'those twelve constables were absolutely assigned for what you said' , namely to search the baggage of passengers coming to London from America via Liverpool, and thus not to search for an individual leaving London for America, i.e. Tumblety; yet he still seemed to think there was some kind of defence to what he had written in his two books, and this is when he wittered on inanely for a number of minutes making no sense whatsoever to anyone who is able to speak and understand English. There was no defence that Hawley could offer to justify what he had written in his book and I explain that all in the commentary at the foot of the transcript here.
If you think this is all remarkably Alice in Wonderland then of course it is. The whole topic should have been dealt with on the Forum and answered by Hawley in simple terms so that there would have been no need to take up nine minutes of the podcast, or Howlercast as I prefer to call it, with him twittering on inanely, speaking rubbish and still not providing a sensible and coherent answer to the question. If it were up to me, what would be against the rules is refusing or failing to answer relevant and pertinent questions in a Forum debate, while still purporting to participate in it, because that is when a debate becomes corrupted.
Talking of the Forum rules, here is a one of the longstanding so-called Major Rules of the Casebook Forum, with some underlining by me:
Comments on published works will generally not be considered libelous or fall under the personal attack policy (even though some authors post here) unless they are completely off the wall or not based on evidence. If there is evidence that an author deliberately left out information, failed to do research, plagiarized, fabricated evidence, whatever, then people's honest opinions -of the work and the author - will not be considered libelous/attacking. Authors are Public Figures and they cannot expect to have everyone love and admire their work. There is also protection for the poster from claims of libel when it comes to discussing public figures. We are based in America, and we base our Public Figure/Libel rules on U.S. standards. If there is evidence of wrongdoing on an author's part then a poster has the right to express their opinion of the work and the author when discussing the author's work or contributions. This is not a wholesale free pass to insult the author freely throughout time (especially if they are posting on unrelated threads or topics). If the author's work is being discussed, any criticism is valid, as long as it pertains to the work and is evidence-based or an honest opinion of generalities. "I think this book and author are crap" is a personal opinion and valid, and doesn't require any evidence, because it is the poster's opinion and while it is not supported, it is an opinion on the work. "This author is an azzhole and I think he sucks." is not valid because it is not based on his work.
To me, that all seems very clear and Admin is obviously aware of those rules because in her post of 20 May 2018 she wrote (with my underlining):
'Authors cannot expect wholesale love and adoration of their work and if they publish work for public consumption must expect criticism and challenges as part and parcel of publishing. That is enshrined in our Rules. Authors are not a protected class of posters, indeed, they actually have less protection in threads about their works than regular posters do.'
What is so utterly bizarre about the rest of her post was that she then went on, without batting an eyelid, to contradict every word of the above by making clear that authors ARE a protected class of posters on Casebook. Thus, in the next breath, after claiming that the thread was becoming tedious, she said:
'Badgering an author relentlessly with the same questions, when it's clear that they are not going to answer them is just as harassing as any other poster.'
Leaving aside for one moment whether it was correct to say that anyone in that thread (and, of course, she was referring to me) was actually 'badgering an author with the same questions', either when it was clear they were going to answer them or otherwise, this quite obviously puts 'an author' into an exulted and protected category, otherwise why else mention that the person in question was an author? Either it's harassing to ask 'the same questions' of someone - anyone - or it isn't.
Well I say 'ask' questions but that wasn't quite how it was put was it? The word 'ask" wasn't mentioned. Instead, I was accused, not of asking the same questions (which would have been a fairly ridiculous allegation if those questions weren't being answered) but of badgering an author with the same questions.
The word 'badgering' makes it sound like I was somehow desperate for information from this author, that I maniacally needed to know something from him, and thus couldn't stop asking the same question over and over again. As we shall see, that is so far from the truth as to make the allegation close to harassment of me by Admin.
But it wasn't just 'badgering' that I was supposedly doing. I was, according to Admin, badgering 'relentlessly'. It was an interesting choice of word; for it was identical to one used by Hawley himself in an open post he addressed to Admin (in complete breach of normal protocol) when complaining about my posts, although the funny thing is that he never complained about me badgering him with (or asking him) questions. His complaint was very different. Thus, he posted on 18 May 2018 (with my underlining):
'I want to report that David Barratt has attempted to hijack this post by focusing upon one small section of my book that conflicted with his online article. The biggest issue David has is about the 12 constables. I refuse to argue the case about the 12 constables on this thread because it is an insignificant part of the book, yet he is relentless in bringing it up. It should not be a surprise that I challenge David on his relentless attacks, since this is my book. Why is David so relentless on attempting to embarrass me? '
His complaint - ludicrous though it was and clearly NOT accepted by Admin because she didn't adopt it - was that I was attempting to hijack the thread and was being 'relentless' in bringing up the subject of the 12 constables and attacking his book.
As we have already seen, 'attacking' a book is not a breach of Forum rules so it was a daft complaint and by 'bringing up the subject of the 12 constables' he presumably meant that I was posting the evidence that their deployment had nothing to do with Tumblety, namely the opposite of what he had claimed in his book which he was still maintaining was the case in the thread. But what he was not doing was complaining about me asking him the same questions over and over!!! It's just not part of what was concerning him and it would have been odd if it had been because I wasn't doing that!
It is beyond comprehension, therefore, that Admin, having presumably read the thread carefully, somehow perceived me as badgering Hawley to answer identical questions which he had made clear he wasn't going to answer when that was never the case, and it wasn't even something that Hawley was worried about so he clearly did not feel badgered or harassed by any questions I had asked him.
I say that Admin had presumably read the thread carefully because she posted at the time:
'Due to the nature of this complaint, I chose to use it as a training vehicle to help in illustrating how to handle Report Posts to a new moderator we are bringing on board, which resulted in a delay while we went over some feature.'
If Admin's post of 20 May 2018 is supposed to be a model example of how to deal with a complaint which a new moderator should follow then god help all of those poor souls who remain members of the Forum.
She'd already appeared to misunderstand the nature of the complaint and, as we will see, imagined all these questions being repeated, especially at a time when it was supposed to be 'clear' that Hawley wasn't going to be answering any of them, although how I am supposed to have known that this was his intention without being a mind reader was not stated. It certainly was not clear that he wasn't going to answer questions as we shall see when we look at the thread.
But the really troubling thing about Admin's post is that, while she is supposed to be a neutral and impartial person (I assume), she adopted Hawley's word 'relentless' to describe my supposed questioning of him even though this was not his complaint.
It's an interesting word 'relentless'. If a detective is relentless in hunting a criminal, it's a very good thing. If someone is relentless in eliminating poverty it's an excellent thing. If someone is relentless in correcting mistakes it's.....well is it a good thing or a bad thing? Your answer to this question might depend on whether you agree with what I am saying in this article but it seems to me that it must be a good thing.
Was I relentless in demolishing and attacking Hawley's utterly ludicrous and clearly disprovable claim that 12 constables were deployed to hunt for Tumblety in November 1888? Well, if I was, I don't see what's wrong with that. As I've mentioned, what I was doing in that thread at the time it was closed, and at the time Hawley posted his complaint to Admin, was no more than posting the evidence about the deployment of the constables without even actually commenting on it.
Thus, on 18 May 2018 (#222) I posted this:
'As I still don't know Mr Hawley's opinion regarding the proposed deployment of 12 constables at two London railway stations and its connection with Tumblety, and, as he is apparently planning a third book about Tumblety, I feel it necessary to go right back to the beginning, in order to try and convince him that the idea was initially raised long before the Ripper murders and the arrest of Tumblety, starting with the full text of the letter from Richard Prowse, Secretary of the Board of Customs, to the Home Office dated 22 March 1888. This is that letter...:'
I then posted, in full, a transcript I had made of Prowse's letter. This was one of the letters referred to by Menges in his questioning of Hawley. I followed it (#223) with the full transcript of a response dated 2 April 1888 from Monro, to whom the Home Office had forwarded Prowse's letter. Then in #224 with a letter from the Home Office to the Board of Customs dated 20 April 1888, then a letter from Prowse to the L&NWR Railway dated four days later (#225).
Now, at this point, although I was doing no more than posting transcripts of correspondence relevant to the issue of the 12 constables, Mike Hawley interjected with a post (#228) saying:
'You just can't stop your incessant posting, eh, David. You hate me so much, you're trying to sabotage it. What is behind David?'
So in Hawley's mind, me posting the evidence here was somehow an attempt by me to 'sabotage' his book. I don't quite know how that works. He was doing a fine job sabotaging his own book himself by not clarifying his position about the 12 constables, thus making himself look unreasonable, shifty and evasive.
This was my response to that comment in #230:
'Well, Mike, I've already explained the reason for my "incessant" posting. I'm trying to convince you that the deployment of the 12 constables at London Railway stations, as referred to in Colonel Pearson's letter of 20 November 1888, had nothing to do with Tumblety.
Do you accept that simple fact?
If you do, then I don't need to post the rest of the correspondence. If you accept it then I don't.'
Now, I don't know about you but isn't the simple answer here for 'an author' - any respectable author at least - to either accept that the deployment of the 12 constables had nothing to do with Tumblety or, if he thinks it actually did have something to do with Tumblety, to make that clear?
Not this author however. Oh no! Here is Hawley's response in #235 and it is a critical response which I hope everyone reads with great care (especially the part I have underlined):
'Keep on posting the same ol, the same ol 10 constables red herring argument. You seem to think you found a gotcha argument, but I've actually found a crack in it.'
So, apart from telling me to keep on posting (Admin, did you miss that in your careful review?) he also told me in no uncertain terms that he had found a crack in my argument. Well, I advise the reader to check out Hawley's answers to the questions asked by Jonathan Menges in the Ripper podcast, or Howlercast, which, to repeat the link, you can find here and you'll see if there was a crack in my argument or not.
But I already knew that Hawley was bluffing, for in my response to him (after correcting his mistake about it being 12 not 10 constables) I told him this (#240):
'I think I have already conclusively and comprehensively demonstrated, with an extraordinary degree abundance of solid evidence, that the deployment of the 12 constables had nothing to do with Tumblety whatsoever. I mean, they weren't even deployed at any time that Tumblety was in the UK!!! It's an absolute slam dunk of an argument. I doubt if it's possible to prove a fact more clearly than I have done with this one. Even the claim that the world is round has less certain proof than my claim that these constables were totally unrelated to Tumblety. So, no Mike, you haven't found a "crack" in my argument. Given your track record so far in this thread, you are probably lying but if you truly think you have found a crack you are mistaken.'
So that is how the debate stood as at the 18th May 2018, only one day before Mike posted his complaint that I was sabotaging his book and two days before Admin closed the thread. Do you see anything wrong so far with my contributions? Certainly, I don't normally like to accuse someone of lying but there was no other rational conclusion and Mike had already made some extraordinary and untrue statements about me in the thread as we shall see.
The main point here, however, is that Hawley was clearly telling me that I was wrong about the 12 constables. He had found a crack in my argument, he said. So first of all, why doesn't he say what that is? And secondly, if he's found a crack then clearly it was perfectly legitimate and acceptable, under any kind of forum rules you could ever imagine, to continue to demonstrate that there was no crack in it, wasn't it?
Hawley offered two reasons for not discussing the 12 constables in #235. Namely, he said 'I'm not going to comment on it for two reasons. First it is an absolute red herring, and second, I'm waiting for his book. Oh yah David, I think I've scared you into not writing one now.'
As far as I was concerned, those were utterly bogus reasons for not commenting. I don't know what he meant about the issue being a 'red herring'. It was Hawley who had mentioned the 12 constables in his own book so if it was a red herring it was Hawley's own red herring which he had knowingly included in his book! The other reason, namely that he was waiting for my book, was equally bogus. He had already stated on more than one occasion (i.e. incessantly) that he believed for some reason that I was going to write and publish a book about Jack the Ripper and although I had told him repeatedly that it simply wasn't true - I have never had any intention of writing a book about Jack the Ripper and still have no intention of doing so - he kept putting this fake news forward, bizarrely and inexplicably, as a reason for not answering my various questions about the 12 constables and for not even being prepared to discuss the topic. As they were always bogus reasons I always dismissed them and expected him to be sensible and discuss the issue, especially after #235 with the very late revelation in the thread that he had found a 'crack' in my argument.
As I said to Hawley in #240:
'No Mike, the reason you are not going to comment is because you know you are wrong and for psychological reasons of your own, simply cannot admit it.
But you don't need to wait for any book (which isn't coming anyway). All the evidence about the 12 constables will be posted in this thread. And then everyone will see that you misunderstood their purpose, as did Andrew Cook.'
Well, hey, I was wrong about the last paragraph. All the evidence about the 12 constables was not posted in the thread. To my astonishment, I wasn't allowed to. Hawley's very next post (#242) was addressed 'Attention Casebook Managers' complaining that I had brought up the '12 constables issue' 30 times and he proceeded to purport to identify those posts by number. He then said:
'David has also brought up other issues just as incessantly even though I told him I am not going to debate it in this thread.'
Just pausing there. That wasn't true. He hadn't actually told me he wasn't going to debate anything in this thread (at least not prior to #235, the previous day, as quoted above, when he said he wasn't going to comment on the single issue of the '10 police constables' and then gave bogus reasons for not doing so). Yet Admin appears to have been terribly influenced by this post. Presumably not having bothered to check the position, she must have simply assumed that what Mike was saying was true and that he had already told me that he wasn't going to debate any issues with me in the thread. Well that thread still exists on the Forum and anyone is free to go and try to find where he told me such a thing. For he did not. On the contrary, when he felt he had a point to make he most certainly did try and debate with me.
Anyway, he then continued pathetically:
'I am stuck in a situation. I refuse to argue my case to someone who mimics a troll, especially when they have supporters who assist him. The problem is, if I don't others may get the impression they have the upper hand. This is actually far from the truth.
Just because I refuse to argue with someone, do they really have the right to taunt me and get away with it? This particular venue favors the person who has the time and energy to relentlessly post. I would hate to see more researchers leave Casebook for this very reason.'
You will have noticed the word 'relentlessly' slipped in there again. Admin clearly did because she went on to use it against me, although she must have missed Hawley calling me someone who 'mimics a troll' because, even though that must be against the personal attack rules of the Forum, she had absolutely nothing to say about it in her ruling. And it is clearly stated in the Major Rules that there can be no complaint about trolling 'as long as your posts are on topic'. My posts were bang on topic so I was certainly not mimicking a troll.
Further, I would point out that transcribing and posting evidence in full is what I do. Look at the thread on the Forum in which I carefully transcribed and posted all the evidence relating to the Curtis Bennett Inquiry of 1888. And look at threads in which I transcribed and posted all the Ripper articles and editorials from the Evening Post. My response to Hawley's failure to address the issue in posting the evidence was, in my view, and I challenge anyone to disagree, reasonable and proportionate, especially in the light of his late claim to have found a 'crack' in what I was saying.
And we see that Hawley played his trump card, the trump card of all those on internet forums who do not like being challenged, when he said: 'I would hate to see more researchers leave Casebook for this very reason' , although he didn't identify a single researcher who had left Casebook due to someone 'relentlessly posting' and, in fact, and ironically, the whole set up of Casebook 'rewards' people who make a lot of posts, based on quantity alone rather than quality, by promoting them from a lowly cadet all the way up to Commissioner, and then, of course, for the very lucky few, to Asterisk.
Anyway, I think Hawley must have meant that he would hate to see researchers who have carried out either no research or very poor research leave Casebook because someone had actually done some proper research and discovered the flaws in a published book and posted about them on the Forum. In other words, he is begging for protection from Admin as an author to stop me identifying errors in his book and posting the evidence to prove those errors, something which should never have happened bearing in mind the Major Rules and the lack of protection that authors should have, according to Admin, but not on this single occasion. Hawley's sole motivation at all times was to shut me up and Admin gave him exactly what he wanted by closing the thread and preventing me from posting any further evidence.
That was censorship pure and simple justified on the most flimsy of grounds.
More than this, Admin had not one word of criticism to say about Hawley's posts and we shall see that his posts breached rule after rule but this was all skipped over. The only person criticized by Admin was me. Admin did say this:
'I think people are free at this point to draw their conclusions from what has been said.'
Well that may be true, although in the context in which it appeared, immediately after she said that I was guilty of badgering and harassing an author, it's hard to know what conclusions Admin expected people to draw, but I hadn't finished posting what I wanted to post and what I believe needed to be posted to make my point good and complete. Indeed, if people could simply and accurately 'draw their own conclusions', without hearing Hawley's explanation as to what the 12 constables were doing, why did Jonathan Menges feel the need to ask Hawley about these constables in the Rippercast interview?
And in terms of tedium, which appears to have been the response from Admin when reading the thread, what differentiated this thread from any other thread that goes on for months? As I mentioned earlier, I had been posting in this one for less then two weeks.
For anyone interested in my response to Hawley's complaint, I posted it on the Forum in posts #243 to #248 but I will repeat what I said in #248 about Hawley's final two sentences:
'This is a blatant and frankly pathetic attempt by Hawley to try to have me censored on the basis that "even more researchers" will leave Casebook if I am allowed to post about his book in this thread. he seems to have tried every trick in the book...except the normal one of responding in a calm and rational way to my posts.'
To this day I remain astonished that Admin seems to have taken his complaint seriously to the extent that it was felt necessary to close the thread and issue some kind of admonishment to me. I am not one for conspiracy theories but there must have been more going on behind the scenes here than I am aware.
In particular, I am troubled by what Admin said in her post of 20 May about the involvement of an unknown third party. Thus she said:
'There is an established protocol for bringing an issue to admin's attention. Posting a post on the forum is not it. There is a Report Post button. If this button is not used, do not expect your summons to the Admin to be heeded. Luckily in this instance, several someone else's reported this thread, for various reasons.'
That is an accurate reproduction (copied and pasted from the now deleted original, an image of which can be found above) and it looks like Admin started to type 'several people reported this thread' but changed it at the last minute to the illiterate 'someone else's reported this thread'. Hence we see the jumble of 'several someone else's reported this thread'. I don't quite know what that means but it's the action of the one mysterious person who is known to have reported the thread 'for various reasons' which really troubles me. The debate in the thread was between myself and Hawley. Why did anyone else need to get involved? And on what basis was the thread reported?
Was it Jonathan Menges? Well at #85 in the thread, shortly after Hawley had started repeat posting a very long post at the end of which he said each time, 'I will not play into your hand and give you the other areas of minimalization, but I will repost this every time you post' (presumably he thought, bizarrely, that the threat of him re-posting that post would make me stop posting but I've really no idea what was going through his head and he might simply have been trying to disrupt the thread so badly that it would be closed), Menges posted this:
'Hi guys. You know I love you but...
Try to keep the re-posting just for the hell of it to a minimum. It eats up precious server space that can be better utilized in service of important threads, like about the Maybrick Diary. Plus its kind of annoying. Admins are vacationing in Europe at the mo' otherwise I'd just clue Ally in on the madness but I know Mike would rather hear it from me.'
Now, I'm not sure what concern it is of Jonathan Menges to protect the server space of the Casebook Forum. I have certainly noticed many, many, times in many, many, threads, that posters unnecessarily reproduce entire posts when they are only replying to part of a post and I like to think that I am quite good in not doing so. On this occasion, however, I deliberately captured Hawley's posts in their entirety for evidential purposes in case he had second thoughts and amended or deleted them, because I thought he might try to do so, and I believe that was a legitimate use of the precious server space.
Somehow, I didn't think that this was an issue of server space (and the dig from Menges about the Maybrick Diary thread that I was posting in was unnecessary) but I had assumed that Menges had noticed that Hawley was simply and pointlessly repeating a long post to which I had already, as it happens, responded in full. I have no idea what Hawley was playing at. He posted this same post no fewer than nine times, sometimes with only a small addition, which was not only childish and self-defeating but presumably against the rules. Yet, incredibly, in her review of the thread, Admin didn't seem to notice that he had done this, despite that post containing a repeat question which was asked nine times in a row (namely 'Now does this sound like my point is supported by just one bartender as Barratt minimalized?') Rather ironic bearing in mind that the allegation levelled against me was one of asking the same question over and over.
As Menges seemed to be the only person prepared to comment on Hawley's quite mad tactic of repeating a long post, I thanked him for doing so and I assumed he was really directing his comments at Hawley because, although his post started, 'Hi guys', he concluded by saying, 'I know Mike would rather hear it from me.' I certainly didn't believe I had behaved in a mad way so if Menges was referring to me when he spoke of the 'madness' I don't know what he meant. The only madness I could see was Hawley repeating the same long post over and over as if he could possibly achieve anything.
My response to Menges, as I say, was 'Thank you' but this brought the following response from Hawley on 9 May (#91):
'How thick are you? It's not just me he wants to stop the same posting.'
This was another post of Hawley which was in breach of the clear rule, 'Do not engage in personal attacks of posters' , yet Admin, when reviewing the thread, and instructing a new moderator how to review threads, seems to have completely missed it. She certainly never said a word about it. Yet, at the same time, she seems to have imagined me relentlessly badgering Hawley with questions that I supposedly knew were never going to be answered.
I might add at this point that I did not report Hawley's post. In my entire time as a member of the Casebook Forum I never reported a single post. I don't go crying to teacher when someone says a howwible thing about me, even though there were plenty of people who were unable to control themselves in the face of evidence and argument from me when I demonstrated that their pet theories were horribly misguided. I regard people who resort to abuse in response to evidence-based posts as damaging their own credibility and reputation and frankly they can go on doing it for as long as they like as far as I am concerned (as long as I have the right and ability to reply). But I didn't write the rules and nor do I enforce them. That is Admin's job and it is quite astonishing that, despite supposedly having reviewed the whole thread, and shown a new moderator how to do the job, and then commented on the thread, she had not a single word to say about Hawley's abusive comment as quoted above.
In my entire time on the Forum, I might add, I received one infraction, after I (quite correctly) said to the poster called 'Mr Lucky' that 'You don't know what you are talking about'. I wasn't actually aware that this would produce an infraction because I regard it as equivalent to saying 'You are wrong' (which is acceptable) - and trust me, Mr Lucky really didn't know what he was talking about at the time I posted it - but I accepted the infraction and replied to Admin with an apology (as they apparently like us to do because it makes them happy). As it happens, I would happily have taken an infraction or a suspension for whatever reason Admin cared to invent for my posts in the Tumblety thread if she had done it privately. It's the false, outrageous and defamatory comments that she posted about me on a public thread in the form of an official decision to which I wasn't allowed to respond that was the issue which caused me, regrettably, to resign my membership of the Forum.
Anyway, going back to the intervention of Mr Menges in the thread, I wasn't aware of it at the time but I now realize that he has a very close association to Ally Ryder of Admin fame due to him conducting the Ripper Podcasts which are sponsored by Casebook. Indeed, Ally Ryder (Admin) has co-hosted podcasts with him. More than this, he also seems to be personally acquainted with Michael Hawley due to the fact that he had interviewed him on at least three occasions (9 May 2016, 9 October 2016 and 15 May 2017) and Hawley has contributed to at least three additional podcasts (16 May 2016, 5 November 2017, 4 February 2018). According to Menges in his introduction to the 9 May 2016 podcast: 'Mike Hawley is amongst the top Tumblety researchers active in the field of Ripperology today.' God help us.
Now if I am on an internet forum which is being properly moderated I do expect the moderator to be fully independent. And rational. But perhaps this is too much to ask. I've been on the internet since 1999, and like anyone around for that long, I'm sure we all have our experience of forum administrators who would have given Adolf Hitler a lesson in dictatorship. Most of them, in my experience, are petty, unreasonable, tyrannical and cannot bear to be challenged or questioned. They will never admit error and will certainly not be prepared to discuss any of their rulings or decisions. Hells bells, with Casebook it's even written into the rules: 'Don't argue with Admin when asked/told to do something'. Even in the language there, a request is the same as an order. It doesn't matter how unreasonable or irrational they are, you just accept what they say. There is no room for any discussion however reasonable you might be.
I will come to how Admin responded to my own private complaint about her behaviour in due course but, for the moment, my point is that we have this connection between Menges and Ryder and between Hawley and Menges. I really have no idea if any of this bore any relationship to how Ryder viewed the thread or whether there was any bias involved towards Hawley as a result. I don't know if Menges was even the person who complained. Nor do I know the identity of the person who was being trained in how to moderate the thread. All I know is that the conclusion that Ally Ryder as Admin (for I assume it was her) came to, as expressed in her now deleted posting of 20 May 2018, struck me as so bizarre, irrational and perverse that I cannot see how she reached those conclusions if she was being fair, independent and open minded.
Furthermore, it should have been obvious to anyone from a psychological perspective that Hawley felt himself under great pressure during the course of the thread in question. I mean, it wasn't his thread, he didn't need to respond to anything I was posting about and he could have stopped posting at any time, yet his compulsive need to continue responding, allied with his bizarre behaviour in re-posting the same post and desperately making things up about me, just showed to me that it wasn't my argument that was about to crack, it was him. And in a discussion like this, things do develop over time, especially when others become involved and at least one other poster had asked him 'Why not simply debate the points that David has raised?' (to which he did not respond). But what happened here is that Admin came to his rescue and not only stopped me posting any further but also stopped anyone else asking Hawley difficult questions, such as why he wasn't debating the points I had raised.
It was almost like the equivalent of a defendant in the witness box in serious trouble under cross-examination in a criminal trial making a masonic hand signal to a judge with the judge closing down the line of questioning. Had I stumbled across the Tumblety mafia here? Was this particular author being protected by Admin?
For I can't see to this day why Admin felt the need to permanently close the thread (and she wouldn't explain it to me). It doesn't make any sense. She doesn't normally do it. This was what was said by Admin before I joined the forum in a thread entitled 'There's Something Wrong with the Swanson Marginalia' on 29 January 2011 (#769 of that thread):
'There have been more report posts on this single topic in the past 3 days then there have been for the whole of the boards in the past 3 months. There is no wish to prohibit a topic from being discussed, but there is likewise no desire to babysit threads in order to keep them on track. Some of the Report Posts have been for valid reasons. Some have not. There is no one single person being reported and no one single person doing the reporting. It is a general melee.
At this point if everyone responsible were to be banned, there would be no one left on the board. The threads are now re-opened for discussion, however, if this pattern continues, the Swanson threads will be closed any time a moderator is not available to supervise the discussion. This is not a desired outcome for anyone, but neither is it desirable to awaken to an inbox flooded with Report Posts. Your understanding is appreciated. Hopefully, this will be the last administrative action taken on this thread.'
Now that was a thread where there was, apparently, multiple breaches of the rules which, had the rules been enforced, led to multiple bannings. Yet that thread was allowed to continue. The Tumblety thread, by contrast, was permanently closed. I can't see why the Tumblety thread, in which no-one had apparently (at least according to Admin's post of 20 May 2018) done anything to deserve even an infraction, let alone a suspension, let alone a ban, was treated in such a harsh way while this Swanson thread which sounds like it was out of control was treated very differently.
Indeed, the only person being abused in the Tumblety thread was me and I hadn't asked Admin to do a single thing. I hadn't put a Report Post email into her inbox. Why could not she not simply have issued some posting guidance, if she felt that was necessary, and allowed the discussion to continue?
Well, of course, one reason is that she might have realised that saying to me: 'You're not allowed to ask Michael Hawley any more questions' would have made her look ridiculous. Equally, her saying that I was not allowed to post any more evidence relating to a topic dealt with in Michael Hawley's book would have been absurd. Yet, those were the things that were apparently being objected to (the former by her, the latter by Hawley) and the effect of her decision to close the thread was to prevent me from asking Hawley any more questions and posting any more evidence, or indeed from making any additional criticisms or observations about Hawley's book, precisely what Hawley was trying to achieve.
If justice is not only supposed to be done but seen to be done I don't feel that was what happened here. In her ruling when closing the thread, there was not a single word of criticism uttered about Hawley's behaviour. Only I was criticized - with the preposterous and defamatory claim that I was badgering an author to the point of harassment - giving everyone the impression that it was something that I had done which had actually necessitated the entire closure of the thread.
And the allegation she made against me was a serious one, affecting my reputation. All I have online is my reputation and this was now under attack. Remember she accused me of relentlessly badgering an author, asking the same questions of him when I must have known (because it was 'clear') that he was never going to answer and concluding that this behaviour of mine was 'just as harassing as any other poster' whatever that absurd expression actually means.
I could not possibly let that pass. As I told Admin on 21 June 2018 in a PM, it made my continued participation on the forum untenable. Just think about it for a moment (for anyone who feels I am being overly dramatic)....
What would happen the next time I asked Michael Hawley a simple question on the Forum? Or indeed any other author whose work I was legitimately questioning? I can tell you exactly what would happen. I wouldn't get an answer but instead, by way of the perfect distraction technique, I would have been told that I had been found guilty of, and now had an official history of, badgering and harassing authors by Admin. And the fact of the matter is that I would have had no good response because it would have been perfectly true!
It would, therefore, make any participation in any debate by me impossible, not least because asking questions is a perfectly legitimate method of debate and drawing attention to the fact that those questions have not been answered (if that is the case) is an equally legitimate debating tactic.
If anyone thinks I was worrying unduly, the fact of the matter is that the author Caroline Brown had already alluded to Admin's ruling in the few days that I remained active on the Forum after it was posted, with the implication that I was guilty of similar badgering or harassment in another (Maybrick) thread. Thus, on 23 May 2018, just three days after Admin's ruling, she posted about me in the Maybrick 'Too Sensible and Competent Thread', saying (at #68), 'I wonder how many times he's expecting me to repeat myself before the diary threads go the same way as the Tumblety one.' It was a cheap shot (and a poorly aimed one because I hadn't asked her to repeat anything; I hadn't even directly addressed her in the entire thread!) but I have little doubt that there would have been others who would have employed the same tactic. From Hawley's own posts in that thread, in which he already used the most extraordinary excuses for not answering straightforward questions, I have absolutely no doubt that he would have relied on Admin's ruling as an excuse not to have to answer a single question that I ever asked him again, claiming harassment and drawing attention to my relentless badgering of him. Indeed, it would, no doubt, have been a reason for any 'author' to go ahead and report me to Admin in the future if I asked them too many questions or repeated a question. Even if they didn't, in fact, do so, I would always have been worried that they would and would have had to potentially censor myself every time I wanted to ask an author a question.
It was highly unfair and I had no right of reply and no right of appeal. Even a murderer has that! However, it was important that Admin was made to understand that she is not actually above the law of the land in which Casebook operates and is not, believe it or not, allowed to make false and defamatory comments about the members of the Forum.
I tried to be perfectly reasonable with her, as I will demonstrate, and I appealed to her sense of fair play to retract that single comment about me. I got nowhere. Not a single explanation or justification was forthcoming for what she said about me. More than this, I was told in no uncertain terms that I wasn't even allowed to ask for an explanation! Frankly, I might have been speaking to Michael Hawley himself for all the answers I got, or rather did not get, from Admin so I remain in the dark as to what the basis was for her ruling.
Yet, in the end, and remarkably, the post containing the offensive comment was deleted but only after I told her that I would reluctantly be forced to commence libel proceedings against her personally, as well as against Casebook, if her comments were not retracted. Now, either she was intending to delete the post anyway - in which case she most certainly should have told me she was going to do so - but did not (although she had every opportunity) or it was only removed on the threat of legal proceedings. I'm convinced that the latter is the case which demonstrates that I was perfectly right to threaten a libel action. It seemed to be the only way to get her to actually do anything.
And finally the post was deleted, albeit that she didn't make any public announcement that she was doing so (or that she had done it), and albeit that by the time it happened I had already requested that my Casebook account be terminated. Frankly, with the attitude of Admin to my private messages in which I was trying to resolve an issue reasonably, sensibly and in a civilized and adult way to which I just received a childish non-response from Admin, I no longer wanted to remain a member of the Forum.
And perhaps the lesson of this is that while the Major Rules say 'Do not threaten or imply that you will bring a lawsuit against us', sometimes it may be the only way to get defamatory statements removed. When I joined the Casebook Forum I did not agree to give up my legal rights and it is not acceptable for Admin to make defamatory statements about its members, damaging reputations, without any possibility of redress.
If you are still reading this, I congratulate you for coming a long way with me and you must have at least some interest in the subject. I hope you do not find it too dull if I set out for the permanent record why Admin's ruling was false. That involves us going through the thread in question in some considerable detail I'm afraid to establish just exactly what happened.
I can safely say that I only intended to make a single set of posts on one day in that thread on 7 May 2018. It wasn't a thread started by Hawley and it wasn't my intention to have any kind of discussion with him about my posts. In fact, originally, I was only going to make a single post about the 12 constables, because, for me, that was the really important point that needed to be addressed. It went even further than the factual issue itself, because it went to the very heart of whether I, as a purchaser and reader of his book, could actually trust Hawley to accurately represent the facts. For I knew that Hawley had already read extracts of the correspondence that proved the 12 constables had nothing to do with Tumblety. I knew this because I had posted them in an article on this website in response to Hawley's first book (although not on the Casebook Forum) and Hawley had confirmed he had read that article.
Yet, although he did modify the passage about the 12 constables in his second book, in response to what I had published, he kept the issue alive, still suggesting that those constables had something to do with Tumblety when he should have known perfectly well from the evidence that I had exclusively posted that they did not. As I said in the first words I wrote in that thread (#12): 'It's always really important when reading a book that you can be confident that the author is not trying to mislead or trick you.'
Clearly not every reader of Hawley's book will have read the article on my website. And that was the only place where anyone could possibly find a contradiction of the idea that the 12 constables were deployed because of Tumblety. Because, I repeat, it was based solely on my original research carried out at the National Archives. With the exception of a couple of letters in the sequence, the correspondence had never been published anywhere else. So his readers were basically in the dark and wholly dependent on him to accurately represent the position regarding these constables but he totally failed to do so.
The 12 constables, not having anything to do with Tumblety or Jack the Ripper, should never have been mentioned. The whole idea that they might have been connected to Tumblety should have been abandoned in his second book immediately after he became aware of the evidence contradicting it. Hawley had absolutely no reason to think there was any connection and you only have to listen to what he said about it to Jonathan Menges on the Howlercast, or read my transcript of what he said, to see that very clearly.
It's a classic example of the way that Hawley tries to build up Tumblety as a prime Scotland Yard suspect when the reality is that, for Scotland Yard, he was only ever 'amongst the suspects' at best and certainly not someone they were ever hunting for in London train stations or chasing across the Atlantic for no sensible reason.
While it was the issue of the 12 constables that I was really focussed on, as I was posting about Hawley's book on the Forum in any event, I thought I would take the opportunity to comment on three other unsatisfactory elements of the book that had struck me when reading it.
The first of these elements was Hawley's claim that it was 'certain' that Chief Inspector Littlechild was spotted in Boulogne on the basis of a supporting quote provided by Hawley in which Littlechild says absolutely no such thing. As I mentioned, all Littlechild said in the supporting quote was that Tumblety 'got away to Boulogne' which in no way makes it 'certain' that anyone had seen him there.
Now, it's not my intention to re-argue the point in this article - if you are interested in it please see my article Hawley's Howlers which deals with it in more detail - and the reason I'm mentioning this post of mine is only to show how Hawley responded to it. Because on this issue - in direct contrast to the issue of the 12 constables - he did reply to me. And the reason he replied to me was obviously because he thought he had a good point to make in response.
His reply was this:
'That's complete BS, David. You just led the reader by a minimalizing statement by saying Littlechild only said he "got away to Boulogne" when in fact he stated "and got away to Boulogne. He shortly left Boulogne." The second part does indeed show that Littlechild was privy to something other than purchasing a ticket in London.'
Like I said, my purpose is not to re-argue this issue but it's clear from the above that Hawley WAS engaging with me when he felt he had a point to make so all the nonsense he would subsequently spout as to why he wasn't commenting on the 12 constables issue (i.e. because I was, in his mind, as he claimed, writing a book about Jack the Ripper) is revealed as pure nonsense. In principle, he was happy to debate with me if he felt he could win the debate.
Now, on this occasion, needless to say, Hawley did not win the debate. Aside from the fact that Littlechild's additional statement that Tumblety 'shortly left Boulogne' provides absolutely no support to Hawley's claim that it is 'certain' that Tumblety was spotted in Boulogne, the real irony is that, in choosing the supporting quote of Littlechild in my own post, I had simply followed Hawley's book which had totally omitted the part that Tumblety 'shortly left Boulogne'. In case anyone doubts the truth of that statement (and Hawley himself never actually accepted it for some reason), here is an extract taken directly from the Kindle version of his book:
As can be clearly seen, in support of his claim that Tumblety was spotted in Boulogne, Hawley only quotes Littlechild as saying that Tumblety 'got away to Boulogne'. He does not quote the Chief Inspector as going on to say that 'He shortly left Boulogne' to support this claim. I simply followed Hawley when making my own point about his book. I am not a mind reader and cannot possibly have known what Hawley was relying on to support his claim about Tumblety having been spotted in Boulogne. The statement that Tumblety 'shortly left Boulogne' no more makes it 'certain' that Tumblety was spotted in Boulogne than does the statement that he 'got away to Boulogne' , hence it did not occur to me as strange, in any way, that Hawley had not included this part of the quote in his book to support his misguided assertion.
Here's the thing though - and this is the reason I have dealt with this point at some length - Hawley continued non-stop throughout the thread to accuse me of 'minimalization' on the basis, apparently, of me not quoting Littlechild as saying of Tumblety that, 'He shortly left Boulogne', even though, I repeat, Hawley himself had not quoted him saying that in the relevant part of his book!! I mean, it's almost unbelievable and would be unbelievable had it not actually happened but I guess that Admin didn't notice this unwarranted oppression of me with the incessant (to borrow one of Hawley's favourite words) unsubstantiated claim against me of 'minimalization'.
In fact, a search of 'minimaliz', to include all variants of the word, brings up no fewer than 131 results in that thread!! albeit that some of those will be me quoting Hawley in response. But they would all have been initiated by Hawley because it's not a word I would ever use, being pretty meaningless.
The second additional point I made about Hawley's book was that he was wrong to say, as a fact, that Tumblety was arrested on 7th November 1888 when the date of his arrest is actually unknown and can only be a matter of inference. This was a public service on my part, especially as it became clear in the thread (see #20) that Hawley was unaware that the meaning of 'Taken into custody' in the Central Criminal Court After-Trial Calendar is not, as many people believe, 'arrested' but a totally different form of custody, namely being received at the House of Detention, which was then Holloway Prison. As I said to Mike in #22, 'You don't need to apologise Mike but taken into custody does NOT mean being arrested in the court calendar records. It means being held in custody on remand in prison.'
Not only was that an example of me being helpful but Hawley actually appears to have absorbed the information because he didn't go on to repeat the mistake about the arrest date in his Howlercast interview (and he even corrected Jonathan Menges when HE said that the arrest was on 7th November). I didn't incessantly continue to post about the custody point. Hawley seemed to accept it in the thread and that was that. He made a mistake, he accepted it, fair enough. There was no need for it to become an extended drama (and it did not) just as there was no need for the issue of the 12 constables to become an extended drama.
Now, the third and final additional issue I raised (in #16) was in respect of the so-called English detective, the main subject of an article I published on this website shortly after Hawley's first book, 'The Ripper's Haunts'. I believe I was perfectly entitled to raise this issue not least because Hawley was responding in his second book to some points I had made in my article, albeit under cover of reference to 'a number of modern researchers'.
The two main points I made in my post on this subject were (1) to draw attention to the fact that a person referred to in an American newspaper report (a key source for Hawley) as 'Special Branch detective H. Dutton' never existed and (2) that Hawley never tells us in the book WHY an England Scotland Yard detective would have bothered to make the expensive and time-consuming trip to New York.
This post seemed to produce a very strange response from Hawley. He posted this in #18:
'I have just been told that David Barrat is doing his prepping for his David Orsam books by minimalizing evidence and putting his spin on selected parts of my book. I predicted this. David has a reason for doing what he is doing. When i have some time I will respond.'
I regret to say that Hawley can only have been lying to the members of the Forum at this point. No-one could have 'told' him any such thing, although I have no idea if any of his barmy friends was speculating madly behind the scenes. Because there were, and remain, no 'David Orsam books' in contemplation relevant to any issues in my posts about Tumblety. Hence it follows that no-one could have 'told' him anything about me 'prepping' for anything, although why this would have involved me 'minimilizing' evidence and putting a spin on Hawley's book I really have no idea. It's just part of Hawley's deliberate harassment of me, in the non-criminal sense I I should add, by making false claims about me, which was now under way.
At the same time, he once again decided to debate the issue of the English detective with me, responding to my post on the subject, throwing into sharp focus his failure to even mention the 12 constables. I deal in detail with the English detective issue in my article Hawley's Howlers and won't do so further here. So I won't repeat the arguments. It's sufficient to note that Hawley was responding to my points about the English detective as of post #24 so it's certainly not 'clear' at this stage that he's not going to answer any of my questions.
As it happens, one of the first questions I asked Hawley in the thread (#29) was to tell me who the three Scotland Yard officials who named Tumblety as a suspect after the Kelly murder were, as he had claimed in #20. I never got an answer to this question, despite reminders in #39 and #105 that the question was unanswered. I don't think it's unreasonable to point out in a thread that a question hasn't been answered (if that is the case). By #109 I gave up and commented that three officials did not name Tumblety as a JTR suspect and that this was just bluster on his part. He never responded and I left it. Was there anything wrong with that in respect of my actions? Of course not. Was there anything wrong with Hawley making an unqualified statement that three Scotland Yard officials had named Tumblety as a JTR suspect and then failing to substantiate that statement? Yes, I think so.
Now, in view of the accusation that I was badgering Hawley with questions (but not just questions in general, the same questions), the point I want to make at this stage is that when we reach #39 on 7 May (and it's important to note that everything up until now has been happening on the same day as my first post in the thread) Hawley has been responding to SOME of my posts but not all of them. So there is no way that it's 'clear' he is not going to answer any of my questions. In #39 I did no more than collate the questions Hawley had so far failed to answer into one post. So I said this:
'I trust Mike isn't intending to be evasive in his response to my posts so can I put down a marker to three questions that really do require answers:
1. Why did you include mention of the 12 constables and the 20th November letter in your book?
2. Who are the "number of modern researchers" who have claimed that the English detective supposedly seen outside Tumblety's apartment in New York was an English private detective hired by two men who gave sureties for Tumblety's bail?
3. Who are the three Scotland Yard officials who named Tumblety as a suspect for the Whitechapel murders after the the Kelly murder?
I'm assuming that Mike has had ample opportunity to answer my question as to where Littlechild said that Tumblety had been spotted in Boulogne but can't do it and that he will respond in due course to my questions as to what purpose a Scotland Yard detective would have had in following Tumblety to and/or in New York and in telling a bartender that he was there to get him for the Whitechapel murders.'
Anything wrong with that Admin? Surely not even Ally Ryder could say I have done anything wrong here. All I was doing, for administrative purposes, was collating the unanswered questions to make it easier for Hawley to answer them. And, at the same time, to make the perfectly legitimate debating point by flagging that Hawley had failed to answer some pertinent questions.Shortly after this, in response to a post by Hawley saying to me, 'You can't say you just look at the facts', I said to him:
'Well let's just look at that Mike.
Do you accept or do you not accept that the proposed deployment of 12 constables at two train stations had absolutely nothing to do with Tumblety?
Because I am saying that is nothing to do with interpretation, it's just a fact that there was no connection.'
This was a different question to the one in #39 and, again, not only a perfectly reasonable question but asked in the expectation that Hawley was going to at least attempt to answer it.
But Hawley did not attempt to answer. His next attempt to disrupt the thread was to make two false points against me. The first was that Jonathan Hainsworth had 'ripped' my article about his book and the second was that I had subsequently deleted that article. Both accusations were not only false but entirely irrelevant to a thread relating to a book on Tumblety and, to the extent they were posted with the intention of disrupting the thread, fit exactly into the definition of trolling behaviour in the Forum rules. Mind you, Admin didn't seem to notice this so it couldn't have been. In any event, in #42 we find him saying this:
'I could have ripped your article apart like Jonathan Hainesworth ripped the review you gave to his book. Interesting how it vanished.'
As I pointed out to him, the article had not vanished, and was still on my website (where it remains to this day) and Hainsworth did not 'rip' this article. Somehow I also don't think that Hawley could have 'ripped' apart my article about his book either as he claimed, just wishful thinking on his part, a fantasy indeed, but he was still engaging with me, still debating, albeit in a very odd way. And that's the point I'm making here.
We are now at post #42 and it's in no way clear that he's not going to answer any questions. On the contrary, there's no reason for anyone to think that he's refusing to ever answer questions. He's certainly failed to answer some but one can't say that he won't do so at any time.
In fact, as it happens, in #44 (and we are still on 7th May) Hawley DOES respond to my question about whether he accepted that the proposed deployment of 12 constables had nothing to do with Tumblety. This is what he said:
'I went by the source I used which certainly conformed, but if you found something which contradicts it, great.'
He then went on to say that there was a ton of new information in his book and that he found areas where I 'merely jumped to conclusions and areas where you minimalize' none of which (apart from being untrue) is in any way relevant to the issue of the 12 constables other than by way of some form of weird mitigation for getting it wrong about the constables, something he was not accepting he had done.
But Hawley's response had not dealt with the central issue I had raised, namely that he knew full well that I had found evidence which contradicted his 'source' even though he was giving the appearance that he was hearing about it for the first time in the thread. It also raised a new question: In what way had his source 'certainly conformed'? And what did that expression even mean?
I asked him in #47 if he actually accepted the facts about the 12 constables that I had set out in great detail in my 2016 article in response to his book. It was a simple question. 'Do you or do you not accept the facts as set out in that article?' I asked.
Hawley never replied to this but he did continue to debate the issue of whether a Scotland Yard detective followed Tumblety to New York in November 1888. He even attempted to answer one of my questions I had asked him namely, 'Why would a Scotland Yard detective reveal to a bartender that he was in New York to 'get' Tumblety for the Whitechapel murders?', his answer being that the detective was 'clearly in his drink' and had 'loose lips'. So he WAS answering my questions when he wanted to do so. And we are now at post #53.
At some point, according to Admin, it becomes 'clear' that Hawley is not going to answer my questions. We obviously have not reached that point yet. Forgive the spoiler but I'm going to suggest we never do. And the only way I can demonstrate that point is to keep going through the thread, although anyone can read it for themselves on the Forum.
So let us continue. In post #54, responding to two links I had posted to my online debate with Jonathan Hainsworth to prove that it all went rather well for me but badly for Hainsworth, Hawley quoted that post and said 'I need to stop, but I will look at this later.' So he was still engaging and perhaps he would later tell us what his view now was on the issue of the 12 constables.
Hawley's claim that he needed to stop wasn't quite true for he made one further post addressed to me at that time in #60 about Scotland Yard's pursuit of Tumblety. And I responded to it in #62. In #63 I put down a reminder that we had not had answers to the three questions I had asked him in #39 and there was surely nothing wrong with me doing that.
On the English detective issue we were actually having a near normal debate, albeit that Hawley never dealt with my point about the imaginary Special Branch detective H. Dutton nor had he provided a sensible answer as to why a Scotland Yard detective with no power of arrest in New York would have followed Tumblety to New York. But, as an example of Hawley actually engaging in debate with me, he offered up in #53 the example of Franz Müller, being a case where, he said, 'Scotland Yard did indeed follow prisoners to New York'. Had it not been for the fact that the Scotland Yard detectives who followed Müller to New York held warrants for his arrest it would have been a good point, although, as they did have warrants, it wasn't. But it shows that Hawley was perfectly willing to debate the issue in a normal fashion with me when it suited him.
Similarly, in #60, Hawley actually attempted to give me an explanation of why a Scotland Yard officer pursued Tumblety to New York. It was, he said, 'to keep an eye on him and arrest him when they got something...Once Scotland Yard would have placed a felony charge on Tumblety (regardless if it would have been a winning case) they would have been able to extradite him.' I responded to him in #62 with reasons why this didn't make sense but the point here is not who is putting forward the best arguments but that Hawley is actually engaging in the debate on a subject in his book which he wanted to discuss, and responding to my posts.
The discussion about the English detective then continued, or at least I made a few posts on the subject, and we were still at the first day of the discussion (i.e. 7 May) but what seems to have tipped Hawley over the edge, into madness, was a post I made first thing the next day in which I responded to Hawley's above cited comment that, 'I went by the source I used which certainly conforms but if you found something which contradicts it, great.' I made the point that reliance on a 'conformed source' was no good if Hawley knew that the source was wrong, and stated:
'Perhaps Mike can now clarify whether, at the time he wrote his book, he believed that the deployment of the 12 constables had anything to do with Tumblety, tell us what he believes now, and explain to us how the readers of his 2018 book could not have been deceived into thinking that those 12 constables were deployed precisely because of Tumblety's pending or actual flight from the UK.'
It was at this point, in his post #68, that Hawley went full mental with a post commencing with an unjustified, and wholly untrue, not to mention entirely irrelevant and off-topic, personal attack on me:
How interesting!David Barratt changed his online negative article on Jonathan Hainsworth’s book AFTER Jonathan dominated him on Casebook! Now I see what he’s doing. He seems to antagonize the author on the forums until the author is forced to defend his work. It creates a huge thread that no one bothers to read, so no one sees how Barratt’s arguments are an act of minimalizing evidence to the contrary. Barratt then fixes his online article through crafty smoke and mirrors. Sorry, David, I’m not going to play your game.
It is likely why you have not written your book (David Orsam books) yet, since you fear authors will give your book the same treatment. Writing an online article is certainly much safer, since you can edit it immediately. Honestly David, I will give you a thorough and fact-based review of your Tumblety section. When will it come out? '
I don't know where all this came from but it was, of course, oppressive because in addition to the on-topic issues relating to Tumblety arising out of Hawley's book which I had quite correctly raised, and which was all I wanted to discuss, I now had to respond to these bizarre off-topic and false allegations of me changing an online article (after having been 'dominated'?!!) and of having some kind of strange agenda of antagonizing authors until they are forced to defend their work!
Well Hawley himself was straight in with his responses to my posts on the previous day - the very day I posted them - and didn't seem to need much antagonizing but I had thought that he was already defending his work, albeit very badly. I'm not sure why he held this view about me, if he genuinely believed it, but I'm not here to argue the toss about these nonsensical allegations. My purpose is to observe that, although Hawley had made minor attempts at disruption of the thread on the previous day, it was from this point that the thread was most seriously disrupted by his actions.
Although Hawley spent the rest of his post discussing the issue of the English detective, the points he made were supposed to be illustrative of 'Barratt's minimalizing of the evidence.' In other words, the entire post was really about ME, not the proper subject of the thread which was Tumblety and Hawley's book about the man.
Hawley concluded his post #68 by saying (as already mentioned above):
As it happens, at the time, I recall that I hadn't noticed or understood what Hawley was saying he was going to do here. I'm not sure I would have believed it if I had done. I was more focused on responding to all the lies he had written about me. So I started to reply to every single one of his points from post #68 spread over five posts (i.e. #69, #70, #72 #75 and #77). However, while I was literally in the process of doing so, Hawley was already re-posting his post #68 (word for word), which he did in #71 and #76, while in between these two repeat posts, in #74, he wrote a curious little post in which he said this:
'Now, does this sound like my point is supported by just one bartender as Barratt minimalized? Sorry David, this is the last reveal I will give you (and I’m sure you will “edit” your article). I will not play into your hand and give you the other areas of your minimalization, but I will repost this every time you post.'
'You remind me of a friend of mine, a divorced paralegal. He was a good researcher, but because his goal was to win for his firm (not seek the truth), he worked hard at minimalization. Strangely his name was also Dave. He had weird taste in music. Anyways, I finally read your... article, and I've found many problems, however, I plan to wait for your book. Hurry up David Barratt.'
Clearly the guy - this protected author - was obsessing about me and was delusional to boot, because there is and was no such book being written as the one he imagined.
Anyway, after I posted my post #77, I remember that it took me a while to work out what was going on. I replied briefly to his #74 and was then intending to respond to his #71 before it struck me that the wording of it was very familiar. In the meantime, Hawley was at it again, re-posting his #68 in #79. That's when it registered what he was doing - posting the same identical post over and over - and I could barely believe it.
In case he had a moment of sanity and amended his repeat posts yet tried to deny doing it, I captured the entire one of his repeat posts and wrote:
'I mean, this is just childish. I've responded to all this. I'm interested, however, to see if you really are going to keep repeat posting this same silly post. It's not exactly what I call "scholarship". '
Despite me flagging what he was doing, Admin, when she reviewed the thread (if she really did do so), had not a single word to say about someone simply repeating a post over and over which they were directing at another Forum member. As behaviour, it was not only childish, it was designed to be oppressive, disruptive and more to the point, a huge distraction from the difficult questions about the flaws in his book that Hawley was simply unable to answer.
In an attempt to bring the discussion back to some relevant topics, i.e. relating to the issues raised in Hawley's book, I then posted in #81 another reminder of the three questions I had earlier asked Mike in #39 with the question: 'Any chance of some answers to these questions Mike?' I have no idea if me doing so is supposed to be an example of me asking the same questions of an author but I don't think it can be because there has, so far, not been a hint from Hawley that he's never going to answer my questions let alone that anyone could conclude that it was 'clear' that he wasn't going to do so. My pointing out that Hawley had still not answered the questions I had asked him the previous day was perfectly legitimate.
In #82 I asked Hawley if he accepted that H. Dutton was not a Special Branch detective as he claimed in his book and also if he accepted that information he had sourced to Dutton did not come from Dutton at all. Perfectly legitimate questions asked in the genuine expectation that there would be an answer of some kind forthcoming.
But here was the response from Hawley in #83
'Sorry Mr. Barratt,
I'm not playing your game, the same game you scammed other authors. How about I wait for your book so that I can "review" your material. Hurry!
By the way....
David Barratt changed his online negative article on Jonathan Hainsworth’s book AFTER Jonathan dominated him on Casebook! Now I see what he’s doing.....'
And so then, after the introductory few words, we were back to an exact repeat of #68.
Now, if Hawley's comment: 'I'm not playing your game' was supposed to be his way of making clear that he will not be answering any of the questions I was asking him, I certainly did not read it that way nor do I believe it can possibly said to have been a reasonable interpretation, especially as he then defined 'game' as something I had played to 'scam other authors' whatever he could possibly have meant by that. And then he was back to babbling on about my supposed book about Jack the Ripper.
Frankly, I just regarded it as complete gibbering nonsense and assumed he would come to his senses eventually but as I said to him in #84:
'I find your behaviour in this thread quite shocking. Unsubstantiated and false smears about me, highly evasive responses and now utterly childish behaviour in simply repeating a long post that I've already answered.'
I would have thought that even the most inexperienced moderator would see what was going on here but not Admin who apparently felt that this respected 'author' needed protection from me by closing the entire thread!
It was at this point, incidentally, that Jonathan Menges intervened in the thread, apparently worried to some extent about server space because I had captured three of Mike's long repeated posts.
It was also at this point that I started to post some of the evidence relating to the 12 constables. Firstly, I reproduced what I had said on this topic in my online article from this website, then I reproduced, in full, for the first time, the text of the crucial letter by Colonel Pearson to the Home Office dated 20 November 1888 which made reference to the possible future deployment of the 12 constables. Then in #90 I reproduced the text of a letter from the Home Office to the Receiver of the Metropolitan Police dated 16 January 1889.
Had Hawley read this correspondence properly he wouldn't have ended up speaking such undiluted nonsense on the subject on the Rippercast podcast, better known as the Howlercast, but he didn't seem to be paying attention because the very next thing that happened in the thread was that he re-posted his #68 preceded this time by the question 'How thick are you?'
In #98 I tried to return the thread to the subject of Hawley's book, raising the issue of whether Inspector Andrews was truly part of the team investigating the Ripper murders as Walter Dew seemed to recall but Hawley didn't seem to be interested. Instead in Post #100 we find another diatribe, full of personal attacks against me and not only that, Hawley did something very strange by calling me 'Pierre', the name of a former poster on the Casebook Forum who claimed to have solved the Ripper mystery. Thus:
'David, David, (Pierre) you seem emotionally compelled to write these endless posts, this incessant barking. I first thought it was just a case of extreme confirmation bias (minimalizing and ignoring evidence to the contrary and overemphasizing (and misrepresenting) evidence to the affirmative), but now I believe it’s also your struggle with what psychologists call accommodation vs. assimilation. Although, Christopher Morley may have the answer to this incessant barking:
Truth, like milk, arrives in the dark
But even so, wise dogs don’t bar.
Only mongrels make it hard
For the milkman to come up the yard.
Truth be told, it looks like you’re upset that I discovered your hidden agenda and you’re now paraphrasing, minimalizing, and cherry picking my book to death and not giving the true picture. You certainly look like you’re out to get me. Evidence for this, readers, is that he has skipped the volumes of surprising finds just to create the impression of a bad book. Sounds vindictive.
How many times do I have to tell you, Reductionist Dave, that I’m not going to play your game. Your MO (i.e., what you did with Jonathan) is to offend an author on the boards enough so that they defend themselves and expose the gaps in your articles, present and future. You’ll then amend your online articles. It’s obvious as to your motive. Your online articles will be chapters in your future David Orsam Book. In view of this, I will illuminate you AFTER publication so that I can return the very same courtesy that you have given other authors on these boards. Don’t be afraid to publish, David. Have some guts. I will take the time out of my busy schedule and give you a thorough review.'
Then, after this brief period of somewhat unhinged originality, he was back to repeating his #68 for the rest of the post.
Careful readers will have noticed the expression 'Truth be told' in Hawley's post but sadly there was no truth in anything he was saying.
As I mentioned, we have now reached Post #100 in the thread (out of #250 if we include Admin's now deleted post) and we have yet to see Hawley stating that he wasn't going to be answering questions nor is it 'clear' that he is not going to do so, which is the only reason I am going through these ridiculous posts in such fine detail.
Back in the thread, in the early #100s, I found myself, in quite surreal fashion, having to deny that I was the character who posted as 'Pierre' on the forum, as well as having to deny that I had any agenda of any kind, but I suppose that was Hawley's tactic - to force me to talk about anything other than his book.
As I said in my post #109:
I still have absolutely no idea what you think about the deployment of the 12 constables at St Pancras and Euston train stations. How is it even possible that you have avoided dealing with this subject?
Do you accept that their deployment in 1889 had nothing whatsoever to do with Tumblety?
It's such a simple question but Hawley is just evading it and he hasn't provided any sensible reason for not answering nor has he said he is not going to answer it. His behaviour is so erratic at this point that he might give me an answer, he might not. I don't quite know what one is supposed to do in these circumstances but I felt that I could only calmly try and get the discussion back on track and try to get an answer to a very straightforward question for which there cannot possibly be any reason for him not to answer if he was posting in the thread for genuine reasons.
Yet I was told in #110 to 'Stop your vindictive agenda.'. Obviously, as I had no such agenda it wasn't possible for me to stop it! I was just asking him questions. Different ones! I can only assume that in Hawley's mind an attempt by me to extract from him of an admission of error is a 'vindictive agenda', thus personalizing a topic that should not be personal.
Given Hawley's personal attacks on me, I believe I was perfectly justified in setting out the correct factual position regarding my articles about Jonathan Hainsworth's book, which Hawley had, for some unknown reason, introduced into the thread, and my past relations with Hawley himself. I did this in posts #112 to #114. Then in #115 I made the point that if I had been writing a book about Tumblety and had learnt from the work of another author that there was a letter written by a senior Scotland Yard official on 20 November 1888 referring to the deployment of 12 constables at London train stations I would not only wanted to have seen that letter but would have wanted to know everything about it and the entire context within which it was written. As I said n that post:
'No way would I want to rely on another author and simply repeat what could easily be, and did in fact turn out to be, a basic and embarrassing error which was easily revealed by the actual wording of Colonel Pearson's letter.'
I then went on in #116 to say:
'But what I simply cannot understand, and perhaps Mike can assist, is why there remains any mention of the 12 constables and the 20th November 1888 letter in his current book, after having read all the facts I set out in my online article.'
Rather than address this point, Mike appeared to feel the compulsive need to repeat his #68 once again in #117 but this time with an interesting addition at the front end. Thus, after a very strange introduction which said: 'Pierre... Oh, I’m sorry, David Orsam... Oh, I’m sorry, David Barratt!" (and to this day I'm not sure what he thought he was achieving by doing this, nor whether the mis-spelling of my actual surname was deliberate or just another one of his mistakes) he went on to say (my underlining):
'Well, I have to fess up to something. Since it’s your MO to respond to a single post with 6 or 8 posts of strawman arguments loaded with your mixture of paraphrasing, minimalizing, and mischaracterization, I purposely egged you on for the last few pages. In so doing, I have been collecting mistakes each and every time. Thank you for that, David! Of course I don’t want to reveal, yet, since you’ll just re-edit your online articles.
And when you finally publish your book loaded with this crap, I will be honored to give you a review. Honestly. The fact that your signature statement is Orsam Books makes it clear this is your plan. Hurry up!'
The part about the 'mistakes' he was collecting was, of course just a silly lie but what I find interesting in this post is that he claims to have been deliberately 'egging' me on in the thread, a complete contrast to what he would later say in his post to Admin in which he complained that I had been posting too much on the subject of the 12 constables! The other irony is that it means he was admitting that he had a hidden agenda, the very thing he was accusing me of having!
What we also see is the weird and twisted thinking of the man in that because I had 'Orsam Books' in my signature on the Casebook Forum that this must mean I had a plan to publish a book about Jack the Ripper or Francis Tumblety, even though I already had two True Crime books published which would have been of interest to the Forum members.
In the following posts, I now had to respond to Hawley's new mad claims and I also attempted to pick up again on his repeat points in his #68. For he was claiming that I had made two 'mistakes'. The first was that in criticising him for claiming in his book that it was 'certain' that Tumblety had been seen in Boulogne, I hadn't quoted Littlechild as saying 'He shortly left Boulogne'. As I've mentioned above (and demonstrated with an extract from Hawley's book) this was not a mistake on my part at all and was, in fact, a terrible point by Hawley because it was Hawley who had not included this part of Littlechild's quote in his book yet he was relying on a quote from Littlechild without the words 'He shortly left Boulogne' to make his case in his book. And, I don't particularly want to repeat myself here, but, as I've already mentioned, the words 'He shortly left Boulogne' do not, in any way, mean that anyone saw Tumblety in Boulogne. Although I appreciate that I have already made these points in this article, the fact of the matter is that I had already made them in the thread in question too! Yet Hawley was still repeating this terrible point over and over as if it was somehow my mistake not his! And what it shows is that he WAS prepared to engage with me when, in his mind, he believed he had a good point to make (albeit that it was in reality a dreadful and hopeless one).
Indeed, to what I imagine was Hawley's fury, another member of the Forum (Herlock Sholmes) posted this comment to him in #128:
'Even someone with little or no knowledge of the subject (me) can see that your response to one of the points does not show that Tumblety was actually spotted in Boulogne? The point that David was making.'
Funnily enough, Hawley never responded to this.
At the same time, I engaged Hawley further on the question of the English detective, for the second 'mistake' he was claiming I had made was to say that this English detective, if he even existed, was not from Scotland Yard. Hawley seems to think that a mention of 'bartenders' in one of the New York newspapers somehow provides 'corroboration' of the existence of the detective even though it does no such thing. But the main point I was always making was that even if the detective existed he was certainly not from Scotland Yard, something which Hawley never seemed to quite grasp.
In any event, my post #131 was devoted to the issue of the English detective as I pointed out that he was described by the New York World reporter as 'a little man' which means he can't possibly have been a Scotland Yard detective as they were all quite tall, being a minimum of five feet, seven inches (and most being taller than that). I had never seen Hawley's response to this point - he certainly didn't include it in his second book which was supposed to be a response to my article about his first book (under cover of responding in that book to 'a number of modern researchers' by which he clearly meant me) - and it wasn't until his May 2019 Ripperologist article 'Tumblety's Secret' that he's made any kind of attempt to respond to it (see my response in Hawley's Howlers).
But the arguments for or against the existence of the English detective or whether, if he existed, he was from Scotland Yard, are not important for the purpose of this article. The point is that I was engaging with Hawley about a whole raft of subjects from his book, not just the issue of the 12 constables. Yet, in his complaint post to Admin he would try to give the impression that I was purely focussed on attacking him with respect to the 12 constables. But it wasn't true.
At this point in the thread, Jonathan Menges intervened to tell me, a tad inaccurately as it happened, that I was not, as I had believed, the first person to suggest that the English detective was actually a private detective hired by the two men who gave sureties for Tumblety's bail. He told me that Tim Riordan was an example of a modern researcher making this suggestion. I had to purchase Riordan's book to discover that, in actual fact, Riordan had said that the man could have been a 'bounty hunter' which, while of a similar nature, is, nevertheless, not identical to a private detective (which was the description that Hawley had used). In any event, this told me a lot about where Menges was coming from in that he would nitpick one of my posts in this way and ignore in its entirety the nonsense that Hawley was posting at that time.
Furthermore, Menges could very easily have posed the same question to Hawley that I had already asked him a number of times in the thread, namely, 'Who are the "modern researchers" who claimed that the English detective supposedly seen outside Tumblety's apartment in New York was an English private detective hired by two men who gave sureties for Tumblety's bail?'. For it was what was in Hawley's mind that was important not whether any researchers had actually made the same suggestion. Rather than speculating about whether these 'modern researchers' included Riordan, why could Menges not simply have asked Hawley to clarify the position? For how do we know that Hawley even had Riordan in his mind when he referred to these 'modern researchers' in his book?
I actually said that to Menges in #142:
'It's for MIKE to tell us who these modern researchers are and not only does HIS silence speak volumes but I note that you haven't even asked him the question as to their identity yourself.'
His reply was as follows:
'I don't have to ask him who he means since I already know that "modern day researchers" have been questioning the validity of the "English detective" for years. Riordan, AP Wolf, Simon, Wolf V., Dan Norder and I'm sure there's a few others. If I seriously thought that he was targeting me personally, excluding all others, in his book, as you seem to believe, then I would ask him just as you have done. But maybe a little nicer.'
But, as I pointed out to him in #146,
'Questioning the validity of the "English detective"' is a different matter. Mike was talking about a specific alternative suggestion to a Scotland Yard detective, being an English private detective.'
As I also told Menges, it wasn't a question of me 'seeming to believe' that Hawley had been 'targeting' me personally, Hawley had already told me earlier in the thread that the relevant part in his book 'The Ripper's Haunts' 'actually rebutted an earlier argument of yours'.
And we see that Mr Menges seemed to think that I should have been 'nicer' to Hawley. Well Mr Menges was, of course, entitled to correct me if he thought I had got something wrong and to contribute to the thread in any way which we he chose, but it is very revealing that he felt the need to try and challenge something I had written yet simply refused to confront Hawley at any point in that thread, either regarding the bizarre allegations he was making about me or about any of the points about Tumblety that Hawley was making or refusing to answer. And of course, super ironically, Menges himself felt the need to ask Hawley about the 12 constables in his podcast. Why didn't he do this in the thread? Then we could actually have had a clear written response, to which I could have replied if necessary, rather than the rambling nonsense he was allowed to spew out during the Howerlcast.
Like I say, I really did not know at the time how well connected and influential a person Jonathan Menges was, especially regarding his connection and relationship with Ally Ryder/Admin of Casebook. Not that it would have made any difference to the way I responded to him but did the fact that I had had the temerity to contradict him in my posts influence the way that Admin viewed the thread to the extent that she felt the need to chastise me, and only me, in her ruling of 20 May?
I don't know, incidentally, how Menges expected me to ask questions of Hawley, 'a little nicer'. I mean, in #16 I had said: 'Perhaps Mike can name those researchers for us because I'd be interested to know how their arguments are expressed and if they accord with mine.' and in #39 I had asked him directly: 'Who are the "number of modern researchers" who have claimed that the English detective supposedly seen outside Tumblety's apartment in New York was an English private detective hired by two men who gave sureties for Tumblety's bail?' (a question I had pressed him to answer in #63 and #81). I don't really know how that question could have been phrased in a nicer way, or why it needed to be. It was just a question. There's certainly nothing rude in it. But Menges' comment there says everything to me about his attitude in terms of protecting Hawley. Not a word of criticism to Hawley for having completely failed to answer my question. Had he done so about a hundred posts earlier, then Menges wouldn't have needed to get involved to tell me what he thought Hawley was trying to say.
We are now at 15 May, eight days after my first post in the thread, and only four days from its closure, and it finally seems to me that Hawley has abandoned his scheme of simply repeating post #68, perhaps having realised that doing so is having no effect. He doesn't want to discuss any of the issues that I've been raising about his book but he does want to give me some important information. In post #148 he says:
Did you know that we've discovered even more evidence and I'm now in the process of working on yet a third Tumblety book! And there's New York City material! I am being absolutely honest.
Even though you've made an absolute conclusion, you may not want to be so set. Future's bright.'
It was this news, of a third Hawley book about Tumblety, that, I thought, made it even more essential that the record got corrected before he made all the same mistakes again.
But Hawley told me this a few posts later:
'So, your problem, David, is you hate my guts and it's all emotional, thus helplessly connected to bias.'
I think we have the nub of the matter there. Hawley thinks that anyone who doesn't agree with him, even on the express basis that the evidence doesn't support him, must hate him personally. It's completely the wrong approach but explains why he constantly disrupted the thread with his hysterical outbursts.Anyway, having learnt from Hawley that he was now working on a third book, I posted this in #166:
'As Mike is now writing a third book, it becomes even more important that he understands how overwhelming the evidence is that the deployment of the 12 constables had nothing to do with Tumblety.'
I then went on to post the full text of a letter written by Sir Charles Warren on 23 October 1888 in which the Commissioner explained that the 12 constables at Euston and St Pancras would be deployed to inspect the luggage of passengers arriving from America.
This was, of course, part of the 'ton' of 'multiple' correspondence that Hawley would later refer to to so disparagingly in his podcast interview, but in the Forum he ignored the Warren letter that I posted. He did, however, respond to a point I had made about peer review. A couple of years earlier he had responded critically to one of my online articles within 'The Suckered! Trilogy', saying rather pompously that it was part of a 'peer review'. He claimed to have found a couple of important mistakes in the article but it transpired that the mistakes were his because he had failed to read some of the evidence properly. Despite having claimed to have 'peer reviewed' my article in 2016 he now told me this (in #167):
'I don't recognize you as a peer. It's not peer review what you do, but an attempt to antagonize authors into debating you. You then go on endless postings until the author is exhausted. Do you do anything else in your life? You then change your online articles by using lawyer's tricks of minimalizing evidence. I now have numerous examples of this and I will not be posting them here.'
He then added the gratuitous and quite mad comment 'Hurry up with your book!'
It's not difficult to work out the message he is sending out here. It's: 'Please stop David. Please stop pointing out the errors in my book and showing the world all the flawed research I have done.' It wouldn't be long before Admin would help him out and ensure that I did stop.
Of course, he can't find any way to challenge me or discredit me so he invents the notion of me changing my online articles and 'minimalizing' evidence, allegations that he never once particularized or provided a single example of, despite me requesting him to do so.
We move to 16 May, and there are now just three more days to go until the thread is closed. There is a bit of chit chat about my Spandau Ballet book and I make what I believed was a helpful and detailed post for Hawley for his next book about the date of Tumblety's trial (#180). But Hawley is not interested in that. Instead, he seems to have developed a new obsession that I was the person posting under the name Herlock Sholmes. He thus posted in #181:
'How interesting that Herlock knows so much personal information. Could it be? We know Herlock isn't his real name. Hmmm. Your real name wouldn't have to be...? Nah.'
Needless to say it wasn't true that Herlock knew any personal information (about me) and a post to which Hawley had been referring had simply involved Herlock repeating some denials I had made in response to some of Hawley's bizarre allegations about me, such as the fact that I wasn't writing a book about Jack the Ripper. And now the thread was so disrupted that another member, Elamarna, had to post simply to confirm that Herlock was a real person because he had met him personally!
After that, Hawley was back to doing what I thought he had given up on, namely repeating all over again his #68. So the insanity continued (not that Admin ever seemed to spot it).
Then he was back to the trolling non-point about Jonathan Hainsworth in #186, and the imagined changes I had supposedly made to an article about Hainsworth's book:
'I just know the game you're playing. Jonathan owned you on Casebook so you changed your online article to make it look like your arguments are valid. You know darn well you did it, so quit lying. '
So I had to respond to that false allegation all over again in #189. The following posts from #190 all the way to #206 involved neither me nor Hawley posting as there was a bit of banter by other members about various things, including Herlock's existence and Spandau Ballet.
In an attempt to get the thread back on track (after posting a link to some songs I had written featuring the saxophone player from Spandau Ballet) I posted a transcript of the letter to which Sir Charles Warren had been replying in his letter of 23 October 1888. This was followed by some feedback on my songs and more music chat.
Hawley did not post at all in the thread on 17 May and so we now reach 18 May, a mere day away from the thread being closed.
I have faithfully, as accurately as possible, and in some great detail, described what occurred in the thread and here we are at 18 May and at no point has Hawley made it 'clear' that he is not going to respond to any of my questions. Furthermore, I have not been asking him the same questions over and over. I have certainly asked him some questions. That's normal and perfectly understandable in any debate. And on a few occasions I have repeated those questions on the basis that they haven't been answered, a perfectly legitimate debating tactic. But the allegation that I have been badgering Hawley to the point of harassment by repeating questions which he has made clear he is not going to answer is pure nonsense. It's false, outrageous and defamatory and should never have been made by Admin.
Anyway, we are now 24 hours away from the thread being closed. From #222 to #225 I post further correspondence relating to the 12 constables on the basis that we are still no nearer knowing Hawley's opinion as to why they were being deployed.
These four posts, of nothing more than evidence about the deployment about the 12 constables, seemed to bring an explosion of irrational anger from Hawley. In #228:
'You just can't stop your incessant posting, eh, David. You hate me so much, you're trying to sabotage it. What is behind David?
So, David and I would both like the reader to revisit David’s attempt to “review” Jonathan Hainsworth’s book.
First, because the Casebook reader likely has not read his book, one cannot see how David uses the lawyer’s trick of paraphrasing, minimalizing evidence to the contrary, and misleading statements.
This creates a strawman argument.
David crafts an inappropriate spin on Jonathan’s explanations and then he bashes his own spin. The result by itself is a convincing “book review,’ especially because David is actually a good researcher. The problem is that he just led the reader down the path of untruth. Why I say it’s a lawyer’s trick is because in David’s paralegal world, the adversarial system of justice forces David’s bosses (the attorneys) to merely argue to win; not argue for truth. It’s the judge’s and jury’s responsibility to weed out the truth from both sides on an argument.
We then see what he does on these threads. Once he’s lured an author into a so-called debate, its death by paraphrasing all over again. In this case, he takes Jonathan’s cogent post and splinters it with about a dozen mini-posts. The effect is to stop the reader from seeing the overall logical path Jonathan was pointing out. Jonathan catches this, but because he does nothing else in life and has the time to live on Casebook, he then posts incessantly until he exhausts the author. Because the author leaves, he then gets the opportunity to spin at the end. He believes he’s won the final round, so he thinks he made his case. He then goes back to his online article, a document that the reader sees no one arguing against, and spins it even more.
Ultimately, David’s goal is to win; not seek the truth. In the case of this thread, I’ve found numerous problems yet have only revealed a few. I am not going to play the game he did with Jonathan. Sorry David. As I said, I’m waiting for that book you claim you’re not writing.
Honestly, if you want to see where David's arguments rot of error, contact me privately, since I am not going to allow him to accomplish his lawyer's trick on me.
You can see there that everything being said is personal. A complete personal attack, even going so far to falsely misrepresent my book on Spandau Ballet which he hadn't even read. Not one mention of Tumblety or his book on Tumblety, which was the actual subject of the thread.
Oh by the way, you will not be successful in purchasing David’s Spandau Ballet book, but if you can, you’ll find out he was quite nasty to the band. He’s trying to screw the band’s credibility by claiming that they stole the name. They just may have, but how interesting that David likes to be nasty in other areas too.'
Presumably Hawley only wanted nice things said about his book. Criticism wasn't acceptable, despite the clear statement in the Major Rules that he had to accept it and suck it up.
I should say that I was perfectly aware of what the Major Rules said, hence felt that I was behaving perfectly properly and within those rules.
The effect of Hawley's long post at #228 was that I had to spend some time defending myself on a variety of irrelevant issues to the topic of Francis Tumblety and correcting all of Hawley's false statements. I did this in posts #230 to #234. In between, in #232, Herlock Sholmes posted:
'Here’s a suggestion Mike.
Why not simply debate the points that David has raised? If, as you suggest, he has no basis for these criticisms but just employs fiendish Lawyer’s tricks then his points should be fairly easy for you to rebut.
Just by resorting to personal criticisms achieves nothing apart from, in all honesty, it makes you sound like a conspiract theorist who is hyper-sensitive to criticism. Why not use this Forum for its intended purpose....debate?'
They were good, reasonable, questions but Hawley had no time for them. He seemed to be completely cracking up. Talking of which, it was at this point that he posted to say that he had 'found a crack' in my argument about the 12 constables (which he referred to as the '10 constables'). His theory at this point was that I was angry that he had 'completely ignored' my online article when he wrote his book, thus failing completely to comprehend that the main point I had made at the very start about the 12 constables was not that he had ignored my article but that he had read my article and modified his book in response to it about the 12 constables but not, as he should have done, completely abandoned the idea that those 12 constables were deployed for Tumblety. THAT was the criticism I had made of Hawley and it obviously involved the fact that he had read my online article, not that he had ignored it! And I wasn't angry at all. As I told Hawley in #236:
'...the only person obviously angry in this thread is you. From the start you've let your emotions get the better of you. It's not a scholarly or sensible way to behave. As far as I am concerned, it shows a breathtaking lack of judgement on your part.'
It was shortly after this, on 18 May, that Hawley posted his appeal to Admin to use their powers of censorship to stop me posting in the thread. This was what he said in #242:
'Attention Casebook Managers,
This post was initially posted by Steadmund Brand to inform the Casebook community of the publication of my book, Jack the Ripper Suspect Dr. Francis Tumblety. As you can see, there have been over 240 posts.
I want to report that David Barratt has attempted to hijack this post by focusing upon one small section of my book that conflicted with his online article. The biggest issue David has is about the 12 constables. I refuse to argue the case about the 12 constables on this thread because it is an insignificant part of the book, yet he is relentless in bringing it up. It should not be a surprise that I challenge David on his relentless attacks, since this is my book. Why is David so relentless on attempting to embarrass me?
As a matter of fact, notice the posts that David has brought up just the 12 constables issue. It's repeated no less than 30 times:
Posts 12, 39, 41, 47, 63, 67, 81, 82, 88, 89, 90, 95, 105, 109, 115, 116, 121, 138, 147, 166, 179, 222, 223, 224, 225, 236, and
David has also brought up other issues just as incessantly even though I told him I am not going to debate it on this thread.
I am stuck in a situation. I refuse to argue my case to someone who mimics a troll, especially when they have supporters who assist him. The problem is, if I don't, others may get the impression they have the upper hand. This is actually far from the truth.
Just because I refuse to argue with someone, do they really have the right to taunt me and get away with it? This particular venue favors the person who has the time and energy to relentlessly post. I would hate to see even more researchers leave Casebook for this very reason. '
I managed to post a response to this in #243 to #248 and did so mainly for Admin's benefit to the extent that she took any of what Hawley said seriously. I won't reproduce all those posts here but the reader is invited to read them in the thread itself. The reason I have included Hawley's post in full above is so that we can see two things. Firstly, there is no complaint by him about me asking him questions. Secondly, to highlight his claim that he had told me that he wasn't going to debate with me in the thread. He had never done any such thing up until that point and I trust that I have demonstrated that in this article but anyone is free to read the entire thread on the Casebook Forum and locate an example of him telling me that he wasn't going debate issues with me. The very reverse is true because throughout the thread he did make some weak attempts to debate with me where he thought he had a good point to make.
One further comment I would like to make about Hawley's post is that we can see that he now gives a completely new reason for not having discussed the issue of the 12 constables with me and one that totally contradicts the fluctuating reasons he had already given in the thread, such as that I was going to write a book or that I would amend my articles and stuff like that (which reasons never even made any sense). Now he says that the reason he has been refusing to discuss it all along has been because 'it is an insignificant part of the book.' Well I do wonder why Hawley included something insignificant in his book (although how the notion of 12 constables being deployed to catch Tumblety on 20 November 1888 could possibly ever be 'insignificant' is beyond me) but regardless of significance, it's either right or it's wrong. I hadn't even been able to extract from him any clarification as to whether he believed it was right or wrong, let alone debate the issue itself with him.
Admin's response to Hawley's post on 19 May was to close the thread. No explanation was given for 24 hours. For myself, I was very interested to see how an independent and intelligent person, as I then assumed Admin to be, would respond to the thread. Surely Admin would see how badly Hawley had behaved throughout?
I thought that I could be in difficulty on just two points. I had said in a post that one of Hawley's comments was 'a bit mad'. It was an understatement but if Admin wanted to hand out infractions or suspensions it was possible that they could do so on that basis, as I suppose it could be interpreted as against the rules, albeit that Hawley's behaviour at the time clearly was a bit mad. I had also posted about my Spandau Ballet book (for a genuine reason, in response to Hawley's introduction into the thread of Orsam Books) and, in the ensuing discussion about the band, had included a link to a couple of my songs. This was obviously off-topic and a technical breach of the rules so if Admin had wanted to take the approach that both myself and Hawley should receive a punishment, it was possible that they had grounds to do it. I was prepared for it and, frankly, happy to take any such punishment.
What I was not expecting was for Admin to not have read the thread properly, or at all, and for her to make a critical but false and defamatory statement about me - a criticism for something I wasn't even guilty of and hadn't done - while not offering a word of admonishment for Hawley's appalling behaviour throughout the entire thread.
It didn't make sense to me and still doesn't.As I've previously mentioned, on 20 May, when explaining why she closed the thread, Admin wrote:
'I will be sending private messages to parties and this thread will remain closed until I receive communication back from them.'
No private message was ever received by me from Admin. I don't whether the statement she made in her post of 20 May was a deliberate lie or if she just forgot to do it. Not only did I not receive any communication from Admin but, when I took the initiative myself, sending a private message to Admin over a month later, on 21 June 2018, to ask if there was anything she wanted to say to me (and asking her to explain her comments) it resulted in a one line reply a full two months later in which she asked me if I wanted her to deactivate my account!! Yes, so helpful was Admin that she simply ignored what I was asking her to do and focused on something that I had not asked her to do!
In a subsequent PM which I somehow extracted from her, she seemed to think that I wanted to engage her in debate on the topic, even though it was her who had initially said she wanted to speak to me. All I wanted was for her to see that her comments that she had made about me were untrue and for her to therefore retract those comments on the basis that (as I hoped she was) she was a reasonable person who understood the notion of fair play.
In any case, who in their right mind would even WANT to post something that isn't true?
I could, I suppose, have aired my grievance in public on the Forum, something which no doubt would have got me into trouble, but I did what I thought was the responsible thing and tried to resolve the issue privately with Admin.
When I wrote to Admin on 21 June, I said this:
A month has passed since you closed the above thread and said “I will be sending private messages to parties and this thread will remain closed until I receive communication back from them.” I assume you were including me in this but I’ve received nothing from you. Is there anything you want to say to me?
I have a number of things I’d like to say to you; in particular I’m very unhappy with the way I’ve been treated which I believe is both highly unfair and totally unjust and I'd like be afforded the opportunity of convincing you of this. But, before attempting to do so (if I’m allowed to), can I ask about your statement that I was guilty of harassment by:
“Badgering an author relentlessly with the same questions, when it's clear that they are not going to answer them”
Can you please tell me (a) at what point in the thread it was clear that the "author" was not going to answer my questions and (b) in which specific posts after this time did I badger him by “relentlessly” asking the same questions?
Perhaps you could also confirm that it's perfectly legitimate to ask "an author" some questions in order to understand his views and, during a debate, to draw his and others attention to the fact that those questions haven’t been answered.
To be clear, it’s my firm belief that I did not “relentlessly” ask Mike Hawley the same questions, either at a time that it was clear he was not going to answer them or at any other time, so that your claim that I did is factually inaccurate and thus unfair. It’s not even the allegation made by Mike himself who complained (in #242) that I was “relentless” in bringing up the subject of the 12 constables (i.e. NOT an accusation of me badgering him with questions). In any event, the notion that it’s possible to badger or harass a person (author or not) who is actively posting in a thread of his own free will (and who claims to be “purposely egging [me] on”) simply by asking him relevant questions - which he avoids answering on spurious grounds - is absurd.
I feel that Admin, who I would expect to be fair and impartial, has somehow been manipulated by Mike to produce a result which achieves exactly what he wanted (i.e. to shut me up). You even adopted the exact word used by him to criticize me (i.e. “relentless”) and it seems to me that I’ve been censored for a month, so far, and prevented from posting evidence which challenges an assertion in a book, despite the rules clearly being that authors must suffer criticism. The finding against me is not only false but arbitrary because nothing in the rules prevent asking questions. Your reference to "badgering an author" makes it sound like an author is a protected species, contrary to your claim that they have less protection than "regular posters".
I also feel that, incomprehensibly, having supposedly reviewed the entire thread, you completely ignored the extraordinary, childish, abusive and harassing behaviour of Mike, in your post #250, despite the fact that he made a series of unfounded personal attacks on me, yet you criticised me alone (on a false basis). Any fair reading of that thread demonstrates that I was continually trying to discuss the issues arising from the book in a rational way whereas Mike, despite answering some points where he felt he had a good argument, was otherwise giving bullshit reasons for not responding and he transparently disrupted the thread by repeating over and over the same irrelevant and false allegations and statements about me. Yet his disruptive behaviour has been rewarded by Admin giving him exactly what he was trying to achieve by that very behaviour.
The irony of the situation is that Mike posted a number of false allegations about me word for word identical in eight separate posts. Yet nothing was said about this obvious harassment of me.
It literally astonished me that, after reading post after post of Mike telling blatant lies about me, I ended up reading a post from Admin which also said something untruthful and very damaging about me but to which I had no way of responding to correct the record. I accept criticism when it is fair and accurate but, sadly, I do not feel this has happened here and I can only rely on your sense of fair play to correct the position.
If, on reflection (and I urge you to re-read the entire thread), you agree with me that the allegation that I badgered Mike with the same questions when it was clear he was not going to respond to them is false (and, if you don’t, I would like the opportunity to convince you of this) I politely request the position is publicly corrected because the allegation (in the form of an official ruling from Admin to which I’m not able to respond) is not only personally damaging to me, making me sound like a deranged person, but, most regrettably, makes my continued participation in the forum untenable.
I might add that was literally at the extreme limit of character usage for a PM at this point (which I think, from memory, was 3,000 characters). I had already pared the message down to the bone, deleting a number of other things I could have said. Otherwise I would have at least have concluded the PM with a 'Kind regards' but I simply didn't have the space (not that it would have helped).
I had to chase about four or five times before I eventually received this miserable response, nearly two months later, on 17 August:
'Would you like us to deactivate your account?'
This was in response to the last sentence of my PM in which I had said that my continued participation in the forum was untenable. It obviously doesn't follow from this that I was asking Admin to deactivate my account. The search function in Casebook is sometimes quite useful and one has to be a member to be able to use it. I could have carried on being a member without participating in the Forum. Sending PMs to other members is also only possible while being a member and I had been sending some PMs during the three month period while I refrained from posting on the Forum. In any event, as you can see, Admin had simply and rudely ignored everything I had written in my message which, of course, reminded me of the way Michael Hawley had behaved in the Tumblety thread. No wonder she didn't see anything wrong with Hawley's behaviour!
Well, I replied to say that deactivating my account wasn't what I was asking her to do, and I reproduced the actual questions, with question marks (which is what normally indicates a question) that I had asked her in my PM which hadn't been answered. Having repeated those questions I said:
'You haven't responded to any of this. Why not?'
You can take it from me at this point that she didn't like that. A mere member asking an Administrator why she hadn't done something that she should have done! Why, t'was an outrage. I then went on to say:
'If you don't feel that you have made a mistake of fact so that the position does not need to be corrected then I would very much like to hear your cogent reasoning as to why not. Then, as I stated in [my] PM of 21 June, I would like the opportunity to convince you that your statement is false and does need to be corrected.
You have evidently read the final eleven words of my PM but it doesn't need you to deactivate (or not deactivate) my account to make my continued participation in the forum untenable. What I actually want to do is to continue to participate in the forum after you have corrected an untrue and unfair comment you made about me in the forum.'
The careful reader (if there is anyone still reading at this point!) will have noticed that I have not at this stage threatened Casebook with any legal proceedings. I was, I thought, making a reasonable, polite and civil request, in private, to correct or retract a false comment which is something I would have thought that anyone in any civilized adult society would have wanted to ensure was done as soon as possible.
Admin, however, was just not interested. Mind you, she did actually answer one of my questions believe it or not. The one where I asked her why she hadn't replied to any of the questions in my PM from June. Here is what she said:
'Because I am under no obligation to do so. Your desire to have a debate is utterly irrelevant to me. I don't desire to waste my time with this debate. So I am not going to.'
Pausing there, I have to comment further on her claim that I desired to have a debate with her. The fact of the matter is that I had absolutely no desire to speak to Admin or contact Admin, ever. I had never done so in the past, save for my apology upon receiving an infraction, and never wanted to in the future. I don't like having anything to do with mods. It was Admin who had stated in public that she needed to speak to me before she could reopen the thread. And I didn't want any kind of debate, just a retraction or removal of the comment about which I was complaining.
Admin's claim that she didn't want to debate the issue with me disguises the real fact that she couldn't have debated it with me even if she had wanted to because she must have known she didn't have a leg to stand on. The comments she made about me asking Hawley the same questions when it was clear he wasn't going to answer them were as untrue as they were offensive. I mean, just think about it for a minute. What possible purpose would I have in badgering someone relentlessly to answer a question which I knew they weren't ever going to answer? I'm not a deranged person who would do that. And I don't waste my time for no reason.
I've already said that it's a legitimate debating tactic to draw attention to the fact that an opponent hasn't answered a question - which it certainly is - and I did no more than this, on only about two or three occasions. Throughout the thread I asked Hawley a series of different questions and frankly, as far as I could tell, based on his erratic behaviour, it was quite possible he would decide to answer any of them at any time. He certainly never told me that he wasn't going to answer them and the reasons he had given for not debating the issues with me (e.g. I was supposedly planning to publish a book) didn't make any sense and were patently bogus.
As I've also already said more than once, it wasn't Hawley's own complaint that I was asking him questions, and, let's face it, he was very unlikely to make such a complaint because it would only draw attention to the fact that I had asked him some reasonable questions which he wasn't answering. His complaint was that I was 'attacking' him - but this was hopeless because, even if that was a fair way to describe my posts, he was an author who had to expect to be attacked or criticized. It's in the flippin' Forum rules!!!
In response to my request to be able to convince Admin that her statement was false and needed to be corrected I was told this:
'I understand you want this discussion. In life, you don't always get what you want.
You are welcome to continue posting. Or not. Don't PM me further on this matter.'
That believe it or not is her actual response. Not one that was even true because, aside from the fact that I didn't want any 'discussion' with Admin, I couldn't 'continue posting' in a thread that was closed could I? And the Forum rules, as I understand them, are that you are not allowed to post in other threads about topics in a closed thread, so I was hardly 'welcome' to continue posting about the 'tedious' subject of the 12 constables or any issues relating to Hawley's book was I? And I was hardly 'welcome' to ask Hawley further questions bearing in mind the terms of her ruling. But if I was 'welcome' to continue posting, did that mean I had done nothing wrong, in which case, why was the thread even closed in the first place?
At this point, however, I didn't even care what the answers to those questions were. Having already braced myself for the past three months to be expelled, I decided, based on that shocking response from Admin, that I did not wish to continue to belong to a group which treated its members in this appalling way. It's not exactly what I would call customer service! And I did not wish to be a member of a forum which censored its members without any good reason.
More than this, I felt that if Admin wasn't going to provide answers to my questions via a polite private message then she could jolly well do so in court. I was certain that the result of any court action would be a retraction of the offensive and libellous allegation that had been carelessly and recklessly made against me. Upon proper examination, the allegation was impossible to justify and should never have been made. More than this, under court rules I would be entitled to see all correspondence passing between her and anyone who had reported the thread and all correspondence between her and the new moderator. I've little doubt that this correspondence would be very revealing.
My response was, therefore, on 20 August 2018, as follows:
I regret to say that I find your response rude and ill mannered.
The comment about me that you posted in the forum on 21 May was both untrue and defamatory, being harmful to my reputation.
I did not relentlessly badger an author with the same questions when it was clear he was not going to answer them nor was my behaviour "harassing" (which is, of course, a criminal offence).
I do not believe you could possibly justify your comments in a court of law. You must have realised that you made a mistake and it is very disappointing that you evidently cannot admit to error and that you show no sense of fair play or decency.
I have tried to be reasonable and to raise this matter privately with you in a civilised way but you have flatly refused to engage. I did not, however want to debate or discuss anything with you (although you stated on the forum three months ago that you were going to communicate with me by PM, presumably to discuss this issue, yet failed to do so). I simply wanted to you to withdraw your false and harmful comments about me.
In the absence of a retraction it will be impossible for me to continue to post on the forum because if I ask someone a question I am at risk of being told that I am harassing them, something which Admin has ruled I have already been guilty of, and I would have no defence to such an allegation. One poster (Caz) has already alluded to your ruling during a debate on the Maybrick Diary and I can only see it getting worse.
I offer you one more chance to be reasonable (and sensible) and withdraw your comments. I don't even ask for an apology - just a withdrawal of the comments.
If you continue to refuse to do this please provide me with your full name, a postal address to which my solicitor can send a letter before action and an address for service of a claim form. I seriously do not wish to take up the valuable time of the High Court by commencing proceedings for libel against you personally or against Casebook in a matter of this nature but your intransigent attitude in correspondence (which I do not think will be well regarded by a judge or any neutral person) seems to leave me with no choice.
I might add that if you fail to provide me with your name or an address for service I will be at liberty to make an application to the court for an alternative method of service and look to you for the costs of such application.
I also reserve the right to make any use of this correspondence as I see fit.
Please note that, as you are now on notice of my intentions, you must retain and be prepared to produce any written communications between you and the person who initially reported the thread and between you and the "new moderator", both referred to in your post of 21 May. These communications must not be destroyed.
I also do not wish to remain a member of a forum which treats its members with such disdain and contempt so please do go ahead and deactivate my membership or expel me or whatever it is you want to do with your absolute power.
Naturally, this did not elicit a response and, as I had requested, my account was deactivated but, lo and behold, the very next thing that happened was the post containing the false allegation against me was deleted and, so, justice was finally done!
True, my membership of the Forum has come to an end but I would easily have traded that to see truth prevail and my reputation restored, as I believe it has been.
The thread, which was temporarily opened when Admin deleted the message, was then closed again for some strange reason. I've no idea why it was re-closed, bearing in mind that the badgering and harassment of poor old protected author Mike Hawley was now over, and he no longer had to fail to answer any questions, but closed it was and it remains closed to this day. Peculiar.
Not all members of the Forum are equal. Some are regarded by Admin as 'respected and valued'. It's true! Admin posted this to a member who had been misbehaving in one of my threads (The Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy thread #6) on 21 September 2015 (my underlining):
'If one had kept ones personal criticism to the published writings as allowed by the rules, one would have been completely in the right. However, one crossed the line with the deliberate taunt that "so you don't wrap that accusation at me. There's a good fellow." As stated in the rules as well, convoluted means of attacking someone will still be considered personal attacks as will the unending annoyance of having the trite "cabal" nonsense continuously referenced. We are tired of this nonsense and this pettiness. Take it elsewhere where it's more appreciated. Even respected and valued posters can lose their cool when faced with this kind of ridiculous and smarmy means of dragging other people down.'
Clearly, from the way I was treated, I was not one of those respected and valued posters, which is a shame because I think I contributed a great deal to the Forum during my four years of membership. Here are some examples:
1. On 7 December 2014, not too long after I had joined the Forum, I posted previously unpublished Police Orders showing that special reports from February 1888 were supposed to be sent first to the Executive Branch at Scotland Yard as opposed to the Criminal Investigation Department, explaining why Inspector Spratling's report regarding the Nichols murder was forwarded by Superintendent Keating to Superintendent Cutbush rather than Chief Constable Williamson (Assistant Commissioner Monro having resigned). The thread is The Secrets of the Special Reports and contains an interesting discussion of various issues relating to the reports of the Nichols murder. In fact, it brought what might now be considered to be a surprising response from none other than Simon Wood who said, in #61 of that thread, 'Hi David, Excellent information. Thanks. This is Casebook at its best.' Hey, well, I did try!
2. On 14 December 2014, I posted, for what I believe was the first time, Police Orders showing that knocking up was a police duty in 1888. See thread: The Conflicts of PC Mizen. Until that time it was generally believed that P.C. Mizen's actions in knocking up local residents in itself amounted to some form of misconduct.
3. In late 2014, for the benefit of Casebook members, I started posting transcripts of the reports of the Ripper murders in the London Evening Post. The full set is The Nichols Murder in the Evening Post then The Chapman Murder in the Evening Post then Double Event in the Evening Post then finally Kelly Murder in the Evening Post. This was followed by Ripper related Evening Post editorials at JTR Related Evening Post Editorials.
3. Who can forget my 8 January 2015 post The Curious Case of Mrs Colville which, for the first time, identified the witness known in the press as 'Mrs Colville' by her real name of Mrs Sarah Coldwell (and possibly identified 'Honey's Mews' too). I also identified that her father was Charles La Crossette, a.k.a. Charles Cross! Not THAT Charles Cross though. This finding, first published by me on Casebook, was subsequently referred to in a Ripperologist article by Dusty Miller ('Cross Examined, The Case for the Defence', Ripperologist, 142).
4. On a roll here I discovered a brand new report about Francis Tumblety in a London newspaper which stated that he had failed to appear for his trial on 10 December 1888 and that a warrant had been issued for his arrest on the same day. The report also stated that Tumblety had been arrested subsequent to his lodgings having been searched by the police after he had been arrested on suspicion of being the Whitechapel murderer. Until that time it was believed that Tumblety had never been mentioned in any London newspaper during 1888. I posted a full transcript of the news report on the Forum on 21 January 2015 in a post called Tumblety in the Evening Post. It has been referred to by a number of researchers since then, including Michael Hawley in both his books.
5. On 31 January 2015, a rather helpful post, I think, about the actual rank of Chief Constable a.k.a. Superintendent Williamson in The Gripes of Mr Williamson (part 1).
3. A fine piece of work posted on 1 February 2015 in The Special Reports of 1888 helpfully sets out the entirety of the special reports on the Ripper murders. I had completely forgotten about this until reviewing my contributions and it seems pretty impressive to me.
4. On 7 February 2015 I posted yet another new Tumblety discovery which would be referred to in subsequent books on the man, including Hawley's books. This was a record of a hitherto unknown application on behalf of Tumblety on 20 November 1888 to adjourn his trial to the next Sessions of the Central Criminal Court. Although it had always been known that the trial had been adjourned, no-one knew how or why this had happened. I posted this new information in the thread Is this new Tumblety info?
5. This was followed on 2 February 2015 with another more detailed post about the way the special reports were treated within Scotland Yard labelled The Gripes of Mr Williamson part 2.
6. Then, on 14 February 2015, three more new mentions of Tumblety in the London Evening Post during late 1888 and early 1889 were revealed in More Tumblety in the Evening Post including the information that Tumblety's arrest had, supposedly, arisen out of certain correspondence with young men being found in his possession after his arrest on suspicion of the Whitechapel murders.
7. The Tumblety findings kept on coming as, on 7 March 2015, I posted the news that I had located Tumblety's Certificate of Indictment dated 20 December 1888 which told us that Tumblety had not appeared or pleaded at the Central Criminal Court on 19 November 1888 and I posted a full transcript of it on the forum in the thread Certificate of Indictment. Michael Hawley posted at the time in this thread to say 'Outstanding find, David!'.
8. In my thread Commendations - Challenge! commenced on 10 February 2015, I discovered, with a bit of detective work, along with the help of Robert Linford, that the meaning of 'Taken into custody' on the Central Criminal Court Calendar was not 'arrested' so that the date given under that heading was not, as everyone had assumed, the date of his arrest.
9. Following on from my discovery about the After-Trial Calendar, I posted an explanation for the first time, based on a great deal of research, of how the After-Trial Calendar was compiled. My findings appeared on 21 April 2015 in Cracking the Calendar Code. This explained for the very first time why it is not possible from the information in the Calendar to state with any certainty whether Tumblety was in prison or out on bail at any date from 8 November to 14 November. Anyone interested in this subject should also check out the thread Tumbleteazer.
10. On 16 April 2015 I posted another discovery I made on Casebook. Until then everyone had believed that Francis Tumblety was sent to Newgate prison upon committal but I worked out that, in fact, he must have gone to Holloway as I explained in the post Tumblety in Holloway.
11. During the summer of 2015 I happened to stumble across a sequence of never before seen correspondence by and on behalf of Tumblety relating to his claim for compensation for his arrest during the civil war in which he claimed to be 'a British subject'. I transcribed the entire set of correspondence and, not knowing enough about Tumblety's early life, forwarded the transcripts to Tumblety expert Joe Chetcuti who arranged for selected extracts to be posted on Casebook for the benefit of all members; the thread in which they were posted was called "I am a British Subject." . A number of the letters that I found and transcribed are reproduced in Hawley's 2018 book.
12. It's not often that a member of the Casebook Forum gets to create a thread about Charles Cross/Lechmere in which 'Fisherman' doesn't post. But I achieved it with my thread Lechmere/Cross "name issue" Part 2. Why didn't Fisherman contribute? You'll have to decide but, for me, I think it was an unanswerable thread based on some damn fine research. But don't just take my word for it, let's listen to the public: 'Thoroughly and excellently argued' (Kattrup), 'An excellent piece of research' (Sam Flynn) 'Some interesting stuff...David is an excellent researcher' (GUT), 'Excellent piece of intensive research..resolves this issue' (John G), 'Top work David' (Joshua Rogan), 'Fascinating read, great research' (Pcdunn).
13. From 2 April to 6 April 2017 I made a series of posts containing much original research into issues raised in a revised edition of Patricia Cornwell's book about Walter Sickert as JTR and some bloody good points they were too! They can be found from #166 onwards in Patricial Cornwell - Walter Sickert - BOOK 2 specifically at #166 (Sickert's Whereabouts in 1888), #176 (Young Woods), #177 (Nemo), #178 (Mathematicus), #180 (William Buchanan), #182 (WS) and, finally, #225 on the paper issue.
14. In a thread commenced on 16 April 2017, The Curtis Bennett Inquiry I posted transcribed documents relating to the Curtis Bennett Inquiry of 1888, an inquiry the purpose of which, as far as I am aware, was completely unknown to Ripperologists, and which culminated in a reprimand for Superintendent Cutbush. I'm not sure such a thread would be allowed today because posting evidence in this kind of volume seems to be verboten and could cause a complaint leading to the thread being closed.
15. Last but not least, in 2018 I managed to view and copy original documents authored by Michael Barrett and Anne Graham making it possible to compare writing styles and handwriting with the author of the so-called Maybrick Diary, not to mention transcribing, in full, radio interviews given by Barrett and Graham and not to mention posting an image of the receipt for the word processor purchased by Barrett in 1984. See: Diary Handwriting and And This is Factual and Mike Barrett Interview - September 1995 and Anne Graham Interview - October 1995 and Acquiring A 20th Century Word Processor amongst many other postings. I was also the first person to post a copy of the the original advertisement placed on Mike Barrett's behalf for a genuine Victorian diary with a minimum of 20 blank pages in Acquiring a Victorian Diary.
None of this type of thing, of course, will happen in the future.
Unfortunately, looking back at these articles it seems that basic punctuation such as apostrophes and quotations marks have vanished since the upgrade to the Forum, so they need to be read with this in mind.
The articles listed in another page, published on this site between January 2015 and September 2017, were all available for members of the Forum and the only place linked to them (at least by me) was on the Forum. Some of these articles took issue with the works of other writers, including precious 'authors'. This is not always a popular thing to do and ensured that I would make enemies among those writers and their friends. Indeed, on almost every occasion on which I wrote an article about a book or article authored by a Casebook member I was the subject of personal attacks, with none of them prepared to have a sensible discussion or debate with me about the facts and arguments. For this reason, if anyone needed protection by Admin it was me but sadly Admin didn't seem to see it that way.
The good news is that those precious authors are now perfectly free to post nonsense on the Casebook Forum (or should that be the Censorship Forum?) without any fear of contradiction from me and, in the past few months, since my resignation from that Forum, I have seen at least one of them has taken the fullest opportunity of doing exactly that. In fact, while there is a group of about six or seven regular posters (who I won't embarrass by naming) who do sterling and important work in challenging some of nonsensical theories of a smaller group of posters, I've nevertheless seen a number of factual errors and incorrect points being made on the Forum, which have not been corrected, since my departure. Had I been a member I would have corrected them (as I always did) but if Admin prefers uncorrected nonsense to be posted on her Forum then so-be-it.
The other bit of good news is that sensible and intelligent members of the Forum will learn from the facts set out above that trying to have a rational and reasonable private discussion about a Forum grievance with Admin does not appear to be possible and I hope they will not fall into the trap of attempting to engage her in one. If Admin posts that she is going to contact you by PM there is a good chance that this will never happen but don't bother being a good citizen by contacting her yourself because you could be in for a world of pain.
Let me conclude with a tip for any author who prefers to skip their research and include basic factual errors in their books, together with irrational and nonsensical arguments, and who is unhappy that someone might challenge them on an internet forum. Simply ignore any of the points made against you, refuse to answer any questions (ideally on the most absurd possible grounds) and personally attack the person who has challenged you. Make up some things about him or her – it doesn’t really matter what they are – even better, call them “Pierre” or any other alias to suggest they are posting under multiple names - and then hope that the whole discussion turns messy and people get distracted from all your mistakes. After a short time, complain to Admin that someone is 'attacking' you and if you are on the Casebook Forum you should manage to get the entire thread closed and your critic accused of badgering and harassing you. This may not work, however, unless you’ve managed to do a number of Rippercast interviews with Jonathan Menges but always bear in mind that the unwritten rules of Casebook clearly state that as an author you are entitled to far more protection than any ordinary member of the Forum and no-one is allowed to post evidence contradicting statements in your book.
25 May 2019