Orsam Books

The Inside Story of #6135

Oh dear, posting three days before Orsam Day, it looks like Caroline Morris has been on the Happy Juice.  Her post #6135 of the 'Incontrovertible' thread contains long stream of consciousness ramblings and unfounded nonsensical speculation for which she is famous: the type of ludicrous speculation which is all but impossible to respond to in any kind of sensible way but let's have a crack. 

Her first sentence of the post sets the tone: 

'If the diary had been discussed between Mike and Tony [presumably without Anne], I wonder what they would have said about it.'

No, let's not, because we have literally no idea what Mike and Tony would have said about the diary, with or without Anne, and there is no evidence as to any of their discussions, so what's the point?  

But then we have: 

'According to Lord Orsam's theory there was no physical diary to discuss before Tony died, in August 1991, and IIRC it was eventually established that his daughter had borrowed Tales of Liverpool back in the January, and he had asked her to return it "at the weekend" because it was Bongo's.' Clearly that didn't happen, so it was presumably forgotten about after that, by all concerned, until Tony's daughter, 'without being prompted' according to RJ, remembered she still had this little book and mentioned it to the police in connection with their enquiries into the diary's origins. I wonder if she'd have done so if she'd had any idea that Mike would go on to name her Dad as a co-conspirator in a Barrett hoax.'

'I wonder what she would have done if...'.   So what we have here is nothing more than pointless hypothetical speculation.  Who cares what the answer is?

Let's move on. 

'We have to consider the likelihood that Tony, along with Mike and Anne, had been secretly planning to create this hoax since before January 1990, as Mike claimed in his sworn affidavit. How long would they have known Tony by then, to develop the relationship and gain the trust needed in order to commit this fraud together?'

I don't know why we 'have to consider' this likelihood nor what purpose is served in doing so but, as I mentioned in a previous update, Mike told Martin Howells that he met Tony Devereux in about 1987 and that, 'I struck up a three-year acquaintance with him and we became very good, good, good mates and what have you'.   That's the only real information we have about their friendship.  There can be no doubt that three years is sufficient time 'to develop a relationship and gain the trust needed' but, frankly, a much shorter time would have been sufficient and the question is utterly pointless.

Next pointless question: 

'When would they have got round to discussing the rather crucial matter of where the diary came from and how long they'd had it before deciding to go public with it?'

We don't know.  Let's move on. 

'They had a long time to think about it, between January 1990 and August 1991, when Tony suddenly and unexpectedly died, leaving his co-conspirators with a convenient, if far from ideal explanation, plus his share of the profits.'

There were no profits in August 1991.  And I wonder what Caroline Morris thinks an 'ideal' explanation for a forged diary of Jack the Ripper could have been.  Any explanation other than the truth can't possibly be 'ideal' because it would have been a lie.  

'Did it really not occur to someone as practical as Anne, at any time between January 1990 and April 1992, to suggest the far superior explanation that it had been in the family for decades, and they had finally decided to interest a publisher, who could fund research into its true origins?'

Leaving aside the questionable premise of this sentence that Anne was 'practical', for which there is no good evidence of which I'm aware, we really have to take Caroline Morris' word for it that an explanation of the diary having been in the family for decades would have been 'far superior'.  I don't see it that way.  It would immediately have involved Anne and her father having to be questioned closely by investigators.  Anne's story changed after she first told it in July 1994 (see 'Inside Story' page 195), with Anne claiming that she had 'got the details in her 1994 statement wrong'  and she barely allowed herself to be questioned about it in any detail. She would have faced intense scrutiny if she had told the story about the diary having been in her family in April 1992: the very scrutiny that she largely managed to avoid by leaving her yarn on Doreen Montgomery's answering machine.  And there is good reason to think that the whole idea of the diary having been in her family wasn't developed by Anne until after Paul Feldman and Keith Skinner had put the idea into her head in 1994 through various theories of her being related to Florence Maybrick and having connections with Battlecrease.   So this question is just another waste of time. 

'All that planning and preparation over the course of more than two years, and then Mike goes and leaves an eleventh hour paper trail with the red diary....'

What paper trail?  Despite teams of researchers and newspaper reporters crawling all over the story of the Jack the Ripper diary for THREE WHOLE YEARS, no-one discovered the secret of Mike's purchase of the 1891 diary or even came close to discovering it!  If Mike hadn't blurted out the secret in 1995 how would we even know about it today?  Keith Skinner only heard about in July 1995 (indirectly from Mike).   Even then nothing more would have been known unless Anne hadn't given her cheque stub to Keith in August 1995.  It then took three more years to establish when the diary was received. So this 'paper trail' is imaginary.  In fact, we've never even SEEN a single actual document connecting Mike Barrett to the purchase!  No doubt it's in Martin Earl's records but without Mike (or Anne) confessing to the forgery and revealing the existence of the diary, the chances of any researchers following this 'paper trail'  to Martin Earl was zero. 

'...before finally buying the photo album, just a  few days before he takes it, with the newly penned diary, to his meeting in London on 13th April 1992.'

Yes, 'just a few days', like Mike said in his affidavit, when he explained it took eleven days to create the diary. 

'Apparently, neither he nor Anne is remotely bothered that if the woeful 'dead pal' story isn't rejected, and the handwriting doesn't give them away - not to mention RJ's 'still damp' ink - then somebody at O&L, or whoever put the album up for sale, could be their downfall at a future date.'

We can ignore the 'still damp' comment because the ink wouldn't have been damp and I have no idea what she means by Mike's story being 'rejected' (a story which lots of people, like Paul Begg, gave credence to for many years) and we know that disguised handwriting is virtually impossible to prove as being disguised and the chances of anyone ever being able to identify the common black 'guardbook', without its photographs, as theirs (especially without the clue provided by Mike in 1994 of his purchase at O&L), must have been minimal to zero. O&L didn't even come into the frame until Mike mentioned them.

But all that aside, this is where Caroline Morris keeps going wrong.  Any criminal endeavour can fail due to a mistake made by the criminals but that doesn't mean failure is inevitable nor that the criminals will be 'bothered' by the possibility.  We know, for example, that the forger DID make a number of huge mistakes with anachronisms and errors of fact in the diary but, somehow, they got away with them, in no small part due to the assistance of supposedly intelligent writers and researchers who made, and continue to make, excuses for the diary (i.e. Shirley Harrison and the entire 'one off' fiasco).

'And we have to consider all this, without even blinking at the coincidence of Mike choosing 9th March 1992, out of all the days he could have chosen, to approach a London literary agency about a diary supposedly written by a man who slept in the room where floorboards had been lifted that very morning, and one of the electricians present just happened to drink in the same pub as Mike, and just happened to live on the same road as Tony Devereux.'

This is where Caroline Morris wants to have her cake and eat it while, at the same time, contradicting her own arguments.  It wasn't long ago that she was telling us that the diary could have been concealed somewhere in Battlecrease, but not necessarily under the floorboards, by a visitor on a paid tour of the house.  Removing the floorboards from the equation means that the only coincidence is that electricians were working in Battlecrease on the day that Mike telephoned Doreen which is not only not much of a coincidence but there were electricians working in that house for 14 days during 1992.  In any case, as I've said many times, it's not impossible that Mike heard of the work being done at Maybrick's old house due to a couple of electricians drinking and talking loudly in the Saddle and it triggered his decision to re-ignite an old plan to create a forged diary of Jack the Ripper by James Maybrick.  As I've also said, Keith Skinner didn't take the opportunity to ask Mike why he chose 9 March 1992 when he questioned him in 1999, nor when he questioned him for his 2003 book, nor did Caroline Morris herself.  It's only now that she keeps asking why he chose that date.  He had to telephone Doreen one day and it's too late to ask him why he chose that particular day.

'I suspect it was Mike's 'brainwave' to use Tony, because he couldn't be questioned, but also the parallels with Eddie Lyons would have made it easier to stick to his story.'

We all know about Caroline Morris' substitution theory but there aren't really any parallels with Eddie Lyons.  The story about Tony Devereux didn't involve the Saddle pub (because Tony was housebound) and he is supposed to have given Mike an item that he knew nothing about wrapped up in brown wrapping paper and told him to 'do something with it'. The story involving Eddie Lyons, as imagined by Caroline Morris, is that he only showed Mike the diary on 9 March in the Saddle but didn't give it to him, that there were protracted negotiations for a sale and, as a result, it wouldn't have made sense for Eddie to have told Mike to 'do something with it'.  There is no reason to think that the diary would have been wrapped in brown paper especially as Mike would have needed to examine it in the pub.

'I can't imagine Anne being too happy about Mike using his dead 'friend', regardless of what she knew about it, but the question was bound to be asked. Did Mike blurt out Tony's name to Doreen and co before Anne could have a say in the matter?'

What Caroline Morris can or cannot imagine about Anne, someone who she barely knows (and didn't know in 1992), is neither here nor there.  I also can't think of anything more pointless than wondering whether Mike 'blurted out'  Tony's name to Doreen before Anne had a say in the matter.  In any case, the story told by Mike was sufficiently convincing for the publishing rights to be sold and for Shirley Harrison to publish her book based on that story!  For that reason, if Anne had approved the story she would have been perfectly justified in doing so.

'But what if, despite everything, RJ's suspicions are correct,'

This is my favourite line in the post and is the reason I've quoted it in full.  Those words 'despite everything' are hilarious, as if she's actually provided reasons in her ramblings for RJ's suspicions not to be correct!  Perhaps in her imagination she's put forward a case against RJ's suspicions but the truth is that she's not undermined RJ's theory by one iota.

'and Tony really had been involved with the Barretts in fraud up until August 1991, and that's why he had Mike's Tales of Liverpool in his house? Would Anne have thought it anything but insane to use Tony as the provenance in that case, when he had three daughters who would obviously want to know what the hell was going on?'

More hypothetical speculation about what Anne would or what not have thought if she was involved in the decision about provenance, about which we have no idea.  But the question as phrased is a non-sequitur. I mean, Mike says that Tony gave him the diary and his three daughters 'want to know what the hell was going on'.  So what?  None of the daughters could disprove the claim.  So why would it have been 'insane' for Mike to say that Tony gave him the diary? What real difference would it have made to anything if the three daughters had wanted to know what was going on?  If they couldn't have contradicted the story (which they couldn't) it didn't matter! In circumstances where we know that the story was accepted by Doreen Montgomery, Shirley Harrison, Robert Smith and others, enabling the Jack the Ripper Diary book to be published, it strikes me as insane to suggest that the Tony Devereux story was NOT a good cover story.  It was one that couldn't be disproved.  Anne even used it herself in her own story, so who is really the insane person here?

'Mike's more rational self always said it was Tales of Liverpool which had led to him to the identity of the diary author. Even RJ would agree that it wasn't the other way round, with the book leading to Maybrick being chosen as a likely Jack the Ripper.'

Clearly the phrase 'Mikes more rational self' is a way of Caroline Morris referring to Mike's honest self, yet at other times she tells us we can't believe a word he says.  Why would he be telling the truth on this occasion?  Indeed, as I understand his story, he claims to have used Tales of Liverpool to identify Maybrick as Jack the Ripper PRIOR to contacting Doreen Montgomery on 9 March 1992.  That's certainly what we are told in 'Inside Story' at page 8.  The authors tell us that he worked out the diary was Maybrick's and then, having little idea how to proceed further, he contacted Pan Books before contacting Doreen.  Surely Caroline Morris will tell us that this was a barefaced lie.  And I don't know why she thinks that Tales of Liverpool couldn't have led to Maybrick being chosen as a likely Jack the Ripper or why RJ would agree that the chapter in the book couldn't have been the inspiration behind the diary.  

'Mike also maintained that he didn't begin researching the diary until after Tony's death, and began with the ripper content, before moving on to the Liverpool connection and finding Maybrick in Tales of Liverpool'.

It's strange that Caroline Morris appears to be relying here on something Mike Barrett said because she always tells us that we can't rely on anything he says. And what does she mean when she says that Mike maintained that he didn't begin researching the diary until after Tony's death?   Surely the 'research' Mike was talking about here was fake research that never happened. He was lying in other words.  Caroline Morris appears to be confusing two things: the actual research needed to create the forgery and the pretend research needed to create the impression of investigating the diary by the person who forged it.  

'Clearly that doesn't work if the only copy he ever had in his hands was by then with Tony's daughter. But the evidence suggests this copy was entirely forgotten about - by Mike and Tony - after it left Tony's house. So was this one ever used in connection with a Barrett hoax, or did Mike simply see another copy in Smiths over a year later, and make the Maybrick connection in time to tell Doreen and co that he had identified Jack the Ripper?'

I really don't know what 'evidence' she can possibly be referring to which suggests that the copy of the book was forgotten about by Mike and Tony.  I mean, Tony died in 1991 so how could anyone possibly know whether he remembered the book or not at any time before his death?  And it's common ground that we can't rely on anything said by Mike. So what evidence does she mean?

And why does she think that Mike needed to see a copy of the book - a book which he already owned - in Smiths before it occurred to him to tell Doreen that he used it to work out that the diary must have been written by Maybrick?   

The point about the Tales of Liverpool book is really very simple.  It contains a chapter about the Maybrick case.  Mike owned it and lent it to Tony Devereux at some point prior to August 1991.  It clearly wasn't used to create the diary (because the forgers needed at least Ryan's book) but it was likely to have inspired the forgers.  It was a starting point in other words. When questioned, Mike denied having lent the book to Tony.   

In order to explain this denial, Caroline Morris is reduced to claiming that Mike had not only forgotten lending the book to Tony but had even forgotten owning it in the first place!!! How likely is that?  In fact, on her own story, even when he sees it in Smiths and presumably reads it in the shop (after 9 March 1992?), when he makes the connection between the diary and Maybrick, he STILL doesn't remember that he owns the book and lent it Tony!  And boy it doesn't get much more ridiculous than that.

It wasn't long before Caroline Morris had 'Another thought' as she did in #6136.  These are always bad and so it proved. 

'Another thought just occurred to me. If Mike and Tony were discussing their plans to create this hoax, right up until Tony's unexpected death [while the Barretts were away on holiday], how would either Anne or Mike have been confident that Tony had not left any really incriminating evidence of their involvement lying around, which would be recognised as such, as soon as they went public with the diary and foolishly brought his name into it?'

Because of course when someone dies, six months later all their possessions and documents are still 'lying around' for anyone to find.  NOT!!!

Just another daft question from the master of them. 

And, by July 1994, Anne must have known that the Tony Devereux angle had been fully investigated and that his daughters had been questioned following the police discovery of 'Tales of Liverpool'. Thus, she also would have known that there was definitely no incriminating evidence in his family's possession, no series of notebooks containing Mike's 'DAiry ideas' as Caroline Morris imagines in her follow-up post, #6140.  Consequently, her suggestion that it would somehow have been a foolish risk for Anne to have falsely said in July 1994 that she gave the diary to Tony to give to Mike because it would have brought 'the focus' back on Tony is just more nonsense of the highest order that we can all safely ignore. 


Lord Orsam
19 September 2020