27th June 2021 saw yet another Caroline Morris special which deserves an article to itself due to the tremendously befuddling and deceptive way it was written.
The central core of her post is that Mike Barrett was a huge liar whose story changed constantly so that we can't believe a word he said.
This is, of course, the core message of her 2003 book, 'Inside Story'. It's basically what seems to have motivated the team to produce that book. Caroline Morris has repeated the same point endlessly for the past 18 years. And we have it repeated again in #6392.
Before looking at what she actually said, I want to draw attention to two crucial things that were omitted from her diatribe.
Firstly, there was no mention whatsoever of Mike's appearance at the Cloak & Dagger club in April 1999. As I set out in great detail in Man in a Pub, what Mike said at that meeting is a game changer. It's the story he told in his own words at THAT event which we need to consider if we are trying to get to the truth of the Maybrick diary rather than just trying to attempt to befuddle and confuse others with deceptive debating points.
Secondly, while concentrating on the problems with Mike's 1995 affidavit, there is just no acknowledgment in her post that this affidavit was almost certainly written by Alan Gray based on his conversations with Mike over the previous few months. If you want to find flaws with Mike's story in his affidavit you have a target rich environment but as soon as you appreciate that the affidavit wasn't written by him, you understand that the exercise of attempting to undermine his story by a focus on the errors and omissions in the affidavit is a waste of time.
By way of comment, it is literally flabbergasting that Caroline Morris doesn't mention the above two things. She is so clearly in denial and too cowardly to confront the facts which strongly point towards MIke's involvement in the forgery.
Now, bearing those two things in mind, let's look at how she deals with Mike's changing story.
Firstly we have this:
What were these multiple different, often inconsistent or incompatible things? Caroline Morris tells us:
'Mike claimed multiple different, often inconsistent or incompatible things at multiple different times, and not just for himself, but for different people.'
'At one point he alone faked the diary; at others it was Anne, with or without Mike's help, or with or without Tony D's input, or with or without her father's financial support, depending on who Mike was trying to impress at the time, or who he had it in for, or how much he'd had to drink.'
Let's look at the individual 'inconsistent or incompatible' points that are alleged here because it's my contention that there is really only one.
What I certainly agree on is that Mike originally said that he wrote the diary text himself but then changed his story and said that it was his wife who did it at his dictation.
But there is a very simple explanation for why Mike's story changed in this way. At first he was protecting his wife, but then, after she issued divorce proceedings, he stopped protecting her.
Naturally, one can also say that after she issued divorce proceedings he had a motive to falsely name her as a forger out of spite, but there is one remarkable fact here (which Caroline Morris naturally doesn't mention). That fact is that Anne's handwriting does share some similarities with the handwriting in the diary. This is an undeniable fact and when I presented the evidence in the Forum in 2018 everyone who commented agreed that the similarities were present.
Caroline Morris' own response to that remarkable fact has been an masterclass of denial. She refuses even to consider the point on the basis that she is not a handwriting expert, despite being happy to make her own handwriting comparisons on other occasions, such as with the signature in the watch compared to Maybrick's signature. So she sticks her head in the sand and pretends that there is no evidence of any similarity. But it's there.
It is extraordinary, is it not, that the one and only other person Mike has named as the forger does have similar handwriting characteristics to the diary author? How did that happen?
And Mike was remarkably consistent in naming Anne as the author of the diary. He did so in late 1994 and 1995 and then again in 1999. He even kept saying that the diary was in Anne's handwriting! No-one believed him and no-one listened to him! Why? Because Keith Skinner had obtained a sample of Anne's purported handwriting, trusting her not to disguise it. Yet, when we compare that sample with Anne's normal handwriting we find it is not the same. The reason for this has never been explained.
As far as I know, Mike was also consistent in saying that Anne wrote the diary at his dictation so the claim that it was done by Anne 'with or without Mike's help' is not understood.
In short, we do have Mike changing his story, having first said that he wrote the diary on his own before naming his wife but not only is there a simple explanation for this, but the notion that Anne could have done it has not been contradicted.
What about the other things on Caroline Morris' list of inconsistencies?
Well first, we have:
'with or without Tony D's input'
I don't believe that is true. I am not aware of any time Mike said the diary wasn't created with Tony Devereux's input. While it's true that he didn't mention Tony Devereux's input at the Cloak & Dagger club meeting, he also wasn't allowed to tell his story without constant interruption by Keith Skinner, as I explained in 'Man in a Pub', and no-one ever asked him about Tony Devereux's input. As I wrote in 'Man in a Pub:
'Astonishingly, no-one during those two days appears to have asked him about Devereux's involvement in the preparation of a draft of the text, or just assistance with basic research, while Tony was alive'.
So I would say it this is a false claim by Caroline Morris.
Next we have:
'with or without her father's financial support'.
Once again, I believe this is a false claim because I'm not aware of Mike ever having denied that he received financial support from Anne's father. Caroline Morris seems to be confusing Mike not mentioning that support, with him positively denying that he received it.
And that's it ladies and gentlemen!
We've been through the entire list of supposed inconsistencies and we've basically found nothing that can't be explained.
Perhaps the most amusing thing about the list of inconsistencies, though, is that for Caroline Morris to be able to claim that Mike's story has changed, she must be incorporating the story he told at the Cloak & Dagger club in April 1999 within her narrative. Yet, as I've said, she just can't bring herself to positively mention that meeting. She NEVER discusses it. She NEVER deals with it. She only challenges the story told in Mike's affidavit, never the story he told in his own words at the Cloak & Dagger club meeting!
Caroline Morris' #6392 continues as follows:
'He never did give a straight, credible story of the diary's inspiration, creation and chronology, from start to finish, or how and when the raw materials were obtained, with any supporting evidence that could have removed all reasonable doubt.'
You really do have to read that sentence carefully to see how carefully crafted it is.
Ideally, Caroline Morris would like to have said that Mike never gave a straight credible story of the diary's inspiration, creation and chronology, from start to finish, or how and when the raw materials were obtained. But she can't do that because at the Cloak & Dagger club meeting in April 1999 he DID give a straight, credible story of the diary's inspiration, creation and chronology, from start to finish and he did explain how and when the raw materials were obtained. Unfortunately, and maddeningly, Keith Skinner kept interrupting him and focussing on irrelevant points which were of interest to Skinner alone but, to the extent that anything was unclear, anyone in the audience, which included Caroline Morris herself, could have asked questions of Mike who was doing his best to answer them.
So, knowing that she can't quite say that Mike never gave a straight account of the diary's creation, what Caroline Morris does is add a qualifier at the end of her sentence: namely that he never gave a straight account of the diary's creation with supporting evidence that could have removed all reasonable doubt.
Talk about stating the bleedin' obvious!
We all know that Mike never produced evidence to prove his story beyond reasonable doubt. If that was the case, there would be nothing more to discuss (and one assumes that even the loons from the Forum would have packed up and gone home).
But, at the same time, Mike did produce a lead which led to discovery of the advertisement placed in Bookdealer which proved that in March 1992 he was hunting a Victorian diary from the decade of the Ripper murders which contained blank pages. No credible explanation for this has ever been provided by Caroline Morris. The only possible reason he could have been doing it was to locate a blank diary in order to forge a Victorian diary.
If we want to consider the consistency of Mike's account between 1995 and 1999 we find that he was actually consistent in saying the following:
1. After telephoning Doreen he sought to acquire a Victorian diary with blank pages via Martin Earl.
2. After failing to acquire a suitable diary via Martin Earl he obtained a photograph album at an auction held by Outhwaite & Litherland and removed pages filled with photographs with a Stanley knife.
3. The diary text was written by his wife.
That is the consistent, credible and uncontradicted story which Mike Barrett has told, and all the obfuscation and misdirection in the world of Caroline Morris can't change that.
But we are not yet finished with Caroline Morris's post. She then moves on to her favourite subject. Mike's affidavit:
'What Mike swore about the red diary in his affidavit was full of holes.'
Pausing there, no mention of a possible explanation for this being that Mike was an alcoholic with a bad memory at the best of times with an inability to explain ANYTHING (whether true of false) whose words were being written by Alan Gray, a person who had no personal knowledge of any of the events he was writing about.
Caroline Morris continues:
'He said nothing about the fact that he had requested and ordered it, or that this was in March 1992, around the time of his first call to Doreen.'
The problem here is that Mike's affidavit DOES say this implicitly! Once we know the date of the advertisement in Bookdealer, and the date he received the red diary, we know that it all occurred around March 1992. Sure, Alan Gray didn't know this. In fact, Alan Gray probably believed that the call with Doreen was in 1991 (due to the Liverpool Daily Post having reported that this was when Mike brought the diary down to London) so, of course, the affidavit was never going to say that the purchase was in 1992 but that is actually what the affidavit WAS telling us.
'He said that Anne had purchased it by cheque [literally true but misleading] in early 1990 [completely false],'
There's not much point in criticizing Mike's affidavit for including facts which are admitted to be 'literally true' so the only real complaint here is the inclusion of the year 1990 which actually appears to be a criticism of a typographical error bearing in mind that it was subsequently corrected to 1991. If one wants to defend the diary on the basis of typos you can do it but it's not very productive
If the affidavit was really trying to tell a story of a purchase of the diary in 1991 that is entirely understandable if Mike was simply confused between 1991 and 1992. That confusion could happen to ANYONE. Bearing in mind the involvement of Alan Gray in the writing of the affidavit and bearing in mind that when Mike told the story in his own words he said this all happened in 1992 it is utterly pointless for Caroline Morris to STILL be barking on about the 1990 date in the affidavit as if it is of any real significance.
Continuing on the point of Mike's affidavit stating that the diary was purchased by Anne in early 1990, Caroline Morris says that this was:
'implying that her intent in doing so was to use it to transfer the draft of the diary into it, but when it arrived it was too small. No mention of it being two years too late for Maybrick to have used [quelle surprise]. No mention that she didn't actually pay for the tiny 1891 diary until a month after the Maybrick diary had been seen in London.'
What we have here are criticisms of Mike's affidavit for what it did not say. This is both ironic and rich in a post which does not mention Mike's 1999 meeting at the Cloak & Dagger Club or Alan Gray's role in the drafting of Mike's affidavit!
Sure, Mike's memory of why the diary wasn't of any use, as he must have told Alan Gray, was that it was too small. But by that stage he probably hadn't seen the diary for more than two years. He was just going from memory. It would certainly have been more accurate to state that (even if it wasn't too small) it wasn't of any use because of the printed dates but this is surely nitpicking. We've seen the diary. We know why it wouldn't have been of use to Mike. But the only reason we even know of its existence is because Mike mentioned it in his affidavit. None of the many researchers buzzing around had found out about it which is rather odd isn't it? Because Anne was supposedly co-operating with them and they all had access to her. Yet, she didn't even think to mention it until after Mike exposed it in the affidavit, at which point she came up with a bullshit reason for why Mike wanted it.
And here's a funny thing. Even though Caroline Morris doesn't claim that Mike wanted a Victorian diary with blank pages because he wanted to see what a Victorian diary looked like, she doesn't seem to think it odd that Anne, by her (Caroline Morris') own understanding, lied about Mike's reason for getting it!
As for the criticism that Mike's affidavit doesn't state that Anne didn't pay for the 1891 diary until a month after the Maybrick diary had been seen in London, I don't see the significance of this omission. It doesn't matter when Anne paid for it if the legal obligation was always that it had to be paid for. Did Mike really need to get into that kind of detail from memory in circumstances where he was drawing the attention of the reader of his affidavit to the fact that such information could be established from Anne's cheque book which he didn't have access to? I don't think so.
Then we have this:
'Does this sound like it was ever the intent on both Barretts' part, to create the Maybrick diary from anything Martin Earl was able to locate, leaving a perfect paper trail and account of the transaction on record?'.
We've moved away now from the point of the post, which is supposed to be about Mike's inconsistent story, to an argument over something which she well knows is disputed.
The fact of the matter is that the purchase of the red diary was made secretly, just like the purchase of the scrapbook. The researchers never managed to find out about it. Only after Mike revealed the truth in his affidavit was Keith Skinner able to locate Martin Earl.
I honestly don't know how Caroline Morris thinks Mike (or any other forger of the diary) would have been able to obtain a Victorian diary or scrapbook in order to forge the diary without leaving some kind of trail behind. Does she think they could just magic one up out of thin air?
Even a master criminal would be hard pressed to conjure up a diary or scrapbook containing Victorian paper without leaving a paper trail but how much harder for Mike Barrett? Yet he DID manage to secretly acquire a Victorian photograph album with blank pages and no-one would know about it today if he hadn't revealed it.
So by asking whether Mike's affidavit sounds like someone trying to leave 'a perfect paper trail' she is doing no more than creating a strawman plan which never existed, for her to demolish. Mike never said that he tried to obtain a Victorian diary without creating a paper trail. He didn't need to. He just needed to obtain a Victorian diary, and that's what he did.
Then we have this:
'At one point, it was even suggested that Anne did this deliberately so she could put all the blame on Mike at a later date if needed. If that had been her intention, I don't see how it could have worked, and indeed it wouldn't have done - as it was her cheque and she is believed to have been in it with Mike from the word go.'
I've never said this. I think it was one of RJ Palmer's suggestions. But, in fairness, he likes to float various possibilities on the boards. Caroline Morris has just latched onto it as a strawman argument. It has nothing to do with whether Mike's account is true or not. It's the normal irrelevant waffle she always likes to add into her posts.
'How could she not have been, if the diary had indeed been a Barrett creation? She knew nobody would believe it was all Mike's own work, having had to help him with anything he had written for publication. Even less chance of him embarking on a literary hoax without her knowledge.'
That's the last sentence of her post and it's just her continuing to counter RJ Palmer's suggestion which is completely irrelevant to the main topic of the post and the only result of it is to make her post much longer than it needed to be.
If this is the best she can do to argue that Mike's account cannot be relied upon, she has obviously failed.
30 June 2021
Published (Orsam Day) 18 September 2021
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