Despite already having created an overflow article to 'Lord Orsam Says...' to deal with Caroline Morris' rambling Censorship Forum posts in 'Oh Carolina!', I now need to create a second overflow to deal with one of her rambling Censorship Forum posts! It's one that mentions me quite a lot, even though I no longer post on that Forum, and even though Caroline Morris claims not to be reading the articles on this site. Despite this, she claims to know what I am thinking!
The post in question is #506 in the 'Problem of Logic' thread and it requires some serious analysis from me through its crazy twists and turns.
THE STRANGE QUESTION
I'm going to start with the strange question Caroline Morris asks in the ninth and penultimate paragraph of her post. For some unfathomable reason she asks R.J. Palmer this:
'do you know when David B. wrote his “Man in A Pub” article? I ask because Keith noticed that for some unexplained reason, neither of you have mentioned that in post #540 [which you replied to in #541] of the Acquiring A Victorian Diary thread, Keith posted the record of Shirley’s conversation with Kevin Whay, in response to David’s specific request.'
My 'Man in A Pub' article was published on 26 January 2020 but I scratch my head to see the relevance of that fact or why it matters that on 20 January 2018, in post #540 of the 'Acquiring' thread, Keith Skinner posted the record of Shirley Harrison's conversation with Kevin Whay in response to my specific request. Surely the only important thing is what the record of Harrison's conversation with Whay actually revealed.
Can we try and work out why this issue has been raised?
Well, R.J. Palmer had quoted this paragraph from that article of mine:
“In a statement made by Kevin Whay to Shirley Harrison on 16 January 1995, which was, for some unexplained reason, omitted from inclusion in 'Inside Story', and is thus not very well known, Whay said that, 'Between 1990-1991 they [O&L] held about 300 or more auctions and items such as an old photo album would have been in a job lot marked "miscellaneous items".' Consequently, even a search of the records in the correct year would not have revealed the sale of the photo album (or ledger or scrapbook). Those records would, according to Whay, only have recorded it as a 'miscellaneous' item"
Why does Caroline Morris think the date that I wrote this is relevant? Why does she and Keith Skinner think that I (like R.J.) needed to mention that Keith Skinner posted the quote from Kevin Whay at my request on the Casebook Forum?
I really can't say for sure. I can only assume that she and Keith Skinner (neither of whom, it's fair to say, seem to have thickest of skins) have become unhinged by my comment that Whay's statement to Harrison was, 'for some unexplained reason, omitted from inclusion in Inside Story, and is thus not very well known.' That comment is 100% factually correct and the source for the 'unexplained reason' part of the comment is Keith Skinner himself. For, when posting that information on 20 January 2018, he confirmed that that the part of Kevin Whay's statement that I quoted had been omitted from 'Inside Story' and said, 'I can't now remember why it was not reproduced in its entirety'. Thus, the reason for the omission is, indeed, as I said, unexplained!
Caroline Morris was posting in the thread at the time. She could have provided an explanation if she had one. But she did not do so.
In 'Man in A Pub' I made clear that the reason for saying that it was omitted from 'Inside Story' meant that it wasn't very well known. Consequently, it was widely believed by those interested in the subject of the Maybrick Diary that a search of O&L's records would have identified the scrapbook if it had genuinely been sold in an O&L auction (if the search was being conducted in the right year). But Whay's statement suggested that, even if the records of the right auction in the right year were being examined, there would have been no mention of a scrapbook and that it would have been hidden in a job lot under the vague description of 'miscellaneous' items. Yet that important information was not provided to the readers of 'Inside Story.'
One might ask, why not? There can only be three reasons.
1. It was deliberately excluded in order to present the most damaging case against Mike Barrett.
2. It was deliberately excluded because it wasn't thought to be relevant, material or important information.
3. It was accidentally excluded by way of oversight.
In his post #540 of the 'Acquiring' thread, Keith Skinner said that the information was 'not deliberately excluded' from 'Inside Story' but, if he can't remember why it wasn't included, he can't really be in any position to say this, can he? I think that when he used the word 'deliberately' he was using it wrongly to mean something like 'deviously' but, if he is correct to say that it wasn't deliberately excluded, then all we are left with is that it was accidentally omitted by way of oversight. If that is the case, however, why hasn't he or Caroline Morris simply said so?
For me, it would certainly be surprising if the fact that the scrapbook would have been described in O&L's records as 'miscellaneous' was thought not to be important. It seems so obviously important because it means that it would have frustrated and ultimately defeated a search to find any evidence of the sale of the scrapbook. I must say, with regret, that I thought at the time, and still do, that Keith Skinner's comment in his post #540 that, 'I can't now remember...whether its detail supports or weakens Mike Barrett's claim!' to have been somewhat disingenuous. He must surely be able to see now (and must have appreciated at the time) that it clearly supports Mike's claim, because the whole point of the statements of Kevin Whay that WERE quoted in 'Inside Story' was to demonstrate that there was no record of any such sale of a scrapbook in O&L's records. Yet, the reader wasn't given the crucial information suggesting that it would have been impossible for anyone searching O&L's files and archives to find a mention of that scrapbook.
In her post #506 of the 'Problem of Logic' thread, Caroline Morris (disingenuously in my view) says, by way of apparent justification for the non-inclusion of this material information, that, 'if we had tried to include every single piece of information that had come our way in 2003, we'd still be writing it'. But that trite remark, which is unlikely even to be true - did they really have so much information that it would have taken them seventeen years to complete the book, if they had included all of it? - comes nowhere near to meeting the point. Somehow, the authors of 'Inside Story' managed to include EVERY COMMENT by Kevin Whay which tended to disprove Mike Barrett's claim to have purchased the scrapbook from an O&L auction while, at the same time, managing to omit the only two comments by Kevin Whay which supported Mike's story.
The second comment that supported Mike's story, incidentally, was Kevin Whay's admission that Mike could have used the pseudonym of 'Mr Williams' when buying the scrapbook at the auction, as he had said he did in his affidavit. Supposedly, according to Caroline Morris, had this rather important corroborating information been included in 'Inside Story', the authors would still be writing the book today!!!
The irony of the discussion we are having now is that no criticism was being made by me in 'Man in A Pub' of the authors of 'Inside Story' for omitting this information. The reason I stated in that article that the information had not been included in the book was by way of explanation as to why the information about the 'miscellaneous' description was not very well known today. And I actually said that in the article when I wrote that the statement was 'omitted from inclusion in 'Inside Story', and is thus not very well known'.
However, while there was no criticism being made in my article, it is instructive to look at exactly WHY Keith Skinner posted the information on the Forum in #540 of the 'Acquiring' thread, for it was in direct response to my claim that the authors of 'Inside Story' had a bias, and were attempting to make a case against Mike Barrett, something that I maintain to this day.
While Skinner and Morris (and Linder) no doubt believe that they were being impartial in their book, it looks to me, from the omission of the Kevin Whay material, without any explanation of why it was omitted, that there was an anti-Mike Barrett bias by the authors, or at least by one of them (i.e. the person who decided not to include the Whay information) however much they like to think that was not the case.
Now, I should say that I do not think for one second that Keith Skinner himself ever deliberately withheld this information and, indeed, I'm not sure he even appreciated that it had been omitted from his book. I somehow don't think that he was personally responsible for its non-inclusion. The reason I say this is that, as I mentioned on the Forum at the time, he had already emailed me the full Kevin Whay quote many months before he posted it on the Forum. When doing so, he didn't mention that it hadn't featured in his book, which makes me think he wasn't actually aware of the omission. I spotted immediately that it was a new quote that I'd never seen before but kept quiet because I thought that any mention to him that this hadn't been published in the book would have sounded rude and accusatory in a private email and out of character with the friendly tone of our correspondence.
The only reason I alluded to it on the Forum was because Caroline Morris claimed (in #496 of the 'Acquiring' thread) that no 'case' against Mike Barrett had been made in her book because, she said, 'we all had different views'. This struck me again as disingenuous because her view of the matter seems to be indistinguishable from Keith Skinner's, something which Skinner confirmed in one of his early posts in the 'Acquiring' thread when he wrote (#567) that:
'Caroline (Caz) expresses and articulates my thinking clearly and accurately. I seldom read a post where I disagree with what she has written'.
That doesn't sound to me like two people 'with different views' so it's hard to understand where Caroline Morris was coming from there. But until we know the individual responsible for the omission of Kevin Whay's statements from the book, it's irrelevant what the views of all the authors were; only the views of the person who took the decision to omit the information are relevant. Unless, of course, it was accidentally omitted, but if that was the case why hasn't Caroline Morris said that this is what happened? From her posts, it seems like a deliberate decision was taken (by her?) not to include it.
I'll return to that in a moment but first let me continue with the context of Keith Skinner's post #540 in the 'Acquiring' thread.
In response to Caroline Morris denying, in #496 of that thread, that 'Inside Story' presented a 'case' I posted this (in #505):
But let's examine that for a moment. This is from pages 167-8 of Inside Story commenting on Mike Barrett's account in his January affidavit of buying the scrapbook at Outhwaite and Litherland:
"According to Shirley Harrison, Kevin Whay, a director of Outhwaite and Litherland, gave it little credence. Having searched through the company's files and archives on both sides of the alleged sale date, Whay confirmed that 'no such description or lot number corresponding with Barrett's statement exists. Furthermore we do not and have never conducted our sales in the manner in which he describes.' In a telephone conversation with Harrison soon after Barrett's affidavit was made public, Whay went further. 'Anyone who tells you they have got a lot number or details for such an album from us is talking through their hat.'"
Now it might be interesting if the full account of the telephone conversation between Harrison and Whay could be posted by one of the book's authors and we can all see if it was reported in the book in a fair and unbiased fashion.
It was THIS post to which Keith Skinner was responding in January 2018 when he did then post the full account of the telephone conversation between Harrison and Whay which publicly revealed for the first time that there was a material omission in 'Inside Story' in respect of what Whay had reported to Harrison. To repeat, I already knew what the omission was due to Keith Skinner having privately informed me of it in email much earlier, but it wasn't otherwise known.
Here is the information from Kevin Whay (as told to Shirley Harrison on 16 January 1995) that had been omitted from the book:
'He said that as far as he knows there have been no enquiries about the purchase of the album in which the diary is written. Between 1990-1991 they held about 300 or more auctions and items such as an old photo album would have been in a job lot marked “miscellaneous items.” There would quite likely be several “Mr Williams” or “Mr Jones” as a lot of people use a pseudonym when buying at auctions.'
As I write this today, despite two of the three authors having commented on it, still no reason has been provided as to why this information (which supports Mike) was excluded in its entirety from the book, while the information which suggests Mike was lying was included in its entirety. Still none of the authors have admitted responsibility for its omission. Keith Skinner has said that he doesn't know why it was omitted. Caroline Morris has merely said that, if all information had been included in the book, the authors would still be writing it today, something which, as I've said, is unlikely even to be true and explains nothing in respect to this specific piece of important information.
In response to Keith's post #540 I posted again in #563. In that post I said:
'Now, I don't think I am saying anything controversial when I say that it's seems obvious that the authors of Inside Story did not think that Mike Barrett was telling the truth about purchasing the album at an O&L auction. You have yourself mentioned Mike's refusal to produce his auction ticket (which I assume you have done to show that you think he is lying) and one of your co-authors has made clear on this forum that she does not believe Mike's story about the purchase of the album from O&L in his affidavit.'
I wrote this before Keith posted that he agreed with virtually everything written by Caroline Morris. So I think I was right. Both these authors of the book were highly sceptical of Mike's account in his affidavit of the acquisition of the scrapbook. They had, in other words, an inherent bias against Mike in this respect.
I continued on my post #563 by saying:
Indeed, to emphasise the point, two quotes have been included in Inside Story from Kevin Whay even though they both say essentially the same thing.
They have, in rather misleading fashion (albeit accidentally and unintentionally misleading I should say), been included in the book in reverse chronological order.
Whay's first comment in January 1995 was this:
"Anyone who tells you they have got a lot number or details of such an album from us “is talking through their hat"."
Then two years later in January 1997 he said this:
"Having searched through our files and archives on either side of the alleged sale dates I can confirm that no such information or lot number corresponding with his [Barrett’s] statement exist."
In Inside Story the Jan 1997 quote is reproduced first followed by the Jan 1995 quote. But, like I say, they are both saying essentially the same thing and one wonders why it was felt necessary to include the earlier Jan 1995 quote.
For the 1995 quote should have puzzled any independent observer. How could Whay have concluded that Mike had not obtained the album from an O&L auction two years before searching the company's files and archives?
By way of reminder, here are how the two quotes from 1995 and 1997 are jumbled together in reverse order in 'Inside Story' (with the dates added by me):
'According to Shirley Harrison, Kevin Whay, a director of Outhwaite and Litherland, gave it little credence. Having searched through the company's files and archives on both sides of the alleged sale date, Whay confirmed that 'no such description or lot number corresponding with Barrett's statement exists. Furthermore we do not and have never conducted our sales in the manner in which he describes.' [THAT WAS THE 1997 INFO.] In a telephone conversation with Harrison soon after Barrett's affidavit was made public, Whay went further. 'Anyone who tells you they have got a lot number or details for such an album from us is talking through their hat.' [THAT WAS THE 1995 INFO].
The reader isn't told that those two statements were made two years apart and are in reverse chronological order. But, also, please note the mention of the telephone conversation with Harrison as having taken place 'soon after Barrett's affidavit was made public'. Well, we now know that this telephone conversation was on 16 January 1995. So the authors of 'Inside Story' were telling us that Barrett's affidavit was made public prior to 16 January 1995. Caroline Morris today is telling us a very different story, but we shall return to that.
Continuing with my post #563, I wrote:
But more than this, would there have even necessarily been a record of the sale and purchase in O&L's files and archives? For Shirley's attendance note records him saying this:
"items such as an old photo album would have been in a job lot marked “miscellaneous items.”"
Doesn't that mean that a search of the company's records might not even have revealed any mention of an old photo album? Naturally, it depends on what information is in their files and archives but surely that was an obvious problem which might have foiled any search for the album in the company's records.
Secondly, Shirley's note reveals that "There would quite likely be several “Mr Williams” or “Mr Jones” as a lot of people use a pseudonym when buying at auctions". If one was being wholly fair in presenting both sides of the story, surely this information should have been included in the book because it supports Mike's story in his affidavit that he was able to make the acquisition under the name of Williams.
I think it is fair to say that Inside Story was quite influential in disparaging Mike's story of the acquisition of the album yet two important facts had been omitted namely that the album would been marked in the auction as a "miscellaneous" item rather than as an album and it was possible to make bids and obtain items at the auctions using false names.
Unfortunately, Keith Skinner didn't take the opportunity to reply to this post. He ignored it for some unexplained reason. Caroline Morris was also posting in the thread but she too didn't take the opportunity to respond. I was stating clearly - and giving them the chance to respond - that I didn't think that the authors of Inside Story were being 'wholly fair' to Mike Barrett. Either one of Skinner or Morris could have responded to this, at a time when I was a member of the Forum, and they were both actively posting, but they entirely failed to do so. Now Caroline Morris, with her thin skin, seems to be jumping up and down about my 'Man in A Pub' comment in the Forum but I'm no longer a member so am unable to respond directly.
I continued my post #563 as follows:
Then we come to the separate issue of precisely which records of O&L were examined. Whay, in 1995, was clearly focussed on the period 1990-1991 when he said "Between 1990-1991 they held about 300 or more auctions" . So when he said in 1997 that the company's records had been examined "on both sides of the alleged sale date" he would appear to have been regarding the alleged sale date as having been in 1990.
Yet, I was told by one of your co-authors on this forum last year:
"So you think we only asked O&L about the year 1990, do you? We trusted Mike that much, by the early 2000s, that we went by one of the dodgy dates he had come up with over the years and didn't think to ask the kind of questions that would have given us a definitive answer as to whether Mike's version of events could have taken place at O&L - ever?
I'm afraid you really must think everyone but Mike was incompetent then."
The thing about this comment is that I see no evidence in Inside Story that the authors of Inside Story asked any questions of O&L about Mike's acquisition of the album. Everything appears to have been left to Shirley Harrison. And her questions do appear to relate only to the 1990-1991 period. Did the authors of Inside Story make any further enquiries? If so, what was revealed?
No answer to my question about whether the authors of 'Inside Story' made any further inquiries with O&L, or just left it all to Shirley Harrison, was ever forthcoming. As far as I can tell, the only records ever requested to be examined by Kevin Whay were in respect of 1990 and 1991 (and possibly 1989). It seems clear that the records of 1992 were never examined. According to Caroline Morris herself this apparently means that 'everyone' was 'incompetent'.
Personally, I'm not interested in whether the people involved were 'incompetent' or not. The only important question is whether the 1992 records were or were not searched, and it seems clear that they were not.
THE MISCELLANEOUS ITEM THAT NEVER WAS, OR WAS IT?
I don't think I've read a more confusing passage relating to the Diary than we find in the fourth to eighth paragraphs of Caroline Morris' post #506 when she talks about how the scrapbook would have been documented in O&L's records.
The starting point, which she doesn't seem to start from, is that Kevin Whay told Shirley Harrison on 16 January 1995 that 'items such as on old photo album would have been in a job lot marked "miscellaneous items"'. Now that seems to me to be very straightforward. The scrapbook that Mike claimed to have purchased was an old photo album, so Kevin Whay was applying his mind to the correct type of item. Thus, Kevin Whay was saying that the scrapbook would have been in a job lot (i.e. with other items) which would have been marked as 'miscellaneous items'. There was no caveat offered there by Kevin Whay. He didn't say that if the old photo album had contained valuable photographs the position would have been different. He didn't say that it depends on what the other items were in the lot. He said without any qualification that the scrapbook WOULD have been in a job lot marked 'miscellaneous items'. He was being quite clear, therefore that the job lot would not have been marked 'old photo album' or 'scrapbook' so that any search for it in the records would surely not have been able to identify it.
Now, Kevin Whay is the expert from O&L but Caroline Morris seems to know better. She says of the search carried out in 1997:
'What is clear, though, is that whoever did the searching this time would have been looking for two distinctive items [Mike didn’t mention any others, did he?], which were unlikely to have been in a lot marked ‘miscellaneous items’. '
Not only can I NOT see how this is 'clear' but it doesn't seem to make any sense at all. Kevin Whay already told Shirley in 1995 that an old photo album would have been sold in a job lot marked 'miscellaneous items', so how have we arrived at a position where an old photo album and a compass were 'unlikely' to have been a lot marked 'miscellaneous items'? Kevin Whay has already said that that is precisely what the description of a job lot containing an old photo album and other items would have been.
Has Caroline Morris simply failed to understand this? Are we getting closer to working out who ensured the omission of Kevin Whay's statement from 'Inside Story' and the reason why it was omitted?
But then we have some completely unsourced and, apparently anecdotal information thrown into the pot by Caroline Morris. Hence, she says
'I have recently been reliably informed that while an album and compass, such as Mike described, could have been sold together as a lot, they would have been itemised and described individually in the ‘relevant’ catalogue – that word again. I’m told this is because the alleged album of WWI photos alone would have been worth in excess of £100 back then.'
The first question arising from this is: who has 'reliably informed' her of this and why has she not identified that person? Is it some kind of secret source? A protected whistleblower? I can't think of any reason why the identity of such a source should be withheld. More to the point, is she saying that the information she has supposedly received means that the information given by Kevin Whay to Shirley Harrison was incorrect? Is that why it wasn't included in her book?
But it's totally problematic. Kevin Whay said that an old photo album and another item or items would have been described by Outhwaite & Litherland as 'miscellaneous' items. I can't work out if Caroline Morris is trying to say that Kevin Whay only meant to say that an 'empty' old photo album would have been so described whereas an old photo album containing photographs would have been individually described or whether there was some particular but unspecified value of an old photograph album which would change the way it was recorded.
Frankly, I can't see any warrant for any of this. Caroline Morris appears to rely on the fact that Shirley Harrison stated in the 1994 paperback edition of her book that the scrapbook was 'an unremarkable empty album'. But no record has ever been produced of any conversation that Shirley Harrison had with Mike Barrett in which he told her this nor with anyone from O&L in 1994 (certainly not Kevin Whay) and there is no reason to think that, when Kevin Whay spoke to Shirley in January 1995, after publication of her paperback, he believed that he was being asked about an empty album. The fact that he referred to it as an 'old photo album' suggests that he thought there must have been photographs in it when it was sold.
Certainly, when Mike Barrett first spoke to the Liverpool Daily Post in June 1994 he said nothing about having acquired an 'empty' scrapbook. The Liverpool Daily Post of 27 June 1994 stated:
'He [Mike Barrett] said that he visited premises of auctioneers Outhwaite and Litherland in Fontenoy Street, Liverpool, bought an old photograph album - and ripped out the pages.'
The only reason for ripping out the pages of an old photograph album (and Dr Baxendale has confirmed that pages which appeared to contain photographs were removed from the front of the album) would have been that it contained old photographs! So why Shirley Harrison would have got it into her head that Mike Barrett told her it was an empty album is unclear.
But it really doesn't matter because there is no evidential basis on which to suggest that O&L would have treated an old photograph album containing photographs differently from an old photograph album which was empty. All we have is Caroline Morris' anonymous source who could be anyone and who could simply be guessing about O&L's practice in 1992.
Furthermore, there is no evidential basis to say that the photograph album containing World War I photographs would have been worth £100 in 1992, nor what difference it makes to anything if it was. Kevin Whay said very clearly that an old photo album, sold in a job lot with another item or items, would have been described as 'miscellaneous items' full stop. He didn't say it would have made any difference if the lot sold for £50 or in excess of £100 and it's hard to see why it would have made any difference. One could understand if the album had been sold in its own so that, in such case, it would have been described as an old photograph album but the clear point being made by Kevin Whay was that in a job lot containing as one of its items an old photo album they wouldn't have bothered to individually describe the items but would instead have describe them as 'miscellaneous items'.
As for Caroline Morris' further point that Mike apparently told Shirley prior to publication of her October 1994 paperback book that the scrapbook wasn't sold by O&L as part of a job lot, where is the record of this conversation? And why did Shirley not include this fact in her 2003 book in which she challenged the accuracy of Mike's affidavit? Is it possible that realised in 2003 that she had simply misunderstood something Mike had said in 1994?
THE BLAME GAME
After her incomprehensible attempt to undermine the statement of Kevin Whay from January 1995, Caroline Morris then seeks, pointlessly, to attribute blame for O&L's inability to find any records of the sale onto Mike Barrett. Thus, she said:
'It was nobody’s fault but Mike’s, that nothing of the kind was found, whether this was because the items and lot number never existed or because, when it mattered most, it completely slipped his mind that the auction was held just 13 days before he took his precious album to London on 13th April 1992, stripped of its valuable photos, but now boasting the freshly faked diary of Jack the Ripper. In other situations, he was able to rattle off that date as if it was deeply embedded in his soul.'
The very exercise of attempting to attribute blame is utterly pointless. All we are trying to establish here is whether the search of O&L's records carried out in 1997 would or would not have identified the scrapbook. THAT was the point I was making in my 'Man in A Pub' article and it was the same point that R.J. Palmer was making when he quoted me. It doesn't matter whether a failure to find it was Mike's fault or anyone else's fault. This is just a typical distraction by Caroline Morris from the key issue. Why can't she just stick with the key issues rather than introducing irrelevant side-issues?
Incidentally, I don't think it's entirely accurate to say that it 'slipped MIke's mind' that the auction was held just 13 days before he took his precious album to London on 13 April 1992. We have no idea if it slipped his mind or not. His affidavit was obviously drafted by Alan Gray and was based on Alan Gray's understanding of the sequence of events. What was stated in Mike's affidavit was that he bought and received the red diary before he went to the O&L auction and that, after acquiring the scrapbook at the auction it took 11 days to write the Diary. The only O&L auction which fits this time frame was held on 31 March 1992. So the relevant information WAS contained in Mike's affidavit.
We really do not know if anything slipped Mike's mind but it may be relevant to note that the Liverpool Daily Post of 27 June 1994 stated that Mike, 'took the diary to a London publisher in 1991'. On 30 June 1994, the same newspaper referred to 'Michael Barrett who produced the so-called diary in 1991'. We now know, of course, that he first took the diary to London, and produced it to Doreen Montgomery, in 1992. So it's quite possible that Mike's mind was confused in 1994, when he spoke to the Liverpool Daily Post, about the date he took the diary to London. As this confusion obviously entered the public arena through the newspaper, so that anyone who didn't have access to documentation about Mike's first visit to Doreen would naturally have believed that the diary first surfaced in 1991, it seems quite possible that this could have influenced Alan Gray when he drafted Mike's affidavit and means that he would never even have considered it possible that Mike could have been telling him that the Diary had been created at any time in March or April 1992. If Mike ever did say this to him he would surely have ignored and discarded it, assuming that Mike was hopelessly confused.
I would like to add that anyone who thinks that someone in 1994 could not have confused an event in 1992 with one 1991 is nothing less than an idiot. If you asked me today in 2020 whether something in my life happened in 2018 or 2017 then, without access to documents such as emails in which the event was recorded, I'm very unlikely to be able to tell you, despite having quite a good memory in general. I believe that to be true of most people. It strikes me as being especially true of an alcoholic. And it strikes me as being especially true in respect of someone like Mike Barrett.
As for Caroline Morris' claim that, in other situations, Mike was able to rattle off the date of 13 April 1992 as if it was embedded in his soul, I note that no specific examples are provided. It seems obvious, however, that if someone actually reminded Mike that he came to London to see Doreen on 13 April 1992 (as likely happened on the day before the Cloak & Dagger event in April 1999 when he lunched with a group of Ripperologists) he would be able to happily repeat that, at least in the short term, but that doesn't mean he was aware of the date in 1994 or 1995.
THE MELVIN DISTRACTION
In the fourth paragraph of her post we have this:
'Sure enough, that is what Whay confirmed on 16th January, that it would have been in a job lot marked ‘miscellaneous items’. They didn’t know any different then, because Mike’s affidavit was not yet known about. But Melvin Harris, or at least Alan Gray, who had typed it up, could have given O&L in confidence – or Shirley for that matter - the full monty on the photographs and compass, but it appears they didn’t do so.'
As usual with Caroline Morris' posts, we find a typical irrelevant diversion. What has Melvin Harris got to do with anything we are discussing here? Is this just another futile attempt to smear and discredit him?
She seems to be saying that, prior to 16 January 1995, Melvin Harris could have given Shirley the 'full monty' on the photographs and compass, as referred to in Mike's affidavit, but that 'it appears' that he did not do so. There are so many problems with that statement. The first is that Caroline Morris provides no evidence that Melvin Harris was even aware of the existence Mike's affidavit as at 16 January 1995 let alone that he was aware of the contents of that affidavit.
In this respect, I should point out that there is a serious error in 'Inside Story'. On page 180, it is stated:'Within a matter of days, Barrett's affidavit had come into the hands of Melvin Harris'. There are two problems with this. Firstly, the authors of Inside Story have confused Mike Barrett's affidavit of 5 January 1995 with his statement (not an affidavit) that he signed on 23 January 1995 relating to the visit to his house by researchers five days earlier. When the authors of 'Inside Story' refer to 'Barrett's affidavit' which had supposedly come into the hands of Melvin Harris, they are actually referring to Mike's signed statement of 23 January, not to his affidavit of 5 January. But the evidence they provide in support of this claim actually shows that the statement of 23 January had NOT come into the hands of Melvin Harris within a matter of days.
The evidence in question is a letter written by Melvin Harris to Shirley Harrison on 4 February 1995. In that letter, Melvin informed Shirley of the existence of a statement by Mike which repudiated what he told the researchers who visited him on 23 January. Thus, he said, 'I understand that an enlarged statement about this visit has been made by Barrett'. However, he also said quite clearly, 'I have not yet seen this statement'. That being so, it's baffling as to why the authors of 'Inside Story' felt able to say that the document had come into the hands of Melvin Harris at this time.
Gratuitously, Caroline Morris adds in her post:
'On the very day before Mike swore his affidavit, Melvin wrote to Shirley, ending his letter with: ‘I, and my colleagues on the committee, are prepared to cooperate fully and freely, without prejudice, in order to make known the real facts in this case.’ How quickly that was forgotten – unless Melvin knew perfectly well that Mike’s affidavit and ‘the real facts’ had very little in common.'
Leaving aside that Caroline Morris has provided no evidence that Melvin was aware of Mike's affidavit as at 16 January 1995, or was in possession of a copy of it, even if he had obtained a copy of Mike's affidavit prior to 16 January, and even if there were no confidentiality restrictions which would have legally prevented him from providing it to Shirley Harrison, how would he have known whether Shirley Harrison had or had not received a copy of the affidavit herself? How would he have known she was speaking to O&L about the scrapbook on 16 January 1995? Did Shirley Harrison keep Melvin informed of what she was doing?
And did Shirley Harrison respond positively to Melvin Harris' 'without prejudice' offer? If so, what documents did she provide to Melvin Harris? If not, why would there have been any obligation on Melvin to unilaterally provide documents to Shirley? It's quite clear to me that Melvin's letter contains an offer which he expected Shirley to reciprocate, or hoped that she would. If she had said in reply that she wasn't prepared to cooperate fully and freely, or simply never responded, no sensible person would have expected Melvin to simply provide information to Shirley on a one-sided basis.
As to that, from documents of Melvin Harris that I have seen, they contain numerous complaints that Shirley wasn't keeping him informed about the ink tests she was having carried out and and wasn't cooperating with him.
However this all seems irrelevant and it's utterly incomprehensible as to why Melvin Harris has even been mentioned. It's either a diversion or she wants to continue her fight with a dead man.
She also mentions Alan Gray but Alan Gray was an agent of Mike Barrett so would hardly have been free to pass on a copy of an affidavit without instructions from his client. I can't see how Gray could possibly be said to owe any duty to keep Shirley Harrison informed of developments. If there was any duty it belonged to Mike Barrett. If he didn't want Shirley to see his affidavit then so be it, but what difference does that make to anything?Equally irrelevant, goodness knows why she's bothered to include this about the Sphere volume:
'Shirley was also prevented from seeing the Sphere volume then in Gray’s hands, and it became pretty obvious why, when Keith finally obtained it. According to Melvin, in a post to the message boards in 2000, Shirley had tried to get access to Mike’s volume 2 on 19th January 1995, but Gray ‘refused to play ball’. On the same day, Shirley received a typed note from Gray: ‘I am sorry I cannot meet you today, but I am advised there is a conflict of interest here’. I don’t know who advised him not to play ball, but I’ll give you three guesses.'
How silly and pointless is that? But it has the typical effect of making her post unnecessarily long and complicated and hard to follow.
WHAT DID SHIRLEY SURELY KNOW?
When did Shirley Harrison first become aware of Mike Barrett's affidavit?
According to Caroline Morris in the third paragraph of her #506 (underlining added):
'You seem to have forgotten that Shirley didn’t know about Mike’s affidavit of 5th January 1995 until two years later, on 22nd January 1997, when he finally sent a copy to her. On the same day, Shirley faxed Kevin Whay the actual page dealing with Outhwaite and Litherland, and asked him to check what Mike himself had claimed against his records.'
The problem with that statement is that it entirely contradicts what Shirley Harrison tells us herself!
In her 2003 book, 'The American Connection', Shirley writes at page 294, in respect of Mike's affidavit (of 5 January 1995), which she refers to as his '6-page statement':
'This statement was soon very soon in general circulation and finally in 1996 appeared on the internet in its entirety.’
So one would take from this that Shirley obtained a copy of Mike's affidavit ‘very soon’ after it was signed, certainly before 1996, and probably sooner than this bearing in mind that, with her contacts, she would presumably have been given a copy before it was in general circulation.
Certainly, however, this statement entirely contracts Caroline Morris' unsourced statement that Shirley didn't know about Mike's affidavit until 22 January 1997.
As I've already mentioned, 'Inside Story' also gives the clear impression that Shirley obtained a copy of Mike's affidavit almost immediately after 5 January 1995 for it states at page 167 (underlining added):
'In a telephone conversation with Harrison soon after Barrett's affidavit was made public, Whay went further. 'Anyone who tells you they have got a lot number or details for such an album from us is talking through their hat.'
We are told by Keith Skinner that this telephone conversation occurred on 16 January 1995 which means that they were saying that Barratt's affidavit 'went public' before that date. Perhaps they made a mistake but Caroline Morris can't complain if those of us who were not involved in this story in 1995 (which includes herself) are confused as to when Mike's affidavit became public knowledge.
As I've mentioned elsewhere, 'Inside Story' also gives the clear impression that Keith Skinner and Shirley Harrison were fully aware of Mike's affidavit when they visited him on 18 January 1995. Thus it is said on page 170 of that book that 'Barrett had assented to a meeting at his house with Keith Skinner, Shirley Harrison [and others]...to discuss his sworn statement'. How could they have attended a meeting to discuss something which they didn't even know existed? Then it is said that, 'It was clear from the outset that Barrett had no intention of defending his latest claim'. Well how could that have been clear from the outset if the attendees didn't know about his latest claim? In addition, on page 168 of the book, it is also stated that, immediately following 5 January 1995, 'Now the Diary’s critics had a full confession to work on. True or false, Barrett’s statement would make life much harder for the Diary camp.' Then it is stated:
'This did not appear to deter Paul Feldman. On 7 January 1995 two days after Barrett signed this damaging affidavit, Feldman was the first ever speaker at the Cloak and Dagger Club.'
If, on 7 January 1995, Feldman could have been deterred by Mike's affidavit, signed two days earlier, then he would have had to have known about that affidavit, otherwise what is being said makes no sense.
If Mike's affidavit really wasn't publicly available until 1997 one can only assume that the individual who wrote this particular part of 'Inside Story' wasn't aware of that fact in 2003.
Personally, I had thought that Shirley must have seen MIke's affidavit when speaking to Kevin Whay on 16 January 1995 because, evidently based on what he had been told by Shirley, Whay was working on the assumption that MIke was saying that the scrapbook was sold by O&L in 1990-1991. As far as I am aware, this information was never stated publicly prior to 16 January 1995 aside from in Mike's affidavit. It remains unclear why Shirley believed in January 1995 that the scrapbook was sold in 1990-1991 if she hadn't seen Mike's affidavit. No note of any conversation about this has been produced.
The key question, of course, amidst all the distractions generated by Caroline Morris, is: for what period did O&L search their files and archives?
On 30 January 1997, Kevin Whay, having been provided with the relevant page of Mike's affidavit, stated: 'Having searched through our files and archives on either side of the alleged sale dates I can confirm that no such information or lot number corresponding with his statement exists'. The problem is that Mike's affidavit identified the alleged sale date as being 'Roughly round about January, February 1990'.
Now Caroline Morris says 'it's not clear what the extent of the renewed search was, or what he meant by 'either side' of the alleged sale 'dates'. It's funny that because, as we've already seen, the same Caroline Morris once told me:
So you think we only asked O&L about the year 1990, do you? We trusted Mike that much, by the early 2000s, that we went by one of the dodgy dates he had come up with over the years and didn't think to ask the kind of questions that would have given us a definitive answer as to whether Mike's version of events could have taken place at O&L - ever?
Now she tells us that it's 'not clear' what time period was searched by Kevin Whay so that 'they' clearly did not 'ask the kind of questions that would have given us a definitive answer so to whether Mike's version of events could have taken place'.
Back then, Caroline Morris was trying to give the impression that all bases had been covered and that Mike's story had been fully checked against every eventuality, regardless of what he actually said in his affidavit. Now she is admitting that it is 'not clear' what was actually searched which means it is 'not clear' if the files and archives for the period March 1992 were searched.
It would seem strange if the records for March 1992 were searched considering that the alleged sale date stated in the affidavit was in January or February 1990 and O&L only searched either side of those dates.
What's amazing is that the researchers didn't even check to establish if the files and archives for 1991 had even been searched. They just didn't know because, as we are now told, it's just 'not clear'. Amazing really. Very professional!
At the very best, we are left in some considerable doubt as to whether the records for March 1992 were ever searched and, at the worst, we can say that they almost certainly were not searched. Even if they were, it would appear that an old photograph album plus a compass would only have been recorded as 'miscellaneous items' thus defeating any attempt to identify them.
Mike's story of the purchase of the scrapbook - due to the failure of the researchers to ask Kevin Whay any questions - has clearly not been disproved.
Why did the researchers fail? I can't say for certain but my suggestion would be that they were told by Kevin Whay what they wanted to hear and decided not to dig any deeper.
The investigation of this part of the case was a miserable failure. Even worse, the readers of 'Inside Story' were not made aware of what a miserable failure it was by the omission of key parts of the information provided by Kevin Whay and the general impression being given was that Mike's story had been fully investigated at O&L when this was, in fact, not the case.
DIZZY MISS LIZZY
Definition of irony.
The person who has changed direction almost every week regarding the question of why Mike was so keen to acquire a Victorian diary with blank pages in 1992 but now wants to talk about anything else OTHER than why he did so, decides, in the final paragraph of her post #506, to attack R.J. Palmer for some kind of change of direction. She makes a comment about R.J. not accepting what the experts say regarding the watch in their heavily caveated reports when she herself refuses to accept what Dr David Baxendale says about the Diary being a crude forgery and what Dr Kate Flint says about the evolution of the English language. In Caroline Morris' world experts are only listened to when they tell her what she already believes!
I can't really work out the point of her final paragraph or why she mentions Martin Earl but, when she actually comes up with an answer as for why Mike contacted Martin Earl in the first place, then perhaps she can throw out her sarcastic barbs without sounding hypocritical.
THE FIRST TWO PARAGRAPHS
Let me finish my analysis of #506 by going back to the first two paragraphs of the post.
Look at the horrible, patronising tone used at the start:
'Well now, R.J., I sincerely hope you will study that hypothesis I lovingly prepared just for you. See #437. Yes, it did take a lot of effort as well as time – which I’d prefer to have spent with someone more appreciative, frankly. '
What had happened is that, completely unsolicited, in #437 Caroline Morris used the same type of nonsensical speculative approach that she normally uses to argue that the Diary is an old hoax to try and fit Mike's discovery of the 'Oh costly' quote in with the story of him forging the the Diary in 1992, although of course that was not her real purpose. Her real purpose was to tell that story while undermining it at the same time.
However, with extreme arrogance, she expected R.J. not only to be appreciative of this piece of skulduggery but to do some homework and amend the bits he thought were wrong without any kind of understanding that what she was asking was impossible because of the absence of data. The reason for the absence of data is that the investigators at the time were pretty useless and don't seem to have got to the bottom of so many facts. For example, did anyone actually investigate at Liverpool Library whether Mike had actually spent any time there? We seem to have no information about this, just a lot of hearsay comments that he found the quote there.
Her approach was also based on the usual unsupported assumptions and flawed premises. For example, everything in #437 hinges on the fact that Mike was always aware that he had seen the Crashaw quote in the Sphere book in his possession. This is by no means certain. As I've argued elsewhere, he could have forgotten in 1994 where he had seen it. If the drafting of the Diary text had occurred in 1990 or 1991 he might not even have been certain of the source of the quote in 1992. But Caroline Morris assumes that Mike was always aware that he could produce the Sphere volume and prove the forgery. Thus she says, as part of her bad faith hypothetical story: 'in late June, he decides to come clean and confesses to forging the diary. He thinks he can produce the evidence, if and when necessary, to prove it.' This is the problem with her approach in general. She always thinks she can look inside someone's mind and, indeed, that we must do so, but the fact is that we don't know and we can't possibly know what Mike was thinking every step of the way. But she expects R.J. to take her flawed approach and run with it and, even though R.J. never asked her to do this, she then moans when he doesn't waste his own time by correcting her story (which, if done properly, would mean scrapping everything she wrote and starting again). Thus, she whinges:
'But instead of studying it and coming back to me to say whether it works for you and, if not, what you would change to make it work, you changed the subject – a habit that is more revealing than you may realise - and had a pop at me for leaving you with the relatively simple task of challenging a couple of observations that erobitha and Ike made, which I missed while giving you my undivided attention.'
Amazing how these people always need gratitude and appreciation for their efforts. It's also amusing that her excuse for not correcting the errors of Erobitha and Iconoclast is that she was giving R.J. her 'undivided attention'. What is she? Some kind of therapist? We all know that the truth is that she ignores mistakes made by Diary True Believers because she is secretly sympathetic to the idea that the Diary was written by Maybrick, while jumping all over anyone who dares suggest that Barrett could have been involved in the forgery.
It's at this point that I get mentioned for my 'entrenched beliefs':
'What about the utter futility of my own efforts, R.J, to try and reconcile for you Mike’s various claims with the entrenched beliefs you and David B. hold?'
One can only admire the audacity of someone with the most firmly and rigidly entrenched beliefs attacking the supposed entrenched belief of others and who claims to have been helpfully trying to reconcile Mike's 'various claims' with the notion that he forged the Diary. For myself, I don't need her help and I suspect that R.J. doesn't need it either.
In any case, my own beliefs are not 'entrenched'. They are led by the evidence. I joined the discussion in 2016 and here we are in 2020 and still no-one has been able to provide any kind of sensible reason why Mike secretly wanted to acquire a Victorian diary with blank pages in March 1992. As I've said before, in the midst of lies and changing stories by Mike and Anne, there is one SOLID piece of evidence which should assist us at getting to the truth of the matter, if only we are open minded enough to understand it.
The only 'entrenched' belief that I see is Caroline Morris' refusal even to contemplate that Mike and Anne (perhaps with others such as Tony D and Billy G) could have created this forgery between them.
Then we have another mention of me in this section:
'In Mike’s affidavit he felt ‘sure’ the O&L auction was at the end of January 1990, but because that didn’t work with those entrenched beliefs, it had to be substituted for a completely new, and very specific claim – an auction date of March 31st 1992 - which Mike himself never even hinted at, and this somehow became the new and improved truth. It demonstrates that you and David see no need to examine and question your own reasoning, when you can simply change an inconvenient date or detail that challenges it. How desperately do you both need Mike to have known all the right notes, even though he made an art form out of getting them in totally the wrong order?'
The truth of the matter is that I constantly examine and question my own reasoning but I see no evidence of this with Caroline Morris. On the contrary, she doesn't seem to be able to examine and question her own belief that Mike Barrett somehow managed to create a six page affidavit which is correctly structured and coherent. For any other document I have no doubt that Caroline Morris would say that Mike was incapable. Yet with the affidavit she persists in attributing the obvious dating errors to Mike rather than to Alan Gray, the obvious candidate.
I say obvious dating errors because it is stated in the affidavit that Tony Devereux died in 1990 when it is known that he died in 1991. It is obvious to me that the date of January 1990 for the purchase of the scrapbook should have been January 1991 and I have seen this corrected (presumably by Alan Gray) on one copy of the affidavit. Yet Caroline Morris persists in trying to claim that MIKE was saying that the scrapbook was purchased in January 1990.
I've already explained in this article, and elsewhere, why I think Alan Gray was confused. We've seen that the Liverpool Daily Post stated that Mike first brought the Diary to London in 1991. I strongly suspect that this was Alan Gray's belief. He probably didn't have access to any documents that would have told him that it was brought to London in April 1992. That being so, it would have been inconceivable to Alan Gray that the Diary could have been created at any time after 1991. Not just inconceivable but literally impossible. Consequently, as the person who obviously drafted Mike's affidavit, he would have started off on the totally the wrong road from the very first sentence. His entire chronology of events would have been a full year out of sync.
As I've said ad nauseum, the affidavit states that the scrapbook wasn't purchased until after the purchase and receipt of the red diary. The red diary was purchased (in the sense that it was received) on about 26 March 1992 so, by the story in the affidavit, the scrapbook couldn't have been purchased until after 26 March 1992. To my mind, it is a clear case of a consistent story being told but with all the dates muddled. There's nothing new or surprising about this and it happens all the time when interviewing a witness and asking that witness to recount events from memory.
Caroline Morris accuses others of not examining or questioning their own reasoning but in all the years I've been involved in this subject I have never once seen her seriously confront the fact that it was almost certainly Alan Gray who was responsible for the wrong dates in the affidavit. She persists in the fiction that it was Mike who said January 1990. This is a very important part of the story but she will not face up to it. As a result she should not be giving lectures to others about examining or questioning their own reasoning.
I might add that when I was posting on the Censorship Forum (as anyone following the debates will recall) I responded to every single one of Caroline Morris' often bizarre hypothetical posts about what happened and dealt with every single point she raised. I did so (despite criticism from onlookers sniping from the sidelines in other threads) precisely to demonstrate that I do, and will continue to, confront all objections to the notion that Mike Barrett was involved in the creation of the Diary.
I have no hidden motive or bias in doing this. I don't care who created the Diary. But I see the clearest possible evidence of someone (secretly) attempting to get hold of a real Victorian diary with blank pages at a time when no-one in the world had ever seen the Maybrick Diary and I ask myself why he did so. To my mind, there is only one answer.
I waited for the Battlecrease evidence to emerge. I considered the Battlecrease evidence. I wrote at length about the Battlecrease evidence. I dealt with every aspect of it. I've never shirked a single point in the case. And still no-one has been able to tell me why Mike Barrett spent time and money acquiring a real Victorian diary with blank pages in 1992.
I asked Keith Skinner in the Forum years ago. He promised to answer the question in due course but broke that promise and ran away. He's still never answered it! Caroline Morris changes her answer with the weather and I've really no idea what it is today but she's certainly never provided a sensible answer which matches the evidence of what Mike was asking for, as reflected in the Bookseller advertisement. Robert Smith, in two editions of his book, has been unable to provide an answer. No-one has.
So I still wait for the answer. Until then, believing that there is no answer other than that Mike was seeking a genuine Victorian diary into which he wanted to have written the text of a pre-prepared and forged Maybrick diary, I will continue to argue that Mike Barrett was involved in the forgery of a document which it is known for certain (from the mistaken inclusion of the phrase 'one off instance') was written in the second half of the twentieth century.
6 June 2020