After the bombshell of Jonathan Menges' confession on JTR Forums, I think this edition of 'Lord Orsam Says....' should be more akin to a newspaper with headlines, such as:
MENGES CONFESSES WRITING TO CASEBOOK ADMIN RE TUMBLETY THREAD IN ONGOING CENSORSHIP SCANDAL!
So finally, four whole months after he first commented publicly on the subject in June, Jonathan Menges admits what I have been saying all along, namely that he DID privately and secretly communicate with Ally Ryder, the Admin of Casebook, about the infamous Tumblety thread, and about my posts in that thread. He denies having 'reported' the thread to her and we will have to look closely at that denial.
For the moment, I have identified six partially or wholly false statements in his post on JTR Forums in response to the last 'Lord Orsam Says' (Thread: 'Lord Orsam Blog;, #76). Here they are:
1. "This shouldn't be totally brand new to David as I've already told him most of this." - This is not true. Everything that Menges is now saying he told Ally Ryder about the Tumblety thread is brand new, being revealed both to me and, more importantly, the readers of JTR Forums for the very first time.
2. "More than one person apparently used the report post function on that thread, as I believe Ally indicated to David." This is not true. She never indicated anything of the sort to me personally. What Menges may be thinking of is Ally's incomprehensible statement in her public post of 21 May 2018 (since deleted) that 'several someone else's reported this thread, for various reasons'. Note that she said 'reported this thread'. She didn't refer to anyone reporting a post or using the report post function. Note also Jonathan Menges' use of the word 'apparently' which makes me believe he is guessing, based on Ally's post. I remain firmly of the view that Ally Ryder was speaking in her post of Jonathan's email to her; it's just that I suspect he is in denial and refuses to recognize that he reported the thread to her, thinking of it as something that just happened to 'come up' during private conversation.
3. "As I've already told David, and what I said to Ally, was that Michael Hawley was complaining about David's behavior on the thread but I didn't believe that David was breaking any rules. I told Ally, as I've already told David, Mike's constant reposting of the same post over and over again and his complaining was getting annoying. David's habit of taking 10 posts to reply to one, quoting a single sentence picked out for each post was also annoying, but I felt that it was mainly Hawley instigating this by refusing to answer the points David was raising. I've already said all of this to David months ago." - This is not true. Jonathan did tell me some but not all of those things in an email. What I want to stress, at the moment, however, is that a casual reading of Jonathan's post will suggest to the reader that I was aware of all these things he is now saying he had told Ally Ryder back in May 2018. I was not. He hadn't told me that he had said any of this to her.
4. " Again, as I've already told David- and I quote from my message to Ally- "Orsam is not really breaking any rules as he's criticizing a published author's research. If Mike wanted to have a thread promoting his book and exclude all posts but those praising him he clearly doesn't know how Casebook works." This is not true. He did tell me in June 2019 that he didn't think I had broken any rules in criticizing a published author but his second sentence is entirely new to me.
5. "She decided to lock the thread. That was her decision alone. David apparently took umbrage at her decision and exchanged messages with her. I don't know the content of those messages, but apparently it is those messages between David and Ally that led to his departure from Casebook." - This is not true. My departure from Casebook was caused by Ally Ryder's ruling of 21 May 2018 (since deleted) which made it impossible for me to continue as an active member of the Forum, combined with her subsequent refusal to justify or withdraw that post and the rudeness of her written communications. All of my messages with Ally Ryder are reproduced in my 'From Commissioner to Asterisk' article on this site, to which Menges responded in JTR Forums on 11 June 2019 (Thread 'Lord Orsam's Blog, #27). If he doesn't know the content of those messages he wasn't paying attention. For the record, I didn't take umbrage at Ally Ryder locking the thread. That issue barely featured in my messages to her. I took umbrage at her false, and indeed libellous, comments about me.
6. 'So in a nutshell... I thought Michael Hawley-not David- was at fault on the thread. Ally locked the thread. David apparently got whiny at Ally privately (I can imagine) and also apparently made threats of legal action against Casebook...and so now David is no longer a member of Casebook.' - This is not true. Leaving aside whether I got 'whiny' or not with Ally Ryder privately - and my clear recollection (which anyone can check from the messages reproduced in 'From Commissioner to Asterisk', so that no-one needs to 'imagine' anything) is that I was asking her to justify what she said in her post of 21 May 2018 (since deleted), something which she point blank refused to do - the reason I am no longer a member of Casebook has nothing to do with any legal threats. It is because I asked Ally Ryder to terminate my membership of Casebook.
Following his post at #76, Menges then added a further false statement in #78 when he posted:
'All that really needed to be said is that it wasn’t the thread that sent David from Casebook but what he wrote in his later exchanges with Admin. If he hadn’t complained to her about her decision to lock it he’d probably still be a member'.
But that isn't true. It wasn't what I wrote in my later exchanges with Admin that sent me from Casebook. It was Admin's ruling in her post of 21 May 2018 in which she accused me of 'Badgering an author relentlessly with the same questions' which, she said, was 'just as harassing as any other poster'. As I told Ally Ryder in my subsequent messages with her, this made my continuing participation on Casebook untenable. In my final message to her, after she refused to discuss her ruling with me, or justify it, I asked her to terminate my membership of Casebook.
So I would not still be a member of Casebook if I hadn't 'complained about her decision to lock it' (which wasn't actually my complaint) because I would have left Casebook anyway due to the behaviour of Admin after finding me guilty of badgering and harassing Mike Hawley. That ruling made it impossible for me to continue as an active member of Casebook because it would have allowed other authors, or indeed anyone, of whom I wanted to ask questions, to refuse to answer those questions, claiming harassment and drawing attention to Admin's ruling, and I would have had no way of refuting it. Admin's refusal to engage with me to discuss her ruling or to withdraw it is ultimately what led to me actually resigning from the Forum.
Anyway, my reason for resigning from Casebook isn't what I want to dispute with Jonathan Menges here.
What I want to look at first of all are the previous attempts that Mr Menges made to respond to my 'From Commissioner to Asterisk' article in the context of the fact that we now all know that Menges definitely did write to Ally Ryder about the Tumblety thread back in May 2018, as he now admits.
His first public response to my article came on 11 June 2019 when he posted in the 'Orsam Blog' thread (#27):
'He wonders if I had something to do with the thread being locked. I didn't.'
I thought this was strange because I didn't wonder at any point in my article if he had had anything to do with the thread being locked.
In Ripperology terms, it's a bit like someone in 1888 being accused of murdering Mary Jane Kelly and saying: 'I had nothing to do with the murder of Liz Stride.' You'd think that was a bit fishy wouldn't you?
And it's funny that he was focusing on the fact of the thread being locked, rather than on my actual complaint relating to Admin's ruling of 21 May 2018 isn't it? Even today he still seems to believe it's all about the thread being locked (which I've never said he had anything to do with) rather than with Ally Ryder's ruling of 21 May 2018 which it appears he did have something to do with).
Now look at what he went on to say in that post of 11 June 2019:
'Not once have I been asked nor have I ever provided an opinion on how Ally should choose to run Casebook.' (underlining added)
And now let's remind ourselves what he posted in the same thread (#77), four months later, on 29 October 2019:
I quote from my message to Ally: "Orsam is not really breaking any rules as he's criticizing a published author's research. If Mike wanted to have a thread promoting his book and exclude all posts but those praising him he clearly doesn't know how Casebook works."
Well that's an opinion expressed to Ally on how Ally should run Casebook, isn't it? I mean, why the hell was HE telling the Admin of Casebook that I wasn't breaking any rules? What did it have to do with him? Doesn't Ally Ryder know the rules of Casebook? Was she incapable of deciding on her own, without the assistance of Jonathan Menges, as to whether I had broken any rules or not? I don't care that he was supposedly supporting me here. He can only be telling Ally Ryder this in order to influence how she dealt with the Tumblety thread. So how is it true for him to say that he has never provided an opinion on how Ally should choose to run Casebook? He's contradicted himself with his own words!
Needless to say, this was brand new information to me. Yet Menges prefaced it with 'as I've already told David'. But he never told me that he had ever said any of this to Ally Ryder.
Ironically, I wasn't even suggesting in 'Commissioner to Asterisk' that Jonathan had been giving advice to Ally Ryder, just like I never suggested that he had been responsible for her locking the thread. What I was suggesting was that he had reported the thread to Ally Ryder and thus alerted her to it, probably poisoning her mind against me in the process by commenting negatively about me. Now it seems to go much further than this and, from the sound of it, he had extensive discussions with her about the thread.
I'll return to that shortly but, for now, let's look at what Jonathan said after I had made clear on this site that the suggestion in my article was that he had reported the Tumblety thread to Ally Ryder. This was his response to that suggestion on 13 August:
'Ok, I didn't report the thread that led to his confrontation with Ally Ryder (and I told David as much weeks ago but apparently he doesn't believe me).'
Leaving aside for the moment what had he told me, let's consider this statement. Whether it is strictly true or not that he didn't technically 'report' the thread, isn't it astonishing that he didn't there take the opportunity to say that, while he didn't actually report the thread, he did discuss it privately with Ally Ryder? There is no mention there of the fact that he did this. Hence the readers of JTR Forums would have believed that the very idea of him having reported the thread to Ally Ryder, in the sense of him writing to her about it, was nothing more than a figment of my imagination in the face of his categorical denial.
It was a response that greatly disappointed me because when I had earlier asked him the same question by email, namely 'Did you report the thread?' he had no hesitation in saying to me in reply that, while he didn't 'report the post' (to use his strange expression) he did discuss 'the thread' with Ally Ryder 'a few days later', although a few days later than what he did not explain.
As mentioned in an earlier article, I replied to him by saying that while he may not have viewed himself as having 'reported' the thread, he obviously was the person (or at least, I will now say, one of the persons) to whom Ally Ryder was referring when she said 'several someone else's reported this thread, for various reasons'.
How did I know that Jonathan Menges, as he now admits, had contacted Ally Ryder about the thread? Am I psychic? Well no, it was right there in plain sight in #85 in the Tumblety thread when Menges posted (underling added):
'Admins are vacationing in Europe at the mo' otherwise I'd just clue Ally in on the madness but I know Mike would rather hear it from me.'
So when Ally Ryder, after her return from vacation, later revealed that someone (or several someones!) had reported the thread to her, it didn't really require the genius of Sherlock Holmes to work out who that was likely to have been. I mean, let's face it, who else was likely to have reported the thread to Ally Ryder? We know it wasn't Mike Hawley because the 'someone else' was someone other than Hawley. It wasn't me. Does Jonathan Menges seriously expect us to believe that there is someone out there who has remained silent all this time while I've been publicly saying that it must have been Menges who reported it? And really, no-one else was personally involved in the thread who was even remotely likely to have reported it. Is there really an army of busy-bodies out there on Casebook ready to report threads to Admin in which they haven't even posted. True, it could, just conceivably, have been Steadman Brand, who had started the thread for the sole purpose of promoting Hawley's book, and who seems to be an unabashed Hawley acolyte, but he barely posted in the thread, and Brand aside, it just doesn't seem likely to have been anyone else which is why Jonathan Menges seemed to me from the start to be the obvious candidate, bearing in mind that he was already threatening to contact Ally Ryder while the thread was in progress and made clear that he would actually have done so had she not been in on vacation Europe.
Jonathan returned to the subject of the Tumblety thread on JTR Forums a third time on 12 October when he accused me of peddling in conspiracy theories but, despite me having said in 'Lord Orsam Says...' of 20 August 2019 that, 'sending any form of communication to Ally Ryder about a thread, or my own posts in it, would, in my opinion, constitute reporting a thread' he STILL did not reveal at that point that, yes, he did actually communicate with Ally Ryder about the thread but he didn't think he'd 'reported' it.
It's taken all this time from his first post on 11 June to his most recent post of 29 October for him to come clean to the members of JTR Forums and state that he did, in fact, write to Ally Ryder about the thread. Why he didn't say that from the start I really don't know but, until he confessed to this, he was, in my opinion, being very unfair to me by portraying me as someone so wide of the mark that he'd never even spoken to Ally Ryder about the thread. He certainly never even hinted to the members of JTR Forums, to whom he was very keen to say that he had nothing to do with the thread being locked, and had never offered his opinions on how to run Casebook to Ally Ryder, and hadn't reported the thread, that he had actually been secretly offering to Ally Ryder all kinds of opinions about my behaviour, and that of Mike Hawley, ALL OF WHICH were revealed to me for the very first time in his JTR Forums post of 29 October.
We now need to examine Jonathan Menges' post in some detail because I don't understand it at all and if I don't understand it I don't think anyone else can.
He starts off by saying that he won't be sharing private email exchanges in public although he then goes on to selectively quote one sentence from an email he sent to Ally Ryder, while also summarizing other stuff that he said to her. I have no idea why he couldn't reproduce the entire email (redacting anything not related to the Tumblety thread) unless he has something to hide.
He then writes this cryptic paragraph:
'For several private reasons this year that are none of David's business Ally hasn't been able to devote her full attention to the boards and dozens of report post alerts that flood her inbox daily. That is why she eventually asked me to help moderate the message boards.'
I simply don't understand the purpose of this paragraph or what he is trying to convey regarding the events of May 2018 when Ally Ryder intervened in the Tumblety thread.
We all know that Jonathan is now, in 2019, a moderator of Casebook and, by his use of the word 'eventually', he doesn't appear to be claiming that he was a moderator back in May 2018. So that part of the paragraph doesn't seem to have any relevance to what happened in the Tumblety thread in May 2018.
What about the first sentence? Well he says that Ally hasn't been able to devote her full attention to the boards for reasons that are none of my business. Well I've never asked to know any of those reasons and, accordingly, it's a bit strange that he wrote 'for reasons that are none of David's business' rather than 'for reasons that are none of the members of JTR Forums' business' considering that these were the people he was addressing. Anyway, what I don't understand is what her inability to devote her time to the board in May 2018 has anything to do with what he is saying about the events in that month, unless he is saying that this is why he reported the Tumblety thread to her; or, if he prefers, why he drew her attention to the Tumblety thread, which is the same thing.
I'm absolutely confident in my view that when Ally Ryder said that 'several someone else's' had reported the thread to her, she was thinking either completely or partly of Jonathan Menges.
Now Jonathan doesn't say WHEN he contacted Ally Ryder about the thread but from the evidence revealed in his post it's perfectly obvious that it was prior to 21 May which is when she made her fateful ruling. Hence he said to Ally, 'Orsam IS not really breaking any rules' thus meaning that he was writing at a time while the thread was ongoing, possibly before it had been locked (on 19 May) but certainly before Ally issued her ruling of 21 May.
We are also told that Ally replied to say that there was a balance and 'she'd figure out a solution'. So that proves for certain that the correspondence between her and Jonathan was prior to her ruling of 21 May.
So we've established one hard fact. Before Ally Ryder issued her ruling, she was involved in secret correspondence about the Tumblety thread with Jonathan Menges, someone who was not at the time a moderator of Casebook but who had participated in the very thread on which Ally Ryder was considering a ruling.
We've already proved one of my surmises from my 'Commissioner to Asterisk' article about a close and secret connection between Ryder and Menges who was being offered the opportunity to provide input into Admin's consideration of that thread. This was a courtesy that was denied to a mere mortal like myself. Ally Ryder point blank refused to discuss ANYTHING concerning that thread with me even though she had publicly stated that she would be writing to me, as a person involved in her ruling - something which was untrue because she never did make any attempt to contact me and never said anything to me about that thread after I contacted her to find out what was going on.
So we've established that Menges and Ryder were in private communication, but how did that communication come about? This is something that Jonathan has not thought fit to reveal. All he's said is something very vague and opaque. Thus, he posted: 'I do speak to Ally a few times a week as we've been good friends for twenty years and the topic of that thread came up as it had been reported and Ally had read it'. So the topic just 'came up' did it? But topics do not just 'come up' as if by magic. Either Ally Ryder or Jonathan Menges deliberately and consciously raised that topic in a private communication.
Did Ally Ryder raise in an email to Jonathan Menges that the Tumblety thread had been reported to her? Well that would be a bit strange wouldn't it? According to Menges, 'dozens of report post alerts flood into her Casebook inbox daily'. Does she mention them all in passing to Jonathan Menges? And, if she specifically mentioned the Tumblety thread, why did she do so? For him to offer up his own opinion as to what she should do? Well he tells us that she has NEVER asked him for his opinion as to how she should run Casebook, so that doesn't work.
No, surely the most likely occurrence is that Jonathan Menges, who, from his own words, as he posted in the thread, had obviously been itching to contact Ally about that thread, sent her an email about it as soon as she was back from vacation. Now, I don't care if someone else had already emailed her about it and I don't care if she wrote back to Jonathan to say to him that someone else had reported the thread that he was emailing her about that and she had read the thread. If Jonathan wrote to Ally and introduced the subject of the thread he was reporting that thread to her, regardless of whether anyone else had done so.
Jonathan seems to think that if he didn't press the 'report post' function then he's not actually 'reporting' anything. You can't, of course, technically report a whole thread. So what I am saying is that simply initiating any form of conversation about that thread with the Admin of Casebook in a private email is akin to reporting the thread.
But I'm not interested in semantics as to the meaning of the word 'report'. The issue that have with this situation is not so much who was first to tell teacher but what was put into teacher's head.
It's obvious from what he tells us himself that he was offering plenty of opinions on the Tumblety thread to Ally Ryder. This is what he himself reveals that he told Ally back in May 2018, before she issued her ruling.
1. Orsam didn't break any rules.
2. Hawley has to accept criticism.
3. Hawley's reposting and complaining was getting annoying.
4. Orsam's posting habits were annoying.
5. Hawley was instigating the problems by refusing the answer the points Orsam was raising.
I mean, hell's teeth. How is that not advising Ally on how she should be responding to the thread?
And that's only the bits that Jonathan has chosen to reveal to us, while keeping everything else he said to Ally secret.
It's rather interesting to recall that between 19 May and 21 May nothing happened. The thread sat locked. Ally posted on 21 May to say:
'Apologies for the long delay in handling this issue. Due to the nature of the complaint, I chose to use it as a training vehicle to help in illustrating how to handle Report Posts to a new moderator we are bringing on board, which resulted in a delay while we went over some new features'
I think we can now deduce that at least part of the reason for the delay was due to her back and forth emails with Jonathan Menges while he advised her as to whether I had broken the rules of Casebook or not!
When Jonathan Menges emailed me on 11 June 2019, I asked him if he was the new moderator Ally had been speaking of. He told me it wasn't him and he gave me the username of the person in question (and I believe him, but it is nevertheless strange that Menges has since become the new moderator, rather than the person then being trained to be that moderator). However, it does raise the possibility that the email conversations going on at this time were three-way between Ryder, Menges and this other person, so that Menges was an active participant in the consideration of Ally's ruling.
Now, regarding my email correspondence with Jonathan Menges, in which he has supposedly told me so much information, it is wholly unacceptable for him to have asked me to keep his email confidential while, for the second time, presenting to the members of JTR Forums a partial (and, in parts, inaccurate) account of what he told me in that email. Not once did he need to say in his JTR Forums post the words'As I've already told David' - such comment served no genuine purpose - yet he said it five times in a single post. There is, in fact, now no reason to maintain the confidentiality of what he told me, and by posting his own one-sided account of that email he has clearly, in anyone's book, waived any right to claim confidentiality. The only reason I thought he wanted it confidential was because he had made some negative comments about Mike Hawley which I thought he might not want Mike to know about but he's already posted similar negative comments in his JTR Forums post so I can't see anything in his email which cannot now be shared.
He had written to me on 11 June about another matter which is irrelevant to this article and I cheekily took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the Tumblety thread. After denying that he was the new moderator being brought on board by Ally Ryder, the first thing he said to me was this:
'I'm not as influential or in the loop with the Admin operation of the message boards as you may think.'
Ha ha! Don't make me laugh. We've now seen that he's admitted to offering his opinion to Admin in private and in secret regarding five different aspects of the thread and I have no doubt that there was more that he said to her which he hasn't thought fit to reveal. He's already proved that he was either as much or even more 'in the loop' with Admin regarding the operation of the message board than even I had ever thought he was.This was my next question to him in my email:
'You will see that I mention you in that article [From Commissioner to Asterisk] but my comments were somewhat speculative and uncertain because I didn't want to be unfair to you. Perhaps you could clarify for me whether you did or did not contact the Casebook Administrator about any issues arising out of the thread in which I was posting entitled 'Jack the Ripper Suspect Francis Tumblety' during May 2018. If you did contact Admin, can I ask you what you said? And, if so, what did Admin say to you in response? To the extent it is not clear, I'm basically asking you if you reported that thread to Admin.'
Right, so that's pretty clear isn't it? Here is what Jonathan Menges said to me in response:
'I didn’t report the post to Admin but I did discuss the thread with Ally a few days later. I speak to her often and have never had to report a post. The ‘Report Post’ button is used to keep Admin in the loop as they cannot read every post, follow every thread, and so they rely on the members to make them aware of a thread getting out of hand. Which is what probably happened here.'
We can see that Jonathan moves confusingly in the same sentence from reporting a 'post' to reporting a 'thread'. We can also see (as mentioned earlier) that he told me; 'I did discuss the thread with Ally a few days later' without making clear what he meant by 'later'. I assumed him to be talking about a few days after one of my, or Mike Hawley's, posts in the middle of thread when he had interjected to complain about the use of server space.
What is also notable is that when writing to me in June 2019, Jonathan was saying that what 'probably' happened in the case of the Tumblety thread is that a member hit 'Report Post' to notify Ally Ryder of what had happened. This suggests he was guessing and rather conflicts with the impression he gave the members of JTR Forums in his 29 October post that Ally had TOLD him that the thread had been reported. Perhaps he just meant that he knew the thread had been reported but didn't know how (i.e. whether by 'Report Post' function or by email or PM) but it seemed to me to indicate uncertainty as to what had actually happened and an unwillingness to consider that HE was the person being referred to by Ally as having reported it.
As I've mentioned in another article, I replied to Jonathan to tell him that I believed from what he had told me that when Ally Ryder posted that 'several someone else's' reported the thread, she was referring to him. As I write now, if someone other than JM did report the thread before he did, she was still including him in that mental thought process which ended up being expressed in that strange and incomprehensible fashion.
Jonathan then went on to say in his email to me.
'I didn’t think you were breaking any Casebook rules as you were criticizing a published author. Casebook’s rules state: Authors are public figures and they cannot expect to have everyone love and admire their work […] If the author’s work is being discussed, any criticism is valid as long as it pertains to the work and is evidence-based or an honest opinion of generalities.'
There's a small difference between what he told me there and what he wrote to Ally Ryder namely that to Ally Ryder he said 'Orsam is not really breaking any rules', the word 'really' indicating a little doubt on the matter, whereas he told me he didn't think I was breaking any rules full stop, but I don't want to make a big point of this.
The key thing is that this is all that Menges ever told me about his contact with Admin. As we can see, he told me that 'he did discuss the thread with Ally a few days later' but he didn't tell me a single thing that he said to her despite me having asked him, 'If you did contact Admin, can I ask you what you said?'. The way I read it at the time was that he was deliberately avoiding answering my question but I couldn't force him to tell me.
In his JTR Forums post, Menges claims that he told me that my habit of taking 10 posts to reply to one, quoting a single sentence picked out for each post was annoying. I think he has confused himself with something else he said (for which see below). But what it was that was 'annoying' for Menges about the way I was responding to Mike Hawley's posts I really have no idea, nor can I fathom why (as he now reveals) he thought fit to mention this personal annoyance on his part to Ally Ryder when discussing the thread. Isolating parts of a long and complicated post was the way I usually preferred to respond to such posts (especially ones which ramble over unconnected and irrelevant topics) because it breaks the points down and makes the responses much easier to read. As far as I'm concerned, it is more helpful and user friendly to the readers of my posts. But here we've got Jonathan saying that he literally found the very existence of my posts 'annoying' because of their format! And he's thought fit to mention his own peculiar quirky distaste of a certain way of posting to Admin!
Given that he's now a moderator of Casebook, members of that Forum might like to know that trying to be helpful to the readers of thread and breaking posts into short easy to read chunks when responding to them is going to annoy their new moderator because he doesn't seem to like people actually posting in his threads!
In that context, he also said this to me:
'The fact of the matter is that a thread about Mike’s book accumulated about 300 posts (I may be exaggerating) consisting of him and you copying and pasting the same things over and over again. '
It was disappointing for me to read this false statement made to me in an email because, of course, I did not copy and past 'the same things over and over again'. In fact, it's utterly ridiculous of him to say that. But I can only assume that this too was included in his email to Ally Ryder, even though he hasn't mentioned it in his JTR Forums post.
Going back to Jonathan's claim in his JTR Forums post that he had already told me that my habit of taking 10 posts to reply to one was annoying, what Jonathan Menges is undoubtedly referring to is the answer to another question I asked him in which was this:
'During the thread in question, on 8 May 2018 (in #85), you also made a comment about the use of server space on the Casebook Forum. You will see that I say in my article, 'Now, I'm not sure what concern it is of Jonathan Menges to protect the server space of the Casebook Forum'. Do you have any comment to make about that? Have you ever asked any other members of the Forum to stop eating up 'precious server space'? If so, when did you do this and why did you do so? If not, why did you chose this occasion to do it?'
I've already reproduced the first sentence of his answer, but here is the answer in full:
'The fact of the matter is that a thread about Mike’s book accumulated about 300 posts (I may be exaggerating) consisting of him and you copying and pasting the same things over and over again. While my comment about “server space” was probably meant as a joke as I know nothing about how much server space message boards can take up, it is true that the thread had spun wildly out of control and what could have been asked of Mike- and then probably not answered- in 10 posts and been done with, instead managed to go into the dozens and dozens.'
While there is a reference to '10 posts' there, what he was saying is that I could have asked Mike my questions in 10 posts but that there were dozens and dozens (of posts containing questions, apparently). That's a completely different point to me responding to Mike's posts by breaking them up into shorter portions.
It seemed to me at the time, and continues to remain my view, that Jonathan realized that his publicly expressed complaint about the use of 'server space' was utterly ridiculous and he needed to justify his comment. It really had nothing to do with him, as an ordinary member, if other members were writing 'dozens and dozens' of posts. I mean, so what? Is there suddenly a limit on posts? We're talking here about a message board on which one is rewarded for a high volume of posts by being promoted to a higher rank! As far as I was concerned, I was making the appropriate number of posts to either respond to Mike Hawley's posts or to make the points I wanted to make. Jonathan's complaint is, frankly, pathetic. To the extent that he communicated his views on this to Admin he really should have kept them to himself.The other thing that Jonathan claims he told me was that 'I felt it was mainly Hawley instigating this by refusing to answer the points David was raising.' He never told me this. What he did say in response to this question to him:
Can I also ask you what your view was of Michael Hawley repeating the same, identical (or near identical) post in that thread time after time?
His answer was:
I found it very annoying and tried to stop it.
I wouldn't mind but that's a slightly revisionist writing of history. After Mike madly posted the same long post over and over again, not responding to what I was posting, Jonathan posted in the Tumblety thread:
'Hi guys. You know I love you but....'
So the post wasn't addressed to directly to Mike Hawley but to both of us, even though I wasn't doing anything wrong.
This was the post in which Jonathan affected to have some sort of concern for Casebook's server space, saying:
'Try to keep the re-posting just for the hell of it to a minimum. It eats up precious server space that can be better utilized in service of important threads, like the Maybrick Diary. Plus it's kind of annoying.'
This post with its emphasis on server space, addressed to the 'guys', allowed Mike Hawley to pretend that Jonathan wasn't taking to him and was primarily addressing me!!! And Jonathan NEVER stepped in to correct him, even though he now tells me that his intention was to stop Hawley from doing what he was doing. All I had done at this stage was use the quote function to capture Mike Hawley's repeat posts in case he deleted them and that, as a result, my responses didn't make sense.
So in bringing in the issue of 'server space' about which he now says was 'meant as a kind of joke' he implicated me in what was Mike Hawley's poor behaviour which had nothing to do with 'server space' but with deliberately disrupting a debate by the use of crazy tactics in order to avoid addressing the mistakes he had made in his book.
Let's not forget, incidentally, Jonathan's sarcastic and unnecessary comment here about the Maybrick Diary thread, linking two different threads which should never have been linked but clearly were linked in Jonathan's mind. We'll come on this in a short while.
Other than this, Jonathan said not one single word to admonish Mike Hawley about his appalling behaviour in that thread. Yet he's now belatedly prepared to state that his view at the time (only ever expressed privately and in secret to Admin) was both that Hawley's reposting and complaining was getting annoying AND that Hawley was instigating the problems by refusing the answer the points I was raising.
Well, why the hell didn't he say these things at the time? That just might have concentrated Mike Hawley's mind if he had heard such direct and blunt criticism from Jonathan. Because that was my exact criticism too. That Mike Hawley was instigating problems by refusing to answer the points I was raising. And it was more than that, of course, due to his introduction of irrelevant things about me to try and distract from the errors in his book. It beggar's belief that, after his single post, Jonathan just sat there silently, apparently waiting for Ally to return from holiday so that he could report the thread to her. He could have assisted me in nipping the whole thing in the bud and got the thread back on track. So why wasn't he prepared to say to Mike Hawley to his face and in public what we now know he said behind his back to Admin?
Might it just be because of the relationship between him and Mike of which I spoke in 'From Commissioner to Asterisk'?
There were two other things said to me by Jonathan Menges in his email which I regard of great importance. The first is in respect of his answer to this two-part question from me:
The first part was:
When you referred in that thread (in #85) to the fact that, if Admin was not vacationing at the time, you would 'clue Ally in on the madness', whose madness exactly were you referring to?
His answer to this was:
Probably the repetition of the posts being copied and pasted. Ally has been highly critical of Mike in the past over the St. Louis probate records and I assumed he’d rather have me tell him he was being annoying than Ally.
The second part of the question was:
His answer was:
'Was I, in your view, behaving 'madly' in that thread? If so, how?'
'I think you both were behaving madly by constantly repeating yourselves and getting nowhere with each other, page after page, with no end in sight.'
This, in my view, was a critical answer that he gave me. Look at his post on JTR Forums of 29 October 2019. If that was all he said to Ally Ryder about me, one might almost think that I was being presented as an angel who had done no wrong. The only criticism of me that he admits to mentioning to Ally was that I was 'taking 10 posts to reply to one, quoting a sentence picked out each post'. Not only was this, in my opinion, something that was perfectly appropriate to the posts I was responding to and helpful to the reader (rather than writing one huge long post in response to each of Hawley's posts) but it's hardly going to cause me to get into trouble with Admin. Yet, in his email to me, he seems to be equally attributing shared blame between myself and Mike Hawley, accusing me of 'constantly repeating' myself and getting nowhere, as well as of'behaving madly'. Well, had the thread been allowed to play out to a conclusion, like virtually all other threads, we would have seen where it led. But that allegation of me 'constantly repeating' myself starts to look rather like the disputed ruling of Ally Ryder that I was badgering an author 'with the same questions.'
Now that wasn't true as I demonstrated at length in 'From Commissioner to Asterisk'. But did Jonathan Menges say to Ally Ryder that, like Mike Hawley, I was repeating myself and, more to the point, asking the same questions of Mike Hawley over and over thus influencing the way she worded her ruling? The thing is, virtually everything else that Jonathan told me in his email about his view of that thread was, I now learn, mentioned to Ally Ryder. Did he say that bit about me supposedly repeating myself too?Even more pertinently, Jonathan Menges said one other thing to me in his email of 11 June and it was something that kind of made my jaw drop. I had said this to him:
'There is one final question I would like to ask you if you wouldn't mind. During our own exchanges on the Casebook Forum in that Tumblety thread I detected some hostility from you towards me. Was I imagining it? I'm afraid I can't recall any previous exchanges I had with you on the Forum (other than you asking me a question about Mike Barrett's purchase of a Victorian diary and me answering the question) but have I done anything in the past to upset you or to annoy you? Or have you just taken some kind of dislike towards me? I must say that I am rather baffled by your attitude towards me in general. To the extent that I have done something which has annoyed you (either to you personally or just in general) I would welcome the opportunity to respond if you would allow me to.'
His answer was this (underlining added):
During this time period in question I noticed a tendency with you that you tend to repeatedly badger other members of Casebook. Caroline Morris being another example, as if I recall you were hopscotching from the Maybrick thread to the Tumblety thread during this time and not showing your best side. You’ve done nothing to me personally to upset or annoy me, its your demeanor towards other members that annoys at times. My opinion of you is that you are a great researcher. Your work on the Maybrick Diary in particular is material that should be applauded, and I’ve referenced that research in a podcast. Your articles for the Rip have been excellent. Your arguments in opposition to Mike Hawley’s books are sound and worthy of debate. Its when you fail to get that debate- whether it be from Mike Hawley or on the Maybrick threads-that you tend to resort to badgering .
What made my jaw drop was those two mentions of me badgering people, and, in particular, his claim that I 'tend to repeatedly badger other members of Casebook. Caroline Morris being another example'.
I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone that Ally Ryder said in her ruling of 21 May 2018:
'Badgering an author relentlessly with the same questions, when it's clear they are not going to answer them is just as harassing as any other poster'.
The word 'relentless', as I mentioned in 'From Commissioner to Asterisk', came directly from Mike Hawley's complaint post. And here we seem to have the source of the word 'badgering'.
Now, if you bear in mind that this is Jonathan Menges saying this nonsense to me in a private email (and presumably thinking that I would understand exactly what he's talking about, which I don't) what do you think he would have said to Ally Ryder about me behind my back?
Did he share his opinion with Ally Ryder that I tended to 'badger' other members of Casebook? Why would he not have? It's obviously what he believed, so I assume he did tell her this. If so, that's really all she needed to have her mind poisoned against me. Coming from someone who we now know is her good friend, Jonathan Menges, why would she not rely on that as an accurate account of my behaviour in other threads?
It should not surprise anyone (apart, perhaps from Jonathan Menges) that I deny in the strongest possible terms that I ever badgered anyone on Casebook. But above all, the idea that I badgered Caroline Morris of all people is absolutely laughable.This, incidentally, is what I said to Jonathan in my reply to his email:
'I truly don't know what you mean when you say that you've noticed me badgering other members of Casebook, such as Caroline Morris, and you haven't provided any examples so it's hard for me to know what you are talking about. I can't even work out what you can possibly mean by 'badgering' in this context. I certainly responded to a number of posts that Caroline Morris addressed to me but how can that be badgering of her? In fact, I don't accept that I've badgered anyone on the Forum. I mean, have you, Paul Begg, Gary Barnett and others been badgering Helen Rubenhold with your JTR Forum posts and tweets on her book? She might well say so but you and I both know the truth of the matter. And did you badger Mike Hawley when you pressed him on the issue of the 12 constables on the podcast? Would it be at all fair of me to seriously characterise your questioning of him in that way? But, hey, I did invite you to give me your opinion of me and that kind of characterisation of what I regard as perfectly legitimate Forum posts is nevertheless welcome and does explain a great deal about what has happened behind the scenes. Well, Jonathan, the good news is that no other Forum member can now be badgered by me. They are all free of the badgering. And so they can post whatever they like without any fear of interruption, from me at least.'
Doesn't the fact that Caroline Morris is the one person he mentioned as having been 'badgered' by me speak volumes to you?
You see, like I said, it all goes back to the Maybrick Diary, the only other thread mentioned by Jonathan Menges in his email when he referred to 'badgering'. And we see that Jonathan felt the need to mention me 'hopscotching' between the Maybrick Diary and Tumblety thread (whatever that means) thus in his mind clearly linking the two threads, which really have no linkage at all. Its the scandal that I couldn't reveal until now.
On consideration, I don't think that Jonathan Menges is a Diary Defender as such (albeit that he is sympathetic to their arguments) but what I would describe him as is a Defender of Diary Defenders. He seems to be very protective of the people involved and we've seen one of his recent posts on Casebook in their defence about how much work they put in (to get absolutely nowhere) with the Barretts. He was posting on behalf of Keith Skinner on Casebook (against the Forum rules as I understand them) and here, in his email to me, he is protective for some reason of the saintly Caroline Morris who, as far as I could tell when I was a member of the Forum, seemed perfectly capable of fighting her own battles.
Now I don't know for sure what Jonathan Menges said to Ally Ryder in those secret emails he exchanged with her about the Tumblety thread and that's why I have requested him to post them in full (redacting anything not relevant to the Tumblety thread) but I strongly suspect that he did make comments to her of this nature, or similar, and that her mind was, as a result, poisoned against me.
I strongly detect that he feels guilty and knows in his heart that he contributed in some way to what Ally Ryder posted in her ruling of 21 May 2018. There's no way he could have known it would have spiralled out of control and led to my resignation from the Forum but that's what happened. In my view, it's his guilt that has led to his partial and misleading answers on JTR Forums up to this very day.
We can see clearly that his approach is twofold. On the one hand he portrays the correspondence with Ally Ryder as an exchange in which he said only nice things about me, so that he couldn't possibly have influenced her to say what she did in her post of 21 May 2018, while, on the other hand, he wants to make it clear that my departure from Casebook was my own fault, so that I am to blame for it, not him. Well if he answers my questions honestly we will find out, won't we?
If, for some reason, he won't post or reveal the correspondence in full then I challenge him to answer the following questions:
1. What was the date of the email (or PM) with Ally Ryder in which the Tumblety thread was first mentioned?
2. Who first mentioned it and for what reason was it mentioned?
3. How many messages in total were exchanged between him and Ally Ryder about the thread?
4. Did Ally Ryder expressly tell Jonathan that someone else had reported the thread to her and, if so, what exactly did she tell him about it?
5. Did Jonathan tell Ally, or imply, that I was behaving madly by constantly repeating myself and getting nowhere?
6. Was the word 'badger' or 'badgering' mentioned at any time during his email exchange with Ally Ryder?
7. Was the word 'harass' or 'harassing' mentioned at any time during his email exchange with Ally Ryder?
8. Was the word 'repeat', 'repeating' or 'repetition' mentioned at any time during his email exchange with Ally Ryder?
9. Was Caroline Morris, 'Caz', or the Maybrick Diary, mentioned at any time during his email exchange with Ally Ryder?
10. Did Jonathan discuss with Ally Ryder my posts in any other thread other than the Tumblety thread at any time prior to, or on, 21 May 2018?
It's a real shame that Howard Brown decided that Jonathan's post put an end to the matter before he read my response, otherwise Jonathan could simply have answered these questions on JTR Forums (which is where he, himself, initially chose to respond to my 'From Commissioner To Asterisk' article, rather than on Casebook which would have been more appropriate).
If we had the honest, full and frank answers to these questions we could hopefully put the whole thing to bed.
If Howard won't allow Jonathan to post the answers on JTR Forums then can I suggest they either be posted on Casebook (and, boy, wouldn't it be good to have a public debate about this issue on Casebook rather than having it ignored for over a year as if it never happened?) or he can email the answers to me, or indeed, even better, the email exchanges in full, and I will happily post them here.
But please do not wave fish under Lord Orsam's nose because he tends to smell it a mile off.
While we wait for the answers to these questions let's just have a quick recap of where we are.
Jonathan poured scorn a few weeks ago on my approach to this matter, accusing me of 'peddling' in conspiracy theories. But what have we now learned? Well hooley dooley, yes, there was a secret conspiracy between Ally Ryder and Jonathan Menges as to how to respond to the Tumblety thread. She certainly never mentioned that she had been discussing the thread with Jonathan Menges in her post of 21 May 2018 and Jonathan never mentioned he had discussed the thread with her when responding to my 'Commissioner' article in June 2019 on JTR Forums. The fact of the conspiracy had to be dragged out of him.
And what is the answer as to WHY they were discussing it? Well, from the snippet that Jonathan has graciously revealed to us from their conversation, it looks very much to me that Ally Ryder was either too busy or couldn't be bothered to read the entire 17 page thread and was relying entirely on Jonathan Menges for his advice as to who was the villain of the thread and what action she should take. Why else would JM have been telling her whether I broke the rules or not? If she had read the entire thread she would have known the answer to this. So it's obvious that he was basically feeding her the information about what had occurred in the thread that she needed to come to her conclusion.
Now, while admitting the conspiracy, Jonathan wants to make out that he sang my praises to Ally, saying almost nothing but good things about me while strongly criticizing Mike Hawley. That being so, it's remarkable that, in her ruling, Ally said precisely nothing critical of Hawley while saving her all real insults for me: 'badgering relentlessly' and 'harassing' are very strong words, while her claim that I had asked Hawley the same questions over and over again was just false.
Given that it appears she didn't read the whole thread, where did she get those notions into her head? Well some of it seems to have come from Hawley himself, as she just accepted his version of events, while other parts of it, I strongly suspect, came from the mind of Mr Jonathan Menges.
I mean, come on, when I asked him if I had correctly detected personal hostility from him towards me, he didn't say 'No, of course not!'. On the contrary, he set out specific reasons why he wasn't happy with my approach on the Forum over and above the things I had supposedly done to annoy him in the Tumblety thread. I don't criticize him for being honest with me. Far from it, I appreciated the candour. But is he being candid now? Did he really praise me to the heavens to Ally Ryder? Or did he qualify that praise with the criticisms that he was quite happy to set out in his email to me but not, it seems, prepared to share with the members of JTR Forums?
Well I wasn't born yesterday and I'm confident I already know the answer to that question. I'm just not sure it's possible for Jonathan to admit it. For he knows that this would prove that he was, indeed, involved in a secret conspiracy against me, with the Administrator of JTR Forums, which led to the inexplicable and baffling ruling of Ally Ryder, which seemed to be coming from a dark place not strictly connected to my posts in the Tumblety thread, which in turn led to my departure from the Forum.
As to that ruling, it's rather interesting to me that Ally told Jonathan that she wanted to find a 'balance' in her decision. Personally, I don't think there was any 'balance' there with what she eventually came up with as her 'solution'. The problems in the thread were caused wholly by Hawley's misbehaviour, and any impartial referee reading the whole thread (which Jonathan Menges most certainly, in my view, was NOT, despite his clearing me of breaking any rules) would and should have slammed Mike Hawley's appalling, boorish and insane behaviour. But if it's the case that she did want to find some balance in her ruling, she really cocked it up, didn't she? Even if she wasn't brave enough to confront Hawley directly, what she COULD have said was something like 'An author cannot expect protection from criticism, people can draw their own conclusions from Hawley's failure to answer Orsam's questions but Orsam has gone too far (or been too persistent) in his questioning of Hawley and I think it should stop there'. I wouldn't have agreed with that ruling by any means but it would not have left me with any lasting grievance and I would have accepted it and returned to posting in the Maybrick Diary thread at that time. It was the false representation of what had occurred in that thread (i.e. the asking of the same questions over and over) and the false claim against me of badgering and harassment which is what has led to my departure from Casebook. If Jonathan Menges was responsible even partly for her coming to that conclusion she did, I think, out of fairness for all involved, he does need to 'fess up and then it's all done and dusted. What does he think is going to happen?
What I don't like is him telling me one thing but telling the members of JTR Forums something different and then accusing me of peddling in conspiracy theories when he was actually involved in a real conspiracy which he cannot now seriously deny.
One other thing to finish off. Jonathan says in his JTR Forums post of 29 October that Ally Ryder told him in May 2018 that, 'She thought that people would draw their own conclusions by Mike's refusal to answer and, if not for Orsam, there would be no posts on the thread at all.' He then added his own interpretation of this to be that, 'Basically she was saying that no one gave a shit about the book but David'.
I note in passing that Ally Ryder's ACTUAL ruling in her 21 May 2018 post was that, 'I think people are free to draw their conclusions from what has been said'. That's the direct opposite of what she apparently told Jonathan Menges, which was that people were free to draw their own conclusions from what had NOT been said by Mike Hawley. As I mentioned in my 'From Commissioner to Asterisk' article, her 'people are free to draw their own conclusions' comment was unfortunately ambiguous as to whether she was referring to Mike Hawely or to me and my supposed 'badgering' and 'harassment'.
But what I want to respond to here is Jonathan's comment that 'no-one gave a shit' about the book. I'm absolutely sure that isn't true. Even if no-one had else had posted in the thread it wouldn't have made it true because I have no doubt that others were silently following with interest (and the number of people that started posting immediately when the subject turned to Spandau Ballet (!) proves how many people were following the thread). As it happens, if you look at the thread, you'll see that very early in it, in post #14, I was asked by poster 'Herlock Sholmes': 'What's your opinion of the book overall David?' thus demonstrating his own interest in the book. And he stuck it out through the entire thread because in #232 he asked Hawley, 'Why not simply debate the points David has raised?'. He was simply ignored by Hawley. But it shows that if Ally Ryder truly thought that no-one gave a shit about the book, or my questions about the book, she was wrong and, moreover, it shows the contempt she holds the other members of Casebook in that she felt the solution was to permanently close the thread and slag me off in public!
The ultimate irony, of course, is that Jonathan Menges was interested in the book and, in particular, in the point about the 12 constables as shown by the fact that he raised that very question in his podcast with Hawley and spent about nine minutes on the subject. Moreover, as I mentioned in 'From Commissioner to Asterisk', the evidence which he relied on to frame his question about those 12 constables was the very evidence that I was posting in the thread at the time it was closed!!! You just couldn't make it up. Had I been allowed to continue posting the evidence and conclude the subject, his questioning of Hawley on that topic during the podcast might not have been the shambles that it turned out to be.
And on that subject, it may be noted that I also asked Jonathan the following questions in my email to him on 11 June 2019. He didn't answer any of them.
On the subject of your podcast interview with Michael Hawley, I'd also like to ask you a few questions if I may. When you asked Mr Hawley during the podcast to explain to you exactly what Andrew Cook said in his book, do you agree that his answer was not responsive to your question? He never told you what Andrew Cook said in his book, did he? Do you also agree, having had the opportunity to question Mr Hawley in person, that the twelve Metropolitan Police constables, whose possible future deployment at two major London train stations was referred to by Colonel Pearson in his letter to the Home Office dated 20 November 1888, had nothing whatsoever to do with Francis Tumblety? And, therefore, do you agree that when Michael Hawley posted to me on the Casebook Forum on 18 May 2018 (#235) saying, 'You seem to think you found a gotcha argument, but I've actually found a crack in it', he was not being truthful? I mean, he was saying that he had found a crack in my argument that the 12 constables had nothing to do with Tumblety (despite him having included reference to those constables in his two books about Tumblety) yet when you questioned him there was no 'crack' in that argument that he was able to put forward was there?
Jonathan's silence, at a time when he was answering my other questions, said everything,
p.s. I haven't counted the number of words in this piece. Perhaps Jonathan will, as he seems likes to do it for some reason. I believe the length of this piece is appropriate to the subject in order to be fair, accurate and complete. I would rather read a long response to it than a short, incomplete, vague and partial one which omits key facts. When people start complaining about the length of my articles on this site (my own website!), in which accurate, truthful and honest information is included throughout, you can take it that they are seriously rattled.
LORD ORSAM VINDICATED, AGAIN!A quick reminder of some key passages from my May 2019 article, 'From Commissioner to Asterisk' as they relate to Jonathan Menges:
Why did anyone else need to get involved? And on what basis was the thread reported? Was it Jonathan Menges?
Anyway, going back to the intervention of Mr Menges in the thread, I wasn't aware of it at the time but I now realize that he has a very close association to Ally Ryder of Admin fame due to him conducting the Ripper Podcasts which are sponsored by Casebook. Indeed, Ally Ryder (Admin) has co-hosted podcasts with him. More than this, he also seems to be personally acquainted with Michael Hawley due to the fact that he had interviewed him on at least three occasions
I will come to how Admin responded to my own private complaint about her behaviour in due course but, for the moment, my point is that we have this connection between Menges and Ryder and between Hawley and Menges. I really have no idea if any of this bore any relationship to how Ryder viewed the thread or whether there was any bias involved towards Hawley as a result. I don't know if Menges was even the person who complained. Nor do I know the identity of the person who was being trained in how to moderate the thread. All I know is that the conclusion that Ally Ryder as Admin (for I assume it was her) came to, as expressed in her now deleted posting of 20 May 2018, struck me as so bizarre, irrational and perverse that I cannot see how she reached those conclusions if she was being fair, independent and open minded.
I really did not know at the time how well connected and influential a person Jonathan Menges was, especially regarding his connection and relationship with Ally Ryder/Admin of Casebook.
What I was not expecting was for Admin to not have read the thread properly, or at all, and for her to make a critical but false and defamatory statement about me - a criticism for something I wasn't even guilty of and hadn't done - while not offering a word of admonishment for Hawley's appalling behaviour throughout the entire thread.
It didn't make sense to me and still doesn't.
And here is the initial response of Jonathan Menges, about which I complained for its lack of transparency in From Commissioner to Asterisk was this:
'He wonders if I had something to do with his thread being locked. I didn’t. He suggests a very close relationship between myself and Hawley simply because I interviewed him when his two books were published and again when the St. Louis probate records were discovered. And he imagines that I have a great influence over Ally Ryder and her Admin duties. Not once have I been asked nor have I ever provided an opinion on how Ally should choose to run Casebook. I had nothing to do with his thread being locked and I wasn’t aware of his departure from Casebook until long after it happened. I admit I didn’t read his whole blog entry on this topic, it’s very long and just a tad bit obsessive.'
Was that in any way a fair response to my article from Mr Menges, knowing what we know now?
My answer is that there were no genuine grounds for JM to challenge what I said about him in my original article but that he posted a sham response, making it seem like I had got it all wrong. He basically just tried to discredit my article by pooh pooh'ing it, but we now know that it was far more accurate that he was initially prepared to admit.
Did he have a special status due to his special relationship with Ally Ryder? Well, let's put it this way. She never discussed with me how to deal with threads on Casebook. And when I asked her to discuss the way she dealt with the Tumblety thread she wouldn't talk to me at all!
Was 'From Commissioner to Asterisk' fair and accurate? You bet it was!
BARNETT SLAMS LORD ORSAM:
SHOCK CLAIM OVER UNFAIR PARAGRAPH NUMBER ALLOCATIONS
Gary Barnett wasn’t happy with the last ‘Lord Orsam Says…’. Whereas Mr Poster was given 30 paragraphs apparently (I haven't counted), Barnett had to make do with just two (although, again, I haven't counted). He wants to be the focus of attention it seems.
Well he’s definitely earned himself the star attraction this update. After Jonathan Menges of course! Now that Howard Brown has made the ‘Orsam Blog’ thread public again on JTR Forums, I can see that it was Gary Barnett who had manipulated him into making it private. Thus, at #63, on 23 August 2019, he posted:
‘Should we really be giving this fruit loop any publicity?’
This incredibly well-argued critique appeared to have impressed Howard Brown who immediately said ‘Good point Gary’, although it is difficult to see what was good about it, and the thread was turned immediately into a private one for members only, although to what purpose I honestly can't fathom (and it's back to being public now).
Here’s the fact of the matter. Gary Barnett set about attacking me on the Casebook Forum as well as on JTR Forums, knowing that I was a member of neither. He first started tearing into my joke suspect article, which he didn't realise was a joke, and then brought up an old thread about Lechmere’s two surnames, claiming to find problems with both.
So what happened? I responded on this website and destroyed his arguments on both issues. He obviously didn’t like it - such people don't like it when someone stands up to them - and so he manipulated Howard into turning the thread about my website private, with his ‘fruit loop’ claim.
Funnily enough, he appears to be not only one of my biggest fans but on the very day of the last update he was straight into it, responding to ‘Lord Orsam Says…’, thus giving this website all the publicity it seems to need!
And what was he unhappy about this time?
Well in #73 he quoted this passage from the last ‘Lord Orsam Says…’
'In the same post, he [Barnett] also wants us to believe that 'Insiders' get' just as much stick' as outsiders if 'they put forward theories which play fast and loose with the facts'. When someone can provide me to a link in which Barnett spends even a fraction of the time giving insider Simon Wood stick for playing fast and loose with the facts as he does when it comes to Haillie Rubnehnold I might start to believe it. And if someone can give me even a single example of Barnett drawing attention to the way Paul Begg played fast and loose with the facts of Monro's 1890 resignation as Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in his (and Keith Skinner's) 'Scotland Yard Files' book I'll show you a pig flying down Whitechapel High Street.'
To this he responded:
'I haven't read the 'Scotland Yard Files' and off the top of my head I couldn't tell you who Monro was. But I have read The Bank Holiday Murders and Ripper Confidential, both of which I have been critical of. But perhaps David is unaware of that?'
There are a number of things of interest in that response. The first is that he has ignored the point I made about Simon Wood not being given any stick by him. Just no response. The second is that he doesn't know who Monro was. Seriously? And he feels he can criticize Rubenhold for her lack of knowledge???!!
The third is that he says he hasn't read 'The Scotland Yard Files'. Well that's fine, I didn't say he had. Nor does he need to. All the information he needs about the subject is already on this site. I first drew attention to the issue in 'Suckered! Plus - The Quadrilogy Part 4' but if he hasn't read this article (why ever not?) I returned to the issue in 'Lord Orsam Says...' on 8 September 2019. I'm sure that Gary Barnett read this but perhaps he was too busy counting the paragraph numbers to absorb it and skips over everything that doesn't mention him personally.
In order to assist, here is an Idiot's Guide to the subject for anyone who hasn't read the book by Begg and Skinner.....
As stated in Part 4 of my Quadrilogy, Begg and Skinner said this in their 1993 book:
'he [Monro] submitted his resignation on 12 June, five days before the Police Pensions Bill was to be published. In the event, it offered a generous scheme and won general approval. Why didn't anyone tell Monro what the bill offered? Why did he not wait to find out?'
'...only a week separated Monro's resignation from the publication of the Pensions Bill. Could the proposals in a Government Bill have been altered in a week?'
Begg and Skinner continue:
'And even if they could, even if Matthews was prepared to consider a compromise, given the influence of the people involved in attempting to get Monro to withdraw his resignation, why wasn't Monro simply told that Matthews was willing to reconsider? The mystery of Monro's resignation is deepened by the speed with which the notoriously indecisive Matthews announced the name of Monro's successor. Within forty-eight hours it was revealed that the new Commissioner would be Colonel Sir Edward Ridley Colborne Bradford.'
Here are the basic factual mistakes:
1. James Monro (who, for the information of the supposed Ripperologist Gary Barnett, was appointed Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in December 1888) submitted his resignation on 10 June 1890, not 12 June as Begg and Skinner state.
2. The Police Superannuation Bill was published on 16 June 1890. It did not win 'general approval' and was not regarded as 'a generous scheme' by the police. It was, in fact, resisted ferociously by rank and file police officers to the point of actual rebellion.
3. Despite the unpopularity of the Bill amongst the police, it nevertheless HAD been changed within a week prior to publication but what Begg and Skinner don't seem to have understood is that the original draft of the Bill had been shown to Monro, as if it was the final draft before publication. He didn't like it and resigned in order to fight it. In response to that resignation, the Home Secretary tweaked the Bill slightly but that still wasn't enough to satisfy Monro or the police in general. Monro couldn't possibly have known what was going to happen in the future at the time he resigned on 10 June - and, absent his resignation, it's likely that nothing would have changed - but even if he had known that the Home Secretary was going to amend the Bill in the form he did, he would surely still have resigned.
4. The Home Secretary was fully aware of Monro's demands for police pensions yet still presented him with a draft Bill on 9 June which didn't meet those demands. That the Bill was slightly amended following Monro's resignation (in response to that resignation as an undoubted propaganda move by the Home Secretary) is neither here nor there.
5. It was not revealed within 48 hours that the new Commissioner was to be Sir Edward Bradford. His appointment wasn't announced until 20 June 1890, a full ten days after Monro submitted his resignation. So that announcement really did not 'deepen the mystery', as Begg and Skinner claim. There wasn't even any mystery to deepen.
My criticism of them is that Begg and Skinner created a mystery out of nothing. It is especially disappointing to see this in a book by two respected leaders in the field because it inevitably gives encouragement to conspiracy theorists that there was indeed something mysterious about Monro's resignation.
So now Gary Barnett, is fully aware of what Begg and Skinner stated in 'The Scotland Yard Files' and why I say they were wrong. He can no longer put forward a defence of ignorance for his silence on the topic.
What he can do now, if he wants to show that he doesn't only criticize outsiders, is to raise this with JTR Forum member Paul Begg, perhaps in a new thread on JTR Forums, and ask him to comment about the section of Monro's resignation in his book. Perhaps Mr Begg, in response, will admit to error so that, hopefully, future generations who discover his book will not be misled into thinking there is some great mystery surrounding Monro's 1890 resignation.
Just as Gary Barnett was quite correct to note that I had dated the Hawley Rippercast incorrectly to 1888 - and I thank him for pointing this out and have corrected it - it is important to have mistakes pointed out and corrected otherwise they linger and will catch people out in future. Mind you, I suppose I should say for the record that the ghastly aforementioned typographical error was made by the idiot who I employ to type these articles, and, unfortunately, according my highly paid lawyers, the antiquated employment laws in this country make it impossible for me to fire him on the spot, nor am I, apparently, allowed to thrash him until he passes out, but, of course, I take full responsibility for all the mistakes that he makes [Typist note: Lord Orsam must be joking here and he doesn't really think I'm an idiot, nor, I'm quite sure, does he want to fire or thrash me].
According to Paul Begg himself, speaking to none other than Gary Barnett on JTR Forums (Rubenhold thread, #2963), 'If we care about accuracy then it matters...and I think a lot of people are like us, Gary, and do care about accuracy'. So let's see these guys put their money where their mouth is. Do they truly care about accuracy or do they only care about the inaccuracy of those people they don't like? Especially the outsiders. What about the accuracy of their mates? Will Gary Barnett step forward and challenge the accuracy of Paul Begg's book? Will Paul Begg finally admit that he got it wrong on this entire section? Stay tuned.
Finally, as for Gary's point that, as I well knew, he has been critical of errors in Tom Wescott's books, well yippee-doo, but he needs to show that this is not an isolated, one could say: one-off, incident. The way he's gone after Rubenhold does seem to me to be far more extreme than his comments regarding other authors - especially insiders - and it's now time to see if he's prepared to criticize his mates in the same way.
WALTER SICKERT COMMITTED EVERY MAJOR CRIME THAT OCCURRED IN HIS LIFETIME - EXCLUSIVE!!!
Talking of Paul Begg, he is, of course, normally one of the most sensible and thoughtful online posters there is, but when it comes to the Maybrick Diary and Patricia Cornwell (not to mention James Monro's resignation!) he seems to have a complete blind spot.
In the Casebook Censorship Forum thread 'Knights Reviews' (the OP of which is now an asterisk, as he should be for that omission of an apostrophe in the title), Paul Begg said (#22):
'Patricia Cornwell may have gone way over the top and (sic) attributing all the Ripper letters to him and ascribing various other murders across the country to his hand may have done much to damage her credibility, but she did bring to light some intriguing information, such as the Schweider letter, that readers of her book completely overlook'.
Naturally on reading this, I wondered what the 'Schweider letter' was that I, like everyone else, must have completely overlooked.
As I have Cornwell's latest book about the Ripper murders on kindle, I was able to search it electronically but there was no mention of either Schweider or a Schweider letter.
Searching further for every mention of a letter in the book, I discovered a mention of a letter from Andrina Schweder, the sister of Sickert's second wife, to Stephen Knight dated 20 October 1976. I assume this is what Begg was referring to.
The only piece of relevant information revealed in the Schweder letter is that Walter Sickert was 'fascinated by Jack the Ripper, the Camden Town murder and Dr Hawley Crippen'. As part of his fascination with the Ripper, apparently, he encouraged Schweder's young daughter to read Marie Bellow Lowndes', 'The Lodger'.
Now, when I read this information, what it says to me is that Walter Sickert evidently had an interest in True Crime, just like many other people did in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and still do today. But, for Patricia Cornwell, his fascination in those three murders means that he committed them all!!! Yes, according to Ms Cornwell, he was Jack the Ripper, the Camden Town Murderer and the killer of Mrs Crippen all rolled into one.
It seems kind of ironic that Paul Begg is championing the 'overlooked' discovery of Andrina Schweder's letter while, at the very same time, acknowledging that Cornwell's credibility has been damaged by her outlandish claims that Sickert committed other murders. For the only possible significance, as far as I can tell, from the Schweder letter is that Sickert had this interest in three major crimes of the Victorian and Edwardian era.
The only other reference that Cornwell makes to Schweder's letter in her book is to the fact that Schweder doesn't deny in that letter that Joseph Gorman was Sickert's son but, as she doesn't confirm it either, and appears to have said nothing at all about the subject, it's hard to believe that this is what Paul Begg is saying has been overlooked. One can't overlook nothing can one?
So what we are left with having been overlooked is, it seems, this supposedly 'intriguing' interest that Sickert had in the Ripper murders in 1888, the murder of Emily Dimmock in 1907 and the murder of Cora Crippen in 1910.
Readers of the book 'The Camden Town Murder Mystery' by David Barrat (and if you are not one, why not?) will already know what a mess Cornwell makes about linking the murder of Dimmock to Sickert. She also doesn't present any kind of convincing argument in her book that Cora Crippen was murdered by anyone other than her husband, and the argument that it was actually Sickert is a non-starter. There certainly isn't any evidence presented to support the idea. The fact that Sickert had a studio in Camden, a few minutes walk from Hilldrop Crescent, or that Mrs Crippen had performed at Collins Music Hall, doesn't even support her speculation that he knew the Crippens.
What's so important or intriguing, then, about the Schweder letter that Paul Begg felt it worth mentioning on the Forum? What in or about that letter has been completely overlooked?
I can't see anything, so either it's me with the blind spot here or Mr Begg.
BARNETT REPEATS HIMSELF SHOCKER!
To my astonishment, Gary Barnett has returned to the subject of my joke piece about a new Ripper suspect being Joseph McCarthy in his thread on JTR Forums entitled 'David Orsam's 'New JTR Suspect Identified'. As I thought I had made perfectly clear, the whole thing was a lighthearted, entirely not serious suggestion about the possibility of McCarthy being Jack the Ripper. This was clearly flagged when I first mentioned the piece on Casebook and again on the index of articles on this site. Gary Barnett missed it and thought it was serious. He now surely knows that it was all a joke but you can read Gary Barnett's entire thread on JTR Forums and there is not a single mention or acknowledgment of this fact by him.
And Gary Barnett is still taking it very very seriously. It's unbelievable.
What's the reason he has returned to the subject? Well he still thinks he can catch me out somehow with a mistake in this joke subject piece and, in his mind, if I can make a mistake with this light-hearted suspect piece then perhaps everything I've said about the Maybrick Diary and, in particular, one-off instance must be wrong!! Great logic.
Hence he concludes his post #27 in the thread with the comment: 'Would you buy a used one-off from this man?'. I mean, it's just ludicrous. He can't find anything to say about my extensive and irrefutable research about 'one-off instance' so he focuses on other topics trying to find something wrong by way of a backdoor into challenging that research!. If he thinks he has found a mistake on one issue, even in totally joke article, he tries to use it to undermine my work on the Maybrick Diary.
It's a dreadful approach, as I've already mentioned. But that's why he obviously trawled through this site just trying and failing to find such an error.
Now, despite the whole piece about McCarthy being a joke I'll still respond to all of Barnett's silly points because I don't like to duck an argument and he hasn't managed to find an error anyway. But really, absolutely none of it matters and it's all ridiculous.
Barnett's first line of attack is to make it seem like I was denying that a Habitual Criminals Register is a Habitual Criminals Register! He first needs to remind himself of what I said in the update to my original joke piece on McCarthy on 11 August 2019. For in that update I said:
'Back in March 2015 I was at the National Archives flicking through an 'habitual criminal register' showing all persons sentence to penal servitude who had been liberated between 1 January and 31 December 1893'.
Then, in 'Lord Orsam Says..'. of 20 August 2019...I stated of McCarthy that:
'In the register of habitual criminals (MEPO 6/5) his address is given as...'
Then in the same piece I said that: 'the register of habitual criminals states that McCarthy had a tattoo on his body...'.
In his OP, Barnett actually said (underlining added):
'I haven't been able to locate the habitual criminals record Orsam refers to'
So obviously, having repeatedly described it as a register of habitual criminals, I know it was a register of habitual criminals and he knows that I was calling it a register of habitual criminals because he refers to me describing it as such!
Indeed, the register at MEPO 6/5 is labelled on the front cover as 'Habitual Criminal Register' (not 'Criminals'!) and referred to in the introduction as a 'Register of Habitual Criminals'. However, the full 'correct' formal title of the register is:
'Alphabetical Register of Persons Liable to the Penalties of Section of the "Prevention of Crimes Act 1871" also of All Persons Sentenced to Penal Servitude Who Have Been Liberated between the 1st January and 31st December 1893'.
According to Barnett, 'It's an annual compilation of the 'normal' weekly registers produced when prisoners were released from prison'. That's not correct. Gary Barnett has, I think, got himself confused. Up to 1895, it was always an annual register. And it took some time to have them checked and printed. The 1893 register, for example, wasn't published until 31 May 1894. From 1896 onwards, after the responsibility for producing the register was transferred from the Prison Commission (also known as the Prison Department of the Home Office) to the Convict Supervision Office of the Metropolitan Police, weekly convict release lists were produced which were subsequently complied in annual registers at the end of the year. Prior to 1896 there were weekly returns from the prisons of convict releases and perhaps Barnett is thinking of these but I really don't know. His use of the word 'registers' is quite wrong.
Let's just look briefly at the history of this register because it changed in format a number of times.
Under the Habitual Criminals Act, 1869, it was enacted that:
'For the better supervision of criminals a register of all persons convicted of crime in England shall be kept in London, under the management of the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, or of such other person as one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State may appoint...'
This Act was repeated by the Prevention of Crimes Act, 1871, which enacted that:
'Registers of all persons convicted of crime in the United Kingdom shall be kept in such form and containing such particulars as may from time to time be prescribed, in Great Britain by one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, and in Ireland by the Lord Lieutenant' The register shall be kept in London under the management of the commissioner of police for the metropolis, or such other person as the Secretary of State may appoint.
We can see there that, under both Acts, the register was supposed to contain details of all convicts, not just 'habitual criminals'. This was, in fact, the case up to 1877 during which period the register was maintained by a newly constituted Habitual Criminals Registry (also called the Criminals Register Office) at Scotland Yard. The register was then known as a Register of Convicts. None of them from this period appear to have survived but we know from a Home Office memo about those registers dated 1 January 1875 that,'There is no distinction of arrangement between men and women, or between criminals according to whether they are supervisees or habitual criminals, or only once convicted of crime, or between those convicted summarily and those convicted on indictment'.
The term 'habitual criminal' wasn't used in the 1871 Act but a person regarded as such was one liable to the penalties of Section 7 of the Prevention of Crimes Act which, as I read the Act, was defined as someone convicted of a crime twice within seven years, although the accepted definition was a person convicted of indictment of a crime, a previous conviction having been proved against him, with no time limit.
In 1877, under regulations issued by the Home Secretary, Richard Cross on 15 March of that year, the register changed from being a register of all convicts and was now confined to (a) 'every person convicted of indictment of a crime, a previous conviction of a crime being proved against him' and (b) 'Every person who, having been convicted of a "crime" is discharged from a sentence of penal servitude.' At this time, the Habitual Criminals Registry was transferred out of the Metropolitan Police to the Home Office under the direction of Edward du Cane, the then Director of Convict Prisons.
In respect of those in category (a), i.e. the 'habitual criminals', the register was only to include those at liberty because that was the essence of an habitual criminal under section 7 of the 1871 Act. There was no point in including habitual criminals in prison because the purpose of the register was to enable efficient monitoring and identification of habitual criminals in society outside of prison. In any case, there were just too many of them in prison to include, which is why the change was made in 1877.
In other words, regardless of what it was commonly known as, or labelled, the register in question, at this time, did not exclusively relate to habitual criminals. A better and certainly more accurate description for it would probably have been 'Register of Serious and Habitual Criminals Released from Prison (within the period of the register)'. A person sentenced to a term of penal servitude (as opposed to imprisonment) could be said by definition to be a 'serious' criminal, but not an habitual one if they had no previous convictions.
A retrospective compilation register of released habitual criminals for the entire period from the introduction of the 1869 act to March 1876 was produced in 1877 (PCOM 2/404) and was entitled 'Alphabetical Register of Habitual Criminals who have been liberated subject to the penalties of the 8th clause of the Habitual Criminals Act 1869 or of the 7th or 8th clauses of The Prevention of Crimes Act 1871 to the 31st March 1876.' The introduction to the register stated that:
'The List, now printed, has been framed by separating from the great mass of returns those which refer to persons whose reputation as Habitual Criminals may be established [under the relevant Acts]….and though a selected list so formed may possibly omit a few names of criminals whom it would be desirable to have on such a Register, it is, no doubt, practically far more useful than a list which is encumbered with the names of all persons convicted, whether habitual criminals or not, and a large number of whom may never appear as criminals again, or of whom it is sufficient that they should be known in the localities to which they belong'.
This register, in other words, was confined to actual habitual criminals. The column headings from left to right for this particular register (differing for those subsequently produced between 1877 and 1895) were 'Office Register Number', 'Name and Alias', 'Description', 'Prison from which Liberated and Date of Liberation', 'Offence for which Convicted', 'Sentence', 'Supervision', 'Intended Residence after Liberation', 'Marks and Remarks' .
The register for 1893 at MEPO 6/5 only contains details of so-called habitual criminals (as defined by Section 7 of the 1871 Act) who had been liberated in the previous twelve months. But it ALSO contains details of 'all persons' sentenced to penal servitude who had been liberated in the previous twelve months. In other words, the register was actually a register of everyone who had been sentenced (to more than one month in prison) for a serious or second etc. offence who had been released from prison during the past year (i.e. habitual and non-habitual criminals alike). I say 'serious' to mean someone sentenced to penal servitude, as opposed to mere imprisonment. Therefore, as I've mentioned, it wasn't, strictly speaking, an habitual criminals register, albeit that I don't for one second dispute that it was normally referred to as such, which is why I referred to it in this way three times in my two pieces on the subject!
But I just wanted to clarify what we are dealing with.
Barnett amusingly speculates in his post that the addresses in the registers were 'cut and paste' jobs from his imaginary weekly registers, as if the authorities didn't care where those criminals went after release. This would be strange for someone like McCarthy who, in 1888, had been sentenced to an additional three years of police supervision after his release from prison. Barnett's theory is somewhat undermined not only by the fact that the weekly registers from which he thinks the information was 'cut and pasted' didn't exist but also by the fact that the column heading of each prisoner's description states: 'Description at time of discharge' . This strongly suggests that the information in the registers was entered at time of discharge of the respective convicts. Thus, the destination of 1 Garden Court, George Yard, Whitechapel, would have been where McCarthy said he was going at the time of his discharge. I'm happy to describe that as his actual address.
After 1895 the registers changed quite dramatically and now only included habitual criminals liberated from prison each year, not 'all persons'. It finally, therefore, became a true Habitual Criminals Register. The title of the register accordingly changed to 'A List of all Persons coming within the provisions of Sections 7, 5 and 8 of the Prevention of Crimes Act, 1871, discharged, or about to be discharged, from Convict and other Prisons in England and Wales during the week commencing [e.g] 1 January 1896' (my underlining). The annual register contained a list for each week of the year (and it was no longer an alphabetical list, but the annual register had an alphabetically arranged index).
The column headings also changed. Gone was the heading 'Description at time of Discharge' (although a description was still provided), and two column headings of 'Date of liberation' and 'Destination on discharge' , which are to be found in the 1893 register, now became one column heading saying 'Date of Liberation and Intended Address and Occupation' (my underlining). This is similar to the 1869-1877 compilation register.
We can speculate about this until the cows come home but it doesn't matter where McCarthy went in 1893 because the point is that somehow McCarthy, in 1893, was giving the address of a lodging house at 1 George Yard, Whitechapel, as his destination, indicating that there is a good chance he had lived there before he had been sent to prison in December 1888. Otherwise why would have have given it as his destination address after leaving prison? As I said in my original update, the inclusion of this address in the register, 'suggested, to me at least, that he had some connection with Whitechapel prior to his imprisonment [on 3 December 1888] and may well have lived off and on in lodging houses in the area during the period of the Ripper murders in 1888'. But of course it doesn't actually matter because the whole thing was a joke!
Barnett then does something very strange. He responds for a second time to something I wrote in my update of 11 August while ignoring everything I said when I replied to his response on 20 August.
Thus, in his post of 29 October 2019, he wrote of me (#28 in 'David Orsam's New JTR Suspect!':
'His Lordship uses pedantry like a force field.
Speaking of his suspect he says:
'He was then arrested under his real name on about 13 November 1888...'
And then a few paragraphs later, responding to this thread, he says:
'I never stated in my short article what the man's 'real' name was...'
Barnett had already made this exact same point, and answered it himself (!) but confusingly not in that same 'Suspect' thread. He did it in the 'Lord Orsam Blog' thread at post #50 on 13 August 2019. Thus, he wrote of me in that post:
'He claims he didn't state in his article what his suspect's real name was. This is what he said:
'He was then arrested under his real name on about 13 November'.'
So that's exactly the same quote as he's returned to more than two months later! And at that time, he commented in response:
'He must have heaved a sigh of relief that that sentence didn't actually include the name under which he tells us his suspect was convicted at the time - Joseph McCarthy'.
In other words, before I had said anything on the point, he was accepting that what I had said was correct! Thus, IN HIS OWN WORDS, my sentence 'didn't actually include the name [Joseph McCarthy]' and that explains his 'sigh of relief' comment. Barnett is, in other words, hoist by his own petard!
And what he's totally ignored in his 29 October post is everything that I said in my response to his 13 August post in my 'Lord Orsam Says...' of 20 August 2019. For in that 'blog' post I wrote:
'Of course I assumed that the suspect's real name was McCarthy based on the entry in the Metropolitan Police register just like Barnett assumes his name was O'Brien based on later records'.
How can I have made it any clearer?
But in case it wasn't clear I even repeated it by saying: 'I certainly did assume that the authorities had worked it out and that his real name was Joseph McCarthy but like I said in my article, I didn't actually state what his real name was in my short article'.
In other words, I didn't positively state that the man's real name was Joseph McCarthy in my original article (as Gary Barnett agrees!) but it's obvious from what I wrote that I was assuming this to be the case, based on good grounds.
In any case, as far as I can tell, during the period in question, criminals were normally charged, convicted and imprisoned under whatever name they were calling themselves at the time. There wasn't any investigation as to what their birth name was. The authorities just noted any previous aliases but recorded criminals under their current name, whether real or false. Hence, when Gary Barnett wrote in JTR Forums on 4 August 2019 that, 'The 'real' name of the man in question appears to have been Denis O'Brien rather than Joseph McCarthy' he was almost certainly wrong. Or to put it another way, there is just as much chance that his real name was Joseph McCarthy as it was Denis O'Brien or even Michael Sheen. My article was a joke one so that's my excuse, what's Barnett's excuse for getting it so wrong when attempting a 'serious' hatchet job? I guess by his own logic, Hallie Rubenhold can ignore all his criticisms of her book for making such a basic error. Or yet another basic error, I should say. Same for Drew Gray. Who would buy some cat's meat from Gary Barnett?
And I repeat, not only had I not carried out any investigation into Joseph McCarthy, but the whole thing was a joke or, if you like, a hoax and not to be taken seriously, as Barnett has done, although he has never even admitted that he was fooled by the hoax.
To twice criticize the exact same sentence without acknowledging that I had already responded to that criticism, and fully admitted that I had been making an assumption as to McCarthy's real name, is very poor behaviour on Barnett's part. One could even call it devious. He's simply misrepresented my position and quoted me out of context. But I guess that's the measure of the man.
Back on 20 August 2019 I wrote:
The only bluster here is by Barnett who is blatantly avoiding any mention or acknowledgment of the fact that my article about McCarthy was a lighthearted joke (of which he was evidently unaware) and that his attempted criticisms of it, posted in various online threads on multiple forums, including in a Maybrick thread on Casebook (yes, you read that correctly - he was trolling!) have fallen flat on their face.
We are now in November 2019 and still there has been no mention or acknowledgment by Barnett that my article about McCarthy was a lighthearted joke.
I really shouldn't have had to be defending it in the serious way that I have and it's absurd for him to be continuing to make points that have already been fully answered.
In the final paragraph of his latest screed he writes: 'It seems that David's suspect merely gave a Whitechapel destination address when released from prison in 1893...;
No Gary. He's NOT my suspect!! Do you not understand that? Who cares when he gave a Whitechapel destination address? He probably was not Jack the Ripper!
Finally, if Barnett for some insane reason wants to continue this discussion, I would like to remind him of what I said in 'Lord Orsam Says..'. way back on 20 August:
'Barnett hasn't addressed or admitted to a single one of his own errors or poor deductions, including his attempt to suggest I might have got the date of Michael Sheen's trial wrong and his slip up regarding McCarthy's licence revocation and date of release. Not to mention his failure to establish the details of the 1887 conviction. There is just no acknowledgment of any of it, whereas, on the other hand, I responded to every single comment that he made about my own article'
I'm kind of guessing that we won't be hearing from him on this subject again but who knows. Perhaps he will repeat it all again one more time as a result of having nothing else to say.
BARNETT ON THE HOOK
When it comes to wriggling on an actual proper, serious subject, no greater example can be found than with Gary Barnett's post on the 1876 Islington inquest at which a Charles Cross was a witness. What he originally said about the report of that inquest was very clear:
'It's strange that an address was given for every other witness but the carman's was omitted.'
Now that statement wasn't correct. I don't think that even Gary Barnett disputes that the statement wasn't correct. I mean, it's just not true that an address was given in the report for another witness, George Porter.
Barnett claims that I tore his musings to shreds, by 'pointing out that one of the addresses was actually that of the witness's brother, not that of the witness himself'. But I said no such thing. There is no address given for George Porter full stop. I didn't even bother to mention George Porter's brother! What the newspaper report does say is that George Porter was standing outside his brother's shop at 3 Elizabeth Terrace when he witnessed the accident but that was neither given as George Porter's address nor the residential address of his brother.
After speculating that Porter 'may well have stayed with his brother when in town' (and, of course, he equally may not have done) Barnett says that 'in any case, printing the address of someone's close family might enable you to track him down'. What on earth does that mean? Who needed to track down George Porter? Is that the reason Barnett thinks witness addresses were printed in newspapers? To enable random members of the public to track them down? And if that's all that's important then Charles Cross could have been tracked down via Pickfords, regardless of any address reported, so I'm not sure what he's getting at.
The point I was making was a simple one. All witnesses to an inquest would have been asked to state their name, address and occupation in court. This information would have been recorded in the depositions but it wasn't always reported in the newspapers. There could be many reasons for this but it is silly to try and read anything into it.
Without actually meeting any of the points I made, Barnett says, 'It was a pathetic attempt on his Lordship's part to discredit my suggestion.' Barnett is obviously just miffed that he made a statement that has proved to be incorrect. As we've seen, it's not true that Barnett was the only one of the six witnesses whose address wasn't given. Two of the six witnesses did not have an address stated in the report. I showed that similar omissions could be found in other reports which had nothing to do with any attempt to deliberately withhold addresses on the part of witnesses.
The problem with Barnett's speculations about the reason why the Islington Gazette reporter didn't include Cross's address is not so much in respect of the 1876 inquest (although it IS problematic if Barnett is suggesting his address was actually withheld at the inquest, as opposed to merely not being reported by the newspaper) but because he then went on to say that, if the Charles Cross at the 1876 inquest was Charles Lechmere, 'it's an intriguing precedent for the Nichols inquest'. This is a daft comment for two reasons. Firstly, as I've shown, other examples can be found of witness addresses not being reported in the newspapers. Secondly, and more importantly, it seems to go further than an issue of newspaper reporting by implying that Cross didn't state his address at the inquest. I find it difficult to see how this could have been possible and perhaps Barnett can explain it. As I've already said, witnesses at an inquest would have been asked to state their name, address and occupation - and all would have done so. It wasn't optional. This information would then have been recorded in the respective depositions. Speculating that Cross alone of all the witnesses at the Ripper inquests didn't give his address when asked is bordering on madness, especially bearing in mind that his address was actually reported!!!
Given that Cross wasn't being accused of anything at the Nichols inquest, there can't possibly have been any connection between a newspaper reporter deciding not to include his address at the 1876 inquest (per Barnett's speculation that his address was 'deliberately withheld because he might have been responsible for the death by the child's parents') and some newspapers not including his address in their reports in September 1888. It was a lazy and careless link between the two inquests that shouldn't have been made.
Finally, in his post, and on a different topic, Barnett says of me, 'Read his blog, with sections under 'Brown', 'Barnett', 'Menges', 'Stow', 'Poster' etc. That'll give you the measure of the man'. Well thanks for the advert Mr Barnett. But let's look at those five names....
Brown - I didn't say anything critical about Howard in my last 'Lord Orsam Says...'. On the contrary I simply noted that he had invited me to join JTR Forums. How does that show 'the measure' of me?
Barnett - I doubt anyone will disagree that if one reads what I have been saying about Gary Barnett in response to his various pathetic attacks on me on multiple threads on multiple forums that one will get the measure of Gary Barnett.
Menges - Well I've finally forced a public admission from Jonathan Menges that he DID write to the Admin of Casebook about the infamous May 2018 Tumblety thread, including discussing my own posts, despite him having commented on the subject no fewer than three times on JTR Forums on separate occasions when he failed to mention having done so on each occasion. This justifies everything I said in 'From Commissioner to Asterisk'. He wasn't a moderator of Casebook then, he was a participant in the thread itself, having crossed swords with me, yet he still felt it appropriate to be giving his opinions to Ally Ryder on that thread, following which she decided (falsely) that I had been badgering and harassing poor Mike Hawley by asking him the same question over and over again. Does it smell? Yes it does! If Barnett isn't interested in this scandal it shows the measure of the man.
Stow - Well Stow falsely stated that he had sent me a message to which I hadn't responded. All I did in response was say that this is completely untrue. I'm not sure what Barnett thinks is wrong with my response. Perhaps he thinks I should have just left Ed Stow to make false statements about me on a public forum uncorrected. Barnett's comment about this, once again shows the measure of Barnett.
Poster - Ha ha! I mean this is a joke. Poster ranted on about me in multiple posts, throwing out a stream of vitriolic abuse and when I respond to each individual comment in a rational way then, according to Barnett, this 'shows the measure of the man' as if it's a bad thing. I would say that the restraint I've showed in the face of Poster's irrational and abusive onslaught speaks volumes by itself and I'm not sure many others would have responded with the same forensic calmness.
ED STOW IN COMPREHENSION FAILURE SHOCK!
Can Ed Stow read and comprehend English?
The matter must be in some doubt.
Off-topic, in the 'David Orsam's New JTR Suspect!' thread on JTR Forums, Ed writes (#30):
'I'm still waiting for his reply to my friendly and longish (but not long-winded) message to him of some years ago about Tumblety. He apparently responds at length to other people'.
Gary Barnett responded to him about this to say that 'Apparently it's your memory that is at fault' but this didn't seem to stop him. He returned to the subject again to say (#35):
'It was my long (not over long and long-winded) I hasten to add) message to him about Tumblety that he refused to respond to - I notice he glossed over that bit.'
Did I gloss over it?
Here's what I said about Stow's claim about me not having responded to one of his messages, on 'Lord Orsam Says...' on 27 October 2019 (with underlining added):
'...he's obviously forgotten that he sent me a further (quite long) PM on 7 July 2015 about Tumblety, of all subjects. I replied to him by PM, at about the same length, in a friendly manner, the same day. I still have those PMs which I downloaded and saved before I resigned from Casebook.'
Now what part of 'I replied to him by PM, at about the same length, in a friendly manner, the same day' does Ed Stow not understand? That's not glossing over the point, that is answering it in full!
In other words, I have never failed to reply any communication received by me from Ed Stow in any form.
A few other things about what Stow has said:
Firstly he says, 'You have to remember that David Orsam only got (re-) involved in Ripperology due to his intense interest in the Lechmere case'. This statement is....false. As I explained in the last 'Lord Orsam Says...', I rejoined Casebook in 2014 after watching the Lechmere documentary but my interest in Ripperology had not diminished between the 1980s and 2014. Thus, I purchased most published books on the case during that period, including some of the most dreadful anagram based solutions, and, while the shop Murder One was open in Charing Cross Road, purchased most editions of Ripperana, so was following events of Ripperology, albeit at a distance, the entire time (even joining Casebook in about 1999 or 2000).
Secondly, Stow says, 'I had forgotten that I had messaged him on Facebook...but he seems to have logged it all away somewhere'. Well no, actually. If you don't respond to a Facebook friend request (and don't delete it) it just sits there within your Facebook friend requests page. I didn't log it or do anything with it.
Thirdly, Stow says of me, 'He has a habit of seizing on a loose word here or there to prove a point' but he doesn't provide any actual example of this. Instead, he goes on to say, 'as with witnesses who testified under alternative names - or indeed slight over-generalization by Christer on the number of records where Lechmere called himself Lechmere and not Cross.' So what 'loose word' have I seized on in both those cases? In the case of witnesses who testified under alternative names, that's just a fact that this happened. How have I seized on any loose words? In the case of Christer providing what even Stow seems to admit was an 'over-generalization', albeit not identified, why would I not be justified in criticizing such an over-generalization in circumstances where that over-generalization was being used in an attempt to prove that a man had committed a murder? If Christer had ever said to me that he had used a 'loose word' in trying to prove his case, and corrected himself, that would have been that. But my recollection is that Christer defended every single word he ever posted to the very death! He never conceded an inch.
Finally, Stow seems to think that when I quote him I 'snip off the bits' where he says something positive about me. I find that a strange comment. He doesn't give any examples - and I don't recall snipping off anything from his quotes - and it's not clear why Stow thinks I would do such a thing but it appears as if Stow thinks that if he says something positive about me it should affect the way I respond to his other comments. Well they don't! I do note everything that is said but if Stow is saying something untrue about me - as he has done, for example, regarding me not responding to his PM - then I need to correct that, regardless of whether he thinks I am the world's most wonderful human being, or not (which, as it happens, I am!).
ICONOCLAST IN COMPUTER FAIL AND MISUNDERSTANDING NON SHOCK
This is actually the third time on this website that I've posted instructions to Iconoclast as to how to enlarge the text on this website. And I have to say the layout of this site is nothing to do with me. But if the writing is too small, all you need to do is go to Tools and then click on Zoom. The words will then run across the entire screen .
Alternatively, if the font is too large, and you are finding that there are not enough words on each line, I could, of course type everything in this smaller size font, which is actually the default size, and fit more words on each line, but then people would probably complain that it's too small.
If you've really got some sort of problem with reading the articles, just copy and paste the damn things into a Word document and adjust the font to your heart's content.
If he misses this again could someone just put him out of his misery and communicate all this to him?
Now returning to normal font, I just want to comment on one thing that Iconoclast said about the Maybrick Diary. For he wrote in the thread, 'The Diary - Old Hoax or New?' at #397 wrote:
'Every time I wake up screaming in the middle of the night and it's not caused by the realisation that I may have to be a Newcastle fan for life, it's inevitably out of The Terror that Lord Snake-Hips Orsam (forgive me for even suggesting it) may be right. Thankfully, all I have to do is go online and remind myself that he actually believes that it is possible that an illiterate ex-scrap metal dealer with no previous record of master-forgery could have created the Victorian scrapbook.'
Far be it from me to want to disturb Iconoclast's sleep but he does need to get it into his head that I do not say that Mike Barrett 'created the Victorian scrapbook'. He clearly needed assistance. I have always said only that he was involved in creating the Victorian scrapbook (or rather the contents of the scrapbook because, the scrapbook itself, which may, in fact, be Edwardian, was obviously created before Barrett was born).
It's also worth repeating that to describe Mike Barrett as 'an illiterate ex-scrap metal dealer' is to wilfully ignore the fact that he was, for a few years in his life, a professional freelance journalist. Not for a children's comic, as Iconoclast always likes to pretend, while in denial, but for a national magazine for adults published by a major and respected magazine publisher. It doesn't matter how he achieved it but achieve it he did, with his name on the byline.
I say it doesn't matter how he achieved it because if he had assistance with the articles, it only means that he could have had assistance with the Diary.
Also, to repeat a point I made in my very latest piece, being illiterate is not in itself a bar to producing written work, due to the possibility of something called 'dictation'. It is undisputed that Barrett certainly did have aspirations of being a writer. In the past I've used the example of Jeffrey Archer. I don't think anyone believes he wrote all those bestselling books on his own (and he had a very intelligent wife to help him) but he probably contributed some parts of them. He might well have dictated first drafts while others applied the polish.
So Iconoclast does need something else to try and get him to sleep at night. The fairy tale of Maybrick having written the Diary, and actually being Jack the Ripper, might be what has been getting him happily to sleep for much of the past twenty years but those nightmares of the Diary being a modern fake must be troubling him more regularly these days and causing great insomnia. Perhaps the certainty that the Diary was not created in the nineteenth century due to the inclusion of the clearly anachronistic expression 'one off instance' will finally allow him to stop sending his troubled brain down dead ends and give him the soothing night's sleep that he so obviously desires and needs.
p.s. Quote of the month was this from Iconoclast (to Eliza) in the 'logic' thread at #82: 'I think my major criticism of your post is that you - as so many people do - build a categorical denial of Maybrick's candidature on little more than sand and describe it as concrete'. Ha ha! This, remember, comes from the author of 'Pillar of Sand'...well he called it 'Society's Pillar' and claimed it provided concrete proof that Maybrick was the Ripper!!! But it was not only built on sand but has now indisputably collapsed into that sand and been buried so deep that it will never be seen or heard of again.
NEW FACT ABOUT MAYBRICK SENSATIONALLY DISCOVERED
Graham has sensationally posted some new information about James Maybrick. In the thread 'Maybrick - a Problem of Logic' (#5) he said:
'Not for one instance do I believe that Maybrick was the Ripper, but I think it should be mentioned that well prior to the murders he did live and work in Whitechapel, for one Gustavas Witt if memory serves.'
Did Witt have an office in Whitechapel? Well, er, nope but we can surely imagine it and then it becomes true.
Did Maybrick work for Witt at his actual office at Cullum Street in EC3? Well no, but that should not stop anyone saying he did. Did Maybrick live there? Well no, but it's far more exciting to say he lived in Whitechapel because that's where those ghastly murders took place.
In #17, Graham added some clarification to say that when he said 'Whitechapel' he meant 'London' and when he said that Maybrick lived and worked in Whitechapel (by which he meant London) he only meant that 'Maybrick knew the East End pretty well'.
In the same post he said that 'Witt was Liverpool based but had London connections' but, in #23, confirmed that, 'I never myself said that Witt was based in Liverpool'. It's all very clear.
You know, I'm not a psychologist but the number of times Graham feels the need to post denials that he thinks James Maybrick was the murderer leads me to think that, deep down, he really wants him to turn out to have been the murderer! Especially when he seems to feel the need to post information that Maybrick once lived and worked in Whitechapel.
Having drafted the above paragraph, I found all my suspicions confirmed by Graham, writing in response to a post by 'erobitha' based entirely on speculation (e.g. speculating that Maybrick suffered from syphilis), who said, 'That's a good post Erobitha, so good IMHO that I reckon Lord Orsam is already gnashing his teeth and penning a rebuttal'. Well no, because there was literally nothing in it to rebut, but Graham concluded his post by saying, 'James Maybrick is as good a Ripper suspect as any, and rather better than some' (thread: 'Maybrick - a Problem in Logic' #31). This is the same person who said that 'not one for one instance' does he believe Maybrick is the Ripper!!! I'm telling you, he wants it to be true so bad. Just like erobitha would dearly like my rebuttals to be 'highly flawed' (#36); it's just that he can't seem to identify those flaws.
CAROLINE MORRIS MAKES NO SENSE IN ONLINE POST FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME
In a post on JTR Forums (Lord Orsam's Blog thread, #81), Caroline Morris made a post which I have read and re-read a number of times but still cannot make any sense of.
She starts by reproducing a link to my article, 'The Eleven Days' but rather than quote anything I said in that article, she basically quotes only from her own book which was summarizing what Michael Barrett said over a lunch on 9 April 1999. During that lunch, he had said that he contacted Doreen Montgomery prior to having forged the Maybrick Diary. She highlights the word 'forged' in bold although, from what she goes on to say, she doesn't seem to know what that word means. She also notes that Barrett then said he found himself with eleven days before his meeting with Doreen to produce the diary.
From that, it's crystal clear what Mike Barrett was saying. When he telephoned Doreen Montgomery on 9 and 10 March 1992, the Diary didn't exist in a physical form. He subsequently produced it in eleven days before presenting it to Doreen on 13 April. I explained at some length why this is hugely significant but Caroline Morris wasn't interested in any of that. I guess that must be why she ignored it all in her post.
Instead, she puts forward some kind of so-called 'translation' of Mike Barrett's words. Now, I don't think those words need any translation. They were perfectly clear on their face. But Caroline Morris says that Barrett was saying - or perhaps this is what she thinks he should have said - that he had contacted Doreen Montgomery before he had actually acquired the Diary (which she refers to as an "old book" in quotation marks, although whether that quote is anything more than the product of Robert Smith's imagination, see here under heading 'Provenance Part 3 - Electricity', is uncertain) and that he had 'just been shown' that Diary in the Saddle, although there is not a shred of evidence that anyone ever showed Barrett anything in the Saddle, let alone the Diary.
If we pause there, it's perfectly clear that this is NOT what Barrett was actually saying at the lunch on 9 April 1999. He said that he contacted Doreen before he (and Anne) forged the Diary. There is a pretty massive difference between the words "forged" and "acquired" so there is no "translation" going on by Caroline Morris, just a twisting of Barrett's words into what she would have liked him to have said in order to fit in with her idée fixe. So she is just trying to change history. It's not what Barrett said and it's not what he meant.
The whole point of my article was that it was astonishing that Barrett was saying that the Diary didn't exist at the time of the telephone call with Doreen Montgomery, which is exactly what I had been saying for years must have been the case, based on the hard evidence, yet, at the time, I had no knowledge of what Barrett had said in 1999. Why did Barrett say it? Or more to the point, why would Barrett have said it if it wasn't true? That the Diary didn't exist at the time of his telephone call with Doreen Montgomery is entirely consistent with the evidence of Barrett's purchase of a Victorian diary in March 1992. If Caroline Morris understood what I was saying in my article she gives no indication of this in her JTR Forums post.
Then we move on to the part of Caroline Morris's "translation" that I simply don't understand. That is that 'When the agent took the bait, Barrett found himself with just eleven days before their meeting to actually produce the Diary'. Well, Doreen took the bait on 9 and 10 March 1992. If it was merely a case of acquiring the Diary, presumably from Eddie the electrician, he had over a month to do this. Once Doreen said "yes" he could have simply gone ahead and acquired it. So that "translation" just doesn't fit with the real world. Whereas, in the story that Barrett was actually telling the invited guests on 9 April 1999, he first needed to find a blank Diary in which to write the text and, once it is understood that his only chance to do this (at least from the auction house, Outhwaite & Litherland) after he received the useless red Victorian Diary, was on 31 March 1992, then we can understand the importance of Barrett saying that he (and his wife) managed to produce the Diary in eleven days.
To my mind, in all her online postings that I've read since my 'Eleven Days' article, in which I explained the huge significance of Barrett's forgotten confession, Caroline Morris simply has not got to grips with the point and her arguments which were always confusing, complex and unlikely, if not nonsensical, have descended with extraordinary speed into total incomprehensibility.
But I don't want to be unfair to Caroline Morris so perhaps Jonathan Menges, who thinks I 'badger' her, can step forward and explain to me what her JTR Forum post means. It can't be difficult because Caroline Morris rounds off her post by saying, 'How hard can this be?'.
Then perhaps Mr Menges can explain how it is possible for the Diary to have lain beneath the floorboards of Battlecrease for about or over 100 years (as Caroline Morris evidently believes) when it contains the expression 'one off instance' which was impossible for anyone to have written in the nineteenth century.
Then, while he's at it, he can explain to us why Mike Barrett took such determined steps in March 1992 to urgently acquire a Victorian diary with blank pages.
I'm sure he won't. But what I will be doing is writing an article about the recording of the 10 April 1999 Cloak and Dagger Club meeting, which he has uploaded to his Rippercast Audio Archives, for the next update on this site. I'm sure anyone interested in the subject of the Maybrick Diary will find it essential reading.
WOOD IN FAKE RIPPER SUSPECTS CLAIM
Despite having declared his retirement from online posting two years ago, Simon Wood continues to post nonsense on the Casebook Censorship Forum. Thus, we find on 4 November 2019 in thread 'JtR, A Cottage Industry' (#7) he posted:
'If the Royal Theory is true, the Diary must be fake. If the Diary is true, the Tumblety theory must be fake. If the Tumblety theory is true, the Druitt and Kosminski theories must be fake'.
It's a great sleight of hand here, for while the first sentence is true - if anyone other than James Maybrick was Jack the Ripper, the Diary must indeed be fake - it is certainly not true that, if Maybrick was Jack the Ripper, then the Tumblety theory 'must be fake' or that the Druitt and Kosminski theories must be fake. Wrong, incorrect and misguided they would all be, but to say they would be 'fake' implies that they are deliberately false which (even allowing for Mike Hawley's ludicrously false statements regarding Tumblety) is obviously not the case.
But if we use Simon's own language, we could say that,'If the Royal Theory is true, Simon Wood's book must be fake. If the Diary is true, Simon Wood's book must be fake. If the Tumblety theory is true, Simon Wood's book must be fake. If the Druitt and Kosminski theories are true, Simon Wood's book must be fake'. And so on.
One might add (to borrow from the rest of Simon's post):
They cannot co-exist as component parts of the same mystery. And so, as each part of Simon Wood's book is disproved, the dominoes keep falling one after the other, with not a shred of evidence to gel one particular part of his theory with another, but at the same time generating more than enough fictional lubricant to keep the wheels of the Ripper conspiracy bandwagon running smoothly.
Well said Simon!
NORMAL IN NOT NORMAL TORSO HOUNDING OBSESSION
This is the worst of the lot. Says Abby Normal on JTR Forums about me: 'I once suggested he should write a book on torsos and his response - I know nothing about torsos "It would be the worst book on torsos in the history of torso books".
Yes. I should say that it is true that Abby Normal has been hounding me for ages to write a book on Torsos. He sends me emails, Gmails, letters, telegrams, telexes, faxes, text messages, Instagram Direct Messages, Facebook messages, Snapchat messages, Blackberry messages, PMs, DMs, FMs, QMs and ZMs, all begging, pleading, demanding and, above all, hounding me to write a torso book. Fortunately all these messages were intercepted by my PA, so I barely noticed. Nevertheless, he telephones me in the middle of the night (or rather my PA, who has to answer the phone at all hours, or face dismissal), sends couriers to my office with handwritten petitions, publishes advertisements addressed to me in national newspapers and, on two occasions, has flown aeroplanes directly over my spacious residential estate with large banners asking me to write that damned book, followed by a helicopter drop of fifteen thousand privately printed leaflets. As I say to him time and time again, 'My dear Abby', I say, 'yes, if I wrote a book about torsos, sure, it would be the best damn torso book that's ever been written and, sure, I could probably marshall all the facts about torsos in a couple days and by the end of the week I'd have all the torsos lined up in my living room and be able to identify which one was the killer'. But, I always add, 'do I really have time to indulge your torso obsession?'. It's hard when you see a grown man in tears at your feet, tugging on your trousers, burbling, 'please, please, please, just one torso book' and I know it sounds harsh but I just have to put the image out of my mind. In fact, what was it we were talking about again? I've forgotten, so it couldn't have been very important.
I think that's it from this site for this year. I'm sure I'll be back in 2020 (and my planned article on the 1999 Cloak & Dagger club meeting will certainly be worth waiting for). From past experience it wouldn't surprise me if there are responses to the points raised in this edition of 'Lord Orsam Says...'. It equally wouldn't surprise me if these responses are badly - oh so badly - misguided. They always are! So I'm sure you will wait to read my response before accepting anything anyone says!
24 November 2019