There are some people who would like to convince us that it's virtually impossible, in trying to recall when a particular event happened in one's own life, to get the year wrong, No one would do that, right? So, with Mike Barrett's January 1995 affidavit saying that the diary was forged in 1990, it's not possible for him to have been talking about something which happened in 1992, is it?
Well let's have a look at the opening paragraph from this 2017 article entitled 'Living with Jack the Ripper' written by Shirley Harrison which can be found online here.
'1993 seems a lifetime ago. But that was the year in which I took a message from my literary agent, Doreen Montgomery, inviting me to her office in London. She had received a telephone call from a Michael Barrett in Liverpool, who claimed to have found the diary of Jack the Ripper and wanted to bring it to show her.'
Nay, and thrice nay. It was 1992 when all this happened. How could Shirley Harrison have got it so wrong? Might it be because it's very easy to muddle up dates in one's mind?
We've been told by the Chief Diary Defender, without any evidence being provided, that Mike knew as at 5 January 1995 (and always knew) that his visit to London occurred in April 1992 so that he couldn't possibly have confused 1992 with 1990, even though it could equally be said that Shirley must have known at all times that she first saw the diary in 1992. She just got confused here.
But did Mike even confuse 1992 with 1990? Or was it Alan Gray who made a typo when typing the affidavit?
As I've said a number of times in the past, Melvin Harris was provided with a copy of Mike's affidavit, on which the date of 1990 has been corrected to 1991. Here (once again) is the proof:
As we can see: 'I feel sure it was the end of January 1990' has been corrected to 'I feel sure it was the end of January 1991'.
While we don't know exactly when the amendment was made, nor who made it (although it surely must have been Alan Gray), a new discovery supports the notion that '1990' was nothing more than a typo and that Gray intended to type '1991' based on his understanding of when the diary was created and brought to London.
The January 1995 issue of Ripperana contained information evidently sourced direct from Mike Barrett. This is what it said (from the foot of page 19 to the top of page 20):
'Mr. Barrett, his memory unimpaired by Korsakov's Syndrome (as alleged by Shirley Harrison) has now recalled details of the transaction involved in purchasing the album used for the "Diary" from the Liverpool auctioneers Outhwaite & Litherland He purchased a double lot, consisting of the album and an unusual square compass for the sum of fifty pounts (borrowed from his father under the false name, "Mr Williams." The album presumably contained postcards or photographs of maritime interest and this unusual lot is likely to have been sold in 1991'.
While most of this will be familiar to anyone who has read Mike's affidavit, it's clear that this information is not derived from that affidavit because the affidavit says that the photograph album contained photographs from the First World War, whereas Nick Warren appears to have speculated that, because they were sold with a marine compass, they would have been photographs of martime interest.
Most importantly, it is stated that the photograph album was likely to have been sold 'in 1991'. While it is true that this isn't attributed directly to Mike Barrett, I regard this as confirmation that, at the very least, it was generally believed in December 1994, when the January 1995 issue of Ripperana was likely to have been put together, that Mike came to London with the diary in 1991, not 1990.
Nick Warren might have thought that the photograph album was 'likely' to have been sold in 1991 due to reporting in the Liverpool Daily Post. This is from the 27 June 1994 issue:
'Ever since he took the diary to a London publisher in 1991....'
And this is from the 30 June 1994 issue:
'Michael Barrett, who produced the so--called diary in 1991...'
Somehow, both Harold Brough and Nick Warren had got it into their respective heads in 1994 that the diary had been brought to London by Mike in 1991. Then, lo and behold, Alan Gray included 'January 1991' as the date of the diary's creation when typing Mike's affidavit, except that he mistakenly typed 'January 1990'.
A simple mistake, or rather a pair of mistakes, one by Barrett then one by Gray, but which have been used to attempt to undermine Mike's confession.
It might be possible to establish exactly what Mike told Alan Gray during 1994 about when he purchased the photograph album....but that would require the tapes of their conversations, which are being ruthlessly suppressed by Keith Skinner, to be made available. But, hey, he doesn't seem to be interested in helping others get to the truth of the matter.
It might be wondered, incidentally, if Ripperana's information was what prompted Shirley Harrison to question Kevin Whay of Outhwaite & Litherland on 16 January 1995. It will be recalled that her note of this meeting read:
'He said that far as he knows there have been no enquiries about the purchase of the album in which the diary is written. Between 1990-1991 they held about 300 or more auctions and items such as an old photo album would have been in a job lot marked “miscellaneous items.” There would quite likely be several “Mr Williams” or “Mr Jones” as a lot of people use a pseudonym when buying at auctions, “Anyone who tells you they have got a lot number or details of such an album from us is talking through their hat”.”
The reason, however, why Ripperana is unlikely to have triggered Shirley's questions is that Ripperana didn't mention the year 1990 (which is only mentioned in the affidavit) nor does it mention a lot number (which is only mentioned in the affidavit). That Shirley appears to have seen Mike's affidavit before 16 January 1995 - possibly provided to her in secret by Anne - is supported by the fact that Doreen Montgomery refers to it in a letter she wrote dated circa 30 March 1995, some two years earlier than she should have been aware of it, if the first time Shirley and Keith knew of its existence was in 1997.
In her 1993 book, The Diary of Jack the Ripper (p.6), Shirley recounts what Mike Barrett told her, apparently at their very first meeting on13 April 1992, about his quest to discover what 'Battlecrease' was:
'I bought all the Jack the Ripper books I could find,' Mike recalled, 'and spent hours down at the library trying to research the Ripper story to see if the Diary fitted. Then one day I read a book by Richard Whittington Egan called Murder, Mayhem and Mystery. It was about crime in Liverpool, and there was the name 'Battlecrease House' in an account of the Maybrick affair'.
She expressly says (p.8) that immediately after Mike told this story, and once she and Doreen had read the diary for the first time while Mike watched on nervously, the three of them discussed it, with Shirley coming to the conclusion that either it was a hoax or it was written by James Maybrick. That can't be possibly be true if no one had yet worked out the Battlecrease connection to Maybrick.
It's difficult to find any corroboration of this but Caroline Morris-Brown has told us that:
'there is a cryptic reference from around early May 1992, when Doreen was putting together her blurb for prospective publishers, to time revealing all - which could suggest Shirley had found Maybrick's motto by then, and therefore his identity was known, but Doreen was teasing without revealing - until she had a fish on the line. That could in turn suggest that Mike had revealed the diary's supposed author by mid to late April.'
A reference to time revealing all is not, today, particularly cryptic, knowing Maybrick's motto, and simply must mean that the Maybrick connnection had been spotted by early May 1992, at the very latest. And it must have been Mike Barrett who had spotted it. Even Morris-Brown admits that it was Barrett who first worked out the identity of the diary's supposed author and told Shirley that it was Maybrick, quite possibly in April 1992, from having seen the name Battlecrease in Whittington-Egans book, as Barrett told Howells in a taped interview in September 1993:
'I kept on looking throughout the library for Jack the Ripper, Jack the Ripper, Jack the Ripper. I was looking in all the books, Jack the Ripper, Jack the Ripper. Well the opening page of the diary has got ‘Whitechapel Liverpool Whitechapel London’, so I thought to myself “hang on a minute Mike stop,” but this is after many months – I emphasise many months. Stop looking at Jack the Ripper and start looking at Liverpool murders. Right and I got a book out by Richard Whittington Egan. Right, and in that book, its got quite a lot of short stories, short stories, just very small short stories – Springheel Jack and everything else what have you, and I come across Florence Maybrick, the murder, right, I think it was called Poison and Motive [He meant 'Motif in Fly Papers' L.O.] if I’m not mistaken, and I come across that and then I come across that and I found Battlecrease House, which is very important – Battlecrease House. I suddenly realised Battlecrease House is in the diary. So consequently it had to be. So instead of looking for the Ripper I went all the way for James Maybrick, and this is what started to convince me.'
It is somewhat confusing, therefore, to read this passage from Shirley Harrison's 2017 article:
The clear impresssion given here is that it was Shirley and Sally Evemy who identified the diary's author as Maybrick and that they only did this after they had found a publisher. But we know that the blurb for prospective purchasers carried the teaser clue about time revealing all which definitely shows knowledge of Maybrick. So this just cannot be correct. Like I always say: diary defenders, you can't trust 'em.
Where does this leave us?
I suggest that Mike told Doreen and Shirley on 13 April 1992 that the diary was written by James Maybrick, just as Shirley recorded in her 1993 book. He knew this because he was behind the forgery. The idea that he only (later) happened to discover Battlecrease in either a library or WH Smith when looking at Whittington-Egan's book, a book he not only owned but must have thought was interesting enough to recommend to his friend Tony Devereux, to whom he lent it, is ludicrous. It's just another evidential link in the chain whereby literally everything points to Mike Barrett as one of the forgers.
There is one additional piece of evidence which literally proves Mike told Doreen and Shirley on 13 April 1992 that James Maybrick was supposed to be the author of the diary. This is Mike's research notes as handed to Shirley in July or August 1992. These research notes contain four pages of research into James Maybrick and are headed on the first page, "Transferring all my notes since August 1991". For that heading to have made any sense, and to have been accepted by Shirley as genuine (which she did), Mike simply must have mentioned Maybrick's name at that first meeting on 13 April 1992, just as Shirley recounts in her own book. There is no other possibility. Had he not done so, the research notes said to be from 1991 would instantly have been recognised as bogus.
15 December 2023
Updated 2 January 2024