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  • Lord Orsam

A Strange Game of Chess

In Through Anne's Eyes we established that if the Eddie Lyons/Battlecrease diary provenance is correct, Anne must have been told by Mike in 1993 a different version of the story of where he got the diary from, knowing, as she did, that Tony Devereux had died in the summer 1991, whereas the diary hadn't appeared in 12 Goldie Street until March 1992. Yet she has remained suspiciously silent about what Mike told her to this day.


In order to try and explain why Anne bizarrely invented a wholly fictitious provenance for the diary in July 1994 which bore no relation to the truth, Tom Mitchell tells us that she made "a brilliant chess move".  By way of explanation, he said (#10806 of Incontrovertible):


"It can be inferred that Anne knew the scrapbook was therefore hookey so - when Mike started to blab about being the world's greatest forger - Anne simply shut him down by presenting a new version of Mike's original provenance story in which Mike's creative involvement is instantly reduced to nil."


There's a big problem with this statement because it doesn't accord with the historical facts.

The fact of the matter is that when Mike started to blab about being the world's greatest forger in June 1994, Anne did not "simply shut him down by presenting a new version of Mike's original provenance story".  What she actually did was tell Harold Brough of the Liverpool Daily Post that: "He is now trying to get back at me because I have left him." Far from presenting a new version of Mike's original provenance story, she confirmed the old one by saying: "He told me he got the dairy from Tony Devereux and that is all I know".


By July 1994, there didn't seem to be any reason for Anne to do anything at all because the confession had been retracted.

Even on 25 June, when publishing the confession, the Liverpool Daily Post noted that Mike "was unable to explain how he managed to write a book which fooled experts."

Three days later, Paul Feldman was quoted in the same newspaper saying, "This is just total rubbish. The man is a liar". He also said that Mike was not capable of forging the diary and wouldn't be able to answer five basic questions about the diary because he did not write it.

Subsequently, Mike's solicitors issued a retraction which was published in the Liverpool Daily Post of 30 June 1994:

We can see that the report stated:

"The man at the centre of the Jack the Ripper diary controversy has retracted his claim that he forged the diary."

The retraction from Mike's solicitor said that:

"I am in a position to say that my client was not in full control of his faculties when he made that statement which was totally incorrect and without foundation".


By July 1994, therefore, there didn't seem to be any pressing need for Anne to "shut down" her husband. He'd already been shut down!


Then we get to the issue of why Anne was even remotely bothered about reducing Mike's creative involvement to nil.  Why did she care? What did it matter to her?


Mitchell has given us this explanation (#107773):


"I believe that that was because she was embarrassed by his antics (which she knew to be maliciously untrue) and was concerned that a potentially genuine historical document was being damaged as a result of her errant husband's vindictive behaviour."


Again this doesn't match the historical facts.


The idea that she was embarrassed by his "antics", even though she was separated from him and had commenced divorce proceedings, simply because he had said something "maliciously untrue" to the press so that, in response, she told a brand new story about the diary which was also maliciously untrue doesn't make any sense.


The idea that she was concerned that a "potentially genuine historical document was being damaged" makes even less sense and certainly doesn't accord with the historical facts.  We've seen that Anne's first reaction was that Mike was trying to get back at her personally. She added, when speaking to Harold Brough, "I will fight like a tiger to protect myself and my family against anything he says". She was concerned, in other words, only to protect herself (and her family). She didn’t express any concern whatsoever for the diary.  Mitchell has never explained why this was her initial reaction, or what she could possibly have meant by it.  He just ignores it as if it never happened. While her comment might have made some sense if the diary really had been in her family, this is admitted not to be the case.  It only seems to make sense if she was involved in the forgery and her own role in that forgery was in serious danger of being exposed. 


Anne tells us herself that she wasn't remotely interested in Jack the Ripper. According to the authors of 'Inside Story', "From the outset Anne has steadfastly denied any interest in the contents of the diary or of Jack the Ripper" (p. 268). In her own (false) "confession" of July 1994, she said, "I have never been interested or cared who Jack the Ripper was", describing people like Tom Mitchell who are obsessed by a historical sex murderer, as "pitiful". She stressed that the identity of the killer came "very low on my list of priorities". She said that she didn’t want to make money from the diary, only accepting a share of the revenue after being persuaded to do so by Doreen and Feldman ('Inside Story', p. 195). According to the authors of 'Inside Story", "she had not accepted her share of the royalties over a year and a half after the publication of the hardback edition of The Diary of Jack the Ripper".  According to her own account (probably untrue) she once even tried to throw the diary on the fire. Why, then, would she have cared two figs about damage to a supposedly genuine historical document?   


As to that, how could she possibly have known or even believed that it was a genuine historical document?  All she knew for certain, if the diary defenders are correct, was that Mike had come home with it one day out of the blue.  While she might have suspected it was stolen, on what basis could she have possibly suspected it was genuine, not a forgery?  After all, she supposedly knew nothing about the diary having been found in Battlecrease, but, if Mike had, in fact, told her that he obtained the diary from Eddie Lyons who had worked at Battlecrease, why didn’t she just tell Feldman, Harrison, Montgomery and Skinner this crucial information which would surely have led to the "true" provenance of the diary being uncovered which would also have demonstrated it was almost certainly genuine?


How did the diary being in her family since the 1950s even make the diary a genuine historical document?  Surely it just meant that it could have been, and probably was, forged in the 1950s or earlier.  What use was an old forgery to anyone?  Why would it have been worth her lying about the diary for that reason?

Even Anne herself admitted that the diary could still be a forgery despite it having been in her family for over forty years, telling Bob Azurdia in October 1995 that:

"Well there is a possibility it is a contemporary forgery, we just don’t know. All I can say is that I seen the diary in 1968."

She also said:

"I don’t have that information to be able to say it is genuine."

Furthermore, she was perfectly aware that her simply saying she'd seen the diary in 1968 meant very little without good corroboration. She told the authors of 'Inside Story':

"Do you really think it is likely that they would have accepted my explanation after the event, even with my father's support. There are plenty of people who don't believe it now".

If her plan was to protect the diary from being thought of as a forgery, she had achieved nothing. Whereas, if she had told the truth according to diary defenders, i.e. that the diary really was found by Eddie Lyons in Battlecrease, that would have been the best way of protecting a potentially genuine historical document.

Even just saying that Mike had brought it home in March 1992 would have provided a lead for researchers but we've already established that Mike must have told her more than that.

Let's not forget she knew full well that by telling her "in the family" story she would be seriously upsetting people with whom she had become friendly over the past couple of years.   She knew she would be letting down Shirley, Doreen and Keith in particular for not having told them her story about where the diary come from, allowing Shirley to write a major book which was published by Robert Smith containing a defective provenance story of the diary.  She allowed the diary to be the subject of an actual court case involving the Sunday Times with huge costs to Robert Smith without having said a word.  She had allowed a Scotland Yard investigation into the diary with not a squeak out of her.  So to produce this bombshell in July 1994 was obviously going to have serious repercussions, yet, at the same time, offering up no proof whatsoever that the diary was genuine or even good reason to think it was.  Certainly no more proof than Mike's story that Tony Devereux had handed it to her husband in 1991 without knowing where he had got it from.


So we return to why Anne cared about shutting down Mike's forgery story and reducing his creative involvement to nil.  Why the hell did she care?  If she knew he was telling a lie, it would surely be exposed.  It wasn't as if he was even sticking to his forgery story.  As I've said, by July it had been retracted and nothing more had been heard from Mike who may well have been in hospital during that month.


Tom tells us that Anne's chess move was so brilliant because telling the truth about the diary having been brought home in March 1992 would not suffice if her "objective was to stop Barrett in his tracks from making a false confession" (#10800).   This is nonsensical.  In the first place, she knew that Mike would know 100% that she was telling a lie and that she couldn't have given the diary to Tony Devereux in 1991 because that story was a lie he had invented to cover for having received it from Eddie.   Knowing that Anne was lying through her teeth, this would potentially have given Mike every incentive to attack Anne and expose her false story.  She was putting a target on her back whereas if she had simply told the truth it would have made life far far more difficult and uncomfortable for Mike (assuming he obtained the stolen diary from Eddie, as has been claimed). 

Secondly, if she told the truth according to diary defenders that the diary had first been brought home by Mike in March 1992, at which time he had not only given every indication that this was the first time he'd seen it but her daughter literally overheard him telephoning a man (supposedly believed at the time to have been the late Tony Devereux) begging him for more information about where he'd obtained it from, this very fact, as corroborated by Caroline, would surely have been enough to prove to any independent observers that Mike was lying. 

Furthermore, Anne would surely have known that Mike couldn't possibly substantiate his claim that he forged the diary and, most importantly, would never in a million years have been able to recreate the diary handwriting.  

So, in her mind, when she read of Mike's confession in June 1994, she would have known his claim to have forged the diary on his own was dead in the water and could never be substantiated, even if he was able to argue that he'd done it in secret, long before he brought it home.  Yet, despite telling Harold Brough that she would do anything to protect herself she mysteriously didn't bother to tell him that Mike could neither spell nor write properly and that it was, as a result, impossible for him to have written the diary: something any simple test for him to recreate it would prove. Was she worried that if she did so it would prompt Mike to accuse her of having written it?

Telling an extraordinary and convoluted lie a month later about where the diary came from was a ridiculous response in a chess game. There wouldn't have been any need to do anything other than laugh at the idea that Mike could have produced that document. 


But that, of course, is not what she did.  She was furious.  The only plausible explanation is that she knew that she was implicated in the forgery.  It's the only thing that makes any sense.  It's why her real attitude towards the diary was not to burn it but to keep it securely locked up in a bank safe, something which is one of the few historical facts about the diary. She definitely wanted to pay a bank to keep it locked up in a safe.  How do the diary defenders explain this?  How do they explain her immediate reaction to Mike's confession as being to protect herself?


When it comes to playing this strange game of chess, Mike's response to Anne's "brilliant chess move" seems to have been even better because his public response for at least the next 12 months was to revert to his Tony Devereux story, thus allowing for Anne's story, which he knew to be false, to be true.  This was his position when he was interviewed by Bob Azurdia on local radio in September 1995.  It ensured that he would continue to receive royalties, including those from an anticipated film of the diary.  In private, though, he was making sworn statements with the help of Alan Gray saying that the diary was a fake and that Anne had helped him create that diary, with an affidavit being delivered to Anne in January 1995.  Funny though, ain't it, that Anne's brilliant chess move ensured that her husband could go back to his original story of having received the diary from Tony Devereux in 1991 and thus continue making money from the diary?  Oh yes, she really had Mike in check-mate there!


When one looks at all the evidence – and actually looks at the evidence rather than ignore it as Tom does in his evidence-free posts – it becomes obvious that there is only one explanation as to what was going on.  Mike and Anne both knew how the diary came into existence and, yes, at times they were both playing chess games, but the reason for those games was due to their shared knowledge of events.


18 April 2024


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1 Comment

Apr 23

Perhaps Mr. Mitchell has toppled his king. Packed up his chessboard. Folded up his teepee. Thrown in the towel. Chucked up the sponge. Took the last stage out of town. Given up the ghost. Took his ball and bat and left the cricket pitch. Punched his timecard and headed for the bus stop. He has finally been left speechless. Check and mate.

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