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An Unexpected Visitation

I would guess not everyone checks out the comments to historic blog posts so you might have missed that we had an unexpected visitation from a diary defender last Sunday. None other than fiction lover Jay Hartley.


I think it's worth repeating the exchange I had with him in this blog post. RJ Palmer also joined in the debate to discuss the watch and, if you are interested in this part of it, you can check it out in the comments section of The Secret Ripper Diary Extracts.


Here's the full exchange between Hartley and myself. I'll do some analysis at the end.


JAY HARTLEY 3 December 2023


Hello [Lord Orsam]. It's great to see you catch up with the modern world with a new look website. I read your posts occasionally because it is important to consider opposing positions. Of course, I disagree with almost everything you post, but that will not shock you or your followers. On this subject, I cannot believe you are seriously proposing the above extract is a true reflection of the type of writing that is consistent with what is in the scrapbook. I don't need the ability to see words as colours to see the tone and use of language is completely different. Have you much experience in writing or at least reading fiction? Every writer has their own voice, which Caroline is absolutely correct about and I wonder if you are able to tell the difference? As for "top secret" evidence that is being "suppressed", this is language you like to use often to paint a picture of dark forces withholding information that you have not yet seen, or seemingly misplaced. There is no conspiracy here [Lord Orsam]. I can only assume that Keith must think that you are so entrenched in the modern Barrett hoax that everything will look that way to you no matter what you are presented with. If that is the case, I can see why he would see it as a fruitless exercise. You bemoan that we "diary defenders" are unable to be objective, well hello Mr Kettle. The watch remains for me the reason why I believe Maybrick is JtR, but I am open minded to the book being genuine. I also believe the writer of the scrapbook might not have been Maybrick, but someone trying to "help" point us in the right direction. I am looking at a particular candidate that actually Mike knew, and possibly even Eddie knew too. I merely raise this point to illustrate that it is important to keep an open mind. You might even want to consider that it might not have been a modern Barret hoax and explore other scenarios. However, i'm sure you have no desire to. I sense your only ambition is to provide enough doubt so the debate cannot move forward. I believe in your mind, the modern Barrett hoax serves you that purpose. If you genuinely believe what Mike wrote above is in the same style and language of the diary, then I rest my case.


LORD ORSAM, 3 December 2023


Hello Jay. As you once loudly, confidently and wrongly claimed that I was ‘The Baron’ on the Casebook Forum (see “Colour Blindness” for proof), you’ll have to forgive me for not being impressed by your self-professed ability to see individual voices in written text. You certainly haven’t explained why the extract written by Mike isn’t similar to the diary author’s style – you are aware that a bland statement isn’t an argument, right? – and you demonstrate some impressive Nelsonian blindness by ignoring Tom Mitchell’s admission, which I both reproduced and quoted, that Mike’s pages do reflect the diary language and that all the lines in Mike’s pages sound like lines in the scrapbook. Considering that the reason given by Tom for not posting all 7 of Mike’s diary extracts is that the 3 pages he posted sufficiently prove that Mike was able to copy the style of the diary’s author, no doubt you will now publicly challenge Tom on the Forum and call for him to post all the remaining 7 pages so that we can properly assess the evidence, right? Wouldn’t that be a more productive use of your time than posting inflammatory and incomprehensible nonsense here about my supposed lack of objectivity and motives? I note that you don’t challenge the fact that documents in the case are being withheld and suppressed. They clearly are. I’ve never claimed that there is a conspiracy or that there are ‘dark forces’, both of which claims seem to be a product of your overactive imagination. Perhaps you are confusing me with Tom who calls me the dark Lord. For some reason, documents are being held back which should unquestionably be produced. Do you not agree that all available information on the case should be made public, or do you support their continued suppression? There’s not much point discussing the watch with you because you are over-reliant on two rushed, incomplete and qualified ‘expert’ reports, the flaws of which have already been explained in detail by Melvin Harris but you don’t seem to care. I remain objective about the diary – way more than you – and note that no one can explain why Mike secretly wanted to acquire a Victorian diary with blank pages in March 1992. The only possible explanation is that he wanted something written on those pages. As for the diary, it’s a proven fake due to ‘one off instance’ (and ‘bumbling buffoon’), so your claim that it “might not have been Maybrick” only shows your own lack of understanding of the evidence. You also misunderstand me. I’m really not bothered who wrote the diary if it’s not Maybrick. To the extent there’s any importance in unmasking the forger, I just go with the evidence. If you have evidence, great. But please leave off with the hints and winks about what you might be able to discover because I think we’ve all had enough of that over the years. If you want a serious discussion I'm ready to have one but it’s got to be a lot better than the same tired old abuse that you seem to like to hurl at me, and have been hurling on Casebook over the years.


JAY HARTLEY, 3 December 2023


Believe it or not, [Lord Orsam], I post here not to inflame or antagonise but to engage. You do not post on the forums, and I won't speculate as to why that is, but I will assume there is a good reason for you not to do so. I am only interested in the truth. Being over-reliant on two expert opinions is better than being over-reliant on Melvin Harris, who was not a qualified metallurgist with the equivalent scientific background or equipment to conclude anything. He had anecdotal expertise, but he never tested anything on the watch, so his opinion without scientific qualification is as good as mine. He did engage Stanley Dangar to see if he could replicate the scientific results and he could not. In fact, in the end Dangar was convinced both the watch and diary were genuine. Now, his subsequent falling out with Melvin Harris means his motives for that position cannot be without bias. I digress.


On the point of Keith and his materials, it is his material not mine. I cannot speak for him. I have openly shared research that is my own, and some research that Keith has given me his permission to do share. He has never once tried to influence my position or try and steer me down a particular path. I have the utmost for Keith's integrity. That conversation needs to take place between you and him about materials you feel are being suppressed. Personally, I applaud the idea of as much information to be publicly available as possible, but I can only take that position with my own material.


Lastly, I know you have a keen interest in language and how it's used. You have on eye for picking up words and phrases and interpreting them. For example, I am not giving a nudge and wink over my candidate for the potential forger. That has nothing to do with Keith. It is entirely my own theory and research. I will share it publicly when I have more to share.


The little red diary is one of many odd quirks with this case. However, the fact he requested a diary shows Mike had no idea what it was he was looking for. No appointment diary would work for his needs unless his research was so precise that he would not be caught out on any of the dates he wrote under. Then why even request the blank pages? Why request a diary at all? To me, it is clear he wanted to get something similar to what he saw and could not articulate it properly in the advert. So there is proof of an advert for something he didn't use and was no good, but no auction ticket for the so-called perfect candidate he supposedly did use? We can debate this all day long but the reality is neither of know for certain why Mike placed that ad or why he could not produce hard evidence of the auction.


I know you know what Mike wrote does not sound like what was in the scrapbook. I have more faith in your abilities of reading language than that. As for the anachronisms, they are still very open to debate. I recall "top myself" was included on your list and that was eventually debunked. What is to say over time the other examples can't be too? Also, we only have written references to rely on. Spoken language, particular vernaculars were often used many years before they reached the written form. I get your point, James Maybrick could not be the first person in history to put them to paper, but as I say, we may just not have found them yet. Transcriptions remain a challenge from that period so they could yet still materialise.


For me, the major stumbling block for the diary's authenticity is the handwriting. I understand Ike's point and he could well be right, but I cannot hang my hat on the handwriting in the watch to match to Maybrick's and then declare the diary is genuine when the handwriting in the scrapbook does not.


I will leave you with this. What you wrote above; "I’m really not bothered who wrote the diary if it’s not Maybrick," tells me all I need to know. To me the identity of JtR is what I am looking for and I believe it to be Maybrick based on the watch, and the watch alone. It doesn't actually matter to me if Maybrick wrote the diary or not if it can still be proven Maybrick was JtR.

That is the sea I am swimming in.


LORD ORSAM, 3 December 2023


Thing is, Jay, you are saying things that simply aren’t true. For example, you just posted: “I recall “top myself” was included on your list and that was eventually debunked”. You do not recall this because it didn’t happen. I never mentioned “top myself” prior to the discovery of a 19th century newspaper example. Starting in 2016, the only anachronism I relied on to disprove the diary’s authenticity was ‘one off instance’. Then The Baron discovered ‘bumbling buffoon”. You’ve obviously been under a misapprehension for many years that I once relied on ‘top myself’ then dropped it. It ain’t true and is a false narrative you’ve constructed in your head. ‘One off instance’ proves the diary is a fake, so, if you are now investigating the possibility of a modern forger that is entirely sensible.


The first thing Mike Barrett is ever known to have said about the Maybrick diary is “I’ve got Jack the Ripper’s diary, would you be interested in seeing it?” If, a few weeks earlier, he had been intending to forge that very same Jack the Ripper’s diary, why would he not have sought a genuine Victorian diary with blank pages in which to write the text?


You switch bewilderingly from speaking of ‘a diary’ to then speaking of ‘an appointments diary’. He didn’t ask for an appointments diary, he asked for a normal Victorian diary and I’ve previously posted multiple examples of Victorian diaries in unmarked volumes written on what were once entirely blank pages similar to the blank pages of the photograph album in which the diary exists. I am baffled by an argument which says that in order to fake a Victorian diary Mike wouldn’t have asked for a diary. Of course he would! You say it’s clear to you that he wanted something ‘similar’ even though nothing in the advert even remotely indicates any knowledge of the diary itself. What is actually clear is that he wanted something with blank pages. You still haven’t explained it! Because there is no explanation other than for those pages to be written on by someone. That’s the only reason to request a diary with blank pages, isn’t it?


You move effortlessly from saying that neither of us know “for certain” as to why he placed the ad to a completely different topic about why he couldn’t produce hard evidence of the auction. That’s irrelevant to the question of the diary advert but I appreciate that you desperately want to deflect to a different subject to avoid the problem of the advert.


As for the watch, which is yet another different topic, Melvin Harris provided a clear and sensible explanation for why the experts could have been fooled. Whether you accept it or not, there’s never been any response to that. You ignore that the expert reports were heavily qualified and said to be rushed and incomplete. It’s madness to rely on them to say that the watch is genuine. While you can say that they raise interesting questions, I’ve never understood how you can express the confidence you do that it’s genuinely Maybrick’s watch simply based on those reports.


As for the topic of my article, yes I do think that what Mike wrote sounds like what is in the scrapbook. Astonishingly, you’ve still avoided even acknowledging that Tom Mitchell agrees with me. Is that too painful for you? Mitchell thinks that the diary was written by Maybrick and that Mike was an incompetent fool so for him to concede that Mike could mimic the diary author’s writing style must surely give you pause, no? And you have also ignored the fact that we’ve only seen 30% of the pages. Why aren’t you joining with me in a call for Tom to post all of them? Too scared? After all, he’s free to post them if he wants but just doesn’t want to.


As for all the suppression and withholding, which I’m now glad to see you don’t challenge, I’ve never accused you personally of doing that. It’s James Johnston, Keith Skinner (and, with the diary pages, Tom Mitchell) who are doing the suppressing and withholding. They’ve admitted it! There is no good reason for it. You may not want to speak for them but what you can do is publicly call for them to release the material. Can’t you? Or is it more cowardice? You say you applaud the idea of as much information being made publicly available so why are we even having this conversation? I’ll tell you why. It’s because you accused me of believing in a conspiracy and dark forces! When I tell you that you’ve imagined it, you simply ignore that as if you didn’t say it. Yet you seem to want to claim to be objective in your posts. That’s not objective from my standpoint.


Finally, I don’t understand what you mean when you say that my comment that “I’m not really bothered who wrote the diary if it’s not Maybrick” tells you all you need to know. Because you then go on to say "To me the identity of JTR is what I’m looking for". Isn’t that saying exactly the same thing as me in a different way? Why are you bothering to research who forged the diary if you accept it wasn’t Maybrick and are only interested in the identity of JTR? But, yes, I agree if Maybrick was JTR, that’s important. The problem is using the diary as evidence of that, which Tom Mitchell is doing. The diary is a fake which is proven by ‘one off instance’ of which the evolution of that phrase is very clear, as I have demonstrated, and did not exist as something written or spoken before the Second World War.


Extract of comments by JAY HARTLEY to RJ PALMER 5 December 2023


I don't ignore anything. This is a common misconception you and [Lord Orsam] seem to harbour.


LORD ORSAM, 6 December 2023


Jay Hartley: “I don't ignore anything. This is a common misconception you and [Lord Orsam] seem to harbour.”


I’m not sure how I got drawn into your discussion with RJ Palmer after you didn’t respond to my last set of comments. I don’t even know why there is discussion about the watch in the comments section of a post relating to Mike’s diary extracts but I do know that you introduced the subject into these comments in the usual way that a diary defender likes to divert from difficult issues relating to the diary. As to the watch, RJ Palmer answered your points about it perfectly, setting out very well your misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the expert reports, and I would only add that Turgoose failed to even consider the possibility of accidental contamination, as Harris pointed out. Harris also noted that: “The techniques of artificially ageing engravings on metal and of bare metal parts themselves, are simple ones, well-known to antique dealers, restorers and con-men.” This is something that an expert in metals is unlikely to have been aware of. It’s just not their subject and not what they were trained in.


Going back to the actual topic of my post, and your recent somewhat laughable claim that you haven’t ignored anything, well I would rather like you to have vocalized your response to Tom Mitchell’s admission that Mike's diary extracts are in the same style as the diary text. Do you think he’s got it totally wrong about that? If so, he must be a bit clueless about writing styles, mustn’t he, to have made such an admission? Or are you going to continue to ignore the fact that he said it?

It would also have been helpful, if your aim was to convince me that I’m wrong about Mike’s diary extracts, to have taken even a single line from those extracts and explained to me, from your expert knowledge as an author of fiction, why it’s not similar to a line we might find in the diary. I remain certain that there is nothing out of place in Mike’s extracts that couldn’t have been in the diary itself.


On the subject of not ignoring anything, you never acknowledged that Tom can produce the remaining pages of Mike’s diary extracts, if he so chooses. Only this morning, Tom posted that he can’t release the transcript because “It’s not mine to release”. That begs the question of why and how Mike’s diary extracts (which were originally given by Mike to Keith Skinner in March 2002) became his to release? Who give him permission to release the 3 pages he did release, and why? Was it Keith Skinner? If so, why hasn’t Tom been given permission by Keith to release the transcript? Has he asked for such permission? It makes no sense unless someone is deliberately ensuring that he selectively releases documents which support the view that the Barretts didn’t forge the diary. Alas, with Mike's diary extracts, Keith, Caroline and Tom all must have forgotten that Mike’s writing would have been filtered and improved by Anne, if she was responsible for writing the diary itself, as Mike has claimed, thinking that, because Mike’s handwriting, spelling and grammar are so bad in the extracts he produced, this eliminates him from having been the author. It was a huge mistake, and, now it’s been appreciated, after I pointed it out, the remaining seven pages are ruthlessly withheld and suppressed. Are you going to comment on the suppression (something you initially seemed to want to discuss and challenge) or are you ignoring that too?


Finally, the other thing you've ignored, or, as you prefer to put it "not vocalized about", is your lack of credentials to detect different authorship styles, bearing in mind that you once expressly, but quite wrongly, accused me of posting on the Casebook Forum under the name of "The Baron". Do you accept that you were wrong about this? Do you accept that I am not, and was not, the person who posted under the name of "The Baron"? Come on, let's put your ability to the test. Or do you want to ignore this issue as well?


JAY HARTLEY, 6 December 2023


Well, [Lord Orsam], you and RJ are in the group of modern Barrett hoax believers, so I tend to conflate you as one group. It's something I notice you like to do with 'Diary Defenders'. In fact, you seem to think it is my role to defend Ike's position on anything as well. That would be his responsibility, not mine.


"Ruthlessly suppressed" is interesting use of language. I guess the ruthlessly suppressive Keith Skinner will have to assist you on that score.


As for you being The Baron, it is true that I cannot prove you are, but equally I also cannot prove you are not. Let's call it a theory. Like Melvin's old tool. That too is a theory with no basis in fact.

I can see my posting here has caused some feather ruffling within the usually cozy comments section on this blog, so I will withdraw back to my usual habitats.


See you there RJ, possibly you too, [Lord Orsam].


LORD ORSAM, 8 December 2023


Well Jay, quelle surprise! After only my 3rd response, you already declare your intention to run away from this debate. Don’t get me wrong, I was glad to have the opportunity to address you directly rather than responding to stuff posted by you elsewhere, although it would have been more helpful if you had stuck to the topic of the blog post to which you were responding rather than introducing various extraneous topics (while attempting to get in a number of childish and totally pointless digs at me) and I’m perfectly happy to see opposing views posted here instead of the ‘cozy’ or supportive comments which seem to upset you so much, but even I didn’t think it would be that easy to get rid of you.


The irony, of course, is that my last ‘comments’ post was responding to your claim that it is a “common misconception” that you ignore inconvenient facts. “I don’t ignore anything” you said, bold as brass. But the evidence of your brief appearance here demonstrates otherwise. Let’s count all the things about the diary that you’ve ignored (and I’m not even going to count the stuff about the watch that you’ve ducked).


1. No acknowledgment from you that you were wrong to claim that I once relied on “top myself” to disprove the diary. Having made the allegation, you’ve simply ignored my correction as if you never made the terribly inaccurate allegation in the first place, which was, of course, designed to throw doubt on my credibility and disguise the fact that ‘one off instance’ does disprove the authenticity of the diary (something known to the world as ‘diary defending’).


2. No acknowledgement that Mike Barrett referred to the photograph album as a “diary” when he first mentioned it to Doreen Montgomery, thus perfectly explaining why he would have wanted a Victorian diary if his intention was to make his fake diary seem authentic.


3. No answer at all as to why Mike was seeking a Victorian diary with blank pages. Kind of odd for the person who seems to think he doesn’t ignore anything not to even address this crucial “smoking gun” point (which certainly can’t be explained by a purported failure by Mike to “articulate properly” what he wanted).


4. No answer to my question as to why you are why are you bothering to research the identity of the person who forged the diary if you accept it wasn’t Maybrick and are only interested in the identity of JTR. Totally ignored!


5. Then, on the actual subject of my blog post to which you were purportedly responding in your initial comments, you fail to identify a single line from Mike’s diary exacts which would have been out of place in the diary itself, despite me challenging you to do so. How are you not ignoring this?


Pausing there. Your failure to declare that “The Baron” is not me, which you once felt it appropriate to claim in a public forum was the case (despite now saying it’s a mere ‘theory’ for which you have no proof) even though I’ve categorially stated point blank without qualification that I am not “The Baron”, which is surely all the proof you need unless you are calling me a liar, utterly destroys your credibility as someone who can distinguish between different authors, which is what I thought you were so keen to tell me you had the ability to do, based on your experience of reading and writing fiction. The truth is that you can’t do it. Despite your claim that “every writer has their own voice”, you can’t even tell the difference between my voice and the voice of the “The Baron”. You are no better qualified than me or Tom to conclude whether Mike was or was not capable of writing the diary based on the 30% of his diary extracts which have been produced.


6. Returning to the long list of things you’ve ignored, Tom’s conclusion that Mike’s diary extracts are written in a similar style to the diary text is not only ignored by you but you can’t even seem to bring yourself to state that you disagree with Tom’s view of the matter. Are you really unable to bring yourself to say out loud, and in public, that you think Tom is wrong about this? Or did you end up abandoning your claim that Mike couldn’t have written the diary based on those extracts? I mean, who knows? Your propensity to ignore just about everything means that it’s hard to discern exactly what you believe.


7. You ignored my suggestion that you join me in calling for Tom to release the remaining 7 pages of Mike’s diary extracts so that we can all see what Mike was capable of. All you have said (misunderstanding as usual) is that it’s not your role to defend Tom’s position. But I’ve never asked you to defend Tom’s position or suggested you should do so. I’ve asked why you can’t seem to bring yourself to challenge him. After all, you supposedly disagree with his admission that Mike’s diary extracts are in a similar style to the diary but can’t seem to bring yourself to say you do in so many words. You’ve agreed that you think that there should be transparency, so that presumably all the diary extracts should be produced, yet you can’t seem to bring yourself to post this on Casebook and ask Tom to do it. Why not? Seems to me like you are totally ignoring the issue while trying to convince the world (and yourself?) that you never ignore stuff. Sorry, Jay, but it’s typical diary defender behaviour and you are just acting like the stereotypical, archetypal diary defender here.


As for you telling me that the ruthless suppressor Keith Skinner will have to assist me with respect to his ruthless suppression of documents (and “ruthless suppression” strikes me as a perfectly accurate description of what is happening here bearing in mind the volume of documentation that is being ruthlessly suppressed) can I remind you that I directly asked Keith in 2018 to release the transcript of the diary prepared by the Barretts and he assured me he would do so very shortly. It never happened. He decided to renege on his promise. So there is very little point in asking Keith to assist me now, is there? I also asked Keith in 2018 if he would explain to me why he thought Mike wanted a diary with blank pages. He told me he would do so but, to this day, he hasn’t kept this promise either. You say of Keith Skinner, who I assume you’ve never even met, that he is someone for whom you have the utmost [respect] for his integrity. I used to correspond with Keith Skinner back in 2016 and, from his emails alone, I would have agreed with you 100% but, in my book, a person with integrity keeps his or her promises, so I don’t quite know what to say about Keith’s failure to keep his own promise to me, as he has admitted. If a person’s word is their bond what does it mean when someone who you once respected goes back on their word for no good reason? For me, it’s a very sad story.


Goodbye then, Jay, it was fun while it lasted, but I appreciate that diary defenders don’t like having their fundamental beliefs challenged, can’t handle it when it happens, and, even though you’ve been free to post whatever you liked here, I can see that you prefer to run back to the safety of the Casebook Forum where Tom and Caroline will help you out when you find yourself in your next inevitable diary pickle.


ANALYSIS


I think the real question is: What was Jay Hartley doing here? Or to put it another way, what was he hoping to achieve?


Ostensibly, he was responding to my claim that the three pages written by Mike in the style of the diary were indistinguishable from the diary itself but it's clear that he wanted to say a lot more than that, and he didn't really seem interested in pursuing his argument that the style is noticeably different. Instead, there a number of things he seemed very keen to get off his chest.


So naturally he started with a passive-aggressive little pointless dig:


'It's great to see you catch up with the modern world with a new look website.'


The look of my websites, old and new, seems to be a bit of a diary defender obsession. Personally I can't see what difference it makes what my website looks like. Only the content is of any importance.


Then he wanted to make sure I knew that he disagrees with 'almost everything' I post:


'I read your posts occasionally because it is important to consider opposing positions. Of course, I disagree with almost everything you post, but that will not shock you or your followers.'


Don't know why he felt the need to mention this but I suppose it was important to him.


He then came on briefly to the subject of my blog post:


' I cannot believe you are seriously proposing the above extract is a true reflection of the type of writing that is consistent with what is in the scrapbook. I don't need the ability to see words as colours to see the tone and use of language is completely different. Have you much experience in writing or at least reading fiction? Every writer has their own voice, which Caroline is absolutely correct about and I wonder if you are able to tell the difference?'


The two key things he wanted to convey, I think, were (a) as a writer of fiction he has some special ability to see different tone and use of language (reader, he doesn't!) and (b) Caroline Morris-Brown also has a special ability, whereas I don't possess it. His argument seemed to go no further than this.


Then he came on to the two topics that he seemed to be most interested in: document suppression and my supposed lack of objectivity (compared to his own incredibly fair-minded objectivity), something he's posted about more than once on the Forum:

Firstly, the document suppression, and his desire to falsely paint me as a conspiracy theorist, which merges effortlessly into my supposed lack of objectivity:


'As for "top secret" evidence that is being "suppressed", this is language you like to use often to paint a picture of dark forces withholding information that you have not yet seen, or seemingly misplaced. There is no conspiracy here [Lord Orsam]. I can only assume that Keith must think that you are so entrenched in the modern Barrett hoax that everything will look that way to you no matter what you are presented with. If that is the case, I can see why he would see it as a fruitless exercise. '


So, you see, it's my fault that Keith Skinner is suppressing documents in the case. If only I was more objective and not so 'entrenched in the modern Barrett hoax', Keith might think that I could be convinced by evidence, but, because he doesn't think I will be, it's 'futile' for him to produce the evidence in the case, even evidence which is supposed to point to a Battlecrease provenance.

Then, at least showing an acknowledgement that I've said that it's diary defenders who lack objectivity, he wanted to emphasise again that I lack objectivity, with his 'Mr Kettle' barb:


'You bemoan that we "diary defenders" are unable to be objective, well hello Mr Kettle.'


He doesn't, of course, offer any coherent reason as to why he thinks I lack objectivity and it really is a bit rich coming from one of a Holy Trinity of True Believers on the Casebook Forum who, when considering Mike's secret attempt to obtain a Victorian diary with blank pages, all start with a belief that Mike couldn't possibly have been involved and thus take the approach that what's needed is to conjure up the most imaginative and unlikely theory possible to try and explain it, while totally ignoring the 'blank pages' requirement. That's totally the wrong approach. It's the product of a closed mind. You need to look at the evidence without prejudice or bias and see where it leads. That's precisely what I did and it led me to the conclusion that Mike must have been involved in a forgery attempt. Hartley, on the other hand, prefers to go down the other route, which he also does with 'one off instance' and 'bumbling buffoon', where magical thinking about theoretical possibilities takes precedence over the actual facts known about the English language and the evidence of dictionaries and reference books.


Hartley did, nevertheless, say one surprising thing about the diary's author which, I suppose, was supposed to demonstrate his objectivity and open mindedness:


'I am looking at a particular candidate that actually Mike knew, and possibly even Eddie knew too. I merely raise this point to illustrate that it is important to keep an open mind.'


So he's saying that he thinks an acquaintance of Mike Barrett might have forged the diary. Shock!


One would think that we have a diary defender gone rogue were it not for the fact that literally two days later he posted the below on the Casebook Forum in response to a quixiotic and convoluted theory by Scott Nelson that the diary had been found in Battlecrease years before 1992 and somehow made its way to Tony Devereux before ending up with Mike Barrett:



'Hi Scott. So you think your theory is more likely than Eddie finding the book on the 9th March 1992 and getting wind of this on the dame day and phoning a literary agent in London.'


So, despite wanting to convince me of his open mind by telling me that a friend of Mike's might have forged the diary, he was still attempting to push Scott Nelson towards the idea of Eddie finding the book in Battlecrease on 9 March 1992, thus inevitably shutting down the possibility of it having been forged by a friend of Mike's, unless he has in mind one of the barmiest theories ever connected with the diary whereby it had been planted under the floorboards by one of Mike's friends.


But, having demonstrated in his mind what a paragon of open-minded virtue he is, he had some advice for me:


'You might even want to consider that it might not have been a modern Barret hoax and explore other scenarios. However, i'm sure you have no desire to. I sense your only ambition is to provide enough doubt so the debate cannot move forward. I believe in your mind, the modern Barrett hoax serves you that purpose.'


Once again a diary defender wildly attempts to attribute to me motives that I don't possess. Why he thinks I have any desire or 'ambition' to prevent the debate moving forward I cannot fathom, let alone why he thinks I have the power to even do it. I've explained my thinking over and over. It's that I can't conceive of any other reason for Mike attempting to acquire a genuine Victorian diary with blank pages in March 1992 other than to use those blank pages to forge a Victorian diary. There's just no other explanation for that advertisement. Since I first raised the question eight years ago on the Forum in 2016, not a single person has been able to put forward any other sensible reason why Mike so badly wanted those blank pages.


So it's got nothing to do with me having 'no desire' to explore other scenarios. It's that the actual evidence in this case points unambiguously towards Mike Barrett as the forger. Anne's extremely odd behaviour following Mike's confession in June 1994, and her own invented story about where the diary came from, allied with an analysis of her handwriting, led me to the inevitable conclusion that Mike was telling the truth about how the diary was created. Mike's confirmation on the April 1999 recording that he didn't create the diary until after he had spoken to Doreen - as I had hypothesised long before I knew he had said this - only confirmed for me what I already suspected. The same is true of what we now know of Mike's attempts to hide his journalistic career from Doreen, Shirley, Keith et al.


Give me another viable scenario, Mr Hartley, and I'll certainly consider it but there just isn't one. The Barretts are the only game in town.


As for the Battlecrease provenance theory, with its impossible timeline of events and suppresed transcripts and notes, please don't make me laugh. Get back to me when you, Keith and James are prepared to share the evidence for it, if any actually exists.


I suppose Hartley did then return to the subject of my blog post with his last sentence:


'If you genuinely believe what Mike wrote above is in the same style and language of the diary, then I rest my case.'


Thing is, that's not how you rest a case. You can't rest a case before you've actually made it! What is very noticeable is that Hartley didn't put forward a single reason why the diary pages I transcribed aren't in the same style and language of the dairy.


I'm not going to go through the rest of Hartley's comment posts in such detail because my interest was in the reason he made that first one, and I've already replied to most of the rest of the other two, but there are a few things in them worthy of comment:


  1. Hartley's strange comment: 'You do not post on the forums, and I won't speculate as to why that is, but I will assume there is a good reason for you not to do so.' I suppose you can't expect a diary defender to read anything, but I published a long detailed article on the old website back in 2019 as to why I resigned from the Casebook Forum and another article a few months later as to why I turned down Howard Brown's invitation to join JTR Forums many years ago. He didn't really need to assume anything but that's a diary defender for you.

  2. I did love Hartley's claim that the reason Mike's advertisement included a request for blank pages was that Mike couldn't articulate what he wanted and somehow became very confused by asking for those blank pages when all he really wanted was something which looked similar to the photograph album Eddie Lyons had given him, even though nothing in the advertisment appears designed to locate anything remotely similar to it. Do these guys even hear themselves?

  3. I still can't get over Hartley's claim that 'I don't ignore anything'. Being a diary defender means, by definition, that you ignore every single piece of evidence which doesn't fit in with the narrative you've constructed in your mind. While Hartley never wants to commit to it, he obviously likes to think that James Maybrick was the diary's author hence, for example, he once let slip that he believed 'Mrs Hammersmith' was Eleanor Bridge, something which could only realistically be possible if the diary was genuinely written by Maybrick. To this day, in a spectacular demonstration of faithful diary defending, he falsely claims on his website that 'examples of "one off" have been found in newspaper reports of the time'. Here's the proof:



When a diary defender doesn't like the facts as they are, he just changes them to what he would like them to be. Needless to say there are no examples of "one off" in newspaper reports of the time. Hartley also can't explain the presence in the diary of 'bumbling buffoon' and, by writing on his website that he found 'Babbling Buffoon' in newspaper reports from the mid-19th century, he shows that he doesn't understand that the problem with the expression is with the word 'bumbling' which didn't, in 1888, carry the same meaning it does now. He doesn't even see the problem with the fact that, while he can find examples of 'babbling buffoon' in the nineteenth century, he can't find a single example of 'bumbling buffoon'. These anachronisms in the dairy are not, as Hartley put it in his comments, 'open to debate', they prove that the diary wasn't written by James Maybrick. But as a diary defender, Mr Hartley will ignore this inconvenient fact for the rest of natural life.


Although Hartley claimed that he came here to 'engage', the strange thing is that when I actually tried to engage him he ran away, as I absolutely knew he would. A diary defender does not answer difficult questions. They never have, they never will. They avoid them like the plague in case their brain explodes having to deal with all the contradictions in their silly arguments.


ONE MORE THING


Going back to the topic of my blog post and the supposed ability of Caroline Morris-Brown to see words in colours (as discussed more in Colour Blindness), I was interested recently to note confirmation of my belief that Morris--Brown once thought I was the poster called 'Vfor' on the Casebook Forum, thus proving that her colourful ability doesn't allow her to distiguish between different authors at all.


It will be recalled that, when speculating about the identity of 'Vfor', Morris-Brown wrote that this person was:


‘someone with lots of time on their hands, hoping to keep others busy responding’.' 


I knew she had me in mind because it's an obsession with her that I have time on my hands, simply because she doesn't like the fact that I haven't gone away and continue to demolish the nonsense she posts.


We know that self-awareness isn't a quality any diary defender possesses and, for someone who has wasted 25 years of her life writing long, convoluted and largely unreadable internet posts trying to rescue the diary - literally thousands of them - it's a bit rich for her to accuse anyone else of having too much time on their hands (especially someone who now no longer has to waste his own time responding to all her barmy posts on Casebook).


Anyway, I now find that, in response to my Mistaken History blog post, she posted on 4 December in JTR Forums that:



'Someone must have a lot of time on their hands to have written this in-depth review of a book...'


I rest my case!


And thats how you do it, Jay Hartley.



LORD ORSAM

15 December 2023



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