Ask Orsam...about the diary
Updated: Oct 15
Your questions for Lord Orsam:
Q. Lord Orsam, can you tell me: Is the Jack the Ripper diary a fake?
A. Yes, it is is.
Q. How do you know?
A. There are a number of giveaways which prove that the diary was not written by James Maybrick in 1888/9. The first is the expression 'one off instance'. Research has proven that this expression could not have been written by anyone before the post-Second World War period. Prior to this, the only expression involving 'one off' was 'one off job' or something very similar, such as 'one off pattern'. The earliest known example of such an expression comes from 1912, more than twenty years after the diary was supposed to have been written. But 'one off instance' is very different from 'one off job' because it is applying a metaphorical usage to an existing expression which, as I say, did not happen until after 1945. The second giveaway is the expression 'bumbling buffoon', used twice in the diary. While a very common expression in the post-Second World war period, it could not have been used by a diarist in the 1880s due to the word 'bumbling' not bearing the meaning in the 1880s that it does now. Both of those expressions were literally impossible for a diarist writing in 1888 or 1889 to have used but there are other anachronistic expressions in the diary which, while not quite impossible, are equally out of place. The most striking of these is 'top myself', an expression which was not commonly used in the nineteenth century. While examples have been found in newspapers from 1877 and 1912, on both occasions the journalists involved felt the need to explain the expression to their readers. Two isolated examples over thirty years apart do not mean that the expression had entered common usage and experts tell us it had not. The other anachronism in the diary is the expression 'spreads mayhem' for which no nineteenth century use has been found. Then there are the factual mistakes, the most striking of which is the diarist's reference to his wife's 'sick aunt'. In reality, Florence Maybrick's cover story for going to London in March 1889 was to visit her godmother, Countess de Gabriac, but the prosecuting Counsel at Florence's trial misread the papers in his brief and, seeing mention of an 'aunt' (the aunt to James Baillie Knight with whom Florence stayed for a few days while in London) he wrongly stated in his opening statement that Florence came to London to tend to her aunt. This mistake was repeated in the secondary literature and it is obvious that the forger repeated it in the diary. James Maybrick would not have made such an error. As the evidence shows, and as is obvious, he knew that Countess de Gabriac was Florence's godmother. Then there is the double mistake that the killer of Mary Jane Kelly placed her breasts on the table next to her and fled the scene with the key to 13 Miller's Court. Both of these errors which first appeared in contemporary newspapers were repeated in the secondary literature and by the forger. The real killer would not have made such mistakes. A mention of the 'Poste House', a well known twentieth century public house in Liverpool, but not existing during the nineteenth century, is also anachronistic. For all these reasons, but most especially the two impossible expressions, it is an incontrovertible fact that the diary is a modern fake.
Q. Who forged the diary?
A. While the answer to this must remain speculation to a certain extent, the evidence strongly points to Mike Barrett's involvement in the creation of the forgery. After he contacted a literary agent on 9th March 1992 claiming to be in possession of Jack the Ripper's diary, it is now known that he immediately and secretly contacted, by telephone, a seller of rare and second hand books to try and obtain a genuine used or unused Victorian diary from the 1880s containing a minimum of 20 blank pages. We only know about this today because Barrett himself confessed to doing so in 1995, but it took another nine years for the details about his search for this diary to be established. In nearly twenty years since the advertisement which was placed on his behalf in a specialist book dealing magazine was discovered in 2004, asking for an 'Unused or partly used diary dating from 1880-1890, must have at least 20 blank pages', no explanation has been provided by anyone for Barrett's requirement for a genuine Victorian diary from the 1880s containing blank pages other than an obvious desire to obtain a diary from the correct period in order to forge a Victorian diary. While he was ultimately unsuccessful in obtaining such a diary, it would seem that he subsequently acquired a Victorian or Edwardian photograph album - quite possibly at a local auction of Victorian and Edwardian items of which one is known to have been held in Liverpool on 31st March 1992 - and, after ripping out those pages bearing photographs, secured the help of an accomplice (he claims it was his wife) to write a pre-prepared text within two weeks, bringing the diary to London for the first time on 13th April 1992.
Q. Could Mike Barrett not have wanted to acquire a genuine Victorian diary with blank pages for another reason?
A. Such as?
Q. Well, here is what I find someone has recently posted online by way of explanation: 'Barrett's got this gold-dust Victorian scrapbook in his hand and he doesn't want to lose it so he's going to put some steps in place to try to protect it. He knows in his heart of hearts that's it's utterly hookey so he thinks that someone (he doesn't know who, obviously) might come knocking on his door wanting it back So he needs a document that resembles the one he has in his hands. It doesn't have to be a perfect match. It just needs to be something he can say "Here's the document I got the other day" if someone in authority (such as the polis) come asking. So he seeks a genuine 1880-1890 diary and he seeks sufficient blank pages so that when the complainant says "Mine had several blank pages at the end" Mike can say "And so does mine, just like you said".'
A. This doesn't make any sense. Let's take what seems to be the most important part of the theory, which is that Mike was primarily seeking a diary with 'several blank pages at the end' just like the Jack the Ripper diary, apparently. Well that is an immediate fail for so many reasons. Firstly, the idea that the unidentified person Mike is supposed to be afraid of knocking at his door - even though he could just, much more easily, have told him to go away and/or that he didn't possess any form of diary, rather than attempting to go to the trouble and expense of buying a genuine one - would be expecting to identify the stolen diary by nothing more than the fact that it had 'several blank pages' at the end is too ludicrous to be given even a fraction of a second's consideration. Then, secondly, we encounter the uncomfortable fact, known to but deliberately not mentioned by the theorist, that the diary has 17 blank pages at the end yet Mike was asking for a MINIMUM of 20 blank pages (but didn't even specify where in the diary those blank pages needed to be). In the theory, we are told that Mike had the scrapbook in his hand. While he wasn't the smartest person in the world, it seems likely that he could count to 17 so why didn't he ask for a minimum of 17 pages [at the end of the diary]? A diary with 18 blank pages wasn't going to be of any use to him was it? And what was he proposing to do about the additional blank pages? We aren't told. Thirdly, the theorist has lost sight of the fact that the primary request was actually for an unused, or entirely blank, diary. What was Mike going to do with an entirely blank diary? How was it supposed to be any kind of match for a diary of Jack the Ripper filled with 63 pages of writing? This simply isn't answered by the theorist who has had almost twenty years to think about it. I'm not going to speculate what the theorist thinks, but the fact that he hasn't provided an answer is an immediate FAIL. The theorist also doesn't explain why Mike seemed to have no interest in the colour or size of the Victorian diary he was seeking, even though those two things would have been the most obvious elements which needed to match the stolen diary of Jack the Ripper if he was trying to pass off another item as that diary. A further failing is that there is no attempt made to explain why Mike asked for a genuine diary from the period 1880 to 1890. Was Mike expecting an appraiser from the Antiques Roadshow to knock at his door who would be able to tell the correct year, or at least decade, of the diary? What I'm asking is why Mike didn't simply go down to Ryman or WH Smith to acquire a (relatively inexpensive) big black notebook which he could then pass off as a Victorian one? How was he ever going to be able to prove to the person knocking at his door that the diary in his hand which he had purchased from Martin Earl was genuinely Victorian? He couldn't show him the receipt because that would defeat the purpose of pretending it was the diary he had bought from Eddie. And why waste time and money by going down the route of a second hand book dealer over the telephone in any case? After all, if someone was going to be knocking at his door, this was going to happen sooner rather than later, wasn't it? Yet, he didn't even get a diary in his hand for almost twenty days. So literally not a single word of it makes sense and it cannot even qualify as an 'explanation' for Mike's search for a genuine Victorian diary with blank pages.
Q. But didn't Mike accept an 1891 diary? How could that have worked for a fake diary of James Maybrick who died in 1889?
A. As at 26th March 1992, Mike was in a tight spot. The clock was ticking and he still hadn't arranged a meeting in London with Doreen Montgomery to show her his Jack the Ripper diary, supposedly in his possession. He was told by Martin Earl that no diaries from his preferred period of the 1880s (which, sure, included 1890) were available. So he had to compromise and agree to accept a diary from slightly outside his preferred period on the basis, I suggest, that he had been told that most of the pages in that 1891 diary were blank (and, in his mind, could thus be used for a fake 1888 diary). Until he physically held the diary in his hands, he wouldn't know that it would be unsuitable due to being both too small and to having the 1891 dates printed on each page. But that doesn't mean that he couldn't have hoped that an 1891 diary would have been written in a notebook, sketchbook, journal or scrapbook without any printed dates on the blank pages. Many diaries were written in such things and could thus pass as diaries for any year because the only way of identifying the year of such diaries is from the dated handwritten entries of the diarist, which could be ripped out. Even the most ardent diary defender has (finally) admitted that:
'retrospectively - what if you use that blank notebook to record a chronological series of events (sans dates), could you call it - for convenience (or for marketing purposes, as Robert did) - a diary? I guess you can. Once up and running, a notebook can become a diary by dint of what you use it for'.
This is a major, and long overdue, concession which means that it is now accepted that the part of Mike's advertisement which requested a partially used diary COULD have produced a potentially useable item, being a notebook used as a diary, without dates on every page, even if that diary was from a seemingly impossible year like 1890 or 1891. Furthermore, what seems to have been forgotten is that Mike would have been hoping for a number of diaries to be offered to him, of which he could choose the most suitable one for his purpose. He didn't need to accept anything that was offered to him. It's just that, in the end, only one diary was offered, so he didn't have any choice.
Q. But hold on that only explains part of the advertisement. No one on this planet would call a blank notebook a diary would they?
A. Yes, they would. Before I explain, it would have made no sense for Mike's advert to have limited itself to a notebook because, as we've seen, a photograph album or scrapbook turned out to be suitable, and limiting to one type of vessel would have been silly. It would make sense to include everything that could be used to write a diary, which is easily encompassed, funnily enough, by using the word 'diary'. As it has now been admitted, a notebook used as a diary can very properly be described as a diary. This means that a blank notebook which COULD be used as a diary could also be described as a diary. If you don't believe me, here is the proof which I found doing a search on ebay (of which there are numerous other examples):
We can see that this is described as a 'Retro Vintage Journal Blank Hard Cover Leather Diary Notebook Sketchbook Paper'.
We can also see here that all bases have been covered. We have 'journal', 'diary', 'notebook' and 'sketchbook' used to describe it. Inside it looks like this:
I suggest that if a dealer in old books who subscribed to Bookdealer magazine in 1992 had (miraculously) owned something exactly like this which had been manufactured in the 1880s it would actually have been the most ideal item for the forger's needs. Probably even better than an 1888 diary with dates in because the forger would probably have wanted to avoid being specific with the dates of the entries. Furthermore, the advert that Mike placed WOULD have ensured that he was offered it, had it existed. And it may well be that Mike had precisely this type of thing in mind when he asked for an unused diary from the 1880s, knowing that anyone with such an item as the above would have offered it as an unused diary because it is the type of blank book which would have been used as a diary by many people. We can certainly see from the Ebay advert that someone did describe a blank notebook as a diary (albeit other words were used too) so the claim that no one on this planet would refer to a blank notebook as a diary is proven to be false.
Q. I noticed that you used the term 'diary defender'. What does that mean?
A A diary defender is simply, and literally, someone who defends the diary. They defend it from everyone and anyone who attacks the diary as a fake. While many diary defenders claim to believe the diary is a fake (usually suggesting that it's a very old fake and thus an interesting historical document), it's remarkable how they take every opportunity to challenge every single argument which actually shows that the diary is a fake. This suggests that they secretly hope that the diary is genuine but prefer not to say so.
Q. I've heard one criticism of you is that you rely on what Mike Barrett, a known liar and con artist said about the diary, is that true?
A. Absolutely not. I do not rely on a single word spoken by Mike Barrett in formulating my belief that he was involved in a plot to forge the diary. That belief comes solely from the evidence, primarily his proven attempt to obtain a genuine Victorian diary with blank pages for which no alternative explanation has been provided other than that he was trying to obtain a genuine diary from the period into which to write a fake Jack the Ripper diary in order to fool any document examiner, whether amateur or professional. At a minimum, he needed the book in which the diary was written to look Victorian otherwise it wasn't going to even get past Doreen Montgomery on first inspection. I doubt if he thought much further ahead than that. But I have said many times in the past that I do not rely on what Mike said nor do I rely at all on what is found in Mike's affidavit (which was undoubtedly drafted by Alan Gray) but on undisputed facts. I've already proven that the diary is a modern forgery due to its impossibly anachronistic contents and Mike's actions in secretly attempting to secure a Victorian diary with blank pages mean that the evidence as to authorship of the Jack the Ripper diary points in one direction only.
Q. Did Mike possess an auction ticket?
A. Prior to making an appearance at a public event in April 1999, Mike Barrett claimed to be in possession of an auction ticket or receipt from an Outhwaite & Litherland auction which, he said, would prove that he purchased the photograph album at an auction. His failure to produce that receipt has led some people to conclude that his entire story was false. However, drawing such a conclusion would be a mistake. Mike was a natural liar and con artist and it would be wholly in character for him to pretend to have proof of something which he did not actually have. This is the case whether he was telling the truth or lying about having forged the diary.
Q. Didn't you say that Mike only decided not to produce the receipt in April 1999 because there was a police officer in the audience?
A. No! This is one of the big myths of diary defending that has embedded itself in some people's minds. When I first analysed the transcript of the recording of April 1999 event in my January 2020 article 'A Man in a Pub', I stated very clearly that, 'The likelihood is that Mike had destroyed the receipt in 1992 and was playing a game with the Ripperologists....'. What seems to have confused those who did not read my article, but only learnt of it second hand from others, is that I also made the point that Keith Skinner, the compere of the evening, did a very foolish thing by telling Mike that he had given some key documents to a former police officer (who happened to be in the audience) to examine. Mike's reaction to this seemed genuinely to be that he feared he was about to be arrested that evening. This was the reason he gave for not producing the auction receipt. Whether that was true or not, it was undoubtedly a mistake by Keith Skinner to give him that opportunity to use that excuse.
Q. Is there any evidence that the diary was found in Battlecrease on 9th March 1992?
A. Not really. While it is now known that electricians were working in the property on that date, and it is likely that the floorboards on the 1st floor were lifted, there is zero evidence of any form of discovery of a diary, or anything else, having been made on that date. To the extent that there is some connection between Mike Barrett contacting a literary agent on 9th March 1992 and work being done in Battlecrease it may be as simple as Mike having heard about that work, which prompted him to initiate a (previously contemplated) plan to sell a diary of James Maybrick as Jack the Ripper. When it comes to other incidents involving electricians, very little hard evidence has been produced, while transcripts of interviews of them have been deliberately withheld, which is incredibly suspicious, and a huge problem is caused by the intervention of Paul Feldman in the spring of 1993 who is likely to have put all manner of ideas into people's heads with his theory that an electrician found the diary and sold it to Mike Barrett in the Saddle pub. One of the electricians, Brian Rawes, recalls being approached by Eddie Lyons while he (Rawes) was driving a van at Battlecrease in either June or July 1992, long after Mike had brought the diary to London. From selected snippets of interviews provided to me by James Johnston, we know that Rawes can't seem to decide whether Eddie told him at that time that he had found 'something' or whether he specifically told him he had found 'a book' under the floorboards of Battlecrease. Worse, it would appear that he told the police in 1993 that Eddie told him he had found 'a diary'. This raises a red flag about his credibility. There would have been no reason for him to have thought about his conversation with Eddie in the summer of 1992 for about year when Feldman started sniffing around and, while it's unfortunate, witnesses are well known for imagining or exaggerating incidents and conversations in their minds. Perhaps he even dreamt it and now thinks it's a reality. There is no corroboration for his account and, while he claims to have mentioned it at the time to Arthur Rigby, a fellow electrician, Rigby doesn't seem to remember it or, at least, has never mentioned it. The other incident involves an electrician, Alan Davies, mentioning to a manager of an APS store in Bootle in December 1992 that a fellow electrician was trying to sell a diary of Jack the Ripper for £25 but the timing of this makes no sense, and one seems to have been able to establish how Davies even knew about the existence of a diary in 1992. The likelihood must be that he learnt about it on the grapevine as a result of Feldman's meddling enquiries and that the incident said to have occurred in December 1992 actually happened a few months later in the spring of 1993.
Q. Can you tell me more about the dating of that last incident?
A. Sure. In her 2003 book, Shirley Harrison, stated that Alan Davies mentioned the diary to the APS store manager in November or December 1991 which perfectly with the diary having first been produced in London in April 1992. When I raised this with James Johnston on the Casebook Forum, I was assured that this date of 1991 was a mistake by Shirley Harrison and that the source of the story, the owner of the APS Store, Tim Martin-Wright, had always said that the mention of the diary by Alan Davies to his manager occurred in December 1992. Recently, however, it was slipped out on the Casebook Forum that Martin-Wright has said that the incident occurred in either 1991 or 1992. It would appear, therefore, that, contrary to what I was told by James Johnston, the source of the 1991 date in Shirley Harrison's 2003 book was Martin-Wright himself. This seriously undermines his account. To the extent that Alan Davies ever did mention knowing of a Jack the Ripper diary for sale, it would seem likely that this occurred in 1993, after Feldman had put ideas into the electricians' heads.
Q. Haven't I heard something about electricians seeing the diary wrapped in brown paper?
A. This is another myth. No electrician is on record as having seen anything wrapped in brown paper, let alone a diary. According to Arthur Rigby's brother, Rigby once saw something (never identified) carried by Eddie Lyons wrapped in a pillow case or shopping bag but not a brown paper bag. The notion of something having been wrapped in brown paper is something that Paul Feldman alone claims he was told by Arthur Rigby but Feldman never provided any quote from Rigby and he is agreed on all sides to be a highly unreliable source. If, say, Rigby had mentioned he saw something wrapped in a pillow case, shopping bag or brown paper bag (contrary to what his brother says), Feldman could easily have zero'd in on the brown paper element, ignoring all other possibilities, because he knew that Mike Barrett had claimed to have received the diary in a brown paper package from Tony Devereux. Apart from anything else, brown paper, in the form of bags, parcels or packages, is very common and the fact that an electrician might have once seen another electrician carrying or something wrapped in brown paper (even though there is no actual evidence to this effect) is entirely unremarkable.
Q. Okay but isn't it the case that 9th March 1992 was the first time on the record that the floorboards in Battlecrease House had been lifted since the death of James Maybrick?
A. No, that isn't true for two reasons. Firstly, there is no 'record' of the floorboards being lifted on 9th March 1992. While it's entirely possible, even likely, that they were lifted that day, the documentary evidence for this is no more than that floorboard protectors were priced into the job being done that day, and were needed for it, from which an inference can be made that the floorboards were intended to be lifted but there is no actual record that they ever were lifted. To the extent that any electricians remember the floorboards being lifted that day (of which no testimony has ever been provided), it is a matter of record that Paul Dodd, the owner of Battlecrease, positively recalls that the floorboards were lifted in 1977 when the building was gutted and re-wired. Re-wiring work also occurred in 1946 when it is likely that the floorboards were lifted while, prior to that, the house was converted to electricity in the 1920s which also likely involved lifting the floorboards.
Q. Is there any evidence other than his search for a Victorian diary with blank pages which implicates Mike Barrett in the forgery?
A. Yes, there is. I would identify six things. Firstly, the fact that he outsmarted all the researchers on the case by identifying the source of the line 'Oh costly intercourse of death' in the diary as being by the little-known seventeenth century poet, Thomas Crashaw (and indeed owned a Sphere Guide of English literature containing this quote). All kinds of weird and wonderful arguments have been put forward as to how the non-forger Mike might have discovered this but none of them are in any way convincing. Mike found the source of the line yet he was supposed to be an idiot. It doesn't compute. The second thing is that when he provided his research notes to Shirley Harrison in July or August 1992, he relied heavily on a book by Bernard Ryan for a number of facts about the Maybricks but pretended that he had not done so, giving false source references for some of the information he had taken from Ryan's book. This is significant because a close analysis of the diary shows that the forger must have used Ryan's book as their primary source of information about the Maybricks. It looks very much as if Mike was trying to hide from Shirley his knowledge of Ryan's book. Thirdly, when one examines Mike's speech and writings we find that he used similar quirky expressions to those found in the diary. Fourthly, Mike (and Anne) deliberately kept secret from Doreen Montgomery, Shirley Harrison and all the other researchers during 1992 and 1993 that he had been a professional freelance journalist during the 1980s, pretending that he was nothing more than a scrap metal dealer. This is very suspicious. The fact of him having been a journalist was only discovered by Nick Warren in 1994, shortly before he first confessed to the forgery. Fifthly, Mike is known to have owned a copy of a book by Richard Whittington-Egan which contained a couple of chapters on the Maybrick case and which he lent to Tony Devereux. Sixthly, and perhaps of most importance, is that when Mike came to London in April 1999, the story that he told was that he had started thinking of creating a forged diary in 1988, as a money making scheme, but did not do so until after he had established that a literary agent would be interested in such a diary on 9th March 1992. He said that he then attempted to acquire a genuine Victorian diary and eventually purchased a photograph album at a local auction, giving him about eleven days to write the diary. Now, I need to make clear that I don't rely on Mike saying this for the truth of that story. My point is very different. It is that if Mike was inventing the story of the forgery, having claimed in 1995 that the diary was created in 1990 or 1991 (per his sworn affidavit), why would he have dramatically changed his story in 1999 to one which not a single person at the time believed? After all, it seemed to make no sense to have called Doreen Montgomery before he even had a physical diary in his possession, and his earlier apparent claim that the diary had been created while Tony Devereux was alive in about 1990 or 1991 was the obvious story to tell if he was inventing one. Yet, when one considers the chronology of the story that is found in Mike's 1995 affidavit, in which he doesn't purchase the photograph album until after Martin Earl's 1891 diary proved to be unsuitable, it's obvious he was telling exactly the same story four years apart, and, in both 1995 and 1999, he claimed it took him and his wife eleven days to create the diary, which is just about the exact time it would have needed to have been done if he acquired the photograph album at the Outhwaite & Litherland auction which we know was held on 31st March 1992, only a few days after he would have received the disappointing 1891 diary. I must repeat that it's not the truth of this story that I'm talking about here, it's the very fact that Mike told this story at all. Those who believe that Mike wasn't involved in the forgery simply haven't got to grips with this extraordinary fact and can't explain it. In fact, they have never once even addressed it.
Q. Can you address the role of Mike's wife in all of this?
A. Anne's stated position to researchers during 1992 and 1993 was that she knew nothing about the origins of the diary, even asking Mike in front of researchers if he had 'nicked it' when he was being questioned about where he had got it from. She nevertheless personally signed a collaboration agreement with Shirley Harrison on 30th April 1992 and held legal rights as the co-owner of the diary with her husband, her signature being required to transfer the ownership of the diary to Robert Smith in March 1993. She also made money from the rights and it is known that she received, as proceeds from the diary, a sum of £3,666.74 by cheque on or about 7 December 1993, a further £1,298.75 on or about 5 January 1994 and a further payment of £1,000 in March 1994. There may well have been more payments than this. Her protective attitude towards the diary from an early stage is proven by a note made by Doreen Montgomery of a conversation she had with Anne on 21 April 1992 during which Anne said that, 'her only anxiety in asking her husband to place the Diary with the bank was because of the fact that they have had a couple of burglaries and she is also frightened of fire'. This does, to some extent, corroborate Mike's claim made to Doreen on 10th March 1992 that Anne 'rules the roost' and that he needed to run decisions about the diary past her. When Mike publicly confessed to a journalist in June 1994 to having forged the diary on his own, Anne's response was extraordinary, asserting that she would fight like a tiger to protect herself (and her family) against anything Mike said. It was extraordinary because Mike hadn't mentioned her (or his family) in his confession and Anne would later say that she couldn't explain what she had meant by this, claiming meekly that it was the first thing that popped into her head. Shirley Harrison also couldn't make sense of it. No one can, really. The very next month, July 1994, Anne dramatically changed her story so that now, instead of knowing nothing about the diary, she had known all about it since the late 1960s because it had been in her father's possession since 1950 (having been left to him by his grandfather) and she had kept it hidden in her house for many years before surreptitiously handing it to Tony Devereux for him to give to Mike so that Mike could write a book about it, or some such thing. This story was fully believed and promoted by the leading diary researcher Keith Skinner, until he appeared to abandon it as fiction in 2004 after discovering that some electrical work had been done in Battlecrease on 9th March 1992 which led him to conclude that the diary had been discovered under the floorboards of that property on that same day by Eddie Lyons. Mike first alleged that Anne was responsible for physically writing the diary in a statement lodged at Walton Police Station on 5 November 1994 in which he said, 'My wife Anne Barrett wrote the 'Jack the Ripper diary' the actual manuscript', and he was consistent in repeating this over a period of many years when he was confessing to the forgery. The idea that Anne had held the pen seemed to be ruled out after Keith Skinner obtained a sample of her handwriting in January 1995 and it didn't match the diary handwriting. In April 2018, however, I was able to locate some original letters written by Anne for which the handwriting, suspiciously, does not seem to match the handwriting in the 1995 sample. Furthermore, on close examination it became apparent that the way Anne forms certain characters is very similar to the way the diarist forms those characters. This is now undisputed and means that the idea that Anne was the physical author of the diary cannot be ruled out on the basis of her handwriting, or, indeed, for any other reason. It has also been noted that Anne is known to have used the expression 'I seen' (e.g. 'I think it was in 1968/69 I seen the diary') which is similar to the diarist's use of 'The whore seen her master today'. Additionally, Anne's correspondence is littered with spelling and grammatical errors, just like the diary. It is also of some interest that, after Mike secretly swore his 5th January 1995 affidavit confessing in detail to the forgery and implicating Anne in that forgery, the first thing he did was provide a copy to Anne from whom he was then separated. Although Anne had a close relationship with Keith Skinner, she didn't mention the affidavit to him (so that he didn't find out about it until 1997) and there is no actual record of her mentioning it to anyone else. A few weeks later, on 1st February 1995, she wrote to Mike to tell him, 'I will NOT be blackmailed into speaking to you. I will NOT be intimidated into speaking to you'. In the same letter, she told him, 'If you want to destroy the diary then get on with it! Because nothing I can say or nothing I can do will stop you doing what you want to do. And writing to me saying "speak to me or I'll"...will not work'. From this, it would appear that Mike was telling Anne that if she didn't speak to him he would 'destroy' the diary, by which he presumably meant that he would publicly release his affidavit.
Q. Although you have written that Mike was consistent in saying that Anne wrote the diary, you add that this was when he was confessing to the forgery. He didn't always say that the diary was a forgery, did he?
A. No. After he swore his 1995 affidavit, his own lawyers instructed him in no uncertain terms not to make any further statements or affidavits because, if he did so, he was told, 'you will kill the golden goose'. The message could not have been clearer: stop admitting to the forgery. During the summer of 1995, with the tantalising prospect of large sums of cash coming in from a film of the diary, Mike came back on board by pretending that he had received the diary from Tony Devereux after all, so that his wife's story could be true. But this didn't last long and, as soon as he realized that the film wasn't happening, and that the diary money had dried up, he went back to admitting what had really happened.
Q. I've heard that diary critic Melvin Harris was the mastermind behind Mike's affidavit and was directing what he should write. Is this true?
A. No, it's pure nonsense. Harris had no involvement at all in Mike's affidavit. What happened is that in late 1994 he sensibly suggested to Alan Gray that Mike should put his story about how the diary was created in writing (in a sworn affidavit) but had no role in the creation of that affidavit, for which Alan Gray was entirely responsible.
Q. I think I once saw it said that you have "gambled everything on Mike not even finding anything to put his hoax in until 31st March 1992". Is that correct?
A. Ha ha! I don't even know what it means. I don't win or lose anything depending on whether Mike obtained the photograph album on 31st March or not. Nor whether he was involved in forging the diary. So there is no 'gamble'. I'm simply following the evidence here. The evidence suggests that Mike was looking for a Victorian diary during March 1992 but hadn't found one as at 26th March when he accepted Earl's offer of an 1891 diary. As I've said many times, the only reason I can think of for him doing this was to create the forged Jack the Ripper diary. He did produce such a diary on 13th April 1992 so the logical conclusion is that he found the old photograph album in which the diary is written at some point between 26th March and 13th April 1992. We know for a fact that there was an auction of Victorian and Edwardian effects held in Liverpool by Outhwaite & Litherland on 31st March 1992 which is as good a candidate as any as being the place where Mike found the photograph album. There's nothing miraculous about finding an old photograph album at an auction but for all I know he could have purchased it at an antique shop in Liverpool or obtained it in some other way. No sensible objection has been put forward as to why this isn't possible nor has any sensible reason ever been offered up as to why the Barretts couldn't have produced the Jack the Ripper diary.
Q. Why do you think some people can't accept the idea of the Barretts forging the diary?
A. I don't really know, although I think snobbery likely plays a part. They can't imagine that a working class couple from Liverpool could produce what they seem to think is a masterpiece of literature. The amazing thing about this is that the appalling grammar and spelling in the diary doesn't seem to affect their thinking at all, nor all the factual and language mistakes in the text, which point to incompetence on the part of the author(s). If there was any compelling evidence that the Barretts couldn't have done it, or that the diary emerged from under the floorboards in Battlecrease on 9th March 1992, that would be another matter but I've never seen any. The argument against the Barretts' involvement seems to be all about feelings. They don't feel that Mike could have done it and they don't feel that Anne would have got involved. They often point to the fact that Keith Skinner, who knew them personally, doesn't think that Mike or Anne were involved but Keith appears to have been suckered by Anne's 'in the family' story which he fell for hook line and sinker despite now believing (99% he says) that the diary emerged from Battlecrease on 9th March 1992. People don't like being fooled which possibly explains why they are so determined to fight the idea in public that the Barretts were involved.
Q. How important is it that the Barretts were involved in the forgery?
A. It's barely important at all. Once the diary is accepted as a forgery, as it must be due to the inclusion of 'one off instance' and 'bumbling buffoon', as well as the mention of the 'sick aunt' and other factual errors, it barely matters who created it. It doesn't even really matter if it's an old or modern forgery but it's clearly twentieth century due to the use of language which can only be dated to that century. This being so, literally the only candidates are the Barretts but really, who cares? It's nothing more than a footnote of history. If someone forged the diary and gave it to them (which I don't think happened for a number of reasons, as set out above) it wouldn't change anything. The diary is a fake. James Maybrick didn't write it. There is no evidence, therefore, that Maybrick was Jack the Ripper. Nothing else matters.
Q. Lord Orsam, I've seen it said in response to your above answers that because you mentioned "Alan" Rigby instead of getting his first name right of "Arthur", and referred to a brown paper 'bag', instead of 'parcel' or 'package', that this justifies someone not reading through the entire sequence of your answers carefully because you haven't bothered to check your facts. What do you say to that?
A. This is a typical diary defender trick. They try to find a minor error, a typo even, to try and undermine an entire argument while ignoring the actual argument, which they don't respond to at all, because they have nothing to say, and, at the same time, they use that minor error to pretend that they haven't read the entire piece (and, indeed, that they won't read anything in future) so that they don't need to respond to anything that causes them problems. That's not just a diary defender trick, incidentally, others use it too, but it's one that certain diary defenders in particular love to use against opponents. It's no problem pointing out errors, but it's ludicrous to rely on errors, especially minor ones of this nature, to justify ignoring everything else. I don't think that me saying 'Alan' instead of 'Arthur' (which I've now corrected) is of any significance at all and it was perfectly well known who I meant. As for the brown paper, I was actually being kind to the diary defenders because Arthur Rigby's brother said that his brother saw something wrapped in a pillow case or a shopping bag, his actual quote being, 'he saw them quickly put something that was in a pillow case or shopping bag under the seat in the van as he approached' (James Johnston, 2017). He didn't mention brown paper at all but I was allowing for the shopping bag to be a brown paper bag. Nevertheless for the purpose of complete accuracy I've removed the word 'bag' from the Q&A and you will see that it makes no difference at all to the conclusion, other than to strengthen it because if the shopping bag wasn't a brown paper bag, then Arthur Rigby never saw anything made of brown paper, as per his brother's understanding.
Q. Can you tell me more about the brown paper point and why it is of importance?
A. Yes, it has an interesting recent history in online discussions. The same person who is so offended by my blog is the person who has recently emphasised the importance of the brown paper. The background to it is that Mike Barrett's original story (as set out in his 26 April 1993 affidavit but not now believed by diary defenders) was that Tony Devereux handed him in July 1991 a brown paper parcel which contained the diary. Doreen Montgomery and Shirley Harrison apparently saw the diary wrapped in brown paper when Mike arrived with it on 13th April 1992. As to the source of this brown paper, Anne Graham claimed that she 'found some brown paper which had been lining the drawer and wrapped the Diary with it and tied it with string' then took the parcel to Tony Devereux and asked him to give it to her husband, although this is now ignored and/or not believed in diary defender world. The big diary defender point about this brown paper is that Arthur Rigby is supposed to have told Paul Feldman in 1993 that he had once seen something in Eddie Lyons' possession which was wrapped in brown paper and being taken to Liverpool University. They say that Rigby couldn't have known about Mike's story, which was not in the public domain, so that it was amazing that he saw something in brown paper, even though the date of the sighting is unknown and what was wrapped in brown paper is not known (although Rigby was, according to his brother, per James Johnston, told it was a sample of something relating to a sick dog). As I have noted in the answer I gave above, however, there is no first hand evidence of this sighting (of brown paper) from Arthur Rigby. It comes entirely from Paul Feldman's book and we are reliant entirely on Feldman for the truth of it. What I have said, which, I note, is not challenged, is that if Arthur had said that he saw something wrapped in a pillow case, a shopping bag or a brown paper bag, Feldman could easily have zero'd in on the words 'brown paper', because he was aware of Mike's story about having been given the diary wrapped in brown paper, while ignoring all the other possibilities. That, of course, is if Feldman's account, which is not sourced or supported by anything actually said by Rigby, is even accurate. Even the person offended by my blog has admitted that Feldman was a conspiracy loon who can't be trusted (her exact words being, 'Feldman could read a conspiracy into a recipe for rice pudding...[I have]...a natural distaste for Feldman's brand of lunacy').
Q. I see. You mentioned online discussions. What was said in those?
A. Yes, it's very interesting to track it through. The issue was raised online on 14 July 2023 by the very person who now raises the 'bag' point as a way of befuddling and confusing everyone. In response to a very good point from another poster that a weakness in the Battlecrease provenance argument is that no electricians ever saw the diary first hand, she wrote, as a statement of fact, that,' [an] electrician mentioned the brown paper in early 1993, several months before it entered the public domain via Shirley's first book'. She meant Arthur Rigby. To repeat, she stated it as a fact that an electrician had mentioned brown paper. It was put forward as such an important point in her post that it was suggested it was more important than Mike's search for a Victorian diary, hence: 'I will expect to see some independent confirmation of the auction theory, before I consider whether the red diary trumps the brown paper.' She returned to the subject two days later in a different thread when she repeated that what Rigby had seen 'was a package wrapped in brown paper'. She added that this 'could not have been the result of anyone in the Spring of 1993 'straining their memory' unless they had seen it for themselves the previous Spring.' She also suggested that the reason Feldman hadn't thought the brown paper point to be more important at the time was because he didn't know it wasn't in the public domain, hence:, 'What Feldman missed was the fact that the brown paper detail the brown paper detail would not be in the public domain until October 1993, when Shirley first mentioned it in her book'. The very next day, having decided that the brown paper was an incredibly significant point, she referred in a post to 'The Brown paper elephant [in the room]', being something which had to be answered by her opponents. But by 3rd August, she was being pressed by another poster to provide the source for her claim about the brown paper. Surely she wasn't simply relying on something written by Paul Feldman (quite possibly going from memory?) in 1997, was she? We would soon find out. The troublesome poster said on 3rd August –'perhaps your readers would like to learn your source for any of the electricians describing brown paper,' then followed up the next day by noting, 'she seems unwilling or unable to even give her source for an electrician describing "brown paper."' Finally, in a post by the bag lady on 7th August, while repeating without any qualification that Arthur Rigby, 'the electrician who identified Eddie Lyons and Jim Bowling to Feldman in April 1993 [six months before Shirley's book was published] and sent him in their direction, said he had been in a car with the two men and noticed a parcel wrapped in brown paper under the front passenger seat', she admitted coyly that 'The brown paper package does of course have a faint whiff of Feldman about it'. A faint whiff of Feldman! But, of course, it's not just that it has a 'faint whiff of Feldman' about it. Our knowledge of it, or rather of Rigby supposedly mentioning any brown paper, comes entirely from Feldman. Why should we trust him? Especially in circumstances where Feldman knew that Mike had claimed the diary had been wrapped in brown paper and where Arthur's brother, who presumably got his information direct from the horse's mouth, tells us that, according to his brother, there was no brown paper involved at all. The mystery item was either, as we have seen, in a pillow case or a shopping bag.
Q. So you are saying that the brown paper cannot be said to be of any importance because there is no good evidence that any electrician ever saw anything wrapped in brown paper, let alone a diary?
A. Exactly! You've got it. And like I say, brown paper - whether forming bags, parcels or packages - is very common and it's kind of ludicrous to suggest that, because an electrician might have once (at some unspecified time) seen another electrician holding something wrapped in brown paper, this has any meaning or connection with the diary. But unless proper evidence is provided that there was any brown paper in the first place, this entire point is a complete non-point and it certainly matters not what type of brown paper we are talking about.
Q. Hold on Lord Orsam, before you leave for the evening, I've just seen an online post from earlier this afternoon in which it is stated that, there is an 'independent witness, Brian Rawes, who told police in October 1993 that when picking up the firm's van from Dodd's house in July 1992, Eddie mentioned to him in the driveway that he had found a diary which could be important.' A diary! Can this be true?
A. Have you been concentrating on my answers? I've already dealt with this. Far from supporting the claim that Eddie told Brian Rawes that he found a diary, it totally undermines it. Researcher James Johnston conducted a number of interviews with Brian Rawes regarding what Eddie told him and he confirmed that Brian never once claimed to have been told by Eddie that he had found a diary. At best, all Brian would say was that it was 'a book', but at worst it was no more than 'something' undefined. Never a diary. Which raises the question of why Brian (falsely) told the police that he had been told that a diary had been found. The question basically answers itself. Other people had put the idea into Brian's head and his memory of events was badly confused by the time he came to speak to the police. Memory is a very tricky and delicate thing. It doesn't matter how 'independent' or even honest a witness is. Witnesses can imagine and misremember things very easily. And it should not be forgotten that there is no obvious reason why Eddie Lyons in June or July 1992, when this conversation is supposed to have occurred, should have told Brian Rawes anything at all about any discovery from three or four months earlier in the year. If he had secretly found and stolen a diary which he had sold to Mike Barrett a long time earlier, what possible reason could have had for mentioning it out of the blue to Brian Rawes who was driving his van at the time? It makes no sense and because it makes no sense, it has to be dismissed as highly unlikely to have happened.
Q. It's stated in the same post though that Robert Smith was told by Eddie 'for certain' in June 1993 that he found 'a book' which he threw into a skip. She is baffled as to why Eddie would have volunteered such 'an odd story' to the diary's publisher in Mike's presence if he never found or removed anything while he was at the house in March or July 1992. Can you comment on this?
A. It's an odd statement on her part to say 'in March or July 1992' because if Eddie found or removed anything while he was at the house in July 1992 it certainly wasn't the diary! But one can turn it all around and ask why, if he actually found the diary and sold it to Mike Barrett, he told the diary's publisher, in front of Mike himself, that he had found a book at Battlecrease at all. So, if Robert Smith's recollection of the conversation is correct (and, as to that, all we've ever had as to Eddie's exact words are 'thrown it into a skip', we've never seen Smith's contemporaneous notes of his meeting) how does it help? Because all it shows, if Eddie was telling the truth, is that he found a book which was thrown into a skip. If he did this, it probably isn't the diary is it? So why is it significant? And if he was lying why are we even discussing it? I can certainly think of a reason why Eddie might not have been telling the truth. Perhaps Mike asked Eddie to tell Smith the story because Mike seems to have loved messing with people's heads. Perhaps Eddie is a compulsive liar himself who enjoyed messing with Smith. We still don't even know for sure that it was Eddie Lyons at that meeting as opposed to someone else claiming to be him. As usual with these diary defender stories the evidence surrounding it is weak and it's all too messy and confusing.
Q. Sorry Lord Orsam, one more question. I've just spotted what may have been a late addition to the post by the bag lady, or I just missed it first time round. Despite saying that she wouldn't bother "reading the whole thing through more carefully" due to an alleged claim that you hadn't checked your facts, she has nevertheless responded to your answer about how unimportant it is that the Barretts were involved in the forgery (which was the final answer in the original batch!) by saying, "he claims it doesn't matter to him whether or not the Barretts had any hand in creating the diary - an opinion I have always found strange coming from those who blame the so-called 'diary defenders' for keeping the story alive. Exposing the hoaxer(s) should have been the quickest and easiest way to kill it stone dead decades ago - if the Barretts had been involved".
A. Yes, it is quite incredible how she said she wasn't going to read the whole thing but is then aware of my final answer as at that point. Did she, I wonder, read that answer carefully or not? I have read what she says carefully and I have a real problem with the logic of it. I don't understand how a claim that the diary defenders are to blame for keeping the diary alive (to the extent I've ever made such a claim, which is doubtful) is inconsistent in any way with me not caring if the Barretts had any hand in creating the diary. Surely I would be entitled to make that claim about diary defenders keeping the story alive without caring whether the Barretts had a hand in creating the diary or not. So it's a real headscratcher. To the extent that she's trying (but failing) to say that I have myself regularly discussed the issue of whether the Barretts created the diary, it's the very fact that the diary defenders have kept the story 'alive' by constantly saying how the Barretts couldn't have done it which is really the only reason why I've spent so much time attempting to explain why they could indeed have done so, trying to be helpful, as a public service. And I guess it's another chance for me to say that I once asked this same person directly why the Barretts couldn't have jointly created the diary and she was unable to provide any cogent or intelligible answer other than what amounted to her own feelings. As for her claim that, "Exposing the hoaxer(s) should have been the quickest and easiest way to kill it stone dead", that has not turned out to be true. The quickest and easiest way to kill the diary stone dead actually happened 30 years ago in 1993 when it was noted by a language expert that the expression 'one off instance' is a twentieth century expression. That was quick and easy, wasn't it? More recently, it has been noted that a 'bumbling buffoon' is also a pure twentieth century expression. True, one needed modern electronic digital searches to confirm this but it was ultimately pretty quick and easy to do. Noting that the diarist refers to his wife's 'sick aunt' when no such person existed, as the real James Maybrick would have known, also turned out to be quite straightforward, although, sure, it required a visit to the National Archives to check the evidence on the point (*wipes brow at the thought of the effort*). I honestly can't see how 'exposing the hoaxers' would ever have been quick and easy. How does one do it unless one has police powers of search, seizure, arrest and interview? That said, at least one of the hoaxers has been exposed due to Mike Barrett's secret request for a genuine Victorian diary with blank pages. However, if Mike hadn't confessed to obtaining the red  diary, thus providing a lead which enabled Keith Skinner to contact Martin Earl, I doubt we would even know about it to this day. I've also referred above to six additional pieces of evidence that point strongly towards Mike's involvement. All that said, though, I'm at a loss to understand what this person finds difficult about me not caring whether the Barretts created the diary. It's true, I don't care. And I don't care if the forger turns out (very unlikely!) to have been someone else. What's so hard to comprehend about that? The only thing of importance is that the diary is a fake, which is now confirmed. It doesn't help us at all as to the identity of Jack the Ripper, so we can surely ignore it and stop discussing it (not that this will happen, of course, so you can expect further Q&A to be added in the near future!).
Q. Have you seen that the women who we've been referring to as 'the bag lady' – although I'm not suggesting she is literally one! – has posted again about the purported importance of 'Alan' vs 'Arthur' Rigby?
A. Yes, it's preposterous. She asks: 'How would readers less familiar with the names and their individual roles have known that Orsam did not mean Alan Davies [or Alan Dodgson], when he wrote Alan Rigby, in mistake for Arthur Rigby?' It's the most spurious argument imaginable. In the two paragraphs in which I erroneously and insignificantly referred to 'Alan Rigby', I also called him just 'Rigby', which, I think, would have been a huge giveaway to anyone as to who I was talking about. There was literally no confusion and the bag lady woman doesn't say that she herself was remotely confused. I think we can all agree that no one on this planet who knows of the existence of Alan Davies and Alan Dodgson would have thought that my reference to 'Alan Rigby'/'Rigby' was me talking about either one of them. It's really extraordinary the lengths to which these people will go to try and smear and undermine anyone who thinks that Mike Barrett was involved in forging the diary. At the same time, she can't even bring herself to think up a spurious reason why 'brown paper bag' vs.' brown paper parcel' makes any difference, admitting that 'There may not be much a difference between the two' but still claiming that that 'it shows a lack of attention to detail'. Ultimately, she can't put forward a single reason why it was in any way significant yet, remember, this was the purported reason for her saying (or pretending) that she wasn't going to read the entire piece, so that, naturally, she didn't have to respond to any of it. Just trivial and insignificant minor errors. I have no problem with anyone pointing out errors - I welcome it because I do like to get things absolutely right - but to use them as part of a transparent plot to undermine my arguments and conclusions, when they don't affect those arguments or conclusions in any way, is shabby and entirely unconvincing, especially from someone who makes plenty of factual errors herself.
Q. Does she do this kind of thing often?
A. Oh yes, I remember I once typed "its" for "it's" or vice versa in a Casebook post and she felt the need to mention it, as if it was of any importance. Any small mistake, even typos, she would leap upon, and still does on a daily basis (poor old RJ Palmer!). The funny thing is that she never ever corrects fellow diary defenders for their many errors (documented by me ad nauseam on the old website) which shows that she cares not one bit for accuracy but is only looking for a way to defeat an opponent in an argument by utterly improper means.
Q. Do you think she would even have mentioned your blog if she hadn't been able to find two minor errors?
A. Oh, absolutely not. She wouldn't have said a word. Like certain others, she only ever pipes up about Lord Orsam when she's found some (insignificant) mistake. I honestly sometimes think about making deliberate errors just to get them to break cover but, of course, I don't. Nevertheless, it's quite pathetic how she always seems to know when there's been one. The last time it happened, some years ago, her excuse for knowing about it was that someone had emailed her to tell her about it, or something like that.
Q. I see that in response to a criticism that she hasn't dealt with the substance of your answers. she says, 'The 'substance' will almost certainly have been gone over too many times to mention'. Is that true?
A. No, it's absolutely false. I've read (or, in many cases, skimmed) all her online posts and I've never once seen her deal with the contradiction between the account of Alan Rigby's brother and Paul Feldman about the brown paper. To the very best of my recollection she's never even mentioned the account of Arthur Rigby's brother. That was a key point in what I was saying. But she's ignored it and, as we've seen, used spurious arguments about the word 'bag' and the name 'Alan' to allow her to avoid having to deal with it. I would love to know what she thinks about why Rigby's brother never mentioned brown paper (but instead said that the item in question seen by Arthur was wrapped in a pillow case or shopping bag), but I am once again disappointed. Not a squeak from her about this. I'd also like to know to what extent she feels she can rely on what Feldman said he was told by Arthur Rigby in circumstances where no contemporaneous note of his conversation with Rigby has ever been provided and where not a single quote of Rigby has even been offered up to support the claim. But, of course, she's ducked this too.
Q. Her other excuse for not responding is that there isn't any new evidence to deal with. Is that fair?
A. No one is saying there is new evidence in this 'Ask Orsam' blog which, as the name implies, is a series of questions and answers by Lord Orsam. What I've been doing in my answers so far, is arguing the case for Mike Barrett being involved in the forgery but she clearly has nothing to say in response to that. Mind you, whenever I have posted new evidence, either on the Casebook Forum, or on the old website, as I have done many times, she's usually ignored that too. She seems to prefer to rely on what Feldman says to prove the authenticity of the diary!
Q. Are there any other examples of her relying on Feldman as her primary source?
A. It's funny you should ask that because there is another very worrying example of this. On 12 July 2023, she posted:
'In February 1993, Paul Feldman, Paul Begg and Martin Howells all remembered/remember Mike's unexpected reaction to being told by Paul Dodd that electrical work had been done on his house. Unless they were/are all lying, mistaken or hallucinating too, there was a reaction from Mike, which would not have made a whole lot of sense if he had known since March 1992 what you suggest he may have learned from Eddie before he made that first call to Doreen.'
This 'unexpected reaction', according to Paul Feldman in his 1997 book, was that Mike Barrett 'visibly staggered backwards' while standing at the bottom of a flight of stairs leading from the garden to the back door of Paul Dodd's house when Dodd explained 'that new storage radiators had been installed in 1988 or 1989'. You will note that the part about the radiators being installed in 1988 or 1989 was missed out of the bag lady's statement, even though that must have been a crucial aspect of Mike's supposed reaction, but it doesn't fit in with what she thinks Mike would have been worried about, so she discards it as if it doesn't exist. According to diary defender lore, this backwards stagger has become a 'recoil' or Mike being 'stunned' or turning 'white as a sheet' and having to 'go outside' even though he was already outside at the time. But anyway, we have Feldman's recollection of Mike staggering backwards and he claimed in his 1997 book that this stagger 'played on our minds for months' by which he meant the minds of himself, Paul Begg and Martin Howells, who were there at the time.
Q. So what have Paul Begg and Martin Howells said about it?
A. Good question. I was just coming to that. It's the most interesting aspect of the entire episode because surely we want to know exactly what they remembered seeing Mike doing, if anything, and whether they recalled it being in response to Mike learning of storage radiators having been installed in 1988 or 1989, and, indeed, whether it truly played on their minds or whether Feldman simply assumed it did.
Q. Surely, Begg and Howells must be on record as having discussed it, right?
A. Another good question but perhaps you could stop interrupting me. A few weeks earlier on 2 July 2023, Keith Skinner, the Oracle, had provided a statement which was posted on the Casebook Forum in which he stated:
'Where we do have some eye witness testimony is from Paul Begg, Martin Howells and Paul Feldman who reported how noticably (sic) stunned Mike was when they all went to Battlecrease House in early 1993 making their own enquiries and learned that electrical work had recently been done in the house.'
It would be interesting to know about this eye witness testimony. Indeed, one person asked about it on the Forum later that same day, saying, 'For the record, what is the source for Martin Howell's 'eyewitness' testimony? What did Paul Begg recall?'. Now you'd think it would be a simple matter for someone to quote this important eye-witness testimony, wouldn't you? But it seems that no such eye-witness testimony exists and that Begg and Howells have never spoken of the supposed incident. I say this because when the bag lady responded to the question about the source of the eyewitness testimony on 18 July 2023, she said: 'I'd have thought either Paul Begg or Martin Howells would have happily denied noticing any more than a drinker's coincidental slip, knowing what Feldy's imagination was like.' In other words, she appears to have been saying that what Feldman said must be true, because, although Begg and Howells have never confirmed it, if it hadn't been true they would have denied it. But that seems to me to be confirmation that Keith Skinner was quite wrong in what he said and that no eye-witness testimony exists from Begg or Howells at all abut this incident, otherwise surely their testimony would have been quoted in full to clear the matter up. It seems to be an assumption that Feldman was telling the truth when he said that Begg and Howells both witnessed the stagger and that it played on their minds. Sure, while one could think that they would have denied it if it was wrong, equally they might not have wanted to contradict Feldman out of politeness. Begg in particular seems keen to deny that Mike Barrett had any role in the forgery so might have been happy that this story was allowed to spread. Confirming that there doesn't appear to be any actual recorded testimony from Begg and Howells, the bag lady posted on 26 July 2023 that the poster who was pressing her for the source of Keith's information could always "ask the people concerned". That isn't good enough in circumstances where we were being told as a fact that their testimony already exists. She doubled down in saying, 'I am sure Howells and Begg do recall the same incident and were both struck by Mike's instant WTF? Reaction' but what is that certainty based on? The fact that they haven't denied Feldman's account? Really?
Q. That is extraordinary, if you'll forgive the interruption.
A. That's quite alright. Yes, it is, and it's really exacerbated by the fact that these diary defenders have their own secret sources of information and are withholding documents/evidence from public scrutiny, especially Keith Skinner, so that it's always impossible to know which, if any, of their claims are based on hard evidence and which are based on their imagination or wishful thinking.
Q. Gosh, why is Keith Skinner withholding evidence?
A. As far as I can tell, he was upset at my forensic analysis of his interview of Mike Barrett on 10 April 1999 at the Cloak & Dagger club which I published in January 2020 and which demonstrated the total opposite of what Skinner had always believed had happened that evening (because he wasn't listening properly to what Mike was saying). I'm pretty sure that Keith released the tape of that meeting expecting it to prove to everyone that Mike was drunk and rambling that evening so that nothing he said was of any value but, in fact, as I demonstrated, it provided a very clear account by Mike of how the forgery was done and revealed some dreadful interviewing technique on the part of Skinner. He seems to have a very thin skin and probably didn't like the way I'd exposed his failings, so we've never had any further releases of evidence from him since then. He reneged on a promise to release the Barretts' transcript of the diary, giving a very strange reason for this, while a further promise to release the tapes of Mike Barrett's interviews with Alan Gray via Jonathan Menges on Casebook has not been kept. It's perfectly obvious that they don't want the evidence in this case to be the subject of close scrutiny. Further, while they boast about all the evidence pointing to a Battlecrease discovery by electricians, they have released only the barest snippets of this evidence. Full transcripts of the interviews with the electricians, for example, are not made available despite perfectly reasonable requests to see them. Notes of crucial interviews by Keith Skinner are not provided. This failure to release all the evidence, while at the same time making categoric statements of fact about things that are supposed to have occurred, means that one can never know if there is truly any source for their claims. As I've already mentioned, when we were told as a fact that Arthur Rigby had seen a fellow electrician carrying something wrapped in brown paper, no source was provided, and we were all left to assume that there was some hard evidence that Rigby had said this. Only after pressure did it become clear that Feldman was the sole source for it, and even then not in a clear way. All that was said was that the evidence had a faint whiff of Feldman about it. What was that supposed to mean? Why couldn't she have simply said that the source of the claim that Rigby saw brown paper was Feldman in his 1997 book? That's all it needed. We didn’t need to be told about faint whiffs of Feldman because it was entirely based on what Feldman had written. I guess she didn't like to admit that she was relying on Feldman, having claimed as a fact that Rigby had said what he was supposed to have said, in circumstances where she has admitted that Feldman is an unreliable conspiracy loon. Further, to this day I've never seen any diary defender acknowledge the fact that the account of the incident by Rigby's brother makes it perfectly clear that no brown paper was involved. If you just ignore parts of the evidence you don't like then of course you will reach the conclusion you want to reach. How do they account for the inconsistency between what Feldman says he was told and what Rigby's brother said happened? We don't know because they don't confront it.
Q. In a subsequent posting in the Lord Orsam Blog thread, the bag lady asks for evidence that Feldman would have known 'all about the brown paper' before he began contacting the electricians. Can you provided it?
A. I don't know why Feldman needed to know about the brown paper before he began contacting the electricians. He really only needed to know about in or before 1997 when he was writing his book. He doesn't say that he immediately recognized when being supposedly told by Rigby about brown paper that it matched Mike's story. Perhaps it was only after he found out about the diary having been wrapped in brown paper that he thought back to what Rigby had told him (about a shopping bag) and muddled this up in his mind with brown paper. To the extent that Feldman did need to know about the brown paper before 1997 (for some reason), perhaps if the suggestion is that he fed Rigby the line, he only needed to know at the time he spoke to Arthur Rigby (the date of which is not known), not before contacting the electricians. Mike mentioned receiving the diary in brown paper in his affidavit of 26 April 1993 so, if Feldman, was aware of this at the time, and it's hard to think why he would not have been, he would have known all about the brown paper at that time. To the extent that she is referring to the supposed existence of the diary being wrapped brown paper (which she must be for her argument to make any sense), it's not correct for her to say, as she does, that 'the first reference to it was in Shirley's book'. It was not. It was referred to in the affidavit. The devil is in the detail.
Q. It is said on the Casebook Forum that: "Palmer doesn't think Martin Earl would have bothered to give Mike any details about its 'tiny size', or its printed dates on every page, despite Martin's stated business practice of giving his customers a full description of any item located, along with the asking price, before going ahead and ordering it on their behalf, to save wasting anyone's time, and the expense involved in postage to and fro?" Does that make sense to you?
A. No. Talk about attention to detail! Or lack of it. The same person previously gave us the full item description that Martin Earl would have read over the telephone to Mike Barrett. It most certainly did not say that the 1891 diary contained 'printed dates on every page'. On the contrary, it said that nearly all the pages were blank. Here is that description in full:
'A small 1891 De La Rue's Indelible Diary and Memorandum Book, 2.25" by 4", dated 1891 throughout – three or four dates to a page. Nearly all of the pages are blank and at the end of the diary are two Memoranda pages.'
Martin Earl wouldn't physically have seen the diary when he was telling Mike about it (because it was owned by a third party) so that all he had to go on would have been the written description he'd been given, as above, which didn't mention printed dates, so that he couldn't possibly have told Mike about printed dates. He wouldn't have known! Yet she keeps on making this basic schoolgirl error. Mike would have been told that the diary was full of blank pages (and thus attractive). He would not have been told about printed dates on every page.
Q. We also have an explanation provided as to why Eddie supposedly told Robert Smith he found a book which he threw into a skip. It was, we are told, "presumably so he could claim the book he found looked like a bit of old tat and he definitely didn't steal anything." Would you care to comment?
A. How does that make any sense? If he told Robert Smith that he threw some old tat into a skip how could it have ended up in Mike's possession? I mean, if he was trying to say that he found the diary (but didn't realise it) and threw it into a skip then how does that help him if the diary ended up with Mike? Why did he need to tell Robert Smith he found anything at all? After all, he has since denied finding anything. No one has said they saw him finding a book and taking it. But here's the thing. If Eddie was lying to Robert Smith in this blatant way, why do the diary defenders believe him when he (supposedly) told Keith Skinner and James Johnston that he was working at Battlecrease on 9 March 1992? And when are we going to be told what he actually said about this? Is it something that will be read out at our funerals?
Q. Is there any corroboration that Eddie threw a book into a skip?
A. Here's the odd thing. Yes, there is. At least if you believe Feldman. This time quoting him, Feldman tells us that Arthur Rigby told him: 'I remember something being thrown out of the window of the room where we were working at Mr Dodd's house. It was put into the skip'. Was Rigby lying to Feldman? Or was he just misremembering? Using the exact same argument diary defenders use about the brown paper, how could Eddie Lyons have known to tell Robert Smith in June 1993 about throwing something into a skip, thus matching what Arthur Rigby had told Paul Feldman in confidence a few months earlier which wasn't publicly known?
Q. Am I right in thinking that we've finally got an answer to a post made on the Casebook Forum on 23 August 2023 in which the question was raised as to how Keith Skinner was possibly able to say that Mike was told by Shirley Harrison about Ryan's book before he gave his bogus research notes to her?
A. Yes, indeed, and it's absolutely hilarious. You may recall that Skinner made a statement on the Casebook Forum on 23 August saying (underlining added):
As I recall, Shirley never quizzed Mike about the Ryan book. She asked him in the very early months of research if he had ever heard of The Poisoned Life Of Mrs Maybrick by Bernard Ryan -to which Mike replied no. Mike then went along to Liverpool Central Library and borrowed it. This was after the diary had been brought to London and the transcript made - and prior to the research notes being given to Shirley.
As you've noted in your question, he was immediately asked how he was in a position to state as a fact that Shirley mentioned Ryan's book to Mike before he had given his research notes to Shirley. Over a week later, we are now told by his representative on earth that Keith has 'thought about the interview again' and 'played the tape again and read the transcript'. This is the transcript that we are not allowed to see in full. What she doesn't mention is that what has obviously happened is that Keith has been engaged in a frantic search to find some evidence to support his unqualified assertion that Shirley mentioned Ryan's book to Mike before July 1992 and has utterly failed to come up with the goods. But they can't bear to admit this in so many words. Instead, we are told, in the absence of any evidence, that it is 'now very clear to him' that 'if the research notes reflect Ryan, it is because the source was Ryan, but that Mike's source was Shirley Harrison'. Sadly, she doesn't explain how this is clear to Keith other than due to wishful thinking because he knows that if Shirley didn't mention Ryan's book to Mike before he handed her his research notes he simply can't explain it.
Q. I haven't read it but doesn't she then make an extremely long post on this subject? Does she tell us anything of use?
A. You can tell she's rattled by the length of her post which basically says nothing. She quotes desperately from the transcripts of the meetings as if hoping to find some evidential support for her speculation but there is none and, for some reason, she fails to quote the one time Mike referred during the two interviews to the timing of events when he told Keith on 11 April 1994 that he didn't know that Ryan's book existed 'Until after I met Doreen, many months afterwards'. That means many months after 13 April 1992. Just five months would take us to mid-September, well after he had handed in his research notes. Nevertheless, she concludes hopefully that, 'the content and context of both interviews strongly imply that Shirley mentioned Ryan's book to Mike early on in her own Maybrick research...'. Oh, they strongly imply do they? I thought we'd already been told by Keith Skinner that it was an established fact that Shirley mentioned Ryan's book to Mike before July 1992, no? Was that a lack of attention to detail by Mr Skinner there? Saying more than the evidence actually allows? I think so.
Q. What does she actually mean when she says that the interviews strongly imply that Shirley mentioned Ryan's book to Mike at an early stage?
A. I honestly don't know. Wishful thinking, I assume. And there's a huge logical problem with her argument. On the one hand she says that Mike had been spending time in the library researching the Maybricks on Shirley's own advice. On the other hand she tells us that Mike would have felt the need to hide from his research that he had been using a book which Shirley had advised him to use. That doesn't make any sense. Furthermore, in brand new extracts from the transcript of the April 1994 meeting published for the first time, we finally seem to get to the bottom of why Keith Skinner believed that Mike's research notes included information provided to him by Shirley Harrison (something I asked about ages ago). It's because Mike told him, 'Shirley gave me this one, I think. Some of these are afterwards because I've added onto the word processor afterwards. Do you understand what I mean? Shirley's asked me to do things, go through the records, you know when we first began research? Shirley's asked me to do things and I think that I've added them on. I can't remember.' That being so, with Mike freely admitting to Keith that his research notes contained information obtained at Shirley's request, what would have been the problem with him saying, at the time he gave them to Shirley, that he'd included information from a book that Shirley had told him to read?
Q. And what's the answer?
A. The answer is that there wouldn't have been any problem. As I've already said, the research notes were provided by Mike to assist Shirley in writing her book, not to prove the work he had supposedly done in 1991. There wouldn't have been any problem at all with him saying he'd added into his research new findings that he'd made recently. Although our diary defending friend can't seem to work out why Mike wouldn't have freely admitted to Shirley that he'd heard of Ryan's book when she mentioned it to him, the answer is obvious. He had relied heavily on Ryan's book to forge the diary text and he didn't want Shirley to know he was aware of that book in case it made her suspicious about his knowledge of the case. It's so simple even a new born baby could work it out.
Q. I note in her last sentence of her long post there appears to be a mention of you, Lord Orsam?
A. Oh yes, I hadn't spotted that. 'If Mike had faked the diary, using Ryan as his main source, he'd have been taken aback and more than a bit wary when Shirley just happened to mention this book to him. Swiftly denying all knowledge of it could have been his downfall, if only the circumstantial evidence hadn't worked so well in favour of the notes reflecting a combination of his own and Shirley's input, which make it impossible even for The Good Lord to prove which, if any, were made independently of her influence.'. I'm The Good Lord aren't I? But her sentence doesn't make any sense. How would swiftly denying knowledge of Ryan's book possibly have been Mike's downfall? I mean, he did swiftly deny knowledge of Ryan's book. So what on earth is she talking about? And I do love the way that from a position where Keith Skinner is supposed to have already established the sequence of events, the conclusion from her is that I can't prove it. Well I suppose she takes consolation in that in her abject failure, since I first posted about Mike's reliance on Ryan's book in January 2022, to find any evidence to support her claim that Mike had been told about Ryan's book by Shirley Harrison before he wrote those notes. For me, what we have here is something very simple. Mike Barrett - the man confirmed to have been secretly searching for a genuine Victorian diary with blank pages in the weeks before the diary was first brought to London - produced some 'research notes' in which he just so happened to deliberately conceal the fact that he had relied heavily on the very book that the forger had relied on heavily when forging the diary. After all the waffle and that all the befuddling, that is what we are left with, and a very damning picture it is too.
Q. On a different subject, I've also seen it asked on the forums today: 'why have Eddie meet Robert Smith at all? As far as I'm aware, Robert was not asking to meet any electricians so why did Mike bring him?' Do you know the answer?
A. Yes, and it's surprising (not!) that the bag lady hasn't immediately answered this strange question, with the devil being in the detail and all that. Robert Smith expressly asked Mike Barrett to set up a meeting with Eddie Lyons. I mean, it's right there in his book: 'I asked Barrett if he could arrange for me to meet Lyons'. That is why Eddie (or someone claiming to be Eddie) was there. There is a very strange diary defender attitude towards Eddie whereby if he says something remotely aligned with their theories he is believed, whereas if he says something which contradicts their theories he is a liar. They just can't seem to work out if he's 'Honest Eddie' or 'Fast Eddie'.
Q. Lord Orsam, I see that in response to your above answer, the person who wondered why Mike brought Eddie Lyons to meet Robert Smith in June 1993 has now twigged the truth and admitted that Smith expressly asked Mike to set up a meeting with Eddie.
A. Has he, indeed?
Q. Yes, it turns out that this individual admits that he has 'only read snippets of Robert Smith's book'.
A. Oh dear. This, I suppose, is diary defending for you, where snippets are good enough. Frankly, I assume that's how they read everything.
Q. Despite admitting that Mike only brought Eddie to the meeting with Smith at Smith's request, the same individual has also posted a 'timeline' which supposedly, 'All adds up to Mike panicking and getting Eddie to help throw Robert off the scent'.
A. Really? What's in this timeline, then?
Q. Well, I'll read you the entries individually. Firstly: 20th April 1993 - Feldman receives details of electricians from Portus & Rhodes.
A. Yes, the details which show Eddie Lyons living six miles from the Saddle pub. Is that mentioned?
Q. No, it isn't. Then, next, we have: 21st April 1993 - Mike gets wind of Feldman's attempts to get the electricians' contact details from Portus & Rhodes. Mike himself attempts to get a copy of those details but is denied by Colin Rhodes when he calls him.
A. You know, it's amazing how these diary defenders, who always ask for incontrovertible proof of the diary being a fake (and then ignore that proof when it's provided), are happy to state any old speculation as fact. There's no evidence at all that Mike ever got wind of Feldman's attempt to obtain the electricians' contact details from Portus and Rhodes. That is just idle diary defender speculation to try and explain why Mike supposedly tried to get those details himself at that time. As to that, all that is known is that someone claiming to be the owner of the diary contacted Colin Rhodes on 21st April. It has never been confirmed that this was Mike (as opposed to, say, a journalist who had first contacted Paul Dodd and been told about the electrical work, sniffing around for info) and even the authors of 'Inside Story' (p.34) didn't feel they could say it was Mike who made the call. So how has it suddenly become possible to say, as a fact, that it was Mike?
Q. Next entry is: 21st April 1993 - An article appears in The Liverpool Daily Post about "Diary of Jack the Ripper".
A. That's right, the very same day that someone telephoned Colin Rhodes to obtain the contact details of the electricians, suggesting that journalists might have been starting to sniff around, possibly in response to the article. For some reason, this entry in the timeline comes after the entry about the telephone call to Colin Rhodes even though the Liverpool Daily Post was a morning newspaper, so that the publication of it was likely to have occurred before the call.
Q. We then get these four entries:
22nd April 1993 - James Maybrick named as suspected diarist in Liverpool Daily Post
22nd April 1993 - James Maybrick named in London Evening Standard article
23rd April 1993 - James Maybrick now being named in many newspapers
24th April 1993 - Liverpool Daily Post starts to question the provenance and mentions Battlecrease House
A. Okay, I'm not sure what these are supposed to demonstrate. What is missing from the summary is that the Liverpool Daily Post story on the 24th April said that one of Tony's Devereux's daughter's told the newspaper that 'she had no knowledge of the diaries'.
Q. The next one is: 25th April 1993 - Mike writes an affidavit to re-state his Tony D provenance.
A. Oh dear. You'd think that it would be important to include correct dates in a timeline, wouldn't you? The affidavit was sworn on 26th April 1993. We don't know very much about the background to this affidavit. Who suggested to Mike that he should swear it? Was it Feldman?
Q. Next is: May 1993? - Mike visits Eddie to confront him about his suspicions of Eddie attempting to sell his story or muscle in.
A. A bit difficult to understand a timeline with question marks next to the dates but what is missing is that, according to Feldman, this only happened after Feldman had approached Mike saying, 'an electrician's prepared to confirm that he took the diary from Battlecrease in 1989' and offering him a deal whereby Paul Dodd would not contest ownership if he was given 5% of everything Mike received, to which Mike replied, 'The diary never came from the house' and told Feldman to convey a message of refusal to Dodd in somewhat industrial but very clear language. Funny how this isn't included in the timeline, isn't it? And, according to Feldman, Mike didn't visit Eddie to confront him about his suspicions of Eddie attempting to sell his story or muscle in (which seems to have derived purely from this diary defender's imagination of what he thought Mike must have been doing) but instead went round to Eddie to accuse him of lying and to tell him he would never do a deal.
Q. The next entry is another question mark as we have: May 1993? - Robert Smith gets a call from Feldman regarding the electricians.
A. Not exactly very informative this one, nor is the relevance immediately apparent.
Q. Okay the penultimate entry is: circa 19th June 1993 - Robert Smith contacts Mike to find out more regarding Eddie and the electricians.
A. Isn't it incredible, even after the mea culpa that you mentioned, that this individual can't bring himself to write what actually happened which is that Robert Smith contacted Mike to ask 'if he could arrange for me to meet Lyons'. He didn't, as far as we know, contact Mike to 'find out more about Eddie and the electricians'. He contacted him to ask him to set up a meeting with Eddie. That's it.
Q. Finally. 26th June 1993 - Mike appears at The Saddle with Eddie Lyons with Eddie's old book in a skip story.
A. Oh golly, what is it about dairy defenders and the expression 'old book'? Why do they always feel the need to insert the word 'old' before 'book' which isn't in the evidence? Robert Smith is very clear as to what Eddie said to him which was that 'He told me he had found a book under some floorboards at Battlecrease'. Where do you see the word 'old' in there?
Q. I can't see it, Lord Orsam.
A. No, it's not there is it? So why do they keep adding it?
Q. I really don't know.
A. The fact of the matter is that not a single electrician is on record saying anything about an old book. Not one! It has been imagined.
Q. Right, so does the timeline support the stated claim that it, 'All adds up to Mike panicking and getting Eddie to help throw Robert off the scent'.
A. I honestly can't see a single entry which supports this. If Mike had, in fact, called Colin Rhodes on 21st April 1993, I suppose one interpretation of that could be that he was panicking but, if he actually made that call, we don't know the reason for it. I mean, just to give one example, perhaps Shirley Harrison asked him to get those details for her. We just don't know, do we? As for Mike getting Eddie to help throw Robert off the scent, where in the timeline does he do that?
Q. I must say I'm not really seeing it but shouldn't it be me asking the questions and you answering them, with the greatest respect Lord Orsam?
A. I'm on a flow so I'm going to ignore the insolence. It was Robert who asked to meet Eddie and there is no evidence that Mike told Eddie what to say. In fact, I thought Eddie was co-operating with the diary researchers, so why hasn't he explained to them that he was only telling Robert at that meeting what Mike told him to say? Is it because that wasn't what happened?
Q. I note that the same person who prepared that timeline showed his open mind earlier in the year by saying of the diary, “It came out of Battlecrease on 9th March 1992. I am absolutely certain of it. Eddie Lyons found it.” What do you say about that Lord Orsam?
A. Aside from the lack of convincing evidence put forward to support the claim of a Battlecrease discovery, the reason I've always maintained that this can't be the case is because if it came out of Battlecrease on 9th March 1992, having been found under the floorboards by Eddie Lyons, the only way it could realistically have got there is if it was placed there by James Maybrick in May 1889.
Q. Right, so the diary could be genuine?
A. No, because you see - and I'm not sure you've been concentrating - the diary can't possibly have been written by James Maybrick, or anyone else in the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, due to the inclusion of 'one off instance' and 'bumbling buffoon'. So, if the diary was, as we know it was, written after the Second World War, how could anyone from that time period have realistically placed it beneath the heavy wooden floorboards of Paul Dodd's house which we know were securely fixed with brass nails? And why would they even have done it, having gone to all the trouble of creating a fake diary?
Q. You've got a good imagination Lord Orsam. Can you not think of anyone?
A. No.....well.....okay there is one person who could have done it, I suppose.
Q. Who is that, do tell, I'm all ears?
A. Obviously, Paul Dodd could, theoretically, have forged the diary and placed it beneath the floorboards on 8th March knowing that electricians would be looking under those floorboards the next day.
Q. But why would he have done that?
A. I'm not saying he did it, and I'm sure he didn't, but there might have been a motive of getting James Maybrick into the news again and building up publicity for tours of the house. So he could have hoped that the electricians would find it and sell it to the newspapers, or something like that.
Q. But was he still doing tours of the house in 1992? Wasn't he converting the building into flats?
A. Perhaps. I don't know. I don't give the idea any credence - especially with so much evidence pointing to Mike Barrett - but it's a good example of a solution whereby I couldn't care less if it was Paul Dodd or Mike Barrett. It wouldn't make any difference to me. The only important question is whether the diary is genuine or fake, and it's already been proved to be a fake.
Q. I see that the "bag lady" is back and upset that she took criticism on the forums for what she says amounted to nothing more than 'merely pointing out one or two basic errors of fact by Lord Orsam'. Do you have any comment about that?
A. Yes, I most certainly do. Let's leave aside that it wasn't 'basic errors of fact' she spotted, merely a couple of times I mis-spoke, effectively nothing more than typos, the criticism she received wasn't for pointing out those errors, it was because she claimed that, as a result of them, she didn't need to read the whole blog post and, because she didn't need to read it, was thus free from the need to respond to it and deal with the difficult (for her) issues that I raised. I do find the level of self-deception that she is able to generate by basically forgetting what she said and spinning the whole thing in her mind so that she was doing nothing more than reasonably pointing out errors for which she was oh so unfairly criticised, quite incredible.
Q. I also have to tell you - and I suspect you will be delighted by this Lord Orsam - the bag lady has written on JTR Forums (and I kid you not) that: 'Option two then occurs to Mike. Why not try to obtain a genuine Victorian diary from the 1880s with at least twenty blank pages, so he can handwrite his best-seller into it as - a clever little sales gimmick?' Isn't that 'the Orsam Theory' in a nutshell?
A. Well, golly, yes it is. Did she genuinely say that?
Q. Yes, I promise you, it's a genuine quote.
A. I suppose one just modifies it a little so that Mike asks someone with much better penmanship skills than himself to actually write this pre-drafted clever little sales gimmick, like maybe his wife, and we can all finally agree why Mike wanted that Victorian diary with blank pages.
Q. Earlier in the year, Lord Orsam, on 16 June 2023, one of the diary defenders wanted to demonstrate that there was no evidence that Mike Barrett wrote the diary and he made 8 points in support of his claim. Would you be willing to respond to each of his 8 (not very well expressed) points?
A. Go for it.
Q. Point 1: A confession and subsequent retraction is that proof?
A. Barrett first confessed to the forgery in 1994 and did so again in 1995. Then, most importantly, he did so again, in detail, under intense questioning from Keith Skinner and a whole room of Ripperologists, one evening in 1999, and his story could not be shaken.
Q. Point 2: The possibility Mike owned or accessed some Maybrick or Ripper related materials? He was tasked to do some research.
A. Barrett is known to have owned a book containing two chapters on the Maybrick case prior in 1991. When he contacted Doreen Montgomery on 10 March 1992, he advised her to read a specific book on the Ripper case by Robin Odell. It wasn’t, therefore, a research task which meant that he owned or accessed some Maybrick or Ripper related materials. Further, when conducting a research task for Shirley Harrison in the summer of 1992, he carefully concealed from her that he was very familiar with ‘The Poisoned Life of Mrs Maybrick’ by Bernard Ryan.
Q. Point 3: Or is the compelling evidence a small maroon diary he acquired? An ad for a diary that wasn’t used? Is that what people believe confirms a Barrett hoax?
A. It’s irrelevant that the diary wasn’t used, not just because no diaries of the type Mike sought were available to him but because the ad placed on his behalf proves beyond any doubt that in early March 1992 he was seeking a genuine Victorian diary with blank pages and, as there is no other conceivable reason for him doing so than because he wanted to forge a Victorian diary, this is not only compelling evidence but positively confirms a Barrett hoax.
Q. Point 4: Or is it the ink? Mike’s scientific explanation of separating molecules using sugar?
A. If Mike thought that by adding sugar it would scientifically disguise the ink, he was entitled to think that, and it’s wholly irrelevant as to whether he was right or wrong.
Q. Point 5: Or the linseed oil he said the book was soaked in that miraculously did not display any evidence of linseed oil saturation and not left a smell? That evidence?
A. It’s perfectly false to state as a fact that there was no smell of linseed oil because there is no evidence about a smell or otherwise on which to base such an assertion. The diary defender fails to demonstrate why there should have been 'evidence' of linseed oil saturation or what that evidence would have been. However, damage was noted to the inside cover of the book upon expert examination.
Q. Point 6: Or is it Mike’s glittering journalism career interviewing the likes of Stan Boardman and Bonnie Langford means he was able to write a book that an Oscar-nominated writer was impressed by? That evidence?
A. Yes, it is important that Mike was a professional freelance journalist for a few years, for three publications, in the late 1980s, which work had dried up by 1992 so that he had no outside income, also that his wife (herself a writer in later years) helped him to draft his published articles.
Q. Point 7: Has anyone read Mike’s own attempts at writing fiction? Is that evidence that swung you?
A. Mike is now known to have written a number of additional diary pages in the same style as the diarist, once his spelling and grammar is corrected (as Anne would have done for him), something he should not have been able to do according to diary defenders.
Q. Point 8: Maybe it is the auction ticket no-one ever saw?[
A. No, it’s the advertisement from March 1992 proving that he sought a genuine blank diary from the period, his incredible account of the forgery in April 1999, his use in everyday speech and writing of idiosyncratic expressions found in the diary, his ownership of the Sphere Guide to English Literature containing the Crawshaw quote, his ownership of a book containing details of the Maybrick case and his secret background as a professional freelance journalist which really drives one to the inescapable conclusion that he was one of the forgers of the diary.
Q. In conclusion, the diary defender said: I think people clinging to a Barrett hoax might need to get real.
A. Hmmmn. I think the diary defender is the one who needs to get real.
Q. You seem to be on a roll Lord Orsam, do you fancy having a crack at 7 points put forward by the same diary defender about Eddie Lyons on 23 June 2023?
A. Sure, what point was he trying to make about him?
Q. He said 'Sometimes I think I live in a paralleled universe where everybody just ignores the fact that Eddie Lyons is more than just a passing character in all of this.' Then he listed his 7 big points about Eddie, but I have a feeling that you are going to tell me that they are all either unproven, unsourced or imaginary.
A. Well let's see shall we? What was his first point?
Q. Point 1: Who was at Battlecrease the day Mike phoned Doreen? Eddie
A. Unproven. Where is the evidence that Eddie was at Battlecrease on 9 March 1992? He’s not shown on the “timesheet” as having worked there that day. I’ve never seen any interview of him saying he was there. On that basis, and until there is any actual evidence to the contrary, we can only assume that he wasn't working there that day.
Q. Point 2: Who lived two minutes from The Saddle Pub where Mike drank? Eddie
A. Not according to the records of his employer which showed that, at the time, Eddie lived six miles away from the Saddle Pub.
Q. Point 3: Who accompanied Mike to meet with Robert Smith at The Saddle? Eddie
A. Yes, at the express request of Robert Smith!
Q. Point 4: Who told Brian Rawes they think they might have found something important at Battlecrease? Eddie
A. But Rawes, who has given different accounts of what was said, was under the impression from the way he remembered Eddie saying it, and smiling, that the discovery had only recently been made (in June or July 1992), thus being far too late for it to have been a reference to the diary.
Q. Point 5: Who tried selling the diary to a local businessman? Eddie
A. If this was true, all the other points would be redundant because we would know that Eddie found the diary!!! But there is not the slightest bit of evidence that Eddie tried to sell the diary to a local businessman, and I really have no idea which local businessman is being referred to by this diary defender. He appears to be very confused, or perhaps he is just living in a parallel universe where these imaginary things happened.
Q. Point 6: Who did Mike threaten with legal action? Eddie
A. What is the source of this? Maybe in a parallel universe one can claim things happened without having to provide supporting evidence but not here in the real world.
Q. Point 7: Who most likely asked Feldman “what’s it worth?” which spooked him off the scent? Eddie
A. The expression “most likely” is meaningless when coming from a diary defender. They have no idea how to calculate probability.
Q. He doesn't seem to have got anywhere with those seven points.
A. No, but he has confirmed that he does indeed live "in a paralleled universe".
Q. You may not believe this, Lord Orsam, but the same guy was back with another list on 2 July 2023, this time purporting to break down Mike's request for a Victorian diary. A mere four points on this occasion. Shall we do them?
A. Go on then.
Q. Point 1. The advert states "Unused" or "Partly Used". I will class this as a BROAD request. Why not just unused?
A. Because, obviously, that would mean that he would lose out on any partly used diaries that were out there and, if there were no unused ones, he would have got nothing, which would have made it difficult to do the forgery, as it, in fact, did, and he had to to look elsewhere.
Q. Point 2: "Diary dating from 1880-1890." BROAD request. A whole ten years of broadness, in fact. Not only by date range but it also throws in the possibility of appointment diaries too as a potential option. It does not rule it out.
A. Yes, and if he was offered more than one diary, which he no doubt hoped would be the case, he could simply have rejected the appointment diary or any others that wouldn't have enabled the forgery. He didn't HAVE to accept anything that was offered as a result of the ad, you know.
Q. Point 3: The oddly specific "Must have at least 20 blank pages". SPECIFIC request. This is the only real specific request and why so much debate has been had around this point. This is the button RJ and Orsam love pushing as if it is some kind of absolute proof of an intent to hoax.
A. It's "oddly" specific because he needed a certain number of pages on which to write the diary - he could hardly have done it with less than 20 blank pages - but it's not really specific at all because a totally unused diary also contains a minimum of 20 blank pages while a barely used diary will also have at least that number of blank pages.
Q. Point 4: Twenty blank pages is an odd request.
A. I really do find this quite extraordinary. The request was not for twenty blank pages. The request was for a minimum of twenty blank pages. It's not that difficult to grasp.
Q. One last thing, a certain other diary defender has been reading this blog but apparently misunderstood the ebay listing that you mentioned earlier because he thinks it is 'the description of a Victorian notebook on sale on ebay'. That's not right is it, Lord Orsam?
A. No, there's nothing Victorian about it. It's a modern blank notebook described, inter alia, as a 'diary' which proves that a blank notebook can be thought of as a diary on the basis that someone could use it as a diary. It thus contradicts the claim that no one on the planet would ever do such a thing. It only needs one person (Mike Barrett) to have had the same thought and it would explain why he asked for an unused or used (Victorian) diary. I thought I made that quite clear.
Q. I thought you did too, Lord Orsam. Yet he says that the fact that someone included the word 'diary' in the listing description 'doesn't make it a genuine Victorian diary'.
A. No, of course it doesn't. It's not Victorian! But it does make it a blank unused diary for anyone on ebay searching for a blank unused diary into which they could write their own personal diary.
Q. He also asks you a couple of questions when he says that you (and RJ Palmer) 'are so hell-bent on fixing Barrett as a hoaxer that neither or them is properly capable of understanding this obvious truth. A Victorian notebook is anything you want it to be in 2023 in order to flog it, but what does the item itself state? Does it state that it is a diary?'
A. Excellent, this is Ask Orsam, after all. The answer is that the item certainly does state that it is a diary. I have already posted an image of the item listing. 'Diary' is one of the words used in the description, yet, being what could also be described as a blank notebook, this should not be possible, according to our diary defending friend.
Q. So, Lord Orsam, you're probably wondering what they've been saying on the boards today?
A. Not really, but I suppose you're going to tell me.
Q. One interesting thing that happened on JTR Forums today is that, in response to a question as to why Mike Barrett swore two (conflicting) affidavits, we were told that Keith Skinner had contacted one of the members of JTR Forums to provide some assistance into the matter, hence:
'Keith Skinner has contacted me to say - and that man frankly must have a photographic and audiographic (if such a word exists) memory - that Mike Barrett discusses the two affidavits during his Radio Merseyside interviews recorded eight months after the January 5, 1995, affidavit where Mike explains the confusion over the various affidavits and claims he has made publicly and privately.'
Alas, as we've seen time and time again, the truth is that Keith Skinner does not have a photographic or audiographic memory. Back in May 2018, I transcribed both of the Radio Merseyside interviews here. Read the transcripts as carefully as you like and you will not find Mike explaining the confusion over his various affidavits. He first basically denied the existence of any affidavit in which he had admitted to writing the diary (while, at the same time, confusing that affidavit with his statement to the Liverpool Daily Post). He told the interviewer, Bob Azurdia, that the statement to the Liverpool Daily Post was 'the only statement I've ever signed'. Later he conceded that he had, in fact, made an affidavit, but claimed that he had said in that affidavit, 'I do not and will not believe Anne’s statement until it is explained...the affidavit that I made was saying quite categorically that I did not believe Anne's statement', although no such affidavit ever existed. When pressed by Azurdia, who was aware that he had he signed 'a statement' on 5th January that year, he repeated the same thing, saying: 'I signed a statement stating quite categorically that I did not believe Anne’s story and that is the only statement I have signed and I don’t even remember that was on the 5th January to be honest with you' and he then said that he didn't read what he had signed. He was never asked about, and never mentioned his April 1993 affidavit, so that it is baffling that Keith Skinner thinks that Mike discussed it during the interviews. In fact, Mik he either denies the existence of or misrepresents the January 1995 affidavit ,which didn't mention Anne's July 1994 statement. Once again, Keith seems to have made a public statement before checking his facts.
Q. The diary defenders seem to have concluded to their own satisfaction that Mike confessed to forging the diary in June 1994, 'because he starts to believe Anne is having a relationship with Paul Feldman' and, as a result, 'is incandescent with rage and misplaced jealousy and wants to do whatever he can to destroy Feldman's projects and thereby break up the perceived relationship between Anne and Feldman.' Was that the reason for Mike's confession, Lord Orsam?
A. Not one iota of evidence is offered up to show that Mike believed that Anne was having a relationship with Feldman in June1994, when Mike appears to have been in his own relationship with Jenny Morrison. No evidence is provided that Mike, at this time (as opposed to much later), was incandescent with rage and misplaced jealousy with respect to Feldman. According to no less an authority than 'Inside Story' (p. 92), when Mike confessed to Shirley that he had forged the diary, he was 'bitter and angry that he had not seen his daughter' and 'kept repeating that all he wanted was to see Caroline' but nothing seems to have been said about Feldman at all. It also seems to be obvious that he wasn't angry with Anne at this time because he kept her name out of the confession and took all the blame for the forgery himself.
Q. So why did he confess?
A. A very important fact is left out of the diary defender's chronology of events.
Q. Which is?
A. In or about May 1994, Nick Warren had been told by Tony Devereux's daughter that, "she thought of Barrett as a journalist who had contributed features to a magazine, so the sisters were consequently surprised to see him described as an ordinary 'Liverpool bloke'" (Inside Story, p.88). Warren informed Mike of this by sending him a draft an article he intended to publish in the July edition of Ripperana. Mike must have seen this this draft article shortly before 13 May 1994 when he wrote to Warren about it, threatening legal action.
Q. I see. So you think Mike might have felt the walls were closing in?
A. Absolutely. Think about it from his perspective. He'd withheld from everyone: Doreen, Shirley, Sally, Keith, Howells, Begg, Smith and Feldman, the fact of his 1980s journalism. Surely once they found out they were going to see through all his lies and work out that he must be the forger.
Q. And did they?
A. Well, I mean, that's the extraordinary thing. We don't have a single record, from any of the researchers, of their reaction to learning the news. Were they stunned? Or did they not care? Even more extraordinary, there is no record of Mike's answer to the question of why he hadn't told them about it until Nick Warren discovered it. They must have asked him, surely. But the entire thing is swept under the carpet as if it was no big deal, just some sort of innocent omission on Mike's part from his life story.
Q. Yes, that is certainly very strange.
A. We know that Shirley made enquiries. We are told that she contacted the former editor of Celebrity magazine, receiving copies of three of Mike's articles in November 1994, and she must have been disappointed to be told by him the editor that Mike was 'always very reliable' when he worked for him.
Q. Have any of the researchers or diary defenders ever commented about Mike withholding and hiding the information about his journalistic career?
A. Not that I am aware of. They seem to take solace in the fact that both Mike and Anne admitted that Anne had to tidy up Mike's articles but never appear to appreciate how utterly incriminating that is if the Barretts colluded forge the diary, as Mike claimed they did. But anyway, like I say, Mike must have felt under enormous pressure from that discovery by Warren (who had also confirmed that Mike had owned a copy of Tales of Liverpool) which might well have been the trigger which promoted him to confess in June.
Q. Some comments have also been made today about the late Melvin Harris who is always described, for some reason as a 'viper'. Do you know why?
A. I really can't understand it. A certain diary defender seems to have built up a fictional picture in his mind about what Melvin Harris was doing in 1994. We are therefore told, without any evidence, that Harris 'possibly' paid Alan Gray to relentlessly work on the 'alcoholic Mike Barrett'. While, I suppose anything is possible, where is the evidence? It makes it sound like Harris instructed and paid Gray to force a false confession out of Mike, which I am sure is as far from the truth as it's possible to be (but this is a diary defender we are talking about, and that's the world they inhabit).
Q. It's also said that 'The viper Melvin Harris is conspicuously quiet regarding the confession he had craved for so long.' Does that make any sense?
A. It's absurd. Mike had already confessed to Harold Brough months earlier! It had been all over the newspapers. All Harris did is sensibly suggest to Gray that Mike put his story down in writing in a sworn statement. That's it. There is no evidence of him craving any confession in circumstances where there had already been a confession. And as for Harris being 'conspicuously quiet', when did he first seen Mike's affidavit? Was he told that it was confidential? And he wasn't even 'conspicuously quiet' because we know that he told Feldman about the red diary, which is how Keith Skinner found out about it in July 1995.
Q. Moving over to the Casebook forum, it seems our friend 'the bag lady' wasn't happy with your delight in her new theory about Mike wanting a genuine Victorian diary from the 1880s with at least 20 blank pages so that he could 'handwrite his best seller' into it. She claims that we've missed out the bit about him 'taking what's already in the old book he got from Eddie' . Apparently, in this scenario, 'Anne has advised Mike not to show the old book to anyone if he doesn't know where it came from, but to write his own story based on what's in it. He could simply have copied the text straight onto the word processor and sent this off as his own work, but perhaps he thought he could go one better than that, and dress it up in Victorian clothes, like the old book itself.' Any thoughts?
A. I don't honestly know if this is supposed to be taken seriously but it makes no sense whatsoever. In the first place, Mike has already told Doreen Montgomery that he was in possession of Jack the Ripper's diary. The real Jack the Ripper's diary! So he was going to have to present Doreen with a diary which looked like it had been written in 1888 by Jack the Ripper. Is it now seriously being said that Mike was planning to do this himself? Perhaps we'll be told next that he was planning to ask Anne to write it out for him! But, really, I do like this theory which, in essence, says that Mike wanted a genuine Victorian diary with blank pages in which to create a fake Jack the Ripper diary. It's what I've been saying all along! After all, the only possible explanation for wanting blank Victorian diary pages is to write on them. And the only thing you could possibly want to write on blank Victorian diary pages is a 'Victorian' diary. We seem to be finding common ground, at last.
Q. The same person also said that MIke's denial that an electrician found the diary in Battlecrease, 'never made much sense to me, because he was claiming not to know where Tony got the diary, in which case he could have got it from anyone, including from a Battlecrease electrician'.
A. BINGO! Exactly. He knew the diary didn't come from a Battlecrease electrician because he knew it had been forged in his room in Goldie Street.
Q. Would you take a look at the rest of her post (it's too long for me to quote in full) and let me know if you have any comments?
A. Yes, I've had a look and it's the number of unsupported and dubious statements which strike me. I'll just list them:
1. Moving on, this would explain Mike's two fishing trips to Colin Rhodes - to try and discover who was working where and when, so he could prove the rumours false, as he knew they had to be if he had faked the thing himself." What are the two fishing trips and what is the evidence that Mike was involved in them?
2. "Not getting any joy, Mike then learned that a certain Eddie Lyons, living on Fountains Road, had been contacted by Feldman and was apparently willing to say he found the diary while working in Dodd's house." I see that she's omitted to mention that, according to Feldman, Eddie was willing to say that he found the diary in 1989.
3. "Naturally, Mike was furious and went round to threaten Eddie with solicitors if he went ahead. He still had no other way to squash the rumours." What's the evidence for this? Only two people knew what happened during that encounter and they are both said to be liars!
4. "Fortunately for Mike, Feldman convinced himself that Eddie was lying, but then Robert Smith got in on the same act and asked Mike if he knew any of the electricians, to which Mike replied that he knew Eddie, who also used the Saddle." What's the source for this? It's not mentioned by Smith in his book.
5. "I can see why it would have helped Mike, as the faker of the diary, that Eddie was now denying that he had found it, and was instead claiming it was some other old book that he chucked into a non-existent skip. But why would Eddie have changed his story to help a stranger who had recently threatened him on his own doorstep?" What is the evidence that Mike threatened Eddie on his doorstep? One doesn't find it in Feldman's account of the incident.
6. "What would he have gained by telling this story to Robert in Mike's presence, unless they both had their reasons for covering up a common truth that could affect them equally - the removal and selling on of someone else's rightful property?" It's all very well asking this question (and then speculating about the answer) but where are the full transcripts of Eddie's interviews so that we can see what he said about it in his own words?
Until we have proper answers to my questions, and actual supporting evidence supplied, her conclusion - that Eddie and Mike knew each other before 1993 (denied by Eddie point blank to Robert Smith, incidentally) - is unsustainable.
Q. There was also a strange comment by the bag lady today who said: 'We will never get anywhere while people don't see the onus of proof being applicable to both arguments: Maybrick as a serial killer; or the Barrets as hoaxers.' What does she mean by that?
A. I really don't know. The onus of proof in respect of both arguments is precisely what I've been posting about for the last eight years years but I have to ask: who are "the Barrets"? Are they a new couple in the story? Or....not it can't be...don't say the stickler for attention to detail has made a typo, has she? Well that clearly undermines everything she's ever said and I just can't continue reading her posts.
Q. Are you sure that's her typo? I thought she didn't make them.
A. Yes, I am. Here it is, post #10064 in the 'Incontrovertible' thread on Casebook for anyone who wants to check:
Q. Thank you very much Lord Orsam, that's all I have for now.
A. I have one question for you, actually.
Q. Go ahead.
A. I know they keep going on about the skip but has diary defender explained how it's possible that Arthur Rigby told Paul Feldman in confidence that he recalled an electrician at Battlecrease throwing something into a skip and then, later in the year, quite independently (as far as is known), Eddie Lyons told Robert Smith that he thew something into a skip?
Q. No, not a squawk Lord Orsam but they do always seem to avoid answering difficult questions.
A. Yes, they certainly do.
Q. Actually, that reminds me. I wanted to mention my favourite diary defender post of the day: "Shame about that Eddie Lyons shaped problem. The so-called innocent bystander named by witnesses (even to this day) as having found something important / an old book by people who have no vested interest whatsoever." Do you see it Lord Orsam?
A. Of course I do. How ironic that it's referred to as an 'Eddie Lyons shaped problem' when it is actually a Brian Rawes shaped problem.
Q. I know what you mean, Lord Orsam, but you'd better explain it for any diary defenders who are reading.
A. Certainly. It's that this diary defender, in quoting Brian Rawes as having been told by Eddie that he had found 'something important / an old book' (even though he didn't use the word 'old'), has omitted to mention what you'd think would be the most critical word used by Brian, namely that, as he informed the police, Eddie told him he had found 'a diary'. It's ludicrously revealing that even the diary defenders don't think that can possibly be right! So they pretend he never said it. But we are assured that this is what Brian told the police. He mentioned Eddie finding a diary! You'd think the diary defenders would be screaming about this on the rooftops but they prefer to pretend it didn't happen. It's highly amusing that this same diary defender said in another post today that, 'the ones missing the obvious are Palmer and Orsam', yet here is the obvious right under his nose that he is missing!
Q. Lord Orsam, I saw one diary defender describe as 'nonsense' the idea that Keith Skinner might once have rashly claimed that he could prove in a court of law that the diary came out of Battlecrease before retracting this claim and amending it to a 'court of history'. Is it nonsense?
A. No, Keith's exact words in May 2007 (as recorded in the Maybrick A to Z) were, 'if I went into a court of law with the documents in my possession, I think the jury would reach a verdict and say, "Yes this Diary came out of Battlecrease House"'. That's what he said at the time. He later realized his mistake (which seems to happen a lot with Mr Skinner) and corrected it to 'a court of history' whatever that imaginary institution is.
Q. Another diary defender posed a series of questions about Mike's affidavits to Trevor Marriott. I wonder if you wouldn't mind me addressing those questions to you, for you to answer.
A. Please, be my guest.
Q. Okay, question number 1: Does it not bother you that Barrett got his timelines desperately, badly wrong?
A. No, because the affidavit was obviously drafted by Alan Gray who didn't understand what he was being told, as confirmed by the fact that when Mike told the story in his own words in 1999 he got the timeline perfectly correct. If the Gray/Barrett tapes were made available (as was once promised), instead of being suppressed, we might get to the bottom of the matter but perhaps some people would prefer we didn't.
Q. No. 2: Does it not bother you that his claims were contradictions of previous claims?
A. No, because he had been saying repeatedly since June 1994 that the diary was a forgery, including in signed statements.
Q. No. 3: Does it not bother you that he claimed he steeped the scrapbook in linseed oil and yet none was detected (despite the damage that plus two days in a gas oven would have caused)?
A. No, because no testing was ever done to detect linseed oil (and I'm not sure how it could have been detected in any case) while I don't understand what damage would have been caused by placing the photograph album in an oven.
Q. No. 4: Does it not bother you that Outhwaite & Litherland contradicted the process Barrett claimed he went through to purchase the scrapbook?
A. No, because they never explained exactly how Barrett contradicted the process and it might just have been because he used the word "ticket" instead of "receipt". Further, O&L confirmed that Mike could have purchased an item under the false name of 'Williams', as he claimed, and also that a photograph album would have been sold as a miscellaneous lot (i.e. with another item or items).
Q. No. 5: Does it not bother you that an album full of World War I photographs would not have been sold in a miscellaneous lot along with a - surreal this one - compass with no hands?
A. No, because it's not claimed in Mike's affidavit that the photograph album would have been sold in a 'miscellaneous' lot, he just said he bought it together with a brass compass, and it was O&L who expressly confirmed that a photograph album would have been sold in a miscellaneous lot with other items (or item) – they never said that it wouldn't have been sold with a compass, with or without hands, so the truth would seem to be the very opposite of what is being claimed.
Q. No. 6: Does it not bother you that Barrett was singularly unable to ever produce a single piece of supporting evidence to back up his claims despite his frequent claims to be about to do so?
No, because he did, in fact, produce a single piece of supporting evidence in the form of a red 1891 diary and, subsequently, an advertisement placed on his behalf of a Victorian diary with blank pages. This corroborated what he said in his affidavit about obtaining a genuine Victorian diary as part of the scheme 'to go ahead and write the diary of Jack the Ripper.' As for any evidence directly relating to the purchase of items relating to the forgery, it is likely that this had been destroyed by January 1995.
Q. No 7: Can anyone prove to you categorically that Barrett was lying out of his back teeth throughout pretty much all of his January 5, 1995., affidavit? Arguably not (if you ignore all of the above - and that's just from memory).
A. I don't understand this question which should surely be addressed to a diary defender.
Q. No. 8: But can you prove to us that Barrett's 1993 affidavit is false (because that's what you're claiming by plumping arbitrarily for the 1995 one)?
A. This is a question asked in bad faith by someone who himself believes that Barrett's 1993 affidavit is false.
Q. This isn't a question but the concluding remark of the post was: If you can prove to me that the 1993 affidavit is false, I'll accept that you have grounds to discount the one over the other, and I will stop assuming that you favour the one over the other because it suits your agenda to do so, not because you have any good grounds for doing so.
A. More bad faith, asking for proof that the 1993 affidavit is false by someone who already strongly believes the 1993 affidavit is false.
Q. Also, on JTR Forums, I note that a legal expert has posted to say: 'I always thought that the point of swearing an affidavit is when someone wants to state that something is true but they have no way of actually proving it. If you can prove something is true, with independent evidence that doesn't rely on your word alone, then surely an affidavit is not needed or appropriate.' Is this correct?
A. No, I'm afraid it's absolute nonsense. It's like saying that, if you can prove something is true in a criminal court case, you don't need any witnesses. It's nonsense because it is the witnesses themselves who prove what is true, whether from documents or from what they have personally observed or understood. It's the same with an affidavit. Assume that we had a receipt of O&L dated 31 March 1992 in the name of Williams, it means nothing on its own. You need evidence proving it is genuine and explaining what it means. So in legal proceedings you would need sworn testimony (either written or oral or both) from someone who can tell us. Even that doesn't prove anything because that statement, which might be false, would need to be tested, which usually happens under cross-examination. While no one knows what was going on in Mike's head, as far as I can tell, the reason Mike swore h is two affidavits, or was advised to, was not as a way of proving that what he was saying was true but as a way of (a) demonstrating that he was prepared to swear, under threat of perjury, to his account of events and (b) to fix his account in writing (which is what Melvin Harris seems to have advised Alan Gray to do for Mike in 1994), ideally under oath.
Q. The same diary defender has also said this: 'It is my belief that Mike was indeed keeping the affidavit in reserve, in the hope that Anne would relent and speak to him, and let him see their daughter again after a full year's separation. This became an obsession with Mike, and he thought - wrongly - that Anne would be terrified that he would make the affidavit public - and that it would be believed - if she didn't give in to his demands and speak to him.' Would you care to comment on this?
A. Yes, every now and again a diary defender says something sensible. That's exactly what happened! Mike thought that Anne would be terrified that he would make the affidavit public and that it would be believed. Naturally, he wouldn't have thought this if he knew, and Anne knew, that it was all a pack of lies.
Q. But he was wrong?
A. The plan failed for three reasons. Firstly, Anne would have seen that Mike (or rather Alan Gray) had made a dreadful mess of the chronology, making it easy to undermine the account given in the affidavit. Secondly, Anne would have known that Mike didn't have any evidence to back up his claims, other than the red diary. Thirdly, in respect of the red diary, Anne was able to bamboozle Keith Skinner by telling him that Mike had merely wanted to see what a Victorian diary looked like. She got away with it because Mike's instructions to Martin Earl making it clear that Mike had wanted a diary with blank pages were not located until 2004, by which time she had stopped commenting on any matters relating to the diary.
Q. Lord Orsam, I saw a diary defender write on Casebook: 'Whilst [Lord] Orsam and Palmer offer their own unique brand of logic, at least they are attempting to reference source materials and events to base their flawed arguments.' Is it true that your arguments are flawed?
A. Absolutely not! The problem with this kind of cheap comment is that it comes from someone who refuses to engage in responding to my arguments and has thus never explained why he says they are flawed, let alone demonstrated that they are, in fact, flawed.
Q. It's kind of ironic, isn't it, that the same person, in the same post, said he tends to ,'ignore the monosyllabic trolls with their inane one-liners these days', and claims that, 'The zombie posters' criticism holds no weight to the debate'.
A. Yes, it's hard to see why his unexplained jibe about 'flawed arguments' isn't an inane one-liner or a zombie criticism. How is he any different from those so-called 'zombies' he is criticising? He claims to want to see reasoned arguments that the diary is a fake yet, when I post them, he tends to ignore those too! He obviously knows I'm making them, hence his comment about me referencing source materials. So what are the answers? Where do I find them? He has his own website so he could put them there.
Q. Talking of his website, has he yet managed to find the expert In UK corporate law who, he claims, he needs tell him that James Maybrick didn't put up a £3.5k investment in 1888, as you already proved he didn't?
A. No, of course not. Rather than admit that he made a dreadful and silly mistake, he's tried to leave the question open, as if there's still a chance that Maybrick was flush with cash at the time.
Q. The irony is that in his Mine Game article he was literally referencing source materials to base his flawed argument.
A. Indeed! The difference with me is that I have explained and demonstrated why his argument is flawed.
Q. I see that this diary defender's partner in crime has posted, 'Give me a problem with the scrapbook and I will answer it' before going on to purportedly answer all the problems with the scrapbook (or photograph album) which he has framed himself. Have you read it, Lord Orsam?
A. No, what does he say about 'one off instance'?
Q. He doesn't mention it, Lord Orsam?
A. What?!!! Well, what does he say about 'bumbling buffoon'?
Q. It's not mentioned either.
A. Okay, you've got me here. How is this possible?
Q. Well he says this about 'the language': 'We are told that expressions in the scrapbook could not have been used in 1889. One of those - for far too many years - was 'top myself'. Find me a poster today who would repeat the 'top myself' 'fault' and I'll find you the biggest idiot that ever left a village for the bright lights inside the train tunnel. If 'top myself' could be shown to be correct usage for 1889 (thank you, MrBarnett) then any other expression could one day fall as hard.'
A. Ah, I see, a typically lazy strawman argument - attempting to dismiss all the research into 'one off instance' and 'bumbling buffoon' by referring to a different expression - and totally false.
Q. How do you mean?
A. Firstly, it's not true that the argument was that 'top myself' 'could not have been used in 1889'. He's misrepresented what was said thirty years ago. Here is what Dr Kate Flint, lecturer in Victorian and modern English literature at Oxford University, said about it in 1993, as reported in the Sunday Times of 19 September 1993:
As we can see right there in black and white, Dr Flint said that the expression 'to top myself' was not recorded until 1958. She didn't say it wasn't used by anyone until 1958. She said it wasn't recorded, by which she meant recorded by those whose job it was to monitor the English language and record new words and expressions. Furthermore, she's stated that the word 'top', to mean hang, had been around since 1718 so that it would have been obvious to anyone in 1993 that a person in the nineteenth century only needed to add the word 'myself' after 'top' and they could easily have formed the expression to top myself. Indeed, we know that someone did that in 1877 but that doesn't mean that the expression thereby formed part of the English language and was in common usage. On the contrary, not only did it need to be explained by the journalist who reported it in 1877 but, the next time we find it in the press, in 1912, it needed to be explained again. It was clearly not a commonly used or known expression. From the fact that these are the only two known examples, it can be clearly concluded that, in the context of the diary, 'top myself' is an anachronism which has no place in a nineteenth century text. It may not be impossible and thus incontrovertible proof of a forgery but I don't know of anyone sensible who ever said it was.
Q. You said 'Firstly', is there a second point?
A. Yes, secondly, I started to become interested in the diary in August 2016 and read a comprehensive set of online posts about the language problems in it. I quickly decided that the only expression which had the potential to prove that the diary couldn't have been written in 1888 or 1889 was 'one off instance'. I commenced my research in September 2016 and posted the results on Casebook in December 2016, making clear that 'one off instance' is the one incontrovertible fact which proves that the diary is a forgery. I never said a single word about 'top myself' which I had already discarded as having any potential to do the same.
Q. Right, so I see why you call it a strawman argument.
A. Indeed. It wasn't until 17 September 2017 that the discovery of the 1877 example of 'top myself' (or more accurately 'top himself') was first posted. Like I say, until that time I had not said a single word about 'top myself'. I knew it could never prove the diary to be a fake. Yet, laughably, we are now told that because a single person during the nineteenth century is known to have used this expression, it tells us something about 'one off instance'.
Q. Not to mention 'bumbling buffoon'?
A. Absolutely. That one wasn't spotted until much later but it also proves the diary to be a fake. And it's important to bear in mind that my argument about both these expressions is not that they weren't recorded until the twentieth century but that they couldn't actually have existed in the nineteenth century.
Q. He mentions the Bunny's aunt issue but is very dismissive.
A. What does he say about it?
Q. Just this: 'Apparently, James Maybrick referred to Flo-May's godmother as her 'aunt'. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Who cares?'
A. 'Who cares'?????
Q. Then he adds 'Certainly not James Maybrick'.
A. That alone is a strange comment. He's supposed to be defending an argument that the diary is a fake yet his answer is premised on the fact that James Maybrick wrote it!
Q. I'm not entirely sure I know what he means by 'Who cares', do you?
A. It's not an argument in any way. It doesn't grapple with the fact that we know for a fact how Florence's godmother became confused in the secondary literature with James Baillie Knight's aunt. It was a mistake by the prosecuting counsel at Florence's trial, long after James had died, which was then repeated in the secondary literature.
Q. So we are asked to believe that James Maybrick, by some extraordinary defiance of the laws of time and space, made the same mistake?
A. Yes, for there is no doubt that no 'sick aunt' existed. There was only ever a godmother.
Q. And how likely is it that James didn't know that Countess de Gabriac was Florence's godmother?
A. Not only is it unworthy of consideration but there is documentary evidence that he and Florence both told Dr Hopper that she was Florence's godmother.
Q. So there is no way he would have referred to her as Florence's aunt in his diary?
A. None at all.
Q. Is it worth discussing any more of his rebuttals?
A. Tell me what he says about the breasts being located in the wrong place?
Q. It's just this: 'Kelly's breasts! (And yet the author remembers thinking about leaving them at her feet not on the table.)'
A. Oh, how deceptive. At the very point in the diary (long after the murder of Kelly) at which the diarist writes in verse about how he thought about leaving the breasts at Kelly's feet, he repeats what he supposedly wrote at the time of the murder, namely that he actually left them on the table. That was a mistake by the forger.
Q. Isn't there another mistake at that point in the diary?
A. Oh yes, I'd almost forgotten about that. This is what is actually written in the diary (with my bold):
'I kissed them They tasted so sweet
I thought of leaving them by the whores feet but the table it was bear so I went and left them there'
Q. We are supposed to believe that James Maybrick didn't know the difference between 'bare' and 'bear'?
A. Yes. Funnily enough, by pure coincidence, in that respect he was a bit like Anne Graham who is known to have confused 'gall' with 'gaul', 'quiet' and 'quite', 'tail' and 'tale' in her own correspondence (see here.)
A. Tell me, how does he deal with the mistake about the missing key?
Q. Just having a look.....errr...no, it's not mentioned.
A. Oh dear. Not exactly comprehensive. Is there anything else worth mentioning?
Q. Not really. Only one other thing stands out: 'Oh, I know, I know! Here's a clincher! Maybrick's brother only wrote music, he didn't write lyrics! Well, that one didn't age well (thank you, Livia Trivia).'
A. Once again, not an argument I ever made, nor is anyone else currently making it, so what's the point of him responding to an imaginary argument? The irony is that, after it was realized that Maybrick's brother did occasionally write lyrics, some diary defenders used this fact to say that the suggestion in the diary that Maybrick's brother wrote lyrics was evidence that the diary was genuine. That was until I discovered that both Ryan and Morland said in their respective books that Maybrick wrote lyrics and thus deflated their bubble.
Q. This doesn't hold out much hope for the much heralded 2025 edition of 'Society's Pillar', does it?
A. The only thing we can say for sure is that it's going to be terrible.
Q. Lord Orsam, I saw it said earlier today on JTR Forums that you once made a claim about seeing an "original" of the Kelly crime scene photograph. Here is the post:
Is that true?
A. Tsk, tsk. Oh dear. No, it's not true. It's just another devious diary defender tactic to misquote me by taking a single word and using it out of context in the most underhand fashion. What I said in my 2019 article 'Pillar of Sand' was as follows (bold added):
Unfortunately for him, while I do recognize that the marks he sees on some of the published versions of the photograph known as MJK1 could be interpreted as comprising the letters "FM", I have also seen an original of what is probably the highest quality print of this photograph in existence and can confirm that the marks which have been interpreted as "FM" do not appear on that photograph, meaning that they must be marks that have only become visible on degraded secondary copies and did not exist in reality on Kelly's wall in November 1888. And that's the end of that.
So what I clearly said was that I had seen an original print, yet the work 'print' was completely omitted by this diary defender in a underhand attempt to mislead the members and readers of JTR Forums.
Q. I must say that is quite disgraceful, Lord Orsam.
A. But what is so interesting is that on 19 September 2023, Rob Clack posted on JTR Forums to say: 'as someone who has seen the crime scene photographs of Mary Jane Kelly I can state that there are 'no' initials on Kelly's wall'.
He subsequently clarified that he had seen a second or third generation print at the National Archives.
Q. So, quite independently, he is corroborating 100% what you said four years ago?
A. Exactly! I haven't seen the print at the National Archives. I saw a different high quality print. But we've clearly both independently noted that from the best available prints there are no initials on the wall.
Q. Thank you for clearing that up, Lord Orsam.
A. My pleasure.
Q. Lord Orsam, welcome back to this session.
A. Hello again.
Q. The reason I've called you back is because the chief diary defender said this the other day:
It was tough enough for those who were involved with the diary from the start, in 1992, to engage with Mike personally and try to work out what was true and what wasn't. By the time Gray entered the fray in the second half of 1994 he could only have had an uphill struggle to get any sense at all out of Mike at his worst, and then apply it to his own limited knowledge of the story. Without considerable prompting by Harris, Gray would essentially have been relying for his intelligence on what Abby's 'two bit con man' was willing or able to tell him, which was by then a complete ragbag of lies and contradictions, with perhaps the odd truth in there somewhere, told more by accident than design.
Do you have any comment about that?
A. Yes, wow!
A. Absolutely. Wow!
Q. Why do you say that?
A. She is so close to getting it.
Q. Getting what?
A. She's so close to understanding the reason why Mike's 1995 affidavit contained some inaccuracies.
Q. What do you mean?
A. Well, Mike's affidavit was obviously written for him by Alan Gray. If Gray had been having an 'uphill struggle' to get any sense out of Mike at all at his worst, and then struggling to apply what MIke told him to his own 'limited knowledge of the story', as the chief diary defender now tells us happened, that totally explains why Gray made a mess of Mike's affidavit.
Q. So she's always known it?
A. Of course she has. Yet she keeps banging on about the 1990 date in Mike's affidavit, knowing full well that Gray must have struggled to work out the chronology of events from what Mike told him.
Q. In the same post, she also said this:
'Along with Keith Skinner and others, I don't regard Mike's order in March 1992, for a tiny 1891 diary with 365 printed dates in it, as impeccable supporting evidence that he was planning to fake Maybrick's 1888/9 diary with it. If that makes my stance 'a joke and an embarrassment to ripperolgy' [sic], as Abby tells me, at least I know I am in excellent company.'
A. I don't like to use the word mendacity about anyone so I guess I'll have to plump for delusional.
Q. So it's not true?
A. It's completely detached from reality.
Q. Can you explain why you say that?
A. Yes. Mike didn't place an order in March 1992 for a tiny diary with 365 printed dates in it.
A. No, he didn't order anything. As the type of diary he had requested wasn't available, he was offered, sight unseen, a diary about which he had been told that most of the pages were blank and he accepted that offer. We know that he wasn't told it had 365 printed dates in it.
Q. Remind me how we know that?
A. Because the chief diary defender herself obtained from Martin Earl the description of the diary that Earl had been given by its owner which he would have read to Mike over the telephone. It said nothing about the diary having any printed dates in it, but said that it had mostly blank pages.
Q. So she's in denial about this?
A. Absolutely. She's been in denial from day one, having somehow managed to deceive herself into thinking that the description referred to printed dates when it did no such thing.
Q. I was wondering. Have you ever claimed that the tiny diary is ‘impeccable supporting evidence that Mike was planning to fake Maybrick’s 1888/9 diary with it’?
A. No, never. The impeccable supporting evidence of this is the advertisement placed by Martin Earl in bookseller on Mike’s behalf which shows that Mike was attempting to obtain a genuine Victorian diary from the 1880s which contained a sufficient number of blank pages to create a fake diary.
Q. But she doesn’t mention the advertisement?
A. Of course not, no, she’s too scared of it. She simply can’t explain it. She’s tried and tried over the years with all kinds of weird and wonderful theories, none of which stand up to scrutiny, and she appears to have given up, preferring to pretend that it doesn’t exist. Instead, she frames Mike’s acceptance, sight unseen, of the only nineteenth century diary with blank pages that was offered to him, as him somehow placing an order for something which turned out to be unsuitable. But Mike’s affidavit says that when he received that tiny diary he immediately realized it was unsuitable! She’s just not saying anything sensible about it.
Q. I really find it hard to believe that she thinks she can get away with it.
A. The other pathetic thing about it is the way that she wants us to know that Keith Skinner shares her opinion, so that she thinks she is in “excellent company”.
Q. Has Keith Skinner ever explained why Mike was seeking a genuine Victorian diary with blank pages?
A. Never! He promised me he would give me an explanation but that was another promise he reneged on. I can only think he can’t do it.
Q. That seems a bit cowardly.
A. And, frankly, I’m not sure that Keith Skinner’s reputation as a great thinker is deserved. He’s said a lot of patently false things about matters relating to the diary. He seems to misunderstand so much. He’s failed to keep his promises. He's made a lot of mistakes. He once totally believed Anne Barrett's 'in the family' story which even the chief diary defender herself admits was a fabrication by Anne. As far as I’m concerned, he was badly duped by Mike and Anne Barrett and doesn’t want to admit it. So I’m not at all sure that having Keith Skinner agree with you means you are in “excellent company”.
A. Sounds like a very sad story of someone who I understand used to be a respected researcher.
Q. Indeed, very sad.