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  • Lord Orsam

Gray Days

INTRODUCTION


So 15 recordings of the Gray/Barrett conversations from 1994-96 in the possession of Keith Skinner have finally been publicly released thanks to Keith Skinner, James Johnston and Casebook, or rather 12 of them have. Three recordings have, it seems to me, been transferred to mp3 format at the wrong speed and are therefore completely inaudible, yet the original cassettes must be perfectly audible because the authors of Inside Story were able to summarize their contents in some detail at pages 151-155 of their 2003 book. For them to have been able to do this, they must have been able to hear what Gray and Barrett were saying. One cannot do so on the mp3 files posted on Casebook. For this reason, at time of writing, I cannot regard the full set of recordings as having been released.


The situation is most unfortunate because it was these very 3 recordings which Keith Skinner was so sensitive about before their 'release' (or rather non-release) because he was worried that listeners would compare them to they way they had been summarized in his book.


Now, I refuse to believe that Skinner has deliberately allowed inaudible digital files of audible cassettes to be posted on Casebook and I'm sure that the cassettes were accidentally transferred at the wrong speed (or whatever has happened), presumably by James Johnston in error. But this mistake should really be corrected immediately or, if there is now a problem with previously audible cassettes, an explanation provided as to why they have become inaudible.


Another problem is that pages 154-5 of Skinner's book refer to a 'taped conversation between Alan Gray and Barrett on 7 November 1994'. No such conversation has been provided amongst the 15 released recordings, which, as they are labelled, jump from 6th November to 8th November 1994. It seems to me that Keith Skinner has spotted this because he caused a message to be posted on Casebook via Jonathan Menges on 6 January 2024 in which he said:


'At the time of writing Inside Story we only had three tapes available to us - the most useful covering the period between November 6th 1994 and November 7th/8th 1994. We give a condensed summary of these events on pages 151-155 of Inside Story.'


Pages 151 of Inside Story make no mention of any recording on 8th November 1994. It would seem that this is why he merges the two dates of 7th and 8th November into one, whereas otherwise he would surely have referred to the period between November 6th and November 8th 1994.


If Inside Story made a mistake, and the 8th November conversation was wrongly referred to in the book as having occurred on 7th November, why doesn't Keith simply admit this in order to clarify the position? Is it because he feels it would be a sign of weakness to have to confess to yet another error in his and Caroline Morris-Brown's book? The alternatives are that there are recordings for two dates on the tape labelled 8th November or that that there is a missing recording from the 7th November.


Had the November recordings from 5th to 8th November been audible we could have checked ourselves if the one for 8th November matches what is said by Inside Story to have occurred on the 7th November. But we can't currently do this.


The other bombshell from Keith's message is that only the contents of three out of the fifteen tapes are reflected in the narrative of Inside Story because the other twelve weren't in his possession at the time that book was written. Although, in late 2021, Caroline Morris-Brown provided what will be shown below to be a somewhat inaccurate transcript of an extract from Tape 10 (dated 12th December 1994) to make an incomprehensible point about Melvin Harris' involvement, this means that none of the other tapes have ever been properly and publicly analysed to see what they tell us about the origin of the diary. This article will rectify that.


On 5 January 2024, a few days after the release of the tapes, diary defender Jay Hartley made a triumphant, premature and somewhat obnoxious but now deleted post on the Casebook Forum about how the contents of the tapes show that Keith Skinner wasn't covering anything up. I don't know why he is obsessed with the issue of a cover-up, which was never an allegation made against Skinner, but it's now clear that the tapes contain a number of bombshells which totally justify my repeated calls over many years for them to be made available for public inspection. Once again, allowing people who are not within a small and select group of diary defenders to listen to the evidence has, as this article will demonstrate, greatly enhanced our knowledge of events from the period in question.


In particular, as I wondered many times in the past if they would, the recordings do greatly assist in our understanding of how Mike Barrett's affidavit ended up saying that the diary was created in 1990. This is true even though the key recordings from November 1994 have not been made available in audible format. Anyone who has been reading my posts on the subject of the recordings which, until 3rd January 2024, I'd never heard, will know that I repeatedly said that the one thing I was hoping to extract from them was an understanding of how the 1990 date came to be in Mike's 1995 affidavit in circumstances where he personally said on record in 1999 that the diary was created in 1992. I said this so many times on the old website and most recently on 11 December 2023 in my blog post Thin Skinnered where (referring to the tapes as one recording) I wrote:


'For myself, the main reason I'd like to hear it is simply to see if it's possible to work out why Gray failed to appreciate that the diary was created in 1992 when drafting Mike's affidavit. After all, the fact that the affidavit appears to say that it was created in January 1990 is one of the main points put forward by diary defenders (especially the chief one) to argue that Mike's account set out in the affidavit was bogus.'


Of course, the diary defenders, and Caroline Morris-Brown in particular, have focussed on that obvious dating error of 1990 to undermine Mike Barrett's entire story of how the diary was created, as set out in his affidavit. Yet it is staggering that certain information in the recordings, which that very same Caroline-Morris Brown must have heard some time ago, has been withheld until now so that this dreadful propaganda point has been allowed to have been made for many years without the possibility of any informed challenge.


Before we come to that, there is another revelation from the tapes.


THE FIRST REVELATION


With reference to Alan Gray, Keith Skinner told me (in email) on 15 August 2016 that:


'The point about the private investigator is that he came on board to help Barrett find the evidence to prove that he created the diary.'


What he was saying, I think, was that it was so strange to him that Mike had hired someone to prove something that Mike should have been able to prove easily himself.


Keith must have said the same thing online at some point because, on 9 February 2018 and again on 12 February 2018 on the Casebook Forum (after Keith didn't answer first time), RJ asked him why he had once said that Michael Barrett hired a private detective "in order to prove that he forged the diary." In his reply on 12 February, Keith didn't deny that he had once posted this, and his response to RJ was:


'The source for Mike employing Alan to help him with his quest are the tapes themselves.'


But the tapes do not support Keith's quixotic notion, which he's somehow got fixed into his mind, that Mike employed Gray to prove that he forged the diary.


In the first place, it's clear that Gray was instructed well before the first tape recording on 16 August 1994 because Mike already owed him money (£227.55) by this stage. Indeed, Keith himself said on 6 February 2018 that, "Mike had initially employed Alan Gray to find the whereabouts of Anne and Caroline after they left him."


What the tapes show is that on both 16 and 31 August 1994, Gray was trying to get from Mike the money he was owed but Mike was telling him that he was broke, and a cheque that Mike seems to have given him had bounced. At this time, Gray appears to be trying to help Mike to get paid his royalties for the diary, which is in his own interest so that he can get paid. 'As long as you get paid I get paid' he tells him (on 24 October). He also seems to be driving him around Liverpool and helping him out in general, offering, for example, to serve any legal documents which need to be served.


It's my belief that Gray surreptitiously recorded these conversations with Mike in order to prove what work he was doing for him and to get Mike on record confirming that he owned him money. I'm certain it had nothing to do with the diary, which Gray doesn't even ask about during the conversation on 16th August.


Towards the end of the conversation on 31st August, Gray asks Mike a few questions about how he forged the diary, telling him that as a detective it was in his nature to ask questions. I'll come back to some of Mike's answers later but it's clear at this point that Gray was asking out of curiosity. He had no actual role with respect to the diary at this time.


It's many weeks later, on 31 October, that this all changes when Mike felt let down by the fact that a journalist for the Independent newspaper had failed to attend a planned meeting whereby Mike had been hoping to arrange to sell his story about how he forged the diary. This followed a similar plan involving the News of the World which had also fallen through. Mike is at a low point. "I just want to get paid" he says to Gray.


Gray tells Mike that he needs "a proper plan". He says there's no point Mike telling his story to journalists in an attempt to interest them sufficiently into paying for it because they'll just print everything he tells them but not pay him. What Gray suggests is that he (Gray) meets with journalists on Mike's behalf and tells them what Mike will say about how the diary was forged, and what proof he will be able to provide, which the journalists won't be able to print because it hasn't come directly from Mike. As he puts it:


"It’s best having someone else say this. Because it’s not evidence when someone else says it.  If you say they’ve got it on tape.  If it’s the likes of me saying it, that was just Alan Gray talking."


By acting in this way, as a middle man, Gray believes he will be able to entice at least one newspaper into paying for an interview with Mike.


It is for this purpose - not to help Mike prove that he forged the diary - that Gray starts trying to extract from Mike what, if any, evidence exists to help him prove his story about how the diary was created and to then investigate whether that evidence stands up so that it can be provided to any journalist interested in paying for Mike's story.


There is no evidence on any tape I heard that Mike ever asked Gray to help him prove that he forged the diary, let alone that he actually hired him for this purpose. It's just another one of Keith's misunderstandings and wild flights of fancy which appear to be driven by his psychological refusal to accept the possibility that Mike could have been involved in the forgery.


THE KEY REVELATION


Without any further ado, let's come on to the big discovery from the tapes. It's on tape 13, dated 29th January 1995, which is, of course, 24 days after Mike swore his affidavit. Remember when you read the following that Caroline Morris-Brown has repeatedly told us, without providing a single example, that Mike at all times knew that his first meeting with Doreen Montgomery and Shirley Harrison occurred on 13th April 1992 and that he never forgot this date. Even if she thinks Mike was lying in the following passage, it's truly astonishing, for someone who had obviously listened to all the tapes long before they were made publicly available at the start of this year, that, until their release, she had never once revealed or mentioned what Mike said to Gray on 29th January 1995.


The context of the discussion is that Gray has told Mike that he will do everything he can to get Anne to visit him but, in return, he needs Mike to tell him the date he purchased the photograph album at Outhwaite & Litherland so that he can check the records. The following conversation occurs (being my best transcription of it):


MB: 1990.  13th April 1990…that’s when I first went down to London and met Doreen Montgomery and Shirley.


AG: On the 13th April?


MB: April. April 1990.


AG: 1990?


MB: It’s 1995 now isn’t it? Four years. It’s been going on four years hasn’t it?  I always get confused.


AG: But I thought it was 1991 when you went down to the auction.


MB: This is where I get confused.


AG: Yes.


MB:  Tony had the fall at the Christmas. That was the Christmas.  Is that 1990?


AG: That was 1990.  It was 1991 when Tony died.


MB: Yes, that’s right, so he had the fall in 1990.


AG: Yes.


MB: Okay, that was at the Christmas.  This is where I always get confused.  Come the January.  It was 1991, isn’t it?


AG: Yes.


MB: Right. So it’s the 13th April 1991 was the first time I met Doreen Montgomery and Shirley Harrison. 


AG: And that’s when you’d been to get the er -


MB: Previous to that, previous to that, six weeks previous.  So there you are, there’s your date, March.


AG: March.


MB: Six weeks previous. There’s your date.  I always get that 1990 - that’s where I always get confused.


AG: So what you’re saying is, it’s March 1990?


MB: No, no.  Tony had the fall in 1990.


AG: March 1991?


MB: 1991.


AG: So what you’re saying, Mike, is in March 1991 you went to Outhwaite & Litherland and got the stuff there…and you wrote the bloody diary in about 11 days you said, okay?


MB: Yes.


AG: Okay, alright Mike I’ll check that out.  In the meantime, I’ll see if I can get Anne to do anything.


That exchange alone justifies my repeated calls for the recordings to be made available.


What we can see (and hear), first of all, is that Mike seems to have been terribly confused over the dates of events. He first tells Gray that he went down to London with the diary on 13th April 1990. But Gray, who helped Mike prepare his affidavit of 5th January, is under the impression that it must have been on 13th April 1991.


Now, I've been saying until blue in the face that Gray must have believed that the diary first appeared in London with Mike in 1991, which is what the Liverpool Daily Post had reported in June1994. Given that he was the person who helped Mike prepare his affidavit and typed it up, had Mike ever said to him in a moment of clarity that the diary was forged in March 1992, Gray would surely have told him not to be so daft and that this was impossible.


I don't claim that Mike ever did say this to Gray, only that, with this wrong starting point in Gray's head, neither of them stood a chance of ensuring that the affidavit was accurate.


When I made the point that Gray must have believed that the diary came down to London in 1991, Caroline Morris-Brown countered with the argument that Gray would surely have known it was 1992 because this is what is stated in Shirley Harrison's book. We can now see and hear with our own ears that this was definitely not the case and that Gray must have missed this, having simply not appreciated that the diary was first brought to London in April 1992. What's more, Caroline Morris-Brown, who had undoubtedly heard this tape, must surely have known that Gray thought that the diary came down to London in 1991, so her failure to mention that this was his belief, which is crystal clear from the tape, is inexplicable.


We now know for a fact that Gray was mistaken about the chronology of events so that we have our explanation as to why Mike's affidavit wrongly said that the diary was created in 1990. Whether Gray had intended to type '1991' is uncertain. I've always thought he did but we can see that, only a few weeks after the affidavit, Mike still apparently has it in his mind that he brought the diary down to London in April 1990 so that, on this basis, he might well have told Gray in preparation for the affidavit that the diary was written in early 1990.


The most important information in the above exchange, however, is that once Gray and Mike managed to establish that Mike came down to London with the diary in April, Mike calculated that the photograph album was purchased in March.

Hallelujah!


Adjusting the chronology to correct the 13th April date as being 1992 not 1991, this shows that, as at 29th January 1995, Mike was plainly and indisputably saying that the photograph album was purchased (and the diary subsequently created) in March 1992, just as the Orsam Theory has always argued.


We know that Mike stated this explicitly when he addressed the audience of the Cloak & Dagger club in April 1999 (having said the same thing at the previous day's lunch). At that time, he had either worked out or been told that his meeting with Doreen and Shirley had occurred on 13th April 1992 so that he knew he had bought the photograph album in March 1992.


It is no longer sustainable for the diary defenders - and Caroline Morris-Brown in particular - to attack and undermine Mike's affidavit on the basis of the dating error of January 1990. As I've said many times, the sequence of events set out in Mike's affidavit, whereby the photograph album was purchased after receipt of the 1891 diary, only makes sense if the photograph album was purchased in March 1992, whereby it follows that the diary must have been created in March or early April 1992. That's what the affidavit was always saying, even if Alan Gray made a mess of the drafting due to his ignorance about the dates of events, and even if Mike himself was confused about the dates. That's what the tape recording demonstrates.


CHIEF DIARY DEFENDER SPIN AND MISINFORMATION


On 12 January 2024, the Chief Diary Defender, Caroline Morris-Brown evidently decided that, now the cat was out of the bag, she'd better to confess to having heard this crucial exchange. She surely can't have heard it for the first time when Jonathan Menges posted it on Casebook. She'd never mentioned it before, though, but now it was public she suddenly addressed it. Naturally, her way of doing so was to misrepresent what was on the recording while attempting to belittle it with misplaced sarcasm.


This was the main part of her post:


'Later the same month, Gray already knew this statement had at least one error: Tony Devereux did not die in 1990, but in 1991. He soon heard that another date was in question, when Mike told him he had obtained the scrapbook, not in January 1990 as he claimed in the affidavit [nor from the awesome auction held on 31st March 1992 - you could have knocked me down with a feather], but "six weeks previous" to his meeting with Doreen, on "13th April". Okay, so Mike got the year wrong on this occasion - he said both these memorable events took place in 1991, following Tony's fall at Christmas 1990 - but he was spot on as always with the actual date of the diary's London debut. As quick on the uptake as ever, Gray was able to work out in a flash that six weeks back from 13th April took them to March, except that the year would have been 1992.'


I have no idea why she felt the need to sarcastically say that Gray 'was able to work out in a flash' that six weeks back from 13th April takes one to March. All of a sudden her posts seem to be full of vitriol about Gray, presumably because she's annoyed that his mistakes are what has led to her making a fool of herself over these years. It's not even accurate because it was Mike who did the calculation and said 'March', which Gray merely repeated.


Showing her new hatred towards Gray, incidentally, she had already written in a somewhat bizarre post on 11 January 2024: "Listening to Stephen Bradshaw today, testifying at the Post Office Inquiry, I can understand why he was compared by some wag to a private investigator from the 1970s. He sounded to me very much like our very own Alan Gray from the early 1990s!". I think she got herself terribly confused here because it was Counsel for the Inquiry, Julian Blake (not 'some wag') who accused Bradshaw, during his questioning of him, of having used 'language you might see in a 1970s television detective show' during a PACE interview of a sub-postmistress. Blake said nothing about a private investigator and was obviously making the comparison with a 1970s television police detective.


Going back to her post of 12th January about the 1995 recording, I don't know what she means when she says that Mike was 'spot on as always with the actual date of the diary's London debut'. Is she seriously trying to claim that when he said 13th April 1990 that he was 'spot on'? And then, after Gray queried it and said that he must mean 1991, and he said, yes, it was 13th April 1991, that he was, again, 'spot on as always'? To me, I think this is as far away from spot on as it's possible to be, just two full years out in the first instance and one full year out in the second.


What does it matter if Mike remembered that it was 13th April, if he thought it was 1990 or 1991? It seems to me that it's kind of mad to say that Mike was showing that he was 'spot on as always'. The truth is that she's been caught out because her claim was that Mike was 'always' aware of the date he brought the diary to London. The evidence of the exchange on 29th January 1990 suggests otherwise. She is clearly just trying to put a brave face on what is a disaster for her, attempting to spin it beyond the bounds of reason, as if it supports what she'd always said, when it actually demonstrates the complete opposite.


Then, at the end of her post, she added this question:


Question for the weekend: why did Mike tell Gray that he had obtained the scrapbook six weeks before taking it to show Doreen?


[We both know it was only five weeks, don't we? ].


Her summary of the question isn't quite right. Nowhere did Mike expressly say that he had obtained the scrapbook six weeks before taking it to show Doreen. When he mumbled 'previous to that, six weeks previous' he might have been thinking (aloud) of the time he started to prepare for the forgery. Perhaps he contacted Pan Books or even Martin Earl in the week commencing 2nd March, which would have been six weeks earlier. Or perhaps he was thinking of the date he first contacted Doreen, but was a week out, so that he was simply trying to clarify the timeline of events in his mind to fix when he went to the auction. He certainly didn't say that he purchased the photograph album at an auction on 2nd March. He kept it vague, merely telling Gray that the date he wanted was March 1991 (which we now know to be a reference to March 1992). Nor did Gray take him to be saying that he purchased the photograph album at an auction in the first week of March because Gray's summary of what Mike had told him was:


So what you’re saying, Mike, is in March 1991 you went to Outhwaite & Litherland and got the stuff there…and you wrote the bloody diary in about 11 days you said, okay.


It was no more specific that 'March 1991' which, translated, means March 1992.


And what is it with her apparent surprise in the first sentence of her post that Gray had discovered the dating error in Mike's affidavit? I've been saying for donkey's years that Gray was aware of the 1990 mistake. Those who have followed all my articles, and have actually been concentrating, will already be aware of this, but here, once again, are the relevant manuscript corrections, almost certainly made by Gray, to Mike's affidavit. Firstly on page 2:


Then on page 3 (where there are only two manuscript corrections):

It's my belief that Gray made these amendments immediately after the affidavit was sworn and before his conversation with Mike on 29th January 1994 because the three changes of '1990' to '1991' appear to be corrections of typos. This would explain why the month of January (and, in the case of the first amendment, January/February) hasn't been corrected to March. By 29th January, as we now know, Gray believed that Mike went to the auction in March 1991, not January. The first image above shows that the other corrections to the affidavit are typos, not substantive changes to Mike's evidence (although it seems that Gray realized he made a mistake by including mention of 125 pages of photographs), so it may be that Gray wouldn't have thought it proper to change January to March because that hadn't been a typo. But I personally think it was a typo and he didn't yet know about the March dating when he made these amendments. In any event, we now know that within weeks of the affidavit, Mike was clarifying that he bought the photograph album in March, not January of the relevant year, so the focus by diary defenders ad nauseam on 'January 1990, January 1990, January 1990', which they keep repeating to comfort themselves that Mike's story had no basis in reality, is wholly misplaced.


For completeness, here are some further corrections on the next page including a correction to the date of Tony's death (and it seems to me from the recording that Gray was already aware that Tony had died in 1991 prior to speaking to Mike on 29th January 1994).


Once again, I've included the entire page to show that the other two amendments are both of typos.


The amendments on the other pages involve 'December 1993' being crossed out and replaced by 1994 (perhaps one change that may not look like the correction of a typo but it depends on what Gray intended to type), the spelling of 'Barratt' corrected to 'Barrett', the spelling of 'easey' corrected to 'easy' and a space added between two words where one had been omitted. Just basic corrections of typos, in other words, not likely to be changes made, or requested to be made, by Mike himself, but likely to be corrections by the typist on checking over a document which had likely been hurriedly prepared.


THE IMPORTANT SPEECH


Yet another reason why the recordings needed to be released is found on Tape 15 (which is dated 30 September 1996 by Gray at one point and 30 June 1996 at another, go figure!) in which Mike gives a speech about how the diary was created (reminiscent of the speech he gave three years later at the Cloak and Dagger event) which was designed to tempt Stanley Danger into paying for the rights to write Mike's biography. Here is my best transcription of that speech:


Nobody’s fathomed out and nobody ever will fathom out how the hell I done the ink. It was so easy it was untrue.  And when you find out you’ll have a bloody good laugh over it. You really will. Remember, no matter what material, material has molecules. And molecules can be made to be mixed. I won’t tell you how. It was so simple. It is so simple. So when you work that one out, let’s see if you can beat me to it.  Here’s a starter [indecipherable] Alan Gray. Over the years, over the years, I’ve been a professional writer. This can be corroborated by a chap called David Burness in Scotland, Dundee. I believe he’s working on the Sunday paper there, the Sunday Post if I’m not mistaken. I don’t know if he’s the editor or just working as a journalist now but when I was working for him he was the editor of Celebrity magazine. And if you want to get hold of any copies of Celebrity magazine, contact DC Thompson Company, Dundee office, or contact Mr David Burness. Pretty sure you’ll [be told] how well I’ve been writing. Over the years I’ve interviewed many, many big stars.  I’m talking about – and I’m going back years when they were in the limelight - Bonnie Langford, Bernard Manning, Stan Boardman, er, I’ve even gone out to a clairvoyant, Dorothy Wright, she was a big clairvoyant in Liverpool, well known, in fact I did a two page article on her, hit the headlines, hit the front pages quite a few times. Exclusives: Mick Miller, it was an exclusive on Stan Boardman. In fact, the reason I know all of Brookside, I’m going back years ago, but Simon O’Brien when they were all there, Phil Redmond, I done a big article on him, I done that for Chat magazine. I used to work for Chat magazine as well. And I done an awful lot of work oh, after Celebrity, like some magazines go, you know, work out, Celebrity folded. That was only after a period of 18 months. After 18 months I was one of their writers, their main writers, freelance by the way, I wasn’t employed by them, I was getting work accepted week in and week out by them. I was getting paid reasonable money for them. So therefore I had a word processor, therefore I was a writer and this was many years ago. Now if you go into the diary [he means Shirley's book] you find out that Shirley Harrison said Michael Barrett bought a word processor just before, to do the research. The pure fact of the matter is I was writing professionally for many, many years beforehand, I’ve even lectured on creative writing. I do know an awful lot about writing, motivation, and if you [are] a writer you’ll understand exactly what I’m saying, mannerisms when you’re writing about, characteristics.  I can talk about writing for hours and hours and hours on end. I enjoy writing. So I had this idea, do the big one Michael, especially after Celebrity folded, I thought to myself….we were in Garston at the time, 15 Lincoln Street, then we moved up to - Anne’s wife (sic), Anne’s dad (sic) died, we only had about £600 in the bank, I’m cutting a very long story short, Anne said can we buy a house, we bought a house in Goldie Street, I was in a bit of financial debt. So I come out with the big one.  I was worried financially, I thought, right, I’ve got to pay this mortgage one way or the other, I’ve been a writer all me life, I can’t work for Celebrity any more because Celebrity’s folded, I was doing a bit of work for Chat, I was doing mainly, most of me work then was working for Look-in magazine, children’s puzzles, word games, everything. I was doing okay, quite well. I was getting paid about £100 a week but it still wasn’t enough to cover all the income and the mortgage. So I come up with the big one…write that biggest story…and I looked at it from a writer’s point of view. Do something that everybody will believe, if you tell a lie big enough everybody’s gonna believe it, people, I’ve always worked on this philosophy, people believe what they want to believe, and that was the philosophy I worked on, on that diary.  That really was the philosophy I worked on, tell a lie big enough and you're going to get away with it, but I had to careful, I had to be careful about how I got the Victorian manuscript, I had to be careful about the ink, and I had to be careful about the [content]. I had to do that with three books.  I’ll give you names of the three books: "Murder, Mystery and Mayhem" by Richard Whittington-Egan, "The Poisoned Life of Florence Maybrick", that’s the second book, and Colin Wilson and Robert (sic) Odell, "The Diary of Jack the Ripper" (sic). They were the three main sources.  Oh there are a few others ones, Paul Harrison…Listen, I know that diary inside out and back to front, I know every mistake in it, I know every mistake in it, and there are a lot of mistakes…. mistakes in content.  I’ll give you an example, when I done Mary Kelly and I said “no heart no heart” I didn’t mean literally Mary Kelly’s heart was missing.  I meant Maybrick was talking and he was saying he had no heart, he had no heart, meaning he had no heart, he had no feelings. They all took it the wrong way and they all thought that Mary Kelly, I was lucky on that part, they all thought that Mary Kelly, because her heart was missing and everything. “Initial here and initial there will lead to the whoring mother, am I not clever leaving a very good clue, I left it there for all to see”. Blimey, I was anticipating…if you look at Stephen Knight it was there previous. Stephen Knight, it was there previous.  It was always there to see anyway.  But it wasn’t there to see when Mary Kelly was killed.  It was there to see in the Stephen Knight book. So you see, you can tell I know an awful lot about the diary of Jack the Ripper inside out.... I repeat…all of this so if it's going to be used on the internet or anything like that I'm not getting paid so I’m only giving out snippets. Snippets of information. Snippets of information is what I believe are going to make it very interesting.... [I'm going to take Alan Gray] and various other places for a couple of days in Liverpool, show him around, and everything.  I’m not doing that until I’ve got a contract. And I do emphasise until I've got a contract. Then I know you’re genuine. Then you know I’m genuine.  Once I give you it, by god you will get an international best seller on the market. I guarantee it.... I’m going to put my cards on the table. I can’t see how I can get nicked because for years now I’ve been saying I wrote it, I've hoaxed it, but nobody believes me...It’s a chance I have to take but I hope to god I won’t get nicked. Alan assures me that I won’t....So, as I say, these are all snippets.  All I can prove is I was a professional writer long beforehand which I think is very important. Nobody ever had me down as a professional writer. Nobody ever had me down. I even worked for Titbits magazine. So you can always dig up all of these articles…. I wrote a few snippets for the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, things like that.  Anything to make money off of writing..... When I did come out with the statement in the Daily Post I was telling the truth. That the diary was a forgery.  And I made a mistake. And I put me cards on the table. I was so pissed off with me…. I got broke and done it…. Because I got broke, and I mean literally because I got broke and done it, nobody believed me. So there you go…The whole point is I wrote a letter to Shirley Harrison.  I’ve told Doreen Montgomery a thousand times that I wrote the diary.... And Anne wrote it. Nobody believes me. They are all saying it’s impossible, I couldn't have possibly wrote the diary.  The plain fact of the matter is I did.  And I can prove it.


There's a lot to unpack here. Let's take it in order.


Firstly, Mike claimed to be able to astound Danger with how he 'done' the ink. His big secret, presumably, was that he put sugar in it, as he stated at the Cloak & Dagger event in 1999, and probably water too, as Melvin Harris said he was told had been added. In Mike's mind, I suspect that this is why he thought the experts were unable to say that it was a modern ink. He was no doubt wrong about this, although sugar and water might have affected the percentages of the other ingredients within the overall mixture, and Danger would have surely been disappointed with the information after paying up. But that's not the point. If Mike did put sugar (and water) in the ink he might well have thought that was significant. After the speech he did add: 'Once I tell you the ingredients then you are going to have to get samples to prove. You are going to find the ingredients I give you will match the exact ingredients will match the exact ingredients of the ink on the paper in the diary. How can I do that if I didn’t know?' but, again, I assume he just meant sugar and water when he spoke of 'exact ingredients'.


He then moved onto stronger ground with his big reveal about his work as 'a professional writer' on Celebrity, Chat and Look-In. This was both true and impressive. Not everything Mike said was a lie, clearly. He also said that he had written for Titbits and a few snippets for the Mirror, which was news to me. His statement, 'All I can prove is I was a professional writer long beforehand' is probably the truth because he was obviously unable prove that he had forged the diary with any solid documentary or other corroborative evidence.


Then we have Mike explaining once again that he couldn't afford the mortgage when he moved into the house in Goldie Street (in 1988) as his motive for wanting to write himself out of financial trouble. In this, he is certainly consistent, later saying the same thing in April 1999. An interesting sub-point here is how Mike was capable of confusing genders and family members, saying first that the move to Goldie Street was caused by the death of Anne's 'wife' which he immediately changed to father. Billy Graham had died in 1994 but his death had nothing to do with the move to Goldie Street which was a result of the death of Anne's stepmother (Billy's wife), Maggie. When he told the story in 1999 he first said Maggie was Billy's father before correcting himself to 'mother' but both those were wrong. It shows once again that Mike was capable of making the most basic of errors when he was telling the truth and that the fact that he slipped up in such circumstances is not evidence of him lying.


When it comes to Mike revealing the books he used to create the diary, we can see that Bernard Ryan's book was named as his key Maybrick source book. This matches what I found when I discovered that almost every single confirmed fact in the diary about Maybrick can be sourced to Ryan's book. It contrasts with the opinion of Melvin Harris who evidently thought that Morland was the key source used by the forger about Maybrick, saying in his 1997 'Guide Through the Labyrinth' article that, 'the most popular and easy to read book on the affair was Nigel Morland's 'THIS FRIENDLESS LADY'. List all the significant names and events associated with Maybrick in the Diary, and you'll find them there, in Morland's book.' But I found that there is an even closer connection with the diary in Ryan's book. If Mike wasn't the forger he managed to pick the right Maybrick book.


We can also see that Mike called 'Jack the Ripper: Summing Up and Verdict' by Wilson & Odell, 'The Diary of Jack the Ripper', something he also did in one of the earlier conversations with Gray before correcting himself on that occasion. These slips don't really have any meaning.


Paul Harrison's book was an important one for Mike to mention because it was only one of two books available at the time which contained the information about the 'tin matchbox empty', as reflected in the diary. It's also one of only two books from the pool of likely books available to him to mention that Stride wore a red rose, as also reflected in the diary. Mike also mentioned his reliance on Paul Harrison's book at the Cloak & Dagger event in 1999.


Mike's explanation of the meaning of 'no heart, no heart' matches precisely the answer he gave when he was asked about it at the Cloak & Dagger event in 1999.


Mike then made the point that the 'FM' or 'M' on the wall in the Kelly crime scene photograph (it's not clear whether he is talking about both initials or just one) had been visible since as early as Stephen Knight's (1976) Final Solution. It's certainly the case that this book contains a copy of MJK1. In an earlier recording, Mike said he spotted this from the Jack the Ripper A to Z so it's somewhat strange that he referred, on this occasion, to Knight's book, but he might have just been making the point that the photograph had been publicly available for many years, perhaps thinking that it made its very first public appearance in Final Solution. He doesn't say that he, himself, saw the initial(s) in Knight's book so it's not inconsistent with his other statements on the issue.


When Mike speaks of having made a mistake with his Liverpool Daily Post confession I think he meant because he then lost the opportunity of making more money from the diary and was cast out from the diary team, but that he did it because he was broke and felt everything was hopeless.


This is all more important evidence from Mike about the origins of the diary which would have been lost to history had the recordings not been released.


CHECKING A TRANSCRIPT


Transcripts are not easy to prepare accurately which is why it's much better to be able to listen to a recording than rely on someone's effort, especially when it's a diary defender involved in creating them.


On 1 December 2021, Caroline Morris posted this transcribed extract from the tape of 12 December 1994:



In my opinion, she made a few minor transcription errors in respect of the first part of the conversation which I've corrected in red below:


AG: What he [Melvin Harris] was saying to me was as soon as Mike comes out, it's in the best interest of everyone… to take a concise statement… and all the newspapers will [take it]… that we’ve got to do, Mike… and at the end of it we’ll go down together and swear it as an affidavit and that will be it, that’s all nailed down, right. It will take a few hours.

MB: Do you reckon I'll get nicked then?

AG: No, no you won't, because of this statement, it will be a safeguard to you is what Melvin tells me.

MB: Yeah, yeah.

AG:… Just stay as you have been and let the others get our money, and everyone [will] get our money. You know the saying, 'every dog has its day'...


But the most significant difference comes in the second part of the conversation. I'm pretty sure that it was Gray, not Mike, who said, "one of the things I'm really concentrating on is Melvin Harris...I think that's important, that I do get to see him", and Gray then continued to say that Harris impressed him with his honesty. We can hear Mike chipping in with comments such as 'yeah' throughout.


I can only think that it was assumed by Caroline Morris-Brown that Gray had already met Harris, so that this comment was attributed to Mike, but it sounds very much like Gray saying it to me. It's spoken with too much clarity for it to have been Mike. There are a few other small errors, so my transcription of it would be (with Mike's comments in parentheses):


AG: But as I say, one of the things I'm really concentrating on is Melvin Harris.  (Yes) I think that's important, that I do get to see him (yes).  Well, he did impress me by his honesty (yeah yeah), and you know Feldman's been onto him too and all that...(has he?). He never loses his cool. ….(….tell the bloody truth). You know what, when we get to write this affidavit…. we'll need a lot of detail of it you know….Then we'll sign it and swear it before a Commissioner for Oaths. That's what we'll do.


These may be small differences but they demonstrate why it we can't simply rely on the hearing and interpretation of a single person. It's another reason why it was important for the tapes to have been made available.


Given that this was the first time an affidavit was mentioned during any of the recorded conversations between Gray and Mike, we can conclude that nothing that was said by either Gray or Mike prior to 12th December 1994 was said with the preparation of an affidavit in mind. It's also noteworthy that there are no recordings from the period between 12th December 1994 and 5th January 1995 during which time that affidavit must have been drafted. (The recording labelled 2nd January 1995 has been labelled in error because it was recorded on 26th January 1995.) The absence of recordings from the crucial period when Gray and Mike must have been collaborating to draft Mike's affidavit is somewhat surprising but that's what we are dealing with.


CONCLUSION


What I've wanted to focus on in this article, in order to keep it to a manageable length, are the reasons why it was important for the recordings to be released. I hope this is clear from the above and that those who hold further material which can and should be released for public consumption will make this happen. Two recordings strike me, in particular, as important: the interview at Mike's home on 18th January 1995, and the one at Feldman's office on 20 July 1995. But any recording with Mike should be made available as soon as possible. There can't now be any reason for them not to be made available.


We've seen that there are some strong points in the recording in favour of Mike having forged the diary but it's also true to say that there are a number of instances where Mike was caught on tape lying about certain things to do with the diary and the watch. I am not avoiding these and will be discussing them in a separate article, in which I will also deal in more detail with what is found on the recordings. That will come soon, so watch this space.


LORD ORSAM 16 January 2024



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Guest
Jan 16
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Hi David


In already pitched down tape 6 (it was about 3 semitones in tuning fast sped up) I attempted to clean it a bit, although I have a better version cooking. It’s still quite awful but it might be of help to you


Cheers

Yabs


https://www.mediafire.com/file/zezdqwn9fh85467/tape+6+clean2.mp3/file

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Lord Orsam
Jan 16
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That's great, thanks!

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Guest
Jan 16
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

How can this statement by Gray be anything other than conclusive?


"So what you’re saying, Mike, is in March 1991 you went to Outhwaite & Litherland and got the stuff there…and you wrote the bloody diary in about 11 days you said, okay."


Elsewhere (at Camille Wolff's party) Barrett also referred to the diary being transferred into the photo album in 11 days in the unmistakable context that he was referring to after he called Doreen Montgomery (9 March 1992) and before he came to London (April 1992), so it is abundantly obvious that Barrett in the tape is also referring to events in 1992, even though he muddles it as 1991.


It's a slam dunk.


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Lord Orsam
Jan 16
Replying to

Yes, it certainly seems conclusive to me and supports what I've been saying since 2016, namely that Barrett's story has always been that he purchased the photograph album at auction and caused the text of the diary to be written into that album after his call with Doreen on 9th March 1992. It's the only possible interpretation of the narrative in his affidavit by which he said he only attended the O&L auction after receipt of the little red diary which we now know (but Barrett didn't at the time he swore his affividavit) was on 28th March 1992. The fact that he has always said that the diary was written in 11 days absolutely fits in with this sto…

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Guest
Jan 16

Just prior to the release of the recordings last month James Johnston suggested to me that he be allowed to attempt to improve their quality. This may have also included speed correction…If I had agreed to it. But since I recalled that one of the several reasons given in the now distant past for the very long delay in releasing the tapes was to give James time to improve the quality, while not presently knowing what if anything he’d actually done, I feared that if I had again allowed him this opportunity it might have meant, best case, another very long delay or worst case, we’d never, ever see their release. I had to seize upon the opportunity presented to…


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Lord Orsam
Jan 16
Replying to

Thank you Jonathan, this will be much appreciated.

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