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Just Fancy That! An Introduction to Diary Defending

'I begin by stating plainly that I believe the Diary is genuine'.

James Johnston, 13 December 2013 

'I haven't made any conclusions as to whether the Diary is genuinely the work of Maybrick or not - nor will I even begin to explore that possibility until the provenance has been proven beyond reasonable doubt'.

James Johnston, 10 January 2018 


Just fancy that! 

And, yes, the two James Johnstons mentioned here are the same person

He's the author of the error strewn diary defending essay, 'I've found something beneath the floorboards...', published in the 2017 book The Diary of Jack the Ripper: 25 Years of Mystery and a film maker based in Northern Ireland who has interviewed a number of Portus & Rhodes electricians and worked with fellow diary defender Keith Skinner to produce some sort of documentary on the diary which, for mysterious reasons unknown, never saw the light of day and doesn't look like ever seeing the light of day.

This guy...

The two contradictory statements cited above constitute classic diary defender gaslighting. Of course they don't want to admit to believing the diary is genuine (who would?) but sometimes they can't help themselves, and admit to it, before pretending they hadn't.

When James Johnston told us on 13 December 2013 what research he was going to do to try to get to the bottom of the Maybrick diary mystery, it was this:

'I believe that efforts to establish the provenience of the Maybrick journal should now be focused on the work conducted at Battlecrease Mansion from 1988-89 and the statements of the individuals involved.'  

Yes, of course, genius, the electricians would tell him where the diary came from!

There was no need for him to even consider the possibility that Mike Barrett was involved in forging the diary.  As he posted on 15 December 2015: 

'I do not believe that Mr. Barrett can offer any fresh insight as to the provenience of the Maybrick Diary. I am NOT going to waste time, money or resources in the pursuit of information which is not of value!'

The guy's mind was made up from the very start. He was only going to pursue one route of research.  Perhaps that's why we don't hear much from him these days.

Talking of which, on 10 January 2018 he told me on Casebook:

'This is an on-going area of investigation, and in the interests of objectivity I reserve judgement for the moment. Watch this space though.'

Did you see that?

"Watch this space", he said.

That was over six years ago.

Here is an actual photograph of me literally watching this space:

How long must I keep watching, James?


First published 20 March 2021, updated 21 May 2024

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But when you have the person who procured the artefact asserting that they faked it - with their partner - well, that's the end of that. Subsequent proof has to come from those proposing the extraordinary and unlikely notion that an obvious fake, one with zero provenance, which has been debunked by its own 'owner', which has been further debunked by Orsama bin Laden finding the ad for a blank-paged period-correct diary, and what do we have instead - indignant scoffing and smug ridicule.



I should have mentioned in my first post that it was also argued by some of the early diary researchers that Barrett was "desperate" to prove he faked the diary. Yet how desperate was he if walked it all back on the Bob Azurdia show when he had a large audience? From the Barrett/Gray tapes, that is, from what we've been given, it was clear that Barrett wanted to be paid for his confession. He directly states he had no intention of talking to Melvin Harris on anyone else unless it came with a paycheck. He was after cold, hard cash. The whole "narrative" the public was given --that Barrett was falsely confessing and couldn't come up with t…



For me the shocker is that Barrett confessed to the forgery, albeit he retracted and then confessed again, or something? Some people who have been involved in a public deception have never conceded the truth. Never! But Barrett has, compromising the already shaky provenance forever. By the way, I think I am in Keith's doco; I was being polite and ecumenical because I was so grateful to him for finding the critical source that proved it was Druitt after all.

Lord Orsam

Something else of interest which relates to my blog post is Caroline-Morris Brown posting today on JTR Forums: "I'm still waiting for someone to prove beyond doubt that the Barretts dunnit," But WHO is going to be able to obtain this proof?

The point I was making in my post was that James Johnston expressly disavowed any intention of speaking to the surviving Barretts. He's not going to be able to prove beyond doubt that that the Barretts dunnit by speaking to the electricians, is he? He's already made his mind up that they didn't do it.

Keith Skinner, who said he's 99% certain the diary was found in Battlecrease, is the same. Caroline Morris-Brown herself has said she's 100…

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