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  • Lord Orsam

Mistaken History

Updated: Apr 1

INTRODUCTION


In July 2023, Simon Wood published 'Secret History', a book which would have been better titled as 'Mistaken History':



I suspect that many people will be unaware that, far from being 'THE SEQUEL' to 'Deconstructing Jack', as represented on the book's cover, this book is actually the fourth edition of 'Deconstructing Jack'. It's virtually identical to the third edition of that book save for a newly written preface, a few minor amendments to the main text (some additions, some deletions) and the inclusion of one new and totally bizarre chapter about the crime scene photographs.


I haven't seen anyone mention this obvious fact online which may simply be because no one who purchased 'Deconstructing Jack', other than myself, went on to purchase 'Secret History'. In fact, having purchased all four editions, I've paid a total of just under £50 but that's only because I bought the third edition on Kindle. If I'd bought the paperback third edition, I'd have forked out nearly £60 for the entire set of the same book.


Simon Wood doesn't strike me as the most self-aware person in the world so I suspect he doesn't see the irony in the fact that on page 13 of this latest edition he tells us that 'rational people' who insist on believing in the existence of someone known as Jack the Ripper, 'waste their money - £10 to £20 a head - on guided pilgrimages through the streets of London's East End...'. I can't help thinking that this £10 to £20 spent on an interesting Ripper tour of the East End will provide more value than the £23 needed to pay for 'Secret History' (which, should anyone want to do so, can be purchased from Amazon here) especially for anyone who has already acquired 'Deconstructing Jack' and was unaware that they were buying a new edition of the same book.


According to Wood, at the very end of the preface to this new edition (page 16), '"Secret History" draws upon "Deconstructing Jack"'. Draws upon! Oh really? What a fantastic euphemism for 'being the fourth edition of'. The difference between the books, he says, is that he has 'stripped chapters featuring characters with no immediate influence upon the non-serial killer solution presented here'. Well it's true that a couple of the dullest and most irrelevant chapters have been unceremoniously ditched but I must have missed the 'non-serial killer solution' in its 715 pages. I was unable to find a solution to anything in the book. Wood also claims that he has 'corrected previous errors and omissions' but that is a false statement as we shall see. He also claims to have 'provided examples of faked photographic evidence', the one new thing in the book (but he hasn't proved any proof of fakery other than in his own mind), and to have 'finally arrived at a solution which is hard to argue with'. That rather desperate statement, attempting to justify the rationale behind the book, is wholly unsupported by its text. Like I say, there is no solution in the book, which is perhaps what Wood means when he says it's hard to argue with. How does one argue with a solution which doesn't exist?


One might ask at this point why Wood has called the fourth edition of his 'Deconstructing Jack' book 'Secret History' other than the obvious one being to sucker people into buying it. Well I rather suspect that he wanted to take the focus off of the identity of Jack the Ripper and his failure in the previous three editions to tell us who actually murdered all those women in 1888 if it wasn't the killer known as 'Jack the Ripper'. It will be recalled that my key criticism of Wood's book has been that, in saying as its central theme that 'Jack the Ripper didn't exist', Wood meant no more than that the name 'Jack the Ripper' was a journalistic invention, a point so trite as to barely be worth making. He doesn't seem to have the first clue as to who killed the women and why; although he hints at some kind of conspiracy which he can't explain or articulate.


Indeed, we find a defensive response in the preface on page 15 in which he says that, 'The main complaint about the book was that I failed to state categorically, who in the absence of Jack the ripper, had murdered these women; or to provide a non-serial killer scenario which explained their deaths'. Note the word 'categorically' in there, as if he had somehow provided the answer as to the killer's identity, or to the 'non-serial killer scenario' (whatever that is), in some kind of non-categoric way. There has never been any explanation by Wood as to who murdered the women and, despite him having told me on the Casebook Forum back in August 2017 that there were, 'Five murders, five different murderers', and that, 'there is a connection', one still doesn't find any kind of explanation of this, let alone how it could even be possible, in this edition. His claim that that there were five connected murders committed by five different murderers remains totally unexplained and I believe he just made it up on the spur of the moment while he was talking to me online without having a clue what he meant.


You may be wondering how Wood responds to the complaint about his book's failure to tell us who murdered the women. Well, he basically says we don't know! Then he rambles on a bit to lecture us that we need to stop 'subscribing to all the hallowed claptrap which clings like barnacles to the story of Jack the Ripper'. His own solution seems to be to introduce new claptrap into the story of Jack the Ripper, something he's done so far very successfully in all four editions of his book.


He still seems obsessed by the person (journalist) who came up with the name 'Jack the Ripper' and still confuses the moniker with the killer. On page 13, he says that the biggest questions of all are: 'who was his creator, what was the reason for his creation, and what exactly was the prize?'. If, however, a journalist devised the name, not the killer, it's not really one of the biggest questions at all as to who that journalist was, while the reason for the creation would be obvious: to sell more newspapers. We can see that Wood is still banging on about some kind of mythical 'prize' which he can't pinpoint or explain in over 700 pages.


To add insult to injury, eight years after the first edition of his book, Wood tells us on page 12 of the preface that, 'The Whitechapel murders were a mixture of different things, which are only now starting to unravel'. Perhaps the book has been written too early, then? Surely we need them to have already unravelled. The fact that they are only now starting to unravel is a somewhat depressing thing to be told at the start of a book of 715 pages.


Perhaps the biggest irony in the preface is a sentence that has been removed from it. In previous editions of the book, Wood told us that when it comes to 'Jack the Ripper', and specifically to Stephen Knight's 'Final Solution' book, 'Facts were obviously an encumbrance to commercial success'. This has now been removed although I rather doubt it's because Wood has appreciated that his own book has largely abandoned facts for fantasy. The irony that nearly forty years after Wood labelled Knight's book as 'elaborate balderdash', he publishes yet another edition of his own book full of elaborate balderdash cannot go unnoticed even if Wood himself misses it.


A HISTORY OF SECRET HISTORY


Before dealing with all the mistakes which can be found in Wood's book, I need to set out the relationship between his book and my responses to it so that the reader of this article can understand the rather complex interplay between the two.


The first edition of 'Deconstructing Jack' was published as a Kindle electronic edition in March 2015. My initial response came in the Suckered! Trilogy in May 2015 dealing with the reasons for Inspectors Andrews and Jarvis being in America in 1888 (and the fact that Superintendent Shore remained in London) followed by the Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy in September 2015 which explained the real reasons for the resignations of Warren and Monro from the Metropolitan Police. In November 2015, I published an article, 'Fred Jarvis and the Secret Cipher', in which I noted that Wood had been fooled in his book by a false report of Jarvis' death as well as providing new information about his wife and family. In the same month, in an article entitled 'The Missing Hour, Found', I corrected certain claims by Wood about a supposed 'missing hour' on the day of Mary Jane Kelly's death. November 2015 also saw publication of my article 'The Mysterious Doctor Gabe' which followed internet exchanges between Wood and myself in which, after initially denying that Dr Gabe had been a gynaecologist, Wood reversed himself and accepted the findings of my research that he was indeed a gynaecologist.


In December 2015, Wood published a paperback version of 'Deconstructing Jack' (albeit officially published in January 2016) in which he made a number of changes in response to my articles and used quite a lot of my research without any attribution or mention of me. I guess his pride couldn't bring himself to even acknowledge my existence. Naturally, I have not seen a single word of criticism of Wood for doing this by a single Ripperologist.


On 23 March 2016, I published my full critique of Wood's book in my article 'Reconstructing Jack'. To what must have been Wood's horror, I was quoted by David Allen, author of a piece about Wood's book in the Daily Bulletin which was published the very next day, entitled Jack the Ripper didn't exist, author asserts, as saying that Wood's book was 'elaborate balderdash':



Wood certainly read 'Reconstructing Jack' and, in response, he published the third edition of 'Deconstructing Jack' in June 2017 in which the main changes were in direct response to my articles, either being additions or deletions from the second edition on topics about which I'd written, not just in 'Reconstructing Jack' and the aforementioned articles but also in other articles such as 'The English Detective' in which I had revealed the discovery of a letter by the wife of Inspector Jarvis which was published in the New York World and which Wood also then reproduced in his third edition. Again, not a single mention of me by Wood or any explanation by him that he was correcting, adding and deleting things in response to my criticisms and research.


Responding to his third edition, I published 'Re-Reconstructing Jack' in June 2019 in which I pointed out a large number of further errors in the book. I was fully expecting Wood to correct all these mistakes in his fourth edition, now labelled 'Secret History', but the astonishing thing is that he's failed to do so. It's not even clear to me that he read the article, although he does seem to have made some changes in response to it. I deal in a separate blog post with Wood's borrowing from me. What I want to examine in this post are all the mistakes which remain uncorrected in the fourth edition for which, in many cases, there is really no excuse because I had already pointed them out. How any author can be happy to publish a book in which there are known factual errors, escapes me. How Wood can possibly justify it in a book on sale for over £23 I have no idea. I'm not talking about bad arguments (of which there are too many to mention) but actual factual errors and misunderstandings of the evidence which should not have been made.


It's a funny thing. In the case of Hallie Rubenhold's book, 'The Five', the world of Ripperology has been in uproar, with long threads devoted to pointing out all the mistakes she made in that book. With Simon Wood's four editions of his book, however, there has been almost total silence even though Wood's big point is that Jack the Ripper didn't even exist! While I've commented on most of Wood's mistakes before, I think it would be helpful to set them out (at least those that I've so far identified, there may well be many more) in one list. Showing how bad it could have been, I set out in a separate blog post the instances where Wood has modified his book in response to Lord Orsam or otherwise included information originally found by Lord Orsam.


Some people might be bored by this list, in which case feel free to skip it and move straight to the general analysis at the end, but, before you do, think how long it took me to compile it and would you really be able to live with yourself for making me waste my time by not reading it? If you are skipping, you are a monster, if you are sticking around, thank you.


THE MISTAKEN HISTORY


Mistake 1 - page 14


We don't have to wait long for the first mistake, or rather series of mistakes, as Wood says in the introduction that the Parnell Special Commission inquiry led to a shooting, two suspected London murders, an alleged suicide in Madrid, illegal Scotland Yard activity in North America and the sudden resignation of James Monro as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Every single one of those can be said to be wrong but the last two are most obviously false. There was no illegal Scotland Yard activity in North America, while the resignation of Monro had nothing to do with the Parnell Special Commission inquiry. As for the rest, the Parnell inquiry did not lead to the shooting of anyone (Wood is referring to a pub brawl that was irrelevant to the inquiry), the two 'suspected' murders were not murders (just natural deaths) and, while it could be said that the Parnell inquiry did lead to the suicide of Pigott, there was nothing 'alleged' about it.


Mistake 2 - page 25


The second mistake (a negligent one in this case) comes not far into the first chapter when Wood claims that James Monro resigned from his position as Assistant Commissioner of the C.I.D. on 31st August 1888 which, he is quick to point out, was the day of Polly Nichols' murder. You see, he resigned on the very day of the first Ripper murder! There must be a connection.


But, as Wood knows very well, Monro had handed in his resignation letter much earlier, on 17th August 1888, while he was officially off sick, and never went back to work after this. The date of 31st August, being the last day of the month, was nothing more than the formal date of the termination of his employment. An administrative date, in other words. The fact that Nichols happened to have been murdered in the early hours of the morning is nothing more than a coincidence.


The reason Wood knows this is that seven pages later, on page 32, in a lovely attempt to gaslight his readers, he tells us that Monro tendered his resignation on 17th August but now he wants us to know that this was a mere four days after the Act of Parliament establishing the Special Parnell Commission received its royal assent. So, you see, he wants it both ways. One minute Monro resigned a few days after the Special Commission was formally established, the next minute he resigned on the day of the first Ripper murder. Well he only resigned once!


Mistake 3 - page 33


Next, Wood claims that James Monro was reported in September 1888 to be 'head of the Detective Service'. He doesn't give a source reference as to which newspaper this was reported in and I am quite sure it isn't true. As already noted, Monro had resigned as head of the detective service in August 1888. He was not, therefore, in September 1888 the head of the detective service and would not have been reported as such. What he was reported as being (for example in the Globe and in the Echo of 5 September 1888) was head of a Secret Inquiry Department at the Home Office, which was something very different.


Some googling of the quote, 'head of the detective service', shows that it has been mentioned by a number of people online as applying to Monro in September 1888 without a single newspaper source ever being provided (e.g. in a Casebook article by Andrew Morrison) and the earliest mention I can find of it is in the highly unreliable 2002 book 'The Ripper and the Royals' by Mervyn Fairclough. There is no known newspaper reference and it's clear that it's a mistake which has been copied by Wood from a second hand source without checking. Monro was never reported to be the head of the detective service in September 1888 after his resignation from that very position.


Yet, from this unsourced claim, Wood tells us on the same page that Monro remaining the head of the detective service beyond the purview of Scotland Yard was a 'slight' on Sir Charles Warren.


It's all fantasy from the start.


Mistake 4 - page 33


Still on the same page, Wood claims that Monro was reportedly employed by the Home Secretary in September 1888 to get up the Times' case for the Special Commission. While it's true that the Star did claim this on 19 November 1888 (almost certainly based on the unfounded suspicions of the recently resigned Sir Charles Warren who had no actual knowledge of what Monro's secret work for the Home Office entailed), where Wood goes wrong is in saying that the Star was right because an internal Home Office document from 1910 records that in September 1888 Monro 'came over to the Home Office and continued from there to direct the secret Irish work'. As Wood must know, Monro directing the secret Irish work, which he certainly did, is something totally different from getting up the Times' case for the Special Commission. The Home Office document doesn't, in other words, provide any support for the proposition that Wood tells us has been proved by it.


Mistake 5 - pages 33-34


Wood describes the Jubilee Plot as 'an alleged 1887 attempt by Fenians to blow up Queen Victoria at Westminster'. He never seems to understand that the Jubilee Plot involved an actual confirmed (but failed) plot to cause an explosion at Windsor Castle in 1887. There was nothing 'alleged' about it.


Mistake 6 - page 40


According to Wood, who seems to think he has medical knowledge, if Sir Charles Warren had tendered his resignation in late summer 1888, which resignation was declined by the Home Secretary due to the outbreak of murders in Whitechapel (something which never actually happened, but Warren's biographer wrongly thought it had) then, 'it would appear to follow' that Annie Chapman's murder should have resulted in the immediate curtailment of Anderson's rest-cure in Zurich. But even if the Home Secretary had refused to accept Warren's resignation due to the Whitechapel murders - which, I repeat, did not happen - it does not appear to follow in any way that someone on sick leave due to issues with their throat should have been summoned back to work while still sick, because a sick person is of no use to anyone. This isn't just a bad argument, it is a mistake to say something appears to follow when it does not.


Mistake 7 - page 50


Wood disputes the official reason for the actual resignation of Sir Charles Warren, which, he says, was because he 'had contravened an 1870s Home Office gagging order' in writing an article for Murray's Magazine, by noting that Warren had written 'a similar article' for the Contemporary Review which had not result in his censure. Both statements are false. Warren did not resign because he had contravened an 1870s gagging order, it was because he refused to be bound by that gagging order in future, having had it drawn to his attention. Additionally, he had not written a similar article for the Contemporary Review. The article that he wrote for that publication while Commissioner was on the subject of dangerous dogs and bore no similarity to the controversial article he wrote regarding the policing of protests in London in which he criticised both the protestors and politicians, which was beyond his remit as Commissioner.


Mistake 8 - page 53


Wood compares the way that James Shaw was arrested on arrival in New York, having sailed over from England, with the way Francis Tumblety wasn't arrested when he arrived at New York, despite both being allegedly suspected in connection with the Whitechapel murders within ten days of each other, at least according to Wood. He notes that, unlike in the case of Shaw (where a cablegram was received by the New York Police from the Northallerton Police for his arrest), no cablegram from London's Metropolitan Police requesting Tumblety's arrest was received by the New York Police. Where he has gone wrong in comparing the two cases is that the reason for the cablegram requesting Shaw's arrest was because he was believed to have been the man who murdered Hannah Pennock in Northallerton. It had nothing to do with him being suspected of being Jack the Ripper. Wood doesn't even mention that it was a case of mistaken identity. That he was linked to the Jack the Ripper murders only happened in the newspapers after he was detained by the New York Police for Pennock's murder, for which he was innocent. In any case, the Northallerton police had exceeded their authority by sending the cablegram (which should have been sent by the Foreign Office) for which the chief of police of Northallerton was reprimanded by the Home Office. To all this, we may add that there is no good reason to think that Tumblety was suspected of being Jack the Ripper by the Metropolitan Police, it was just something floated by an American newspaper reporter who made clear that Scotland Yard 'could not hold him on suspicion of having been guilty of the Whitechapel crimes' indicating that they had nothing on him. The idea that the Met Police would or could ever have sent a cablegram to New York asking for Tumblety to be arrested for a crime for whi there was not a jot of evidence against him is another one of Wood's fantasies.


Mistake 9 - page 68


We are now in the second chapter and Wood claims that, in resigning his post as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in June 1890, and after the Home Secretary decided not to appoint Ruggles Brise as an Assistant Commissioner within the Met, James Monro 'appears to have been caught in a game of bait and switch'. It isn't true that Monro was caught in any kind of bait and switch game or appears to have been caught in such a game. What happened is that the Home Secretary only changed his mind about the appointment of Ruggles Brise after Monro resigned, at which time it would have been political suicide to continue with that appointment. It may be recalled that, in the first edition of his book, Wood had claimed that Monro had grounds to press a case for constructive dismissal but instead 'rolled over obediently' but that I then pointed out in part 4 of my Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy that there was no such legal concept as constructive dismissal in 1888. In response to this, Wood modified the text of his book to say that Monro had grounds to press a case for constructive dismissal had such a procedure been in place at the time but he keeps in his claim that Monro 'instead' rolled over obediently when the fact of the matter is that he had no other option. He had already resigned. Even if he felt he had been tricked into resigning (which he didn't) there was nothing he could have done about it. The entire point Wood is making has, therefore, become nonsensical and meaningless.


Mistake 10 - page 71


Wood claims that by June 1890 'the knives' had been out for the Commissioner for some time due to 'his' prosecution of aristocrats involved in illegal gambling which, says Wood, together with the Cleveland Street scandal, had earned him powerful enemies. But this is isn't true, and Wood doesn't identify a single powerful enemy of Monro's who had the knives out for him. Even if they had, it wouldn't have made any difference to anything that happened because Monro resigned on a point of principle which had nothing to do with any prosecutions that Scotland Yard had been engaged in during his term as Commissioner.


Mistake 11 - page 76


Wood claims without any evidence that the issues of police superannuation and police patronage which led to the resignation of Monro as Commissioner in 1890 were 'small beer' compared to other unidentified 'rumours' swirling around Whitehall. This is false. The issue of police superannuation was a massive one for Monro during his entire period of office and was the main reason he resigned. Not only that but it led to a literal rebellion within the Metropolitan Police, with officers refusing to go on duty until their demands were met. The issue could not have been bigger within the force. As for what Wood describes as 'police patronage', the issue was all about a single appointment of a close colleague of Henry Matthews to a senior role in Scotland Yard for which he was arguably unsuited, against the wishes the Commissioner. There was, in other words, an important point of principle here as to whether the Home Secretary could reasonably ignore and override the Commissioner when it came to a senior appointment within the Commissioner's own police force.


Mistake 12 - page 77


We are now into chapter 3 and Wood says a strange thing about Patrick Sheridan, the Irish-American nationalist, in the very first sentence. He says that he was a wanted man 'Dead or Alive'. What nonsense this is. Who wanted Sheridan dead? No one is the answer. The Times certainly wanted him alive in order for him to give evidence against Parnell at the Special Commission but there is no evidence that anyone, even the Fenians, wanted him dead. I think it's Wood being a drama queen.


Mistake 13 - page 77


Despite me having corrected him in England Sends Her Spies back in May 2015, Wood's error from his first edition in stating that Thomas Barton's crime was 'forging signatures on London and Northwestern Railway company stock certificates' remains in this edition. Barton did not forge signatures on any stock certificates. He forged signatures on paperwork relating to the transfers of stock certificates (including those of the London and North Western Railway Company). The real offence here is that Wood added into his second edition (p.73) a quote from the Home Secretary stating the correct factual position, and this quote remains in the latest edition (p.101). Does Wood not even read his own books?


Mistake 14 - page 86


Wood is wrong to say that the reason no Canadian official had arrived to collect Barnett by 19 November 1888 was 'because the Toronto police had not been informed of the outcome of his extradition hearing'. The mistake he has made is to fail to appreciate that the extradition proceedings had not yet been concluded as at 19 November 1888. Although Barnett had been committed to prison on 6 November 1888 to await his surrender to the Canadian authorities, by law he still had until 21 November to make a habeas corpus application which could have secured his release. As a result, the Toronto police would not have been summoned to England before this date in case they made a wasted journey. It is because the proceedings had not yet been concluded that no Canadian official had arrived to collect Barnett.


Mistake 15 - page 89


Wood falsely states that the extradition of Roland Barnett would have been a 'routine errand' which could have been handled by a lowly Detective Sergeant. He's just wrong about this. It needed to be handled by the officer who arrested Barnett and could give evidence in Toronto as to his arrest and appearance in London before a magistrate to confirm the legality of his extradition. That officer was Inspector Andrews. There was no one else. It was also a very important mission that needed to be entrusted to a competent senior officer. Anyone who has read the account of Andrews' journey across Canada in fear that an armed attempt could be made to rescue Barnett will know just how dangerous the 'errand' actually was. Wood has simply invented the idea that the extradition of a prisoner to a foreign country was a routine errand without knowing what he is talking about.


Mistake 16 - page 90


Wood says that, due to freezing rain, Inspector Andrews' train from Toronto which was due in Montreal at 8am on Wednesday, 19 December 1888, didn't arrive until 9.15am. Embarrassingly, Wood has confused his days. The train which arrived at 9.15 instead of 8am was one from Tuesday, 18 December, the day before. Andrews was not on that train.


Mistake 17 - pages 94-95


Wood says that the departure of Inspector Andrews from Montreal on 20 December was delayed by a snowstorm causing him to stay an extra night in that city but he's wrong about this. The snowstorm was over by 19 December and thus did not delay Andrews' departure.


Mistake 18 - page 96


It is stated as a fact by Wood that Inspector Andrews missed the return trip from Canada on the Sarnia but took passage on the Peruvian instead. However, this cannot be said to be a fact. Andrews almost certainly returned to England on the Sarnia.


Mistake 19 - page 97


Wood hints that Assistant Commissioner Robert Anderson provided Special Branch protection for Henri Le Caron to enable him to testify at the Special Commission. This is on the basis of an undated entry in a Special Branch ledger which refers to a letter from Le Caron thanking the Assistant Commissioner for protection. But it is a known fact that after having testified before the Special Commission, Le Caron, whose life was in real danger from Fenian assassins, was assigned two Special Branch detectives, McIntyre and Sweeney, to protect him. This is what Le Caron would have been thanking Anderson for in his letter.


Mistake 20 - page 103


We are now in chapter 4 and Wood falsely claims that Jarvis and the Pinkerton detective agency had 'no idea' what the fugitive Thomas Barton looked like. This isn't true because they had a detailed description of him.


Mistake 21 - page 104


Wood claims that Inspector Jarvis was free to travel around America since his arrival on 26 November 1888 failing to appreciate that he was there to track Thomas Barton and was sending regular reports to London about his mission, meaning that he wasn't free to travel around America unless it was in search of Barton.


Mistake 22 - page 105


Wood refers to a statement by the Pinkerton officers which appeared in the New York Times of 23 January 1889 as an 'entirely gratuitous disclaimer'. It was not. It was a response to press reports that Inspector Jarvis, Superintendent Shore and Pinkerton's Detective Agency were in cahoots, searching for evidence against Parnell for the London Times newspaper. There was nothing gratuitous in Pinkertons denying these false reports. On the contrary, it was entirely sensible for them to do so in the service of accuracy in order to set the record straight, however much Wood would prefer fiction to reality.


Mistake 23 - page 107


Wood says that from the time he set out for Canada on 7 December 1888, Inspector Jarvis had 'ample time to do what he was denying'. Even ignoring the fact that by this stage in the book Wood hasn't given any examples of Jarvis denying anything, he didn't have 'ample time' to travel to Kansas City or Colorado during December 1888 because he was fully engaged hunting Thomas Barton.


Mistake 24 - page 108


Wood says that only 'one thing is certain' about Inspector Jarvis' time in America which is that he was not looking for Francis Tumblety but, in fact, two things are certain: he was not looking for Francis Tumblety nor was he visiting Patrick Sheridan in Colorado.


Mistake 25 - page 108fn


Wood states that Edward Plant's father, William, despite having been identified in newspapers as 'Inspector Plant, of the Macclesfield Police' did not rise about the rank of sergeant and that his last appearance was at Crewe Police Court in January 1879 after which he retired. Embarrassingly, Wood is talking here about a different William Plant, a sergeant of the Crewe Police Force who, in fact, became Chief Inspector, then ultimately Superintendent of that force. Edward Plant's father, who didn't retire from the Macclesfield Police Force until June 1889, and was a serving officer at the time Edward went to America, had been appointed in 1860 to the unusual position of Silk Detective Inspector while working for the Macclesfield Police Force and (while he no longer occupied that position in 1888) could, thus, reasonably have been described as 'Inspector Plant'.


Mistake 26 - page 110


Wood says that the Times 'lost its case' before the Parnell Special Commission. That's not entirely true. There were 9 charges made by the Times in its articles against Irish Members of Parliament which were investigated by the Special Commission. In its final report, published on 13 February 1890, the Times won on three charges (charges 2, 4, 8), partially succeeded on four charges (charges 1, 6, 7, 9) and lost on two charges (charges 3, 5). Charge 3 was the one which included the allegation that Parnell had been insincere in denouncing the Phoenix Park murders based chiefly on a letter he was alleged to have written which was found to have been a forgery, so that was certainly the most famous charge which might have given the impression that the Times had lost its case. Parnell was also cleared of three specific charges against him, while Michael Davitt was not totally cleared of two specific charges against him (albeit partially cleared on one of those charges). All this allowed the Times to say in its editorial of 14 February 1890 that, 'we shall be surprised if, when the Report has been studied by the country, it will not be accepted as completely confirming the arguments we urged, at a momentous crisis, nearly three years ago'. It certainly didn't regard itself, in other words, as having lost its case.


Mistake 27 - page 120


Wood says that, under the name 'Johnstone', James Thomson and his wife had been sent by Robert Anderson to New York in November 1888 on a mission paid for by Joseph Soames. This is entirely false. Robert Anderson had nothing to do with it. Wood is confusing a mission, which might have been initiated by Anderson before he became Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, and paid for by the Home Office or the Metropolitan Police, for Thomson and his wife to go under cover to Boulogne to spy on General Millen in the summer of 1887, with a totally different mission initiated by Joseph Soames, and paid for by the Times newspaper, commencing in November 1888, for Thomson to negotiate with Millen to give evidence before the Special Commission.


Mistake 28 - page 120fn


Wood gives a source reference to the claim that the Thomsons had been paid £500 by Joseph Soames as Soames' testimony before the Special Commission on 14 February 1889 when, in fact, this was said by him during his testimony on 15 February 1889.


Mistake 29 - page 122


According to Wood, General Millen was found dead with a heart attack in April 1889, 'a few days before he was due to sail to England'. This is an invention on Wood's part to make the story of his death seem more suspicious. There is no evidence that Millen had made any plans to sail to England in April 1889. It's certainly not a claim made in by Christy Campbell in 'Fenian Fire'. Had there been any such plans they would have been mentioned by Campbell.


Mistake 30 - page 122


Wood claims that all of the resources of the Home Office, Scotland Yard and the Irish Office were at the disposal of the Times. Well he doesn't say this himself but includes, without any comment, a quote saying this by none other than Michael Davitt, one of the subjects of the Special Commission Inquiry, which means that he is adopting that quote as being the truth. It is not the truth. All of Scotland Yard's resources were most certainly not at the disposal of the Times during 1888 and 1889.


Mistake 31 - page 132


Wood claims that Jarvis' solicitors 'hedged their bets' when writing to Labouchere in advance of commencing libel proceedings against him in May 1890. He is wrong. He has misunderstood the meaning and purpose of the letter. Far from hedging their bets, Messrs Wonter & Sons, were pointing out to Labouchere that he had falsely alleged that their client had acted outside his authority, conducting business without the knowledge or authority of his superiors at Scotland Yard. In other words, Labouchere had defamed their client and would be liable for damages. That is what Jarvis' solicitors were saying to Labouchere as clear as day. Wood doesn't understand how the legal system works, so he is confused as to what was being said in the letter and somehow thinks that Wonters were hedging their bets against the interests of their client, which is a ludicrous conclusion.


Mistake 32 - page 133


Wood says that the message in Wontner & Sons' letter was 'unambiguous'. This would be correct had he not then gone on to say that the unambiguous message being sent was that, if Inspector Jarvis had actually travelled to Del Norte to see Sheridan, it was of his own volition. That, of course, was not the message being sent to Labouchere. The message being sent to Labouchere was the direct opposite, namely that Jarvis did not travel to Del Norte to see Sheridan so that Labouchere's allegation that he had so travelled was libellous, bearing in mind that it would mean that Jarvis would have been acting outside of his authority. That was the unambiguous message being sent by Jarvis' solicitors which neither Labouchere nor his solicitors would have failed to understand.


Mistake 33 - page 134


In the last sentence of chapter 4, Wood claims that after Inspector Jarvis commenced proceedings against Henry Labouchere in May 1890, it was then that 'the executioner's axe fell', by which he means the resignation of James Monro as Commissioner of the Metropolitan police in June. This is false. There was no executioner's axe. Monro's resignation was voluntary act which cannot be categorised as the axe of an executioner and it had nothing to do with the libel proceedings of Inspector Jarvis in any case.


Mistake 34 - page 137


We've now reached chapter 5 and, quoting some extracts from Hansard in which the Irish MP Timothy Healy was asking the Home Secretary about whether Inspector Jarvis had been in Colorado during December 1888, Wood claims that the Home Secretary was 'getting into an exasperated muddle' in saying that Jarvis did not go to Colorado. Not only is this wrong - there was no muddle - but his explanation for the statement is nonsensical because he claims that, 'Here again was another opportunity to inform parliament about Dr Francis Tumblety, the alleged Whitechapel murderer, having been in New York at the time'. Wood seems here to be fighting a battle against those who think that Tumblety was Jack the Ripper and that Inspector Andrews had been on his trail, but, even in that context, his statement makes no sense because the question being asked of the Home Secretary was specifically stated to be about the reason for Inspector Jarvis going to America. There was no opportunity in any possible response to that question to mention Tumblety, even if he had been a prime Jack the Ripper suspect in New York at the time.


Mistake 35 - page 139


In a passage heavily modified from the first edition due to my having explained to Wood why Jarvis settled his legal proceedings, Wood says that the idea that Labouchere at the eleventh hour realised the error of his ways and decided to settle out of court rather than face an embarrassing public-climb down - which is exactly what did happen - is 'easy to understand' (of course it is!) but he says that to think that this is what happened would be to 'ignore a lot of behind the scenes shenanigans'. This is quite wrong. There were no behind the scenes shenanigans relating to the settlement of the Jarvis v Labouchere legal proceedings other than Labouchere belatedly realizing that he didn't have a leg to stand on. In his second edition, Wood claimed these shenanigans were related to Parnell's divorce proceedings (until I explained to him in 'Reconstructing Jack' why this could not be the case), now he thinks they relate to the contents of a Home Office file which I discovered in 2015 and quoted from extensively in my article 'The Thomas Barton Affair'. However, that file details discussions involving the Home Office and Scotland Yard before the commencement of the Jarvis v Labouchere legal proceedings. It's not possible that a file of correspondence up to May 1890 could contain anything which affects the settlement of a legal action five months later in October 1890. Wood is, once again, confused.


Mistake 36 - page 140


Still discussing the Jarvis libel action, Wood says that Labouchere's allegation should have been 'the easiest thing in the world' for Scotland Yard to quash yet, he says, there is no record of anyone asking for or offering any documentary evidence that Jarvis could not have been in Kansas City or Del Norte between 20 and 25 December 1888. Apart from the fact that it would have been far from easy to prove such a negative when Inspector Jarvis had been in a distant country, not expecting to have to prove his whereabouts over this particular five day period - in truth, it would have been bloody difficult, and Wood doesn't explain what documents he is thinking about which could have proved Jarvis' location during this period - the fact of the matter is that Scotland Yard did provide documentary evidence that Jarvis wasn't in Kansas City or Del Norte at that time, in the form of the inspector's written reports from America about the search for Thomas Barton which were disclosed by Jarvis to Labouchere during the libel proceedings.


Mistake 37 - page 141


Wood says that the Home Office wanted a trial to establish whether or not Inspector Jarvis was telling the truth. This is purest nonsense which is based on the fact that the Home Office agreed to reimburse Jarvis' legal fees from police funds if his report was found to be correct and his conduct was found to be unexceptional. The Home Office didn't positively want a trial to establish this. They were simply saying that if Jarvis turned out to have been lying they wouldn't then pay his legal fees, which seems sensible.


Mistake 38 - pages 141-2


In Wood's mind, on 7 May 1890, the Home Secretary 'suddenly' realized that Jarvis was 'only bait'. This is another misreading of a legal letter by Wood. What the Home Secretary wrote in his letter of 7 May 1890 was that he didn't think that Labouchere's articles in Truth were libellous. The reason for this was that he believed that Labouchere had claimed in his articles that Jarvis had gone to Colorado with the knowledge and approval of his superiors at Scotland Yard, meaning that Jarvis himself wasn't being alleged to have done anything improper. It had nothing to do with Jarvis being bait, whatever that is supposed to mean. It was a technical legal point that the Home Secretary was addressing regarding the prospects of success of legal proceedings. Wontner & Sons, however, disagreed with this pessimistic view of the law, hence the Home Office did give permission for the proceedings to be commenced.


Mistake 39 - page 146


Wood claims that when writing in 1906 about the Jarvis v. Labouchere legal proceedings, Robert Anderson 'neglected' to mention that John Shore had reportedly been with Jarvis in Denver, Colorado. But there was no neglect. There was no need for Anderson to mention false American newspaper reports in his account of events and Wood doesn't establish that Anderson had even read those reports in 1888 let alone remembered them in 1906. In any case, Wood is confused. The report in the American newspapers, as cited by Wood himself (pages 104,108-9 & 113), was that Shore met Jarvis in Kansas City, not Denver, Colorado.


Mistake 40 - page 147


Carried away by the invective of the Irish Nationalists in 1910, Wood tells us that Anderson's 1910 revelations that he wrote some articles for the Times in 1887, before his appointment as Assistant Commissioner, 'give the lie' to Anderson's claim that he had nothing to do with the Times' case before the Special Commission. The two things are self-evidently different and, once again, Wood has confused himself by conflating two unrelated matters.


Mistake 41 - page 147


Returning to the subject of the Jarvis v. Labouchere libel proceedings, Wood says that, 'In the end' (whatever that means), 'there were more people who didn't want the Jarvis action to go ahead than were in favour of it.' This is pure fiction. Wood doesn't identify a single person who didn't want the Jarvis action to go ahead. He implies that James Monro was one of those people but Monro had literally insisted that Jarvis take legal action and demanded that the Home Office allow it (as noted by Wood himself on page 140). The proceedings were instituted at Monro's express direction (regardless of whether Jarvis wanted to do so or not).


Mistake 42 - page 147


Wood says, bizarrely, that if Labouchere's apology to Inspector Jarvis in October 1890 for having defamed him was true, so that his allegations were false, it would mean that Monro had done 'something wrong' and that (in somewhat of a contradiction of that claim) it would also mean that Monro's resignation in June 1890 was 'even more difficult to comprehend'. Apart from being a complete failure of logic and sense, I have explained to him on the Casebook Forum, and also In part 4 of my quadrilogy, that Labouchere's humiliating climbdown had nothing to do with Monro other than that it vindicated his decision to request permission from the Home Office for Jarvis to commence legal proceedings.


Mistake 43 - page 148


Wood says it is 'unlikely' that the matter of police pensions and superannuation was the cause of Monro's resignation but he doesn't explain why it is unlikely. He is, of course, wrong. It was the very reason why Monro decided to resign. Monro had long believed that a former Home Secretary had promised to improve police pensions and was absolutely hard-core obsessed that this promise be fulfilled. He would accept nothing less than the type of pension he wanted so that when the Home Secretary failed to provide it, he resigned on principle. That's what happened. It's a historical fact.


Mistake 44 - page 148


In respect of Monro's resignation, Wood says that, 'There are few facts at our disposal'. This is a grotesque distortion of the truth. There are plenty of facts at our disposal regarding Monro's resignation. We know exactly why he resigned. There is no mystery.


Mistake 45 - page 149


In Wood's mind it's 'feasible' that James Monro may have been out to topple Matthews. Well, that might have been true over the pensions issue, or even over the issue of the appointment of Ruggles- Brise, but Wood doesn't mean this because he goes on to say that Monro might have wanted to topple Matthews (and possibly Anderson too) 'by using Jarvis as a cat's paw to drag the matter before a civil court'. It's absolute nonsense. Monro's resignation (the reasons for which I've explained in detail in Part 4 of the Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy) had nothing to do with Jarvis's legal action which had only been commenced a few weeks earlier at Monro's express direction and had barely got started when Monro resigned as Commissioner over the issue of police pensions.


Mistake 46 - page 174


There's nothing of interest in chapter 6 so we move now to chapter 7, about the Sun's 1891 claim that Cutbush was the Ripper, in which we find Wood saying that, 'The Sun was attempting to press for an inquiry into the Whitechapel murders'. This is wrong and I refer as my source for confirmation of this to Wood himself who, only two pages earlier had told us that, 'The Sun wasn't asking for a public investigation into the Whitechapel murders'. The reason for Wood's schizophrenic confusion is that, in response to his claim in his third edition that the Sun did want an inquiry into the Whitechapel murders, I pointed out in my 2019 article 'Cutbush City Limits', as had also been pointed out to him on the Casebook Forum, that this wasn't true and that the inquiry the Sun was calling for was limited to whether Cutbush was the Whitechapel murderer, as it was alleging. Wood thus inserted a new sentence into his fourth edition admitting that the Sun wasn't asking for a public investigation into the Whitechapel murders, rather 'it was asking for an investigation into its own suspect and story'. But Wood's poor drafting skills mean he is now telling us in the same chapter both that the Sun wasn't asking for an investigation into the Whitechapel murders and that it was!


Mistake 47 - page 175


On the same theme, Wood tells us that the Sun newspaper 'intended to provoke an official inquiry into Scotland Yard's failure to catch Jack the Ripper'. Again, this shows a failure of Wood to properly read what the Sun was calling for which was simply an investigation to look at whether Cutbush was Jack the Ripper. There was no call for any inquiry into any failure by Scotland Yard. He has just imagined it.


Mistake 48 - page 185


We are now in Chapter 8 and Wood tells us that Montague Druitt 'appeared as counsel in a case at the Court of Appeal' on 27 November 1888. This is wrong. The case to which Wood is referring - James Druitt Jr v. Tom Ellison Gossling (sometimes referred to inaccurately as Hake v. Gosling) - was a registration appeal in the High Court, Queen's Bench Division, Divisional Court. This was not the Court of Appeal. It's a quite significant difference because if Druitt had appeared in an appeal case in the Court of Appeal it might have suggested that his law career was doing very well whereas appearing in a registration appeal (on behalf of a family member) in the Divisional Court was not quite so glittering.


Mistake 49 - page 192


Wood refers to an 1892 novel by Israel Zangwill called 'Children of the Ghetto' which features a character called Kosminski, a Polish Jew, of whom Wood, who has once again failed to read a document properly, says has 'no forename'. This is supposed to be just like the suspect Kosminski. But it's not true because Zangwill's character was called Bear Kosminski and thus did have a forename.


Mistake 50 - page 193


Bizarrely, Wood says that Zangwill's book 'explains convincingly' why Macnaghten had no trouble recalling the forenames of Druitt and Ostrog yet could not attach a forename to Kosminski. Apart from the fact that it doesn't explain it at all, let alone convincingly, he seems to have missed the fact that Macnaghten didn't include Druitt's forename in his report, referring to him only as 'M.J. Druitt', so we have no idea if he could recall his forename or not.


Mistake 51 - page 195


In a dreadfully mistaken piece of logic, Wood tells us that because Phillip Sugden in circa 2002 discovered from an examination of French archives that Ostrog had been in a Parisian jail during the period of the Ripper murders in 1888, the Home Office must also have known this in 1894. It doesn't follow at all but Wood says that the imaginary discovery must have 'proved something of an embarrassment at the Home Office'. It's Wood's logic which is embarrassing.


Mistake 52 - page 195


Still imagining without any evidence that the Home Office discovered that Ostrog had been in a Parisian jail during 1888, Wood claims that Scotland Yard might have wondered why £10 was paid to him out of police funds. They wouldn't have wondered that at all bearing in mind that it was Scotland Yard itself who paid him that £10 on the authority of the Home Office because he had been falsely imprisoned. It wouldn't have mattered if he was Jack the Ripper or not. He had been falsely imprisoned for a crime he hadn't committed. Regardless of whether it was the right thing to do or not, the point is that Scotland Yard wouldn't have wondered why the money had been paid. They knew why it had occurred.


Mistake 53 - page 195


Wood says that it is 'telling' that Macnaghten did not remove Ostrog from his memorandum in time for his unnamed appearance in Major Griffiths' 1898 book. But it's not telling for three reasons. Firstly, because Macnaghten didn't make any changes to his memorandum after 1894. Secondly because there is no reason to believe that Macnaghten knew at any time in his life that Ostrog had an alibi for the Whitechapel murders. Thirdly, even if Macnaghten had known that Ostrog had an alibi, it wouldn't have changed the historical fact that he had been a suspect in 1888.


Mistake 54 - page 196


In saying that Macnaghten's 1894 memorandum was 'a litany of lies' Wood confuses mistakes with falsehoods. He provides no evidence that Macnaghten knew that anything in his memorandum was untruthful when he wrote it (or at any time thereafter). For someone who makes plenty of mistakes himself - and we're already up to number 54 - it's odd that Wood doesn't seem to know the difference between a mistake and a lie.


Mistake 55 - pages 213-4


Wood's claim that, 'Nowhere to be found in Charles Sandell's 1981 article was the clincher "Kosminski was the suspect"...', is both nonsensical and false, as is his claim that, when summarizing Swanson as saying that 'he was a Polish Jewish immigrant called Kosminski' in his 1981 article, Sandell was imagining this because, 'No such thing had been written on the endpaper'. This really is the height of falsity because, in the context of Anderson's book, in which Anderson says that the killer was a Polish Jew, this is precisely what Swanson states on the endpaper of Anderson's book when identifying Kosminski as the suspect.


Mistake 56 - page 221


Wood's claim that Anderson's spelling of the name of the personal emissary of Tsar Nicholas II variously as 'Ratchkoyksy' and 'Ratchkosky' were 'both incorrect' is itself incorrect bearing in mind that any English spelling of this name is nothing more than a transliteration of the original Russian, so that there can't be a 'correct' English spelling of it.


Mistake 57 - page 246


It isn't correct that Pigott fled to Madrid 'while under twenty-four hour surveillance' by two officers from the Royal Ulster Constabulary as Wood claims. As I explained many years ago in the Quadrilogy Part 3, those two officers were assigned to protect Pigott, not keep him under surveillance.


Mistake 58 - page 246


Wood has kept in one of his most extraordinary mistakes - despite me having told him personally on the Forum that it is a mistake (without any opposition from him) - in saying that Pigott shot himself in the head in a Spanish hotel room, 'as two detectives were on their way from Scotland Yard to arrest him'. This is false. The two detectives in question only left England for Spain after news reached London of Pigott's suicide. They never had any intention of arresting Pigott who they knew was already dead. I told Wood this! The fact that he has amended his original claim, made in the first three editions, that Pigott shot himself as the two detectives 'arrived' from New York, to now saying that they were travelling, doesn't help him because I expressly told him in August 2017 that to change 'arrived' to 'travelled' would still be wrong because they hadn't left England, to which he replied 'Thanks', adding mysteriously that he knew I'd pick up on it. He seems to justify keeping this mistake in his book by adding a new footnote which sources it to John Alfred Cole, author of the 1984 book 'Prince of Spies', but, as even Wood himself summarizes it, Cole says something different, namely that, 'the two Scotland Yard detectives were in the Hotel des Embazdores when Pigott committed suicide'. How it's possible to justify a statement that two Scotland Yard detectives were in the process of travelling to Spain at the time of the suicide by reference to a book which states that those Scotland Yard detectives were not only in Spain but were actually in the hotel at the time of the suicide I have no idea. And Wood's summary of Cole's book isn't even accurate because Cole doesn't say that there were two Scotland Yard detectives involved, merely referring vaguely to 'Scotland Yard officers'. It doesn't even matter because Cole, who gives no source reference to his claim, was wrong, so why is Wood relying on inaccurate and unsourced secondary literature to support a claim in his own book which he knows is wrong?


Mistake 59 - page 246fn


Giving a reference to the Times of 12 March 1889, Wood says that the two Scotland Yard officers supposedly travelling to Madrid at the time Pigott committed suicide were Inspector Patrick Quinn and Sergeant Richard Owen. This is another mistake that he should have corrected (because I told him about it). The Times was wrong. The second officer was Constable Richard Lowe.


Mistake 60 - page 248


For some inexplicable reason, Wood pretends to be confused as to what the editor of the Times, George Buckle, meant when he said that Woulfe Flanagan had written only three articles in the Times 'and those not by any means the worst'. He seems to think that this can only be a reference to the three 'Behind the Scenes in America' articles which Robert Anderson confessed in 1910 to having written, but, as I've already explained in Part 1 of the Quadrilogy, Flanagan wrote the articles which appeared in the Times of 7,10 and 14 March 1887, which articles could certainly have been described as not the worst in the 'Parnellism and Crime' series.


Mistake 61 - page 252


Wood falsely states that a claim in House of Commons in 1910 by the Chief Secretary of Ireland, Augustine Birrell, that none of the papers 'bearing on the Parnell Commission' and 'connected with Dublin Castle or Scotland Yard' were in the hands of any public official connected with Dublin Castle or Scotland Yard contradicts a statement by Winston Churchill that Anderson retained documents which were the property of the public, but that was a different issue involving historic correspondence between Anderson and Le Caron while Le Caron was employed as a British spy in America which didn't fall into the category of documents 'bearing on the Parnell Commission'. Any correspondence relevant to Parnell and the work of inquiry would already have been turned over to the Commission during 1889.


Mistake 62 - page 263


Wood is demonstrably wrong to say that the Jubilee plot was 'an invention' and that this is implicit in the fact that James Monro did not receive a knighthood for having 'prevented the injury or death of his Sovereign Lady or the destruction of Westminster Abbey'. As I've already said, the Jubilee plot was a very real plot, for which convictions of the participants were secured, involving a plan to cause an explosion at Windsor Castle for which James Monro was awarded a CBE in recognition of his role in thwarting that plot and securing the convictions. Monro never once claimed to have prevented the injury or death of the Queen or the destruction of Westminster Abbey. Wood is confusing a fear that there might have been such an attempt on the day of the Jubilee with the prevention of an actual plot. But the plan to attack Windsor Castle in the year of the Jubilee was very real. The reason Monro didn’t receive a knighthood following his resignation is because he led and/or caused a (violent) police rebellion against the government in 1890.


Mistake 63, page 273


Wood claims that during correspondence between Sims and Littlechild in 1913, Sims 'cautiously asked Littlechild if he had ever heard of a "Dr. D". As my good friend Jonathan Hainsworth would point out, it isn't entirely certain that Sims asked such a question of Littlechild (and the word 'cautiously' is pure invention). While Littlechild does tell Sims that he had never heard of a 'Dr. D', it is a matter of inference that he was responding to a question asked of him by Sims. It's certainly possible that he was doing this but it can't be stated as a fact, in the way Wood does, especially as Sims had mentioned an insane doctor named 'D*****' in one of his Referee columns a few weeks before the date of Littlechild's letter which could, in theory, have been what prompted Littlechild's statement.


Mistake 64, page 313


After having initially been in the dark as to the purpose of the Curtis Bennett inquiry of July 1888, Wood should now understand what it was about because I explained it all, with multiple transcripts of relevant documents, in a thread commenced on 16 April 2017 entitled The Curtis Bennett Inquiry. Yet, oddly, his attempt to explain it in a new sentence in a footnote in the fourth edition (p.313, fn290) fails to describe it accurately. His claim that, 'Charges had been levelled against officers [at Scotland Yard] receiving bribes connected to clothing and building contracts' is false. There were no charges levelled against any officers at Scotland Yard. They were levelled against clerks in the Receiver's Department at Scotland Yard. Now, why, in a chapter entitled 'Blackmail', would Simon Wood want to give the false impression to his readers that there was an inquiry against police officers for accepting bribes? It's a mystery. We may also note that Wood has mis-dated a newspaper report which mentions the existence of the Curtis Bennett inquiry; it should be 15 July 1888 but Wood has dated it 15 June 1888.


Mistake 65, page 318


After a series of dull chapters involving Dutton, Pedachenko and the issue of police allegedly blackmailing prostitutes which Wood fails to link to the Ripper murders, we reach chapter 15 about Leather Apron. Wood mistakenly tells us that the name of 'Leather Apron' 'made its debut' in both the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent and the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette of 1 September 1888. Wood seems to have missed the fact that this story is attributed to a Star reporter which means it must have made its debut in a late (and no longer extant) edition of the Star on 31 August 1888.


Mistake 66, page 357


Wood still bizarrely misunderstands a comment by Lincoln Springfield that Harry Dam, being an American, was not 'cowed by the English libel laws' as being that Dam wasn't subject to the laws of libel which is why he tells us that being an American citizen 'was no defense'. Springfield wasn't saying that being American was a defence to libel, simply that Dam wasn't scared by the libel laws.


Mistake 67, page 359


Continuing to misunderstand the English libel laws, Wood claims that, 'Libel requires a person to be uniquely recognizable and identifiable as the object of a libellous publication'. It does not. As I explained in Re-Reconstrucing Jack back in 2019, the concept of ‘uniquely recognizable and identifiable’ does not exist in libel law in the England and never has done. In English law at the time, defamatory words ‘must refer to some ascertained or ascertainable person’ (Odgers,1887, p. 127) but that’s as far as it went. This means that, contrary to Wood's understanding, Pizer could have successfully sued for libel if readers of any newspaper making false and defamatory allegations about Leather Apron reasonably believed they were allegations about him (Pizer).


Mistake 68, page 365


As part of his ludicrous argument that the police deliberately didn't arrest Pizer when they could have done, Wood wrongly claims that the Jewish New Year started at sunset on Thursday 6 September 1888 (and that Sergeant Thick knew that Pizer would be at his stepmother's house on that day even though there was nothing in Jewish custom which said that families should be together on the New Year and thus no reason for Pizer to have been at his stepmother's house). The Jewish New year in 1888 actually started at sunset on Wednesday, 5 September. Wood's assumption, therefore, that the reason Pizer visited his stepmother's house on 6 September was to commemorate the start of the New Year is wrong and his entire daft argument on this point fails.


Mistake 69, page 386


In the nutzoid section in chapter 17 about Edward Stanley not existing, Wood claims that, 'going from all the available information' Stanley would have been ineligible to volunteer with the 2nd Brigade, Southern Division, Royal Artillery. This is the direct opposite of the truth. All available information suggests that Stanley could have been eligible.


Mistake 70, page 387


Another mistake made in the section about Stanley not existing is when Wood says that 'from all accounts' Stanley had been a long-time resident of Middlesex when there is only a single account which said that he had 'mainly' (but not exclusively) resided at a lodging house in Middlesex Street for about twelve years, thus defeating Wood's attempt to show that he had been a permanent resident in that county during that entire period.


Mistake 71, page 388


Wood blatantly misquotes the 1853 Militia Regulations. This is how he transcribes them:


“Volunteers who, after enrollment, desire to change their place of residence, may do so upon notifying their wish to the Adjutant of the regiment in which they are enrolled in every case of a volunteer removing any considerable distance beyond the border of the county, he should be transferred to the Militia regiment of the county in which he resides.”


What they actually say is:


“Volunteers who, after enrolment, desire to change their place of residence, may do so upon notifying their wish to the Adjutant of the regiment in which they are enrolled; and, if they wish to reside in another county, may, provided the Colonels of both regiments consent, by a certificate from the Commanding Officer and Adjutant, be transferred for the remainder of their service to the Militia regiment of the county in which they propose to reside. It is very desirable that in every case of a volunteer removing any considerable distance beyond the border of the county, he should be transferred to the Militia regiment of the county in which he resides.”


Here is the proof:



This totally changes the meaning. From something optional, but desirable, Wood pretends that it was mandatory for a volunteer of a county Militia regiment to be transferred to a different regiment if they lived a considerable distance from that county, the implication being that Edward Stanley could not possibly have remained in the Hampshire Militia while living in London. The real offence is that Wood must know that he has omitted words from the sentence because in previous editions the omission was indicated with ellipsis, as below:


“Volunteers who, after enrollment, desire to change their place of residence, may do so upon notifying their wish to the Adjutant of the regiment in which they are enrolled . . . in every case of a volunteer removing any considerable distance beyond the border of the county, he should be transferred to the Militia regiment of the county in which he resides.”


Why Wood has decided to remove the ellipsis in his latest edition is anyone's guess but the reason can't be good.


Mistake 72, page 393


While blathering on pointlessly with his batty theory that Edward Stanley was really Member of Parliament and toff Colonel Hughes-Hallett in disguise (who had supposedly lived mainly in a run-down lodging house in Whitechapel for the past 12 years, receiving his medical treatment at the Whitechapel Infirmary) Wood says that, 'The dual-identity witness, usually the stuff of ingeniously-plotted Agatha Christie novels, is not as preposterous as it might first appear'. Wood is wrong. It is.


Mistake 73, page 425


Wood confuses a house-to-house visitation with a house-to-house search - two different things - when saying, on the basis of a newspaper report dated 4 October 1888 referring to a house-to-house visitation by a large force of police to leave handbills which had taken place the previous day, that: 'From this it would appear that Henry Matthews...sanctioned the house-to-house search partly to appease public opinion'. What Wood is suggesting was impossible because the Commissioner had only requested authority to conduct searches of houses on 3 October, with the Home Secretary replying (saying that he could do so with the consent of the owners but not otherwise because such searches would be illegal) on 4 October. The 'house-to-house visitation' referred to in the newspaper report had taken place on 3 October and had nothing to do the possible future consensual searches being referred to by the Home Secretary the next day.


Mistake 74, page 445


Did the Home Secretary, Henry Matthews, have 'a long conference' with Sir Charles Warren and James Monro on 3 October 1888, as Wood claims? No, of course he didn't. He had a conference with Warren on 3 October and a separate one with Monro on 4 October. The three men were never in the same room during this period.


Mistake 75, page 483


In claiming that Dr Blackwell estimated the time of Elizabeth Stride's death as being between 12.46 and 12.56am on 30 September 1888, Wood has misunderstood the doctor's evidence. What Blackwell actually said was that, when he arrived at 1.16am, Stride could not have been murdered more than twenty minutes to half an hour before his arrival. He did not say, as Wood thinks, that she was murdered between twenty minutes and half an hour before his arrival. Hence, Blackwell's estimate did not in any way exclude the murder having occurred after12.56am (i.e. at or shortly before1.00am), consistent with all the other evidence.


Mistake 76, page 490


It isn't true to say, as Wood does, that the man seen by Israel Schwartz attacking Elizabeth Stride at 12.45am was 'discounted' by Chief Inspector Swanson in favour of her being murdered by another man at 1am. He did absolutely no such thing. On the contrary, in his report, he stated that the man seen by Schwartz was more likely to have been the murderer than the man seen by PC Smith talking to a woman wearing a red rose in Berner Street. All Swanson went on to say was that it was 'not clearly proved' that this man was the murderer of Stride.


Mistake 77, page 542


Wood has stubbornly kept in his book the notion that because Joseph Jones and his son made a number of witness appearances at the Old Bailey between 1880 and 1889 this somehow indicates that Jones was not 'a shady character'. It does no such thing. Jones made repeated appearances at the Old Bailey due to his having repeatedly accepted stolen items in pawn, and having to give evidence about this. Readers with long memories will recall that in the first two editions of his book Wood claimed that the reason why Jones wasn't a shady character was because he and his son had made 'a number of expert witness appearances at the Old Bailey'. After I pointed out his mistake to him on the Casebook Forum, he admitted his error but has now simply substituted 'expert witness appearances' for 'witness appearances' without considering whether the point now makes any sense (it doesn't).


Mistake 78, page 543


Another mistake that I already challenged Wood about directly on the Forum in February 2016 (in thread Pawn tickets in Mitre Square) relates to his claim that Eddowes' acceptance of a (free) pawn ticket for a flannel shirt which would have cost her ten and a half pence to redeem 'does not make a great deal of sense, fiscal or otherwise'. As I told Wood personally seven years ago, he is wrong because it makes perfect sense to accept a free pawn ticket for an item of clothing almost certainly worth a lot more than the cost of redeeming it. This is true regardless of whether or not the shirt would have fitted John Kelly (and Kelly's story was that the woman who gave Eddowes the ticket thought that it 'may' fit him).


Mistake 79, page 564


At the end of chapter 21, Wood claims that one of the two pawn tickets carried by Eddowes 'misidentified' her and he asks why she should have been carrying a ticket which misidentified her. Even though I explained to Wood on the Casebook Forum in February 2016 (in thread Pawn tickets in Mitre Square) that the law allowed a market in secondary pawn tickets, because the person whose name was on the ticket did not need to be the person who redeemed it, which means that many people in the 1880s would have been carrying around pawn tickets in someone else's name (not to mention those who gave false names to the pawnbroker) - there was no mystery about it - Wood still seems to be confused and thinks that a pawn ticket was used as some kind of form of identification.


Mistake 80, page 569


We are now in chapter 22 and Wood gets confused about the chronology of events surrounding the resignation of Sir Charles Warren. Even though Warren himself stated (in an interview with the New York Herald published on 13 November 1888) that he didn't hand in his resignation letter until after Henry Matthews told the House of Commons during the evening of 8 November 1888 that he had requested Warren to comply with the rules in future, Wood frets that Matthews' request 'does not sound like the acceptance of a resignation' and points out that Matthews made no reference to Warren's resignation in his 8 November comments. That is because of the way time works in a linear fashion. If Warren didn't hand in his resignation until after Matthews' comments, it means that he hadn't yet tendered his resigned at the time Matthews made those comments, which is why Matthews' comments didn't sound like an acceptance of that (non-existent) resignation.


Mistake 81, page 569


Wood's confusion about the way time works continues on the same page when he says that on the morning of the Millers Court murder - the day after Matthews' comments in the House - 'there was no hint of Charles Warren's offer of resignation having been accepted'. This is even worse confusion because there is no doubt that Warren's offer of resignation wasn't accepted by the Home Secretary until 10 November (in a letter of that date). Once again, the movement of time in one unbendingly forward direction means that Matthews couldn't have hinted that he had accepted Warren's offer of resignation a full 24 hours before he had actually accepted it.


Mistake 82, page 575


After Wood's surprise at impossible things not happening, he tells us that something which was perfectly possible could not have happened. Hence he says that, due to road closures in the City of London on Lord Mayor's Day, it would have been 'impossible' for Inspector Abberline and his fellow detectives to have arrived at Millers Court at about 11.30am that day from Scotland Yard. Wood, in truth, has no idea what would have been possible for a police officer who would have been allowed through police cordons but the point of this statement is immediately negated by Wood's next sentence in which he admits that Abberline didn't need to negotiate road closures through the City because he was based in the East End at this time. In fact, he added this sentence to the 3rd edition of his book in response to my comment in Reconstructing Jack (March 2016) that:


'Wood tells us that it would have been impossible for Abberline to have arrived from Scotland Yard so quickly due to the Lord Mayor's Day road closures (p.521). This is very strange because in his May 2006 article in Ripperologist 67, 'Return to Millers Court', Wood said that Abberline was probably based at Leman Street at the time. In this respect, Neil R. A. Bell notes in his book, Capturing Jack the Ripper: In the Boots of a Bobby in Victorian London, that Abberline had been moved back from Scotland Yard to Whitechapel to work with Local Inspector Reid during the period of the murders. Consequently, Abberline would indeed have been based at a police station only a few minutes walk from Dorset Street.'


Wood has, therefore, seen the light, meaning that there is no need for him to tell us, inaccurately, in the latest edition, that it would have been impossible for Abberline to have reached Millers Court from Scotland Yard. But his poor editing skills, aligned with his stubbornness, means that the redundant and wrong sentence remains.


Mistake 83, page 576


Wood claims that a statement in the Times of 10 November 1888 that Superintendent Arnold caused a telegram to be sent direct to Sir Charles Warren informing him of what had happened in Millers Court was 'not true'. No explanation for this strange claim is provided in his book other than that Arnold did not arrive at Millers Court until 1.30pm. Well the Times didn't say exactly when Arnold sent his telegram and it didn't need to be the first telegram sent to Sir Charles Warren that day. So it was perfectly possible that Arnold caused a telegram to be sent to Warren following his arrival at Millers Court to inform him that entry had been effected into the room and Wood is in no position to say that the Times' claim was not true. That's not to say that the Times might not have got its chronology of events wrong but that wasn't what Wood was saying.


Mistake 84, page 576


In one of the Home Office files is a summary of the content of a memo written by Sir Charles Warren to Godfrey Lushington which says: "Mutilated dead body of woman reported to be found this morning inside room of house in Dorset Street, Spitalfields. Information just received (12.30) 9.11.88". This summary was prepared by a Home Office official and the comment 'Information just received', with the time of 12.30, is a record of the time that the memo was received by the Home Office, not the time that Warren had received the information about the discovery of the mutilated dead body. Wood, however, inaccurately describes this summary as 'Memo from Sir Charles Warren to Godfrey Lushington, Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office'. In his first edition, this caused him to believe that Warren wasn't told about the murder until 12.30 about which I corrected him in 'The Missing Hour, Found' published in November 2015. Following that article, as I explained in 'Reconstructing Jack', Wood deleted a sentence from his 2nd edition in which he had previously said that news of the murder had not reached Warren until 12.30pm although, despite this deletion, he still seemed to think it had not, referring to a time of 90 minutes after 11am (i.e. 12.30pm) as the time of receipt of the news, a mistake which was corrected in his third edition. As he still mistakenly seems to think that the Home Office summary was written by Warren, an error remains in his latest edition about the timing, as we shall see in the next entry for Mistake 85.


Mistake 85, page 578


Having confused himself into thinking that the Home Office summary of Warren's memo was a 'memo' from Warren himself, Wood asks why, if news of the murder was known at Scotland Yard a few minutes after 11am (as Anderson told a reporter), 'was Warren's memo to the Home Office timed at 12.30pm?'. But Warren's 'memo' wasn't timed at 12.30. That was the time the Home Office received Warren's memo.


Mistake 86, page 578


Wood claims that after having been informed of the murder at Millers Court, Warren 'immediately informed Charles Beilby Stuart-Wortley, Parliamentary Under Secrtary of State at the Home Office, repeating the scant information sent to Lushington...'. This is wrong. Warren wrote immediately to Lushington with the news of the murder. He never wrote to Stuart-Wortley. This error follows on from Wood's mistaken belief that the Home Office summary of his memo to Lushington was actually Warren writing to Lushington, so that he has concluded that Warren's actual memo to Lushington must have been written to Stuart-Wortely. I assume he did so because Wortley made a note (after having seen Warren's letter to Lushington) that he had asked Warren by telephone to inform the Home Office of any further information on the case. It really is a sorry state of affairs on Wood's part.


Mistake 87, page 580


Wood dismisses an account in Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper of 11 November 1888 which says that, on his arrival, Superintendent Arnold 'caused a telegram to be sent to Scotland Yard announcing what had happened'. The reason Wood says this can't be true is because 'Scotland Yard already knew what had happened' as Arnold was with Anderson when the news of the murder was received a few minutes after 11am. But any telegram sent by Arnold to Scotland Yard would have been to let his superiors know that the door to13 Millers Court had been forced open and entry effected to the room (see the above entry for Mistake 83). This only happened after Arnold's arrival at 1.30pm and it makes sense for Arnold to then have telegrammed the news of what had happened to Scotland Yard.


Mistake 88, page 586


On the basis that it was easy to reach through the broken window of Kelly's room and move back the catch, Wood says that, 'There was no good reason to break down the door'. But if no one actually knew that it was easy to reach through the broken window and move back the catch (and one imagines that Kelly would not have wanted to broadcast to the world how easy it was to enter her room during her lifetime so that this method of entry was probably a secret between her and Barnett) there obviously was good reason to break down the door because it was the only way to sensibly enter the room.


Mistake 89, page 590


In his previous editions, Wood claimed that Dr Dukes 'was the first doctor to reach Millers Court'. I challenged him on this, so he now tells us that, 'It is generally agreed that Dr William Profit Dukes was the first doctor reach Millers Court'. But even this is not true. In what way is it generally agreed? Even if it was (which it isn't) what difference would it make, if there is no evidence that he was, in fact, the first doctor to arrive? And to be clear, there is no evidence of this.


Mistake 90, page 590


Wood then says that Dr Dukes 'left following the arrival of Dr Phillips'. This is false. Dr Phillips, as his evidence at the inquest made clear, arrived at 11.15am, long before the door to 13 Millers Court was forced open, and according to the evidence of Beck, was the first to enter the room. We know that Dr Dukes entered the room with the other doctors so it's simply impossible for Dukes to have left following Dr Phillips' arrival.


Mistake 91, page 595


Wood claims that there 'appears to have been no valid reason for Gabe's appearance at Millers Court'. As a locally based gynaecologist who, being the medical officer at the London Dispensary just around the corner from Dorset Street, might have treated Kelly during her lifetime, it cannot be said that there appears to be no valid reason for Gabe's appearance when there appear to have been at least two. The odd thing, however, about Wood's approach in this edition is that he factors in that there is 'understandable doubt cast upon the story of the little boy'. In previous editions he was saying that it was the existence of the little boy which must have been the reason for Gabe's appearance. If the little boy didn't exist, as Wood now seems to admit, why does he think Gabe was there? And what would it even matter if he was there for no good reason?


Mistake 92, page 601


According to Wood, it should have been possible for Coroner Macdonald to quickly determine that 'the victim identified as Mary Jane Kelly' had died prior to the time Mrs. Maxwell claimed to have spoken to her. This is false. The ability to do this did not exist. See The Temperature of Death (2023) by David Barrat.


Mistake 93, page 604


With reference to a claim by the Observer of 18 November 1888 that, 'According to one report published on Friday it seems that the assassin cut the woman's heart out and carried it away...' , Wood says that, 'The only known possible source for this assertion is a leak from Dr Thomas Bond’s 10th November internal report'. This is false. Any of the medical men present at Miller’s Court could have informed a member of the press that the assassin cut the woman’s heart out and carried it away. Has Wood become confused by the fact that the Observer's report of 18 November said “According to one report published on Friday….'? Does he think that is supposed to be a reference to Bond’s report? It obviously means a newspaper report published on Friday, 16 November 1888. While this report doesn't seem to have survived, we do seem to find mention of it in the next day's Dundee Evening Telegraph of Saturday 17 November 1888 (which said 'The uterus, it seems, too, is not missing, as was once stated, but the heart is.' ) so it was probably in a late edition of a London Friday evening newspaper. Bond’s report may be the only official written source of which we are aware that the heart was missing but that doesn’t mean it's the only possible source for a press story in 1888.


Mistake 94, page 635


We have hit chapter 24 and the mistakes keep coming. Wood refers to the failure of the Kelly inquest 'to use Dr Bond's post-mortem notes'. I don't know what nonsense this is but it shows a complete failure on Wood's part to understand how inquests worked. There is no legal way that Dr Bond's post-mortem notes could have been used at the inquest in the absence of evidence from Dr Bond himself. I don't know if that's what Wood is getting at but, if so, he still shows a failure to understand the system. Dr Phillips was the medical man being employed and paid for by the coroner. Dr Bond was working directly for Scotland Yard and, as such, would not normally have been expected to be called by a coroner to give evidence at his inquest, not least because the coroner would then have had to pay him for his attendance.


Mistake 95, page 635


This one is a double event! Two mistakes in one sentence. For Wood follows up his mistake about Dr Bond's post-mortem notes by saying that there was also a 'negligent' failure of the Kelly inquest to 'press Dr Phillips for an accurate time of death in order to dismiss Mrs Maxwell's story'. Wood has probably watched too many detective films and TV dramas in which pathologists can quickly provide 'accurate' times of death but it would have been impossible for Dr Phillips to estimate an accurate time of death and dismiss Mrs Maxwell's story. It simply couldn't have been done. See The Temperature of Death (2023) by David Barrat. Sure, Phillips could have put forward a guess about the time of death with unjustified confidence but he couldn't have testified to an accurate one. Coroner Macdonald may well have known this and appreciated that it wasn't possible to for medical evidence to rule out Mrs Maxwell's story.


Mistake 96, page 644


In chapter 25, Wood tells us that, on 25 October 1888, Robert Anderson wrote to Dr Bond 'enclosing copies of the medical evidence from the inquests of... [Nichols, Chapman, Stride, Eddowes]'. Nowhere in Anderson's letter, however, did he say he was enclosing anything. What he did was to ask Bond to 'take up the medical evidence given at the several inquests and favour us with your opinion on the matter'. When Bond later provided his written opinion, he made clear that the only documents he had seen were the 'notes of the Whitechapel murders' by which he meant the post-mortem notes of the medical men involved. He might well have obtained those himself.


Mistake 97, page 644

Wood claims that 'Bond’s eminence in such a case begs the question of why he hadn’t earlier been brought into the investigation'. But the reason is obvious. The issue as to whether the same person was responsible for all the murders only really arose in October, after the murders of Stride and Eddowes, when contradictory opinions were being expressed on the matter. Normally, in the 1880s, there would be no need to consult an expert pathologist for an independent opinion in a murder case. In addition, there was no one formally in charge of the C.I.D. until Anderson returned from his sick leave in early October. He then needed time to get up to speed with the case and it's surely no coincidence that Bond was consulted the day after a report had been made by Scotland Yard to the Home Office about the Whitechapel Murders. There is no question begged by the fact that Bond was consulted on 25 October, and Wood is again mistaken.


Mistake 98, pages 644-5


Wood offers 'a precis' of what Dr Bond 'would have learned' from the post-mortem notes. Unfortunately he gets confused because he includes in his list of things that Bond would have learned the (contradictory) opinions of Dr Phillips and Dr Brown about the amount of surgical skill and anatomical knowledge involved which would not have been in the post-mortem notes of those medical men. So Wood is mistaken because Dr Bond would not have learned about that.


Mistake 99, page 645


Wood says that it appears that Bond had not been given 'full access' to the inquest transcripts. Apart from the fact that there was no such thing as an inquest transcript (Wood presumably means the inquest depositions), one wonders what Wood thinks Dr Bond meant when he stated clearly twice in his opinion to Anderson that he had only seen 'the notes'. The fact of the matter is that Dr Bond wouldn't have had access to the depositions which were held by the coroner, with a copy to the Director of Public Prosecutions. He would only have had access to the post-mortem notes.


Mistake 100, page 658


“I am not a hard or even a soft-boiled conspiracy theorist”, says....Simon Wood. This is false. The entire book is more than 700 pages of unspecified and contradictory conspiracy theory relating to the Whitechapel murders.


Round of applause for the century of mistakes and false statements.


Mistake 101, page 659


'there was certainly some sort of high-level cover-up going on'. He can argue this until he is blue in the face but to say that there was 'certainly' a high-level cover-up is plain wrong, not being supported by the facts.


Mistake 102, page 659


'the Whitechapel murders were a series of discrete events'. Again, this is for argument (without any evidence provided) and cannot possibly be stated as a fact.


Mistake 103, page 659


'there had to be a prize to make the deception worth the candle'. No, there did not.


Mistake 104, page 688


'MJK2 has been exposed as a fake'. False. No, it hasn't


Mistake 105, page 701


'Mary Kelly did not exist'. Palpably untrue. There is a death certificate in that very name.


THE ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE MISTAKES


Wood's achievement in making over one hundred mistakes is all the greater when you bear in mind that this is his FOURTH attempt at getting it right. It's pretty amazing bearing in mind that I've pointed out mistakes in all his previous editions, many of which he has corrected. But, alas, he hasn't corrected them all (inexplicably). Had he not corrected those which he did decide to correct, we'd be pushing 150 mistakes in this edition. Sadly, despite my remarkable contribution to his dreadful book, which also involves original research that he's pilfered, he has neither thanked me or acknowledged the help I've given him. I don't think his pride can bear to mention me by name, although I am alluded to indirectly in a few places.


ANALYSIS


I assume I am supposed to be one of the people who, says Wood (p.15 of the fourth edition), 'worked themselves into an apoplectic froth of righteous indication as they bludgeoned the book as if it were a baby Arctic seal'. A typically Woodian overblown false analogy to avoid him having to confront his own failings as a writer and theorist.


Very little has changed in this fourth edition. All the criticisms made in Reconstructing Jack and Re-Reconstructing Jack still apply. The problem is that Wood is a very poor thinker. He hasn't thought any of it through. He's basically collected a lot of topics which appear to him to be suspicious, mainly from newspaper cuttings, and compiled a compilation of these 'suspicious' topics, mixed in with a few caustic comments from him about how suspicious they are, without having given any thought as to how they all relate to and interact with each other, or anything else.


The most glaring example of this is the continued inclusion of his section on Edward Stanley. He concedes that Debra Arif has established that Stanley spent 17 days at the Whitechapel Infirmary in February 1887 having treatment for a bad toe. Accordingly, his theory that Stanley was Colonel Hughes-Hallett in disguise cannot be correct bearing in mind that a fair amount of the whereabouts of Hughes-Hallett during those 17 days in February 1887 are easy to establish. With that being so, why does Wood still discuss the possibility of Stanley being Hughes-Hallett and of Hughes-Hallett murdering Annie Chapman, and presumably Polly Nichols too?


That question is impossible to answer but even worse is the implication of Hughes-Hallett being the murderer of Nichols and Chapman. With Hughes-Hallett having left England soon after Chapman's murder, Wood is obviously attracted to the notion of him having killed those two women because it allows him to argue that the next murders were by a different hand and for a different purpose. But that's where it all starts to fall apart. For Wood can't seem to explain – he doesn't even have a theory about – what happened next.


Did the police work out that Hughes-Hallett was the murderer? Did anyone other than Hughes-Hallett himself know? If not, it's obvious no one knew that the murderer wouldn't strike again. But, given that Wood tells us that there were people outside of the police, including the coroner and the press reporters/editors, who were falsely promoting the idea that the same person murdered Stride and Eddowes on the same night and assigned that fictional person the name “Jack the Ripper”, and because these people can only have been directed by others in some position of power, Wood must be saying that the police, in collaboration with a mysterious (governmental) organization (let's call them "the cabal"), actively promoted the idea of a Jack the Ripper double event and ensured others did too.


So did this cabal know that the murdering and mutilating madman Hughes-Hallett had left the country and that, in his absence, they now needed to falsely promote the idea of 'Jack the Ripper' to a terrified public? If so, was the cabal behind one or both of the murders on the night of 30 September?


If the answer is that the cabal was behind one or both of the murders of Stride and Eddowes, what possible motive could this group have had for engaging in the murder of a woman or women in the East End? Were they being controlled by a group of newspaper owners hoping to sell newspapers? If not, for what purpose?


Wood seems to think that they wanted to distract attention from something to do with the Parnell Commission inquiry, but how could they have possibly hoped to do this? Certainly, if it was their intention, it failed miserably. The proceedings of the Parnell Commission were fully reported from start to finish, even though, during the period of the Ripper murders in late 1888, they were extremely dull. It wasn't until early 1889 that those proceedings got interesting, by which time the Ripper murders were over and the press wasn't even talking about them any more. So the cabal was either really useless at causing a distraction or the theory just doesn't work.


Then we get to even deeper fundamental problems. Wood hints that the police under Sir Charles Warren were deliberately and falsely promoting the notion of a double event while, at the same time, one purpose of the plot was that cabal wanted to get rid of Sir Charles Warren because they wanted a more helpful Commissioner appointed in his place. Hence at page 457 of his book, he refers to “a small group of people who met regularly at the Home Office who stood to directly benefit from exploiting the Whitechapel murders as a means to undermine Sir Charles Warren and bring about his resignation when the time was deemed to be right” . So was Warren in on the plot or not? Why did they (the cabal) need to get rid of him after the murder of Kelly?


If the very purpose of the murders was to remove Sir Charles Warren, which is why they stopped after he resigned, what the hell is all the guff Wood tells us on page 34 about Jack the Ripper being a “diversionary tactic” and, on pages 13 & 14, of there being a "prize" ? What were the murders diverting from? Was the "prize" nothing more than the removal of Sir Charles Warren? If so, one wonders how powerful the cabal was because that could surely have been achieved either by the Home Secretary sacking him or by annoying him sufficiently that he would have resigned much sooner.


Wood seems to want it two ways. On the one hand, the murders were supposed to have some significance in themselves, either as a diversion or possibly even a need to murder certain women (a la Stephen Knight) but on the other hand it was just part of a plan to get rid of Sir Charles.


To go back to the question of why they wanted to do that; so far as it's possible to work out what Wood is saying, James Monro was supposed to be more amenable to doing their bidding, so they installed him as Commissioner. But what did he ever do for them once he was appointed? Wood doesn't tell us. I think he was supposed to be more likely to assist the Times in their case against Parnell but he doesn't provide any evidence that he actually did so. If he didn't, then the murders were for nothing, assuming the cabal was behind the murders. Or did they just take advantage of them? It’s impossible to work out what Wood is saying is more likely.

Wood actually thinks that police officers were committing illegal acts in the United States while Warren was Commissioner, albeit that Inspector Jarvis was supposed to be doing something unlawful in Colorado while Monro was Commissioner during December 1888 but he doesn't wonder why Monro pressed the Home Secretary to allow Inspector Jarvis to commence libel proceedings against Labouchere at the risk of all the supposed dirty laundry being aired in public.


It's even harder to understand why Wood thinks that, after having pressed the government hard for permission for Inspector Jarvis to commence libel proceedings, and having received that permission, Monro would have resigned just a few weeks after those very same libel proceedings were commenced, if, as Wood seems to believe, his resignation was connected to the libel proceedings. Even though I've tried very hard to explain it to him, Wood has never understood (or pretends not to understand) the importance to Monro of the Pensions Bill which the government had introduced at the very time Monro resigned.


When it comes to the Jarvis proceedings, it's literally impossible to comprehend why Wood thinks there was any truth in the allegations made by Labouchere when Labouchere himself publicly admitted in the clearest possible terms that they were false – even providing an explanation as to how he got it all wrong – and paid Jarvis a handsome sum in damages.


So all this Monro/Jarvis business is irrelevant, even though it takes up pages and pages of the book, but let's return to the heart of the matter which Wood just doesn't want to talk about at all, the Ripper murders and the supposed cover-up.


According to Wood, Wynne Baxter was part of the cover-up in promoting the idea that the murderer of Stride was the same person who murdered all the other women. Wood doesn't even pause to ask himself how a coroner could have been brought into some kind of massive government conspiracy. A coroner like Baxter wasn't answerable to the government. He was an independent official who had been elected as coroner to Middlesex in 1886. How would it even have been possible for him to have been approached and brought into a conspiracy to spread false information? What would he have been told? Why would he have agreed to do it? It makes no sense.


Even worse is that Wood himself acknowledges that Baxter raised the possibility of the killer of Stride being an imitator before concluding that it was probably the same person who had killed the other women. For doing that, he was, according to Wood, ‘becoming a liability’ and had to be removed from the Kelly inquest. But the reason he didn't preside over the Kelly inquest was because her body was taken by the coroner's officer to a mortuary in the jurisdiction of Roderick MacDonald. Was that arranged by the cabal? How did they do it? Were they not worried that Baxter would blab all to the press?


But what was he supposed to be blabbing about? Murders by the cabal or a plan to attribute the murders by some unknown person to Jack the Ripper?


This brings us back to the fundamental issue of when the plot began. If the murderer of Nichols and Chapman was an unknown serial killer, the cabal couldn't possibly have known if and when he would strike again and certainly not that two women would be murdered on the same night within close proximity and within about 15 minutes of each other. If he was Hughes-Hallett, and his identity as the killer was known to the cabal, they would have known for sure that he couldn't strike again, because he had left the country, but how could they have then known before 30 September that two women would be murdered on the same night, unless they were involved in those murders themselves?


I don’t think Wood believes that the cabal murdered both Stride and Eddowes. Indeed, his whole point seems to be that the murder of Stride was unconnected to the Ripper murders but was falsely connected by the cabal. That said, Wood did once tell me on the Forum (in 2017) that all five murders were connected, albeit committed by different people. I’m sure he invented this notion on the spur of the moment under pressure from me to explain his theory and that he didn't have a clue what he meant by this. He certainly hasn't repeated it in the latest edition of his book, let alone explained it.


In case anyone is unaware of what Wood told me five years ago, here is some background. In the 2017 thread ‘Deconstructing Jack by Simon Wood’, Simon admitted to John G that his book’s thesis is that, ‘all of the victims colloquially referred to as Jack the Ripper were killed by someone else’ (see his #316 replying to John G’s #315 and clarification with quote in his #365). In response to that, I asked him (#370): ‘Five different murderers? Is that actually what you are saying Simon?’



In response to that question, he posted (#372){


‘Five murders, five different murderers.


Yes, but there is a connection.’



That he made this up on the spot without having given it any thought is demonstrated by the fact that two years later, in June 2019, he claimed that the murders of Stride and Eddowes were “totally unconnected”, thus directly contradicting his claim to me that there ‘is a connection’ between all five murders.



If the murders of Stride and Eddowes were totally unconnected how could there possibly be a connection between the five murders? His 2017 claim that there’s a connection between the five murders also contradicts the statement in the 3rd (2019) edition of his book that ‘the Whitechapel murders were a series of discrete events’.


If we take it that the cabal opportunistically decided to link the murders of Stride and Eddowes to the Ripper, it must mean that they didn't know, as at midnight on Saturday 29 September, that they were going to happen. So how did they manage to move so quickly to plant evidence, which Wood seems to think was planted, such as the bloodstained apron and the writing on the wall? Did they have some sort of meeting in the middle of the night to conclude that they now had a fantastic opportunity, with these two murders having coincidentally and by immense good fortune, happened at about the same time, to arrange for press stories in the Sunday papers, being published within a few hours, linking the two murders to the earlier murders and to invent a name for the serial killer of 'Jack the Ripper' for a journalist to include it in a fake 'Jack the Ripper' letter sent to the police on Monday? Did they really think that by inventing a better name for the serial killer than 'Leather Apron' it would make any difference to the unexplained and unfathomable thing that they were hoping to achieve?


Talking of Leather Apron, a lot of Wood's book is devoted to hinting that there is something suspicious about the whole John Pizer story. But what is it? Are we to think that the conspiracy involving the cabal actually started before the night of the double event? If so, where does that leave the Hughes-Hallett story? Was Hughes-Hallet, having disguised himself as the poor pensioner Edward Stanley for the best part of 12 years, actually part of the cabal? Was he murdering women at the direction of the cabal? Which would bring us back to the question of why the cabal wanted to murder penniless prostitutes and have their bodies mutilated?


It takes us back to our earlier question. Did they want to show that the Metropolitan Police was incompetent and force the resignation of Sir Charles Warren? But hold on, to repeat the point, aren't we told by Wood that Warren's police force was part of the conspiracy and was promoting the idea of a serial killer? And why would they have wanted Warren to resign in any case? What did Monro offer them after he was appointed Commissioner? Was it just assisting the Parnell Commission? Couldn't he have remained as Assistant Commissioner in the C.I.D. and Secret Agent and done that?


But, I mean, is that what the murders were all about, replacing Warren and getting Monro inserted as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police so that the new Commissioner could help the Times with the Parnell Commission Inquiry?


If that's the case, was the cabal who wanted this to happen behind the murders of Nichols and Chapman? If the answer is yes, it takes us back to why Wood has included Hughes-Hallett in the book unless he's saying he was tasked by the cabal to commit the first two murders. If that's the case, why did he leave the country in September rather than continue with them? Why did he murder someone he knew personally under the guise of Edward Stanley? Why not choose random women? And, in any case, we've already established that Hughes-Hallett couldn’t have been Stanley, so has Wood, by fluke, found the killer of Chapman and Eddowes? It was Hughes-Hallett who wasn't Stanley but was nevertheless the murderer, killing on behalf of the cabal in order to force the removal of Sir Charles Warren? Was it just coincidence that Chapman's partner was a member of the same regiment as Hughes-Hallett? Hey perhaps Hughes-Hallett gave Stanley an alibi because he didn't want to see an innocent man convicted of Chapmans' murder!


Then after Hughes-Hallett left the country, did the cabal find another killer? And then, this killer murdered Eddowes and Kelly? But not Stride?


Hmmmmnnn, if the cabal wanted to falsely promote a double event and were employing an assassin to kill innocent selected women, why didn’t they just bloody well arrange a double event?


Were the victims chosen at random or was there a reason they were selected? Wood doesn't tell us.


Now, before I continue, you might say, hold on, isn't there a chapter in Wood's book about police blackmail? You might also have seen Wood saying on the boards that the police were somehow involved in the Nichols murder because the accounts of Neil, Mizen and Thane don't match, or something. How does the concept of police blackmail enter into the conspiracy of murdering women in order to replace the police commissioner?


That's a tough one. Wood seems to be saying that Leather Apron was introduced by the police to take attention away from press chatter that the women might have been murdered by a gang of blackmailers. Perhaps this gang never existed but the police nevertheless didn't want anyone talking about blackmail because, despite not actually being involved in any of the murders, they routinely blackmailed prostitutes. Is that it? Who knows, because Wood doesn't say, and I'm certain that Wood himself doesn’t know if this is what he wants to say.


These kinds of brainteasers make it impossible to discuss Wood's book in any kind of sensible fashion. He doesn't commit to anything. He doesn't explain anything. He doesn't know anything. Like I say, it's a series of transcribed extracts from documents (or, often, entire transcribed documents) provided without explanation but interspersed with Wood's caustic and usually cryptic and impenetrable comments. Something is wrong, the reader is supposed to think, but the same reader is left entirely to their own devices to join the randomly scattered dots in order to work out what actually is wrong.


No greater example can be found than in Wood's baffling new chapter about the Kelly photograph. After all the hype over many years, all he's got to say is that he thinks the body in the photograph is an anatomical dummy. He offers no expertise in Victorian photograph analysis. He just says it as if that's conclusive. Worse, he admits that he can't explain why anyone would have wanted to create a photograph of such a dummy which wasn't published at the time. He doesn't even have a theory. It's just a mystery! It might not be so bad if he confirmed that a woman was definitely found murdered in Millers Court on 9 November 1888 but we don’t even get that. In circumstances where he now tells us that Mary Jane Kelly didn't exist, it's impossible to know what Wood thinks is the significance of any of this. Was there a murder or not? Was the cabal responsible for the murder? If they were, why did they do it?


There's no much point in me coming up with hypothetical answers to these questions and then discussing why they are wrong in the abstract. You'd expect in 715 pages at £23 for Wood to provide at least some answers as to what he thinks happened in 1888 but you would be wrong to hold such an expectation.


You could try asking him but, as I've said, when I asked him who killed the women, if not the person known as "Jack the Ripper", he just told me, after a lot of evasive stalling, that they were all killed by different people but the murders were connected. As he obviously has zero clue who committed the murders, he was undoubtedly making this up without even thinking what it could possibly mean. The reason he felt the need to invent this was because I was taunting him with the claim that all he meant when he said that 'Jack the Ripper' didn't exist was that a journalist created the name 'Jack the Ripper'. As I've explained at length, that is precisely what Wood has been saying in all four editions of his book but he is so bad at logical thinking that he didn't even know it himself until I pointed it out. I'm sure in his mind he thought that the claim that Jack the Ripper didn't exist had a deeper meaning, but it turns out, when one actually considers the question, that it means nothing at all.


As I mentioned at the outset, Wood's change of title to remove the focus off from deconstructing Jack the Ripper to now pretending that he is revealing some sort of secret history probably reflects the belated realization that he's been talking gibberish all these years.


I looked carefully through the 715 pages of Wood's book to see if I could find the secret history that he claims to be revealing but I'm afraid it eluded me. It didn’t seem to be in the book. There were, as we've seen, mistakes aplenty. But secret stuff not so much. The book is filled with publicly available newspaper reports, and other publicly available documents, so I don’t know which parts are or were supposed to be secret. What has he actually discovered or uncovered? Nothing, so far as I can tell.


LORD ORSAM 4 December 2023




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Gast
13. Dez. 2023

Ive spent some of my time, which to me is quite valuable, reading your review of Simon Woods newest publication. What I read was almost exclusively self-aggrandizement on your part, not an actual review of any ideas put forward. I also found many mistakes you made in your "Mistakes" list, but sadly unlike you, I dont have an infinite amount of time to itemize each and every flawed counter point or conclusion you attempted to make. You do belong with the Ripperologists, famous for what they denounce rather than what they discover.

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Lord Orsam
13. Dez. 2023
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Hey, thanks for spending some of your valuable time writing that comment. Might have been a bit more helpful if you had identified even a single mistake I made but I appreciate that your time is way too valuable for that. I don't understand what you mean about "self-aggrandizement" but I guess it's the best you've got. Not sure if you aware (although you should be if you actually read my article which links to them) but I've already written two long articles about Wood's book reviewing the "ideas" he put forward, entitled "Reconstructing Jack" and "Re-Reconstructing Jack" respectively, both available on this website in the historic articles section, although with your time being so precious I don't expect …

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Gast
04. Dez. 2023
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Spectacular review of that pretentious hack's latest 'offering'.

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