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  • Lord Orsam

Ringing Bell Red Alert Siren Klaxon Loud Noise Red Flag

Updated: Feb 11

To my great surprise, I find Mr Thomas Mitchell replying on 11 January 2024 to a blog post I published on 16 November 2023. You'd think he might want to respond at this juncture to my post about the transcript rather than digging up something from last year which he'd ignored for the best part of two months.

He decided to post his reply in his safe place on the Casebook Forum where he knows I can't reply rather than being a man and posting a comment about me on this website to which I could have responded directly. But that's no surprise. It will also come as no surprise that he skipped over one of the points I was making in my blog.

Here is what I said in Lord Orsam's Diary to which Mitchell was purportedly responding:

Naturally, when the Chief Diary Defender posts, the Assistant Chief Diary Defender is sure to be soon to follow. So we then had Mr Thomas Mitchell posting that:

"I think he [Mike] was pulling a fast one - adapting what was true (he had ordered a Victorian diary) to fit what he wanted to be true (he was a master forger)."

Apart from the fact that this makes literally no sense at all (it's hard to know what he's talking about, and Mitchell is terribly confused because, by the time of his 1995 affidavit when he first mentioned the Victorian diary, Mike had dropped his June 1994 claim to have been a master forger, now saying that his wife was the master forger, something that Mitchell always seems to forget, so his argument makes no sense on its own terms), the reality is that Mike did not order a Victorian diary.  He asked Martin Earl to find him a Victorian diary with blank pages. I don't know why he keeps missing this crucial fact. Or rather, I do. It's because he can't explain it. So Mike's attempt to find a Victorian diary with blank pages, for Mitchell, becomes him merely ordering a Victorian diary. It's hopeless.

In his so-called response, Mitchell skipped over my criticism of him for claiming that the reason Mike mentioned the Victorian diary in his affidavit was to fit with his claim that he was a master forger. As I said, that's not what Mike was claiming in his affidavit in which it was Anne who was the master forger, in respect of the actual writing in the diary. So how does the fact that, in Mitchell's words he 'ordered a Victorian diary', fit in with what he wanted to be true? Like I said, Mitchell's argument didn't even make sense on its own terms.

Mitchell only responds to my second criticism which is that, in saying that Mike ordered a Victorian diary, this misrepresents the position because Mike asked Earl to find him a Victorian diary with blank pages, something which Mitchell can't explain.

Now here is Mitchell's ringing bell red alert siren klaxon loud noise red flag (his words) response in full:

The Great Lord of Darkness himself - that Chigwell Dementor and erstwhile Death Eater - has noted on his new drainpipe-replacement website that I misrepresented the crucial piece of evidence which compels him to argue that black is white, the sky is made of bananas, Chelsea FC is a shop selling frozen fish, and Mike Barrett is an honourable chap who definitely hoaxed that Victorian scrapbook thingy which he [said Dementor] wishes he could wish away.

It seems that the critical evidence is Barrett seeking an ‘Unused or partly used diary dating from 1880-1890, must have at least 20 blank pages’.

Silly me! How could I have missed this ringing bell red alert siren klaxon loud noise red flag rather obvious confirmation that Barrett was looking for a suitable vehicle for his nascent hoax back in March 1992? What an idiot I must be, eh, dear readers?

Well, I'm clearly a complete twat but I wonder if any of you lot out there - as perspicacious as you are regarding these things - can think of a less nefarious reason for his wanting something that could be shown to the police as "Oh, this Victorian diary with blank pages in, you mean?". Let me know if you can think of anything.

It really has got me stumped, dear readers and - as you know - I'm not normally lost for words where Jack is concerned. Why would Mike Barrett - recently having acquired a genuinely priceless diary of Jack the Ripper with a full and evidential confession inside, an absolute fortune about to be made, but obviously a complete knock-off from someone who might come asking for it back, want to acquire something that might pass as it if that visit ever occurred?

Maybe Voldemort's twin was right. Yes, that must be it. Barrett wanted that tiny 1891 diary to create a brilliant hoaxed diary of Jack the Ripper and earn himself a whopping ten years in chokey for his efforts - it wasn't about the money or the credibility at all - he just wanted to waste his time and then sacrifice his liberty. It all makes so much sense when you think about it.

Still, if anyone can think of another reason why he would have wanted a diary from possibly one year (and then definitely two years) after James Maybrick died - and one you'd barely be able to stick a postage stamp onto no less - do let us all know.

Skipping over the Chigwell and drainpipes nonsense which Mitchell seems utterly obsessed about (has he really got no new material?), I shall resist the open goal of calling him "an idiot" and "a complete twat", although, if he thinks these are appropriate descriptions of himself, who am I to argue?

It should be clear in an instant that what Mitchell says about the blank pages makes literally no sense. I mean, he still hasn't even explained it which is exactly what I said he couldn't do in the article to which he was responding! You'd have thought he would at least attempted an explanation. But, no. Look again at the above word salad from Tom Mitchell. Do you even see an explanation for the minimum 20 blank page requirement in Mike's advertisement? I mean, Mitchell reproduces the wording of the advertisement and asks the question, "can [you] think of a less nefarious reason for his wanting something that could be shown to the police as "Oh, this Victorian diary with blank pages in, you mean?". Let me know if you can think of anything" but never answers it! In saying "Let me know if you can think of anything" he is apparently relying on his readers to help him out. All he goes on to say, as vaguely as possible, is that Mike was 'wanting to acquire something that might pass as it' but how does that even begin to explain the blank pages requirement?

Let me explain where Mitchell has gone wrong in numbered point form so that if he ever does respond he will have to respond to each numbered point otherwise it can be concluded that he has no response:

  1. Although in his fifth paragraph, Mitchell speaks of someone who might have 'come asking for it back', which suggests the owner of the diary, he has already told us in his fourth paragraph that Mike wanted 'something that could be shown to the police'. So we must follow Tom's thinking and deal with a scenario where Mike expects the police to knock on his door. But in what universe do the police ever knock at the door of a suspected criminal and politely ask if that suspected criminal happens to be in possession of any stolen property? The answer they would receive, should they ever waste their time asking such a question, which they wouldn't, is "no". If they were then to ask if they could search the suspected criminal's house, they will inevitably be told not without a search warrant. If they obtained a search warrant they would then find the stolen item. We know that Mike had the diary in his house through to at least mid-April 1992. Had the police come armed with a search warrant, they would have found it. So Mitchell's fanciful idea that Mike would have thought he could show something other than the stolen item to the police to make them go away is a non-starter outside of Mitchell's befuddled mind.

  2. For the police to have come to Mike's house in search of the stolen Jack the Ripper diary, they would have had to known what they were looking for. They would have had, in other words, to have had some kind of description of the allegedly stolen property. And Mike, if he was worried about a visit from the police, would have expected them to know what they were looking for. The diary defender theory, as expounded by the Chief Diary Defender, and .never challenged by Mitchell, is that Mike had no idea that the diary had been found under the floorboards of Battlecrease after having lain there for over 100 years - he only discovered where Eddie had got it from when he heard Paul Dodd tell the diary researchers that electricians had done some work in his house (in 1989) causing him be so shocked by the revelation that he staggered backwards - so he would have certainly expected the owner of the diary to know what it looked like (and to have told the police) and, of course, Eddie Lyons, the only person who could have grassed him up to cause the police to be knocking at his door, knew what the diary looked like. It was a big black leather (style) bound volume with lots of ink writing in it and signed Jack the Ripper. That being so, if, as Tom Mitchell wants to try and con people into believing, Mike wanted to 'acquire something that might pass as it if that visit ever occurred', he would surely, at the very least, have requested from Martin Earl, as a matter of extreme urgency, a similar large black leather style volume with ink writing in. Instead, he set no conditions as to what the Victorian diary he wanted to acquire looked like - not one single condition - yet requested as his primary request an unused diary which by definition wouldn't even have any writing in it! How is a blank Victorian diary of any size, look and colour going to fool police into thinking they had located the actual stolen property they were looking for?

  3. We hardly even need to pause over the question because even if Mike found a remotely similar volume to the Jack the Ripper diary he had supposedly been handed by Eddie Lyons on 9 March 1992, any Victorian diary he purchased, whether full of writing or blank, was never in a million years going to pass for the stolen Jack the Ripper diary, which the police would realize in a heartbeat once they inspected it. The very concept that they would be defeated by a completely different looking Victorian diary, potentially not even containing any Victorian handwriting, and not mentioning Jack the Ripper, is utter madness.

  4. I haven't even yet mentioned the minimum requirement set by Mike for the diary to have 20 blank pages. Mitchell doesn't mention it at all in his floundering word salad and I don't want to try and guess what he's talking about. Surely the least important part of any description that the police would have been given was the number of blank pages at the end of it. They would have been told the colour of the diary, the size of it, the binding of it and, of course, the fact that it contained lots of pages of writing and was signed Jack the Ripper in 1889. Nothing in Mike's advertisement suggested that he had the first clue about what the Jack the Ripper diary looked like or that he wanted something remotely similar. If he received from Martin Earl his minimum requirement of a diary with 20 blank pages, how was that going to help him in any way when the police came knocking at his door for a diary which they've been told only contains 17 blank pages? Immediately, from a very simple count of the blank pages, they would have known that it's not the same stolen diary they've been looking for, wouldn't they?

  5. Mitchell doesn't even tell us what Mike was going to do with a totally unused diary or one with, say, 50 blank pages? Was he going to show it to the police who had come looking for the diary of Jack the Ripper? How was a blank or partially blank diary containing a description of the mundane activities of Joe Bloggs from, say, 1883, going to pass as the diary of Jack the Ripper? Or was Mike going to cut out those pages with a knife and then write out 63 pages of script in his own handwriting on the remaining blank pages (to the extent that he had 63 blank pages to write on despite his minimum requirement of 20) and sign it 'Jack the Ripper' himself? Mitchell doesn't say. He knows that if he does say this he is as good as arguing that Mike's intention was to forge a diary of Jack the Ripper, which will be a disaster for him.

  6. To the extent that all the police would have had to go on was Eddie Lyons saying that he'd found a diary and sold it to Mike - of which it's pretty much impossible to understand why Eddie would have made such a confession in circumstances where no crime was even suspected - and, if, contrary to diary defender lore, Mike had been told it had been found under some floorboards, he would have known that no one other than Eddie would even have seen it, or could testify against him, which means it would have been much easier, not to mention safer, to simply deny that Eddie ever sold him anything.

  7. If for any far-fetched reason that a diary defender comes up with, Mike feared that Eddie would be so convincing in blabbing to the police - or perhaps he feared that he might have been seen by others taking the diary from Eddie so that the police knew he had received some form of stolen diary - it still doesn't explain why Mike requested a Victorian diary with blank pages. A Victorian diary on its own would have been perfectly sufficient if Mike was somehow, incomprehensibly, worried that the police would have known for a fact that he had obtained a Victorian diary from Eddie. Further, it also doesn't explain why Mike wanted a diary from the 1880s. How is it that Mike could possibly have thought that the police's knowledge of the diary was so specific in having a minimum of 20 pages and came from the 1880s while knowing absolutely nothing of the look or the contents of that same diary? It simply doesn't compute. It is, in fact, an absolutely barking mad argument.

  8. But we haven't even touched on the maddest thing about it. If there was some doubt as to what the stolen item looked like, and Mike thought that there would be some doubt because he knew that the owner of the property would never have seen it so that he could dispute Eddie's account of it, what possible purpose was solved by handing the police what Mike would have essentially been admitting was a stolen item he had purchased from Eddie. If he feared going to prison for handling stolen goods, he's still going to prison because he's just handed the police the evidence on a plate, admitting that it's the stolen diary that Eddie's confessed to stealing!!! If he feared the loss of an opportunity to exploit the stolen diary of Jack the Ripper, he's lost that opportunity because he can hardly now exploit the diary with Doreen Montgomery - a literary agent - having told the police that he didn't purchase the diary of Jack the Ripper from Eddie. Indeed, he's adding to his legal woes by perverting the course of justice for which he will be found out if he now tells a soul about his ownership of the Jack the Ripper diary.

  9. All this explains why Tom Mitchell and the other diary defenders are always remarkably vague about the details of their 'doppleganger' or, to use this week's word, 'knock off', theory. They never tell us precisely what would have been going through Mike's mind which made him think that an unused or partially used Victorian diary from the 1880s would have been suitable, or the circumstances in which the plan that they ascribe to Mike would have made any kind of sense whatsoever. That's why what we got from Tom was a rambling six paragraph word salad in which he triumphantly pretended that the answer to the point is obvious without actually managing to tell us what it is!

  10. Tom's pretence of bafflement as to why Mike might have been able to use a diary from a year or two after Maybrick died has been explained about a thousand times. All Mike would have wanted was paper from the period. It didn't matter if it was before Maybrick's death or after Maybrick's death as long as the paper was blank and from roughly the correct period. Prior to agreeing to purchase the little red 1891 diary, Mike had been told by Martin Earl that the majority of pages in the 1891 diary were blank. He wasn't told anything about printed dates on the pages. There was no date printed on the cover of the little red diary (as confirmed to me by Keith Skinner himself). Had Mike received a diary with no date on the cover and containing blank pages he would have been able to use it to create a diary which he could pass off as an 1888 diary. As it turned out, once Mike had the diary in his hands, and could see it with his own eyes for the first time, he realized it wasn't suitable. This is so simple. It's not difficult. Even if Tom is, as he suggests he might be, 'a complete twat', he should surely be able to work this out. Further, as I've also said many times, the photograph album in which the diary of Jack the Ripper is written has never been dated and could easily have been manufactured in the 1890s or even in the Edwardian period, as much as 20 plus years after Maybrick's death! So Tom's act of bafflement is entirely misplaced bearing in mind that the diary of James Maybrick itself might have been written in a volume created after Maybrick's death, and Tom can't tell us today if it was or it wasn't. If Mike had removed any trace of dates from the little red 1891 diary, and had used that diary for the forgery, we wouldn't have known today in what year it had been manufactured, so that, with it's authentic paper from the Victorian period, it would have been ideal for a fake1888 diary.

In conclusion, its obvious why Tom still doesn't provide any explanation for the blank pages in his post. It's because he can't provide any kind of explanation for the blank pages. Just like wot I said in the first place.

His inability to explain the blank pages, which he has proved in his incoherent word salad, was why he originally described Mike's action as 'ordering a Victorian diary'. No, it wasn't a Victorian diary that Mike wanted, it was a Victorian diary with blank pages. The only possible reason for wanting such an item was to write on those blank pages. When Tom is able explain to us what it was Mike wanted to write on those blank pages, I am here for him.

LORD ORSAM 13 January 2024

UPDATE: 12pm, 13 January 2024

The doppleganger/knock off theory is one that evolves and shifts as time goes on - it's never explained in full at any one time - and the latest from Mitchell (adopting Jay Hartley's argument) is that Tom would have handed over the little 1891 diary to the police, telling them he had no idea it was stolen. Right, so why couldn't he have done exactly the same with the Jack the Ripper diary, if he had the police at his door? He just hands it back and says "sorry, officer, I bought it in good faith". After all, he can't now move forward with his plan to have the diary published through a literary agent because he'll be involved in an offence to pervert the course of justice, not to mention that the diary would be seized as stolen property once the police found out about it. We are told by Mitchell (tacitly admitting that the whole thing is nonsense) that Mike hadn't thought it through, but come on, it's not rocket science. And still no explanation for the blank pages which, I thought, was the whole point of Mitchell's original post!

FURTHER UPDATE: 12:10pm, 13 January 2024

Checking back in after having written the above, I find that Mitchell now says that, had Mike been arrested for handling stolen goods after producing the diary, he would have done a reverse-ferret and produced his receipt from Martin Earl, thus destroying the entire purpose of the cunning doppleganger/knock-off plan! He's then left with having to explain to the police why he lied to them by telling them he had obtained that little red diary secretly from Eddie Lyons. He's now back in his original position but has only made it worse for himself by telling that lie (and he's in debt to Martin Earl for £25). A search of his house under warrant will find the Jack the Ripper diary. The whole plan is an utter nonsense. All he had to do was deny having received anything from Eddie. And STILL no explanation in this new version of the theory for Mike's need for 20 blank pages!

FURTHER UPDATE 5:00pm, 13 January 1994

Oh hold on, having seen a post by RJ Palmer replying to it, I had actually missed a post Mitchell made at 9.02 this morning which did deal with the 20 blank pages issue. I'll quote the whole thing presently but the nub of it is that Mike was planning to copy out parts of the diary of Jack the Ripper and present it as the diary of Jack the Ripper which he had obtained from Eddie Lyons.

The irony of this attempted explanation is that it raises the same question that Mitchell always raises as to how an 1891 diary could possibly have been accepted as a diary of Jack the Ripper from 1888. Or does Tom now accept that Mike thought he was purchasing a diary from Martin Earl which wasn't dated? But, regardless of that, no one was going to be able to conduct tests of the paper on his doorstep. Why did he need a diary from the period 1880-1890, or alternatively 1891, in order to fool the police or whoever was knocking at his door? He could have written it out in any unmarked notebook for a fraction of the price and much quicker to obtain. Even worse, how was Mike going to reproduce handwriting that looked like it was from the nineteenth century in another person's handwriting? I thought we were told that Mike didn't have this ability. Hells bells, even I've accepted that Mike didn't have this ability! Was he seriously planning to sit down and try and write out parts of the diary in disguised handwriting? And was he doing to do it in modern ballpoint ink or was he going to go out and buy some brass nibs and old style ink to make it look right?

Basically, with this answer, Mitchell is telling us that Mike was planning to create a fake diary of Jack the Ripper, which is what I've been saying all along in the face of massive resistance.

Perhaps realizing the trouble he is in, Mitchell reaches for an alternative possibility which is that the person he previously said would be a police officer but who has now strangely become a "pursuer", apparently the diary's owner, was going to say "My copy had at least twenty blank pages at the end". As this would have been factually inaccurate, it's kind of impossible for Mike to have thought this would happen. It suffers from the fatal difficulty that the pursuer would somehow be fixated on the number of blank pages in the diary (having failed to count them properly) while having no idea what it looked like nor that it contained 63 pages of writing. That defies all rational possibility. Is it even remotely conceivable that the pursuer would know how many blank pages the diary contained but not how many pages of manuscript was in it? Of course not, and it wouldn't have been remotely conceivable to Mike in March 1992 either, meaning that he would have needed a diary with at least 63 blank pages, not 20.

Mitchell adds that none of what he is saying "needs to make sense to us". Ha ha! Well it certainly doesn't. It only needed to make sense to Mike, apparently, but even a gormless moron wouldn't have come up with this nonsensically daft plan which had zero chance of ever working.

Here's Mitchell's post about which I'll make a few more comments:

We are clearly not debating some objective set of facts which we know for certain were swirling around Mike Barrett's brain the day he ordered that copy of Jack the Ripper's diary, but we can be confident that the following are very likely to be true:

1) He knew that he had 'found' the find of the century and he was not wishing to give it up easily.

2) He knew that he had been seen in The Saddle Inn with Eddie Lyons and most probably Jim Bowling earlier that day (or the day before).

3) He knew that the Jack the Ripper memoir was almost certainly a knock-off so he knew there was a possibility that - in the course of the next few weeks - he might get a knock on the door from someone (official or otherwise) seeking the memoir back.

It's not particularly difficult so far, is it? No, I didn't think so. No need to turn to VAR for any 'clear and obvious' errors just yet.

So, what does he think is a logical and clever action to take to pre-empt the possibility of losing his priceless memoir? Well, whether we or anyone else would have done differently, he thinks it would be useful to have a second Victorian record within which he would ideally (but not categorically) need at least 20 blank pages. Why would he need at least 20 blank pages? I don't have any difficulty coming up with two perfectly plausible reasons (despite RJ's deception, above). The first was in case he wanted to copy some or all of the scrapbook text into the copy to overcome the challenge of his pursuer quoting from the original (Pursuer: "My copy had doggerel in such as "Blah blah blah"." MB: "That's right. Here it is in my Jack the Ripper diary so I guess I'd better give it back to you with my humble apologies."). The second reason was in case a less specific identification was attempted (Pursuer: "My copy had at least twenty blank pages at the end." MB: "That's right. Here they are in my Jack the Ripper diary so I guess I'd better give it back to you with my humble apologies.").

Now, nothing that motivated Mike Barrett in those early, excited days needs to make sense to us. It only needed to have made sense to Mike. It is not for us to rationalise his thoughts and actions. That is not our right. We can question whether something is factual (for this, we turn to any available evidence) but we cannot question a person's motivation based upon their rational (or, indeed, irrational) thought processes. Mike Barrett wanted something that looked like what he had recently acquired because 1) he knew he shouldn't have it and 2) he knew what he had acquired was priceless on many different levels.

So he sought a copy, a duplicate, a doppelganger, a mirror image, a whatever-you-want-to-call-it-because-it-doesn't-alter-his-potential-reasons-for-acting-as-he-did. The year was not critical if he was just going to say "Oh yeah, here's the Victorian diary I got off Eddie Lyons". Pretty much any diary around that time would suffice because the copy doesn't have to be a kosher 1888 diary in order to achieve what Barrett was seeking to achieve. There, I've shown RJ how wrong his claim (above) was. I wonder if he'll retract his outrageous claim, dear readers?

And here's the real rub of the matter: The date of such a diary copy would have been of unequivocal importance to a nascent hoaxer - he or she could have settled for a Victorian diary from 1837 all the way up to 1887 but - ideally - they would want one from 1888. The years 1889 and 1890 would be out (the nature of the text precludes a retrospective from 1889 - it is clearly meant to have been written at the time of the crimes themselves). We are told by certain people that Mike Barrett was a smart cookie. Would he - setting up a hoax - have proactively requested a diary which James Maybrick could not possibly have written in and (indeed) have agreed to buy a diary from 1891 which was too small for Jack's faked diary written in 1992?

Only you can decide, dear readers. But please reflect - as you decide - on whether my theory stands up to the facts and whether Lord Orsam and his acolyte's theory falls miserably on the same.

Mitchell's failures are:

  1. Being seen in the pub with Eddie Lyons and Jim Bowling means nothing. Aside from the reality that no one is known to have seen them (so who is Mitchell talking about?), Mike could have said, yeah, he met them for a drink but nothing was handed over. So, if this is the best Mitchell has got, he's failed to explain why Mike felt he needed to show the police a Victorian diary, or even a diary of any era. He hasn't even explained why the police would have thought he'd received anything from them, diary or otherwise. It's just not explained. If, to try and second guess him, Eddie or Jim had grassed him up and told the police all about the diary, and Mike was going to claim that one or both of them was lying about him having been handed a large black scrapbook or album containing about 60 pages of writing (which lie he surely would have had to have told to the police if his plan was to be carried out) why not claim that they lied about giving him anything at all? Would that not have been far easier? To the extent that Mike was going to accept that he had received what Lyons and Bowling said they had given him, surely he had to come up with an exact replica of what he had been given or the plan just wasn't going to work.

  2. Remember when Mitchell said in his original post: 'Well, I'm clearly a complete twat but I wonder if any of you lot out there - as perspicacious as you are regarding these things - can think of a less nefarious reason for his wanting something that could be shown to the police as "Oh, this Victorian diary with blank pages in, you mean?".; That now seems to have gone by the wayside as his theory shifts with the sands. We are now told that Mike was expecting he might get a knock on the door from someone 'official or otherwise'. It's not just the police anymore! But this makes it worse because the unofficial person, presumably the owner or someone working for him, isn't possibly going to be fooled by something which bears no resemblance to what has gone missing. VAR has already found some massive problems.

  3. Then in Mitchell's theory the exchange at Mike's door goes like this: 'Pursuer: "My copy had doggerel in such as "Blah blah blah"." MB: "That's right. Here it is in my Jack the Ripper diary so I guess I'd better give it back to you with my humble apologies."'. The pursuer has apparently memorised some of the contents of the diary without, apparently, having any idea what it looks like and will accept any diary from the period 1880-1891 of any description as long as it contains the line that he thinks should be in it. But this surely means that Mike has to plan to copy out the entire 63 pages of the diary. How was he intending to do this in a diary of only 20 blank pages, which is what is said he would be prepared to accept in the advertisement? He couldn't possibly anticipate which line the pursuer would have memorised so would have had to included everything. Oh dear, VAR has disqualified this one.

  4. After warning us that we cannot question a person's motivation based upon their rational or irrational thought processes, Mitchell tells us categorically that "Mike Barrett wanted something that looked like what he had recently acquired". But there's the problem. He didn't ask for something that 'looked like what he had recently acquired'. That wasn't in the advertisement. Nowhere does it mention the size or colour or type of diary he was seeking. The diary he had recently acquired didn't even have as many as 20 blank pages. Another VAR failure.

  5. I don't even know what this sentence of Mitchell's means: 'Pretty much any diary around that time would suffice because the copy doesn't have to be a kosher 1888 diary in order to achieve what Barrett was seeking to achieve.' How does the unofficial person coming round to Mike's door, who is so familiar with the diary that they've memorized some of it, walk away with an 1891 diary thinking it was the same contemporary diary describing the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888 which had been stolen? Was he supposed to think Jack the Ripper was a time traveller? For that matter, for the purposes of getting rid of his pursuer, why did Mike need a diary from 'around that time'? If we assume that Mike thought that the diary he sought would be undated on its face, any diary would have sufficed which looked like it might have come from the period because there was no way the paper could be tested on his doorstep. But if he really needed an old looking diary, why narrow the choice to a ten year period? Surely one from, say, 1920, if undated, would have done the trick perfectly well to fool this ludicrously gullible person who Mike was anticipating would show up on his doorstep and accept as the real deal a diary forged by him a few days earlier which looked nothing like the original.

  6. Then, despite him telling us that an 1891 diary would have been suitable for Mike to fool any pursuer as being Jack the Ripper's diary, Mitchell then pivots and asks: 'Would he - setting up a hoax - have proactively requested a diary which James Maybrick could not possibly have written in and (indeed) have agreed to buy a diary from 1891 which was too small for Jack's faked diary written in 1992?' The answer of course is, yes, because the idea was to disguise the year by removing anything with 1891 on it while using the blank paper to write on and fool scientific testing. As for the size, Mike hadn't seen it before he agreed to purchase it and, although Earl would probably have read out the dimensions over the telephone, I find it hard to know how Mike could have worked out in the abstract that it was too small - especially if it was almost entirely blank - without seeing it for himself.

In his final sentence, Mitchell writes: 'But please reflect - as you decide - on whether my theory stands up to the facts and whether Lord Orsam and his acolyte's theory falls miserably on the same.' Mitchell hasn't even discussed Lord Orsam's theory so I've no idea how any of his readers are supposed to be assessing it. What we can say is that Mitchell's theory does not stand up to the facts and certainly fails miserably. To the extent that the only sensible reason Mitchell is able to provide for Mike's request for a Victorian diary with blank pages is that Mike wanted to use those blank pages to create a forged diary of Jack the Ripper naming Maybrick as the murderer, well there I entirely agree with him. I am very glad that after years of furious resistance to that notion, he has finally seen the light. 😀

FURTHER UPDATE: 14 January 2024, 8:05pm

I had to rub my eyes when I read what is, at time of writing, Tom Mitchell's last word on the subject of Mike's need for a Victorian diary with blank pages:

I don't think anyone was seriously suggesting that Mike Barrett was going to write his own diary of Jack the Ripper, were they? I for one am perfectly happy that Mike Barrett sought out a decoy for the scrapbook he had just acquired from Lyons or Lyons and Bowling. It's such a simple explanation for everything he did.

What dat? 'I don't think anyone was seriously suggesting that Mike Barrett was going to write his own diary of Jack the Ripper'?????? Did he not tell us just yesterday that Mike's need for these pages was because 'he wanted to copy some or all of the scrapbook text into the copy'. I'm pretty sure he did because I'm quoting him saying that. Is Mitchell now changing his mind?

And what does 'a decoy for the scrapbook' mean. Is that what his theory amounts to? If so, he has once again forgotten that he needs to explain the blank pages requirement. Why did a 'decoy for the scrapbook' need a minimum of 20 blank pages? If Mike wasn't planning to write out his own diary of Jack the Ripper, even one based on text from the original, why did he need those minimum 20 blank pages?

I see he also throws up that hoary old chestnut when he says that we are supposed to believe:

that Mike thought he could squeeze the 63 pages of text 'on his PC' into a diary the size of one you could buy from your local post office for less than a pound.

Er, why would there have been 63 pages of text on Mike's PC? The full transcript prepared by the Barretts on Mike's PC only amounted to 29 pages. The transcript in Shirley Harrison's book got it down to 20 pages. Who knows how many pages the draft was on Mike's computer? I've said time and again (but Mitchell never deals with it) that the forger could have ditched all the poetry if tight for space. Indeed, I've always thought that the poetry was a late addition to the diary, but regardless of that, Mike could easily have thought (albeit mistakenly)) that he could fit it into a diary which he hadn't seen but about which he had been told that nearly all the pages were blank. It's an utterly ludicrous argument from Mitchell, though, because Mike Barrett said himself in his affidavit of 5 January 1995 that when he got the diary in his hands he immediately realized it was 'of no use, it was very small'. So how is Mitchell repeating nearly 30 years later that the diary that Mike received was too small telling us anything useful?

It's back to the drawing board for Mr Mitchell, I think.

In his post just prior to this he seems to have made a confession by saying:

When commentators try to use disparaging language to influence you, dear readers, you should immediately balk because you are almost certainly being manipulated.

I guess that's why he referred to me in his post which started this all off as 'The Great Lord of Darkness himself - that Chigwell Dementor and erstwhile Death Eater' and described this website as my 'new drainpipe-replacement website'. In this post one finds nothing about the blank pages requirement but he mentions the decoy here too, saying 'he very obviously was looking for the security of a decoy diary in the event that he might need it.' In no way is it obvious that he was looking for a 'decoy'. What IS obvious is that he wanted blank pages in order to write diary entries on. What's also obvious is that he wanted a diary from the 1880s in order to ensure that any scientific tests on the paper would show it was from the correct time period.

Mitchell adds: 'The extent to which he expected to be successful, we will never know, but it cost him nothing to give it a go.' He seems to have this strange belief that the little red diary was free. No, it wasn't. He knew he would have to pay £25 to acquire it. The fact that he ended up getting the money from Anne is neither here nor there. He could not have believed at the time he agreed to buy it that it would cost him nothing.

Mitchell continues:

But then there's the diary he was offered. The best he was offered was a tiny 1891 diary and that's problematic - unless you are Lord Orsam (and presumably his acolyte) who simply decides to create truths where truth is absent by arguing that he believed the 1891 diary had no dates in it. The reality is that Martin Earl has gone on the record stating that he would never seek to sell an artefact to a buyer without first detailing it to that buyer (to avoid later rejections) so that's that. Barrett knew EXACTLY what he was getting and he still got it. Was he - as Orsam and Palmer might want you to believe - absolutely desperate by the end of March 1992 and therefore thought he might attempt his hoax regardless with the postage-stamp, impossible diary or did he no longer think a knock was coming to his door and had lost interest in it? It would be really interesting to know what he would have done had he had to actually pay for it first, but we'll never know that either.

It's extraordinary that Mitchell cites Earl saying that would never seek to sell an artefact to a buyer without first detailing it to that buyer, yet omits to include in his post the actual description that Earl gave Mike in March 1992. For we know every well what Earl told Mike about the diary, and it included the fact that it had three or four dates on every page:

'A small 1891 De La Rue's Indelible Diary and Memorandum Book, 2.25" by 4", dated 1891 throughout – three or four dates to a page. Nearly all of the pages are blank and at the end of the diary are two Memoranda pages.'

But those dates might have just been 1st January, 2nd January, 3rd January etc. Martin Earl wouldn't have known how those dates were presented because he'd never seen the diary when he spoke to Mike about it and was going entirely by the description provided to him by the seller. What I've always said is that Mike would have heard Earl tell him that nearly all the pages were blank and would have figured that this was exactly what he needed.

The thing is, we were told yesterday by Mitchell himself that Mike wanted the 1891 diary in order to write out a diary of Jack the Ripper from 1888. So the Tom Mitchell of yesterday had no problem with Mike using an 1891 diary for his purpose of writing out the text of an 1888 diary to fool his 'pursuer'. The Tom Mitchell of today, however, can't understand why Mike just wanted a diary from the period with blank pages in order to use it to fake an 1888 diary, after removing all traces of the year 1891.

Tom needs to make up his mind. Did Mike want the 1891 with blank pages to write the diary of Jack the Ripper into or did he not? If not, why did he want a minimum of 20 blank pages? We seem to be back exactly where we started.

Anyway, Mitchell continues:

let's just get real here - there is nothing whatsoever 'nonsensical' about the notion that Mike Barrett had spotted the potential of the old, difficult to read scrapbook, nor would it be extraordinary if Lyons and Bowling had not realised what they had in their possession (for them to have realised what they had they would have had to read substantial amounts of it including the final page with the Jack the Ripper sign-off and there is no certainty that they would have done so unless you are Orsam or Palmer where the only things that could possibly be true are those things which work for their theory).

Of course it's nonsensical that Lyons (and Bowling if he was involved) didn't spot that the diary was signed 'Jack the Ripper'. It is utterly and completely nonsensical and beyond parody. No one in their right minds, having found an old diary under the floorboards of an old house wouldn't look at the first and last pages, at an absolute minimum. Having said that, I don't know what it's got to do with the issue of why Mike needed a diary with blank pages, other than by way of distraction.

The distraction continues as Mitchell inexplicably moves onto his favourite subject of 'FM' which he doesn't even seem to understand, as he writes:

When commentators try to use disparaging language to influence you, dear readers, you should immediately balk because you are almost certainly being manipulated. Florence Maybrick's initials are very VERY VERY VERY clearly seen in the Mary Kelly death scene photos but this creates an impossible problem for Orsam and Palmer so they just say, "Nah, there's nothing there and that's that". Orsam even claimed to have an original of the Kelly print as if that meant anything to anyone! Like we'd trust him to actually look properly even if he did! Like Florrie's initials appearing in a COPY was some sort of deviousness on the part of Dan Farson's editors back in 1973!

Why he continually bangs on about Dan Farson in 1973 I have no idea. Farson's book (actually first published in 1972) wasn't the only book which contained the Kelly crime scene photograph. Here is a list of books which contained this photograph (and thus what Mitchell sees as 'FM' on the wall) after Farson but prior to the emergence of the diary, as compiled by Stewart Evans:

  1. The Complete Jack the Ripper, Rumbelow, 1975

  2. Jack the Ripper, The Final Solution, Knight, 1976

  3. The Complete Jack the Ripper, Rumbelow, 1987

  4. Jack the Ripper: 100 Years of Mystery, Underwood, 1987 .

  5. Jack the Ripper the Uncensored Facts, Begg, 1988

  6. New Murderers' Who's Who, Gaute/Odell, 1989

  7. Jack the Ripper the Mystery Solved, Harrison, 1991

  8. The Ripper and the Royals, Fairclough, 1991

  9. The Jack the Ripper A - Z, Begg/Fido/Skinner, 1991

So a modern forger, attributing the murders to Maybrick, had every chance of seeing what Mitchell tells us is crystal clear and 'VERY VERY VERY clearly seen in the Mary Kelly death scene photos'. I have no idea why Mitchell thinks this is a problem for me. It's obviously a problem for him. The more clearly it can be seen, the more clearly it could have been seen by a forger in 1992 who was looking out for anything that he could pin on Maybrick. If the forger saw the letters 'FM' on the wall, which are, according to Mitchell, very very very clearly seen in the published photograph, it's simple to explain why that forger incorporated those initials in the fake diary. Mike Barrett, incidentally, said he saw them in the Jack the Ripper A-Z.

The point I've always made is not that one cannot discern initials on the wall of the published crime scene photograph. It certainly IS possible, especially the 'M'. No, my point is that those initials were not on the wall of Mary Kelly's room on 9 November 1888, as can be very very very clearly seen from the original print. THAT is a problem for Mitchell.

In a sign of his desperation to distract from the 20 blank pages, we even get treated to a lecture on the watch:

James Maybrick's highly idiosyncratic signature appears very VERY VERY VERY clearly​ in Maybrick's old gold watch but Orsam and palmer just can't see it. Funny that. Mike Barrett goes looking for a decoy diary in case he is ever asked to hand back the priceless original and Orsam and Palmer are so befuddled by this notion that they literally act like they've both just invested in discount lobotomies - their confusion is quickly reduced by disparaging the mere idea that this may have been Barrett's motivation.

I thought were always told it's just the letter 'k' in the signature that matches, but now it's the entire thing, apparently. But it really doesn't matter if I can see it or not. A copy of Maybrick's signature could have been obtained by any forger in 1992, so there's no mystery about how it could have been copied. Further, as I've said many times, a signature involves a natural flowing motion when writing with a pen (or pencil). You can't engrave a signature. It's impossible. Or rather, what I mean is, an engraved signature wouldn't be natural because there is no flow. Whether it was Maybrick or the forger who put the signature there, they would have had to have been copying Maybrick's signature. That is as true if it was Maybrick doing the engraving as anyone else. With a copy of Maybrick's signature being available to the public on both his marriage certificate and his Will we just don't need to bother about whether the engraved signature looks like Maybrick's signature or not because any similarity gets us nowhere in respect of authenticity.

Mitchell has nothing. But to get back to point of this article, he simply cannot explain Mike's need for a Victorian diary with a minimum of 20 blank pages. I said earlier, and repeat, that when he finally has an answer (clue: it will involve writing out the diary of Jack of Ripper) I am here for him.

FURTHER UPDATE: 14 January 2024, 10.40pm

In a confusing development, Mitchell has repeated his claim from yesterday that Mike's reason for seeking a Victorian diary with blank pages was 'in case he wanted to copy some or all of the scrapbook text into the copy to overcome the challenge of his pursuer quoting from the original'. I must say, I admire the use of the words "in case", as if this was a mere hypothetical possibility on Mike's part, while keeping all his options open, even though that blank pages requirement not only appears to be an important part of what he wanted but obviously limited his options by excluding the possibility of him obtaining a Victorian diary with less than 20 blank pages, even though, as a mere 'decoy' that would seem to have been perfectly fine.

All the problems that I identified with this theory yesterday remain and have not been addressed but I would particularly like to ask Tom whether he thinks Mike was contemplating copying some or all of the scrapbook text with a biro or ballpoint pen. If so, how was that possibly going to satisfy his pursuer into thinking this was the genuine stolen diary written in 1888? If not, what does Tom think Mike was going to use? Does he also think that Mike felt he was capable of disguising his handwriting because, after all, there wouldn't be much point writing it out in his own dreadful script, would there? I'd also like to ask Tom why the objection that he always raises about the stupidity of using an 1891 diary to write out a fake 1888 diary of Jack the Ripper suddenly vanishes when it suits him. After all, what would be the purpose in showing his pursuer an 1891 diary of Jack the Ripper? Or does Tom now agree with me that Mike was hoping to remove all traces of 1891 from the diary? Does Tom also think the pursuer who was sufficiently familiar with the diary, to the extent that he (or she) can quote lines from it, would be satisfied when Mike produces something which looks nothing like the diary itself? If so, how does that compute? What was Mike thinking? Or is it just all irrational and we shouldn't bother ourselves with such things?

I say, incidentally, that Tom says that this is Mike's 'reason', singular, for seeking a Victorian diary with blank pages for good reason. His second one isn't even worth discussing. I mean, the idea that Mike feared the pursuer would look at, say, an1883 diary written by Joe Bloggs, even though the original is 63 pages, and, despite all the differences between whatever he was able to get from Martin Earl, not even having provided him with a vague description of what the diary looks like, and would see that because it had "at least 20 blank pages" at the end (as Tom puts it), even though the actual diary only has 17 blank pages, and be entirely satisfied that this was his stolen diary, is beyond nonsense, especially as it means that if the pursuer saw 50 blank pages he or she would think "Ah that's fine, the actual diary only has 17 blank pages but as this one has 50 blank pages it must be the same". Or do we go back to Mike writing on those additional blank pages to leave only 20 (even though that's the wrong number) and hope that the pursuer, who knows how many blank pages are in the diary (or at least that there are some blank pages), indicating familiarity with it, doesn't notice that it's nothing like the stolen diary.

I mean, honestly, what kind of level has Tom stooped to? I've always known he was prepared to go low but, seriously, he's gone beneath the floorboards on this one.

FURTHER UPDATE: 15 January 2024, 5:20pm

Tom hasn't said anything worth responding to so far today but I see, to my astonishment, that the Chief Diary Defender, Caroline Morris-Brown has falsely stated:

"Martin Earl would have described the tiny red 1891 diary to Mike, with its printed dates throughout, to get confirmation that he would like it sent to him before taking his order and passing it on to the supplier. "

We know this can't be true because the description of the tiny red diary provided to Martin Earl said nothing about any printed dates on any of the pages. The word "printed" wasn't used in the description, so Earl, who hadn't seen the diary when he described it to Mike, could not have told him anything about printed dates. The description does say that there were four dates to a page but one doesn't know how Mike interpreted this. It might have suggested to him that there were spaces for four entries on each page. Or, perhaps, on some of the pages which weren't blank, the diarist had written four dated entries on each page. Or, if he did think that there four printed dates on each page, he might have had in mind something like this which could be said to have six dates on each page:

Who knows? I suggest that what would have stood out in his mind was the part of the description that said "nearly all the pages are blank". Before Ms Morris-Brown had obtained Martin Earl's description, I theorized that this is what he had been told about the 1891 diary, and, lo and behold, that exact phrase is found in the description.

Ms Morris-Brown then continues:

"The very fact that it was for a year later than Mike's specified 1880-1890 could have resulted in him saying no thanks, but there was no obligation to order anything in any case, even if it had been exactly what had been requested."

Yes, Mike could certainly have said "no thanks" - there is no controversy about that - but then he definitely would not have had a blank Victorian diary in his possession to use to create the forgery as at 26 March 1992, whereas accepting it put him in the hopeful position of thinking "maybe the 1891 one will work".

She then says:

If Martin had asked Mike to pay £25 for it up front, I rather doubt we'd know anything about it today.

I don't know why she thinks this helps her. As far as I can see, it further explains why Mike agreed to the purchase. The exact same thing is true if Tom is right and Mike thought he would be getting the 1891 diary for free. If there was nothing to lose, why not take a punt? In my view, Mike knew full well that he would have to pay £25 for the diary but he was desperate by this stage. It had been nearly three weeks since Doreen had said she would be very interested to see his diary of Jack the Ripper. How much longer could he stall her before she lost interest? The 1891 diary was, as at 26th March, the only Victorian diary with blank pages that he could find. We know he didn't really want one later than 1890. He probably didn't want one that was so small. But he had to accept the only Victorian diary from the era that Martin Earl had been able to locate because he had no other choice!

Something else said by Morris-Brown reminds me of another flaw in the daft Tom Mitchell 'decoy' theory. She claims that Anne kept the little red diary after having paid for it. That's fine, I don't have any problem with that, even though it contradicts what Mike said in his affidavit. Indeed, it shows that she knew all about the little red diary. In which case, how does Mitchell explain the fact that when Anne was asked by Keith Skinner why Mike bought the diary, she was very clear in telling him that it was because he had wanted to see what a Victorian diary looked like? We now know that this can't be true due to the blank pages requirement, and even Tom Mitchell himself doesn't claim that this was Mike's intention. So why did Anne lie?

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Jan 15

Lord Orsam - a question. Returning to the advertisement in Bookdealer, am I right in saying that Martin Earl was acting as a sort of 'broker,' and that the red diary was sent to Barrett by another bookseller? Is there any evidence that Earl himself had ever seen the red diary?

If I find a book I want on, say, Advanced Book Exchange, or any similar service, I pay them the money, but the book is actually forwarded to me from any one of hundreds of different booksellers around the globe. No one at Advance Book Exhange ever sees the book, and they, too, simply rely on the description that was supplied to them. Thanks.

Lord Orsam
Jan 15
Replying to

You are absolutely correct. When Martin Earl informed Mike that an 1891 diary was available in late March 1992 he had certainly never seen it. He was relying on a description provided to him by the seller of the diary. We know exactly what that description contained. It said "A small 1891 De La Rue's Indelible Diary and Memorandum Book, 2.25" by 4", dated 1891 throughout – three or four dates to a page. Nearly all of the pages are blank and at the end of the diary are two Memoranda pages." What I believe would have stood out in Mike's mind was that nearly all of the pages were blank. It was, in other words, worth a pu…


Jan 14
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Lord Orsam writes: "I have no idea why Mitchell thinks this is a problem for me. It's obviously a problem for him. The more clearly it can be seen, the more clearly it could have been seen by a forger in 1992 who was looking out for anything that he could pin on Maybrick."

Indeed. I find this quite funny...and true.

Personally, I don't think the diary's text refers to Mary Kelly's back wall, but it is humorous to note that there was one theorist on JTR Forums ('Sam Flynn') who conceded that he could see 'FM' in the photograph in Farson's book but argued that this was a great indication that the Diary was written after1972! He posted image…

Lord Orsam
Jan 15
Replying to

Certainly, as far as I know, Mike never made clear what it was he saw in the Jack the Ripper A to Z which, he claims, inspired the inclusion of the initials in the diary. Assuming he was responsible for the text, it might well have been that he saw an 'F' on Kelly's arm and an 'M' on the wall. That would make far more sense of "An initial here and an initial there" than initials written out together on the wall.

As you say, Simon Wood didn't even see "FM" on the wall (or even just "M") despite obviously looking hard at the photograph, so I guess it wasn't very clear to him. Martin Fido's best interpretation wa…

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