A new statement from Keith Skinner posted on Casebook today, via Tom Mitchell, is worthy of comment. He says:
"Anne went out of her way to help Shirley and me find out who the cheque was payable to enabling Shirley to trace a "Mr M Earl" somewhere in Thame, Oxford in 1995 (without the aid of the internet) - and for me to pick up the trail in 2004 and locate the advertisement in Bookdealer."
The point of this, without doubt, is to suggest that because Anne was oh so helpful in providing information about the little red diary, she can't possibly have been involved in the forgery. It's a terribly flawed argument, as I will explain, but there are two things that immediately stand out.
Firstly, we can see that despite Shirley Harrison having traced Mr Mr Earl in 1995, the Bookdealer advertisement wasn't located until more than ten years later in 2004. Prior to that, not only did Shirley not obtain from Anne any useful information about the little red diary but she actually used the information Anne had given to her to spread disinformation by telling the readers of her book that:
'The red diary was in fact purchased after the Diary had been brought to London. (Anne has the receipt.)
This was, at best, misleading, at worst untruthful The cheque might have been dated May 1992 but the diary was purchased in March 1992. Anne's oh so helpful information has somehow led to Shirley believing she had disproved Mike's story. Funny that Anne didn't manage to explain to Shirley that, while the cheque was paid for in May, the little diary had been obtained by Mike much earlier than this, more than 11 days before his visit to London with the Ripper diary.
It's also odd, isn't it, that Shirley used the word "receipt"? If she meant a "cheque stub" why didn't she say so?
Secondly, while it may be true that Anne telling Shirley that the cheque was payable to Martin Earl helped Keith Skinner locate the Bookdealer advertisement ten years later, that doesn't mean that Anne knew about this advertisement, nor that it was her intention to help Keith locate it.
The answer to the puzzle of Anne's helpfulness should be obvious. She had no idea that Mike had asked Martin Earl for a Victorian diary with blank pages nor did she have a clue that there was in existence an advertisement which would confirm that fact. The reason I say it is obvious is because she told the authors of Inside Story (and probably Shirley as well) that the reason Mike wanted that little red 1891 diary was merely to see what a Victorian diary looked like.
So the little red 1891 diary, in her mind, posed absolutely no problem for her. She could explain it very easily, or so she thought. What caught her out was Mike's requirement for the blank pages. This proves that Mike was not simply wanting to see what a Victorian diary looked like. It should be obvious that, had she known about the blank pages requirement, and that Keith Skinner might find out about it, albeit eleven years in the future, Anne likely wouldn't have provided such an obviously disprovable reason for Mike getting the diary nor would she have felt confident in assisting Keith and Shirley to trace Martin Earl.
What's so incredible is that if Anne's thinking was that the more helpful she was to Keith and Shirley to assist them in relation to the purchase of the little red diary (because she felt it wasn't of any danger to her) it certainly worked, didn't it? To this day, Keith seems to think that because Anne was oh so helpful on this point, she must be innocent. A possible word for this is 'gullible' and, if Anne was involved in the forgery, Keith would, I think, have to put his hands up and admit that he was badly duped.
We must also not forget that when Anne was questioned by Shirley about the little red diary she was secretly aware of the existence of Mike's affidavit in which Mike accused Anne of being involved in its purchase. She was aware of the affidavit because Mike had posted it through her letterbox immediately after he swore it. It would seem that she failed to mention her knowledge of the contents of the affidavit to both Shirley and Keith. What better way to neutralize the effect of that affidavit, if Mike did decide to circulate it in the future, than to provide the cheque showing that the diary was paid for in May 1995 while, at the same time, showing perfect willingness to fully co-operate with respect to that diary (for which there were documentary records held by Lloyds Bank, and probably by Martin Earl, showing that it was paid for by a cheque in her name so that denying it would have been a very dangerous lie), assuming rightly that her good friends Shirley and Keith would take that as a sign of her honesty.
Here we are all these years later in 2024 and still Keith can't seem to work out that maybe, just maybe ,Anne made a fool of him by giving the appearance of helpfulness.
One other astonishing that is still happening in 2024 is that Tom Mitchell thinks that I view the little red diary as the key evidence in this case. I don't know how many times I have to say that the little red diary is worthless as evidence of a forgery. On its own it could be explained away, as Anne did explain it away, as Mike wanting to see what a genuine Victorian diary looked like. No, as I have said time and time again - but I must be speaking to a brick wall with an IQ of minus zero - it's the advertisement showing the requirement for blank pages which is the crucial evidence in this case. Yet, I find Tom Mitchell posting this, along with Skinner's statement:
So - all-in-all - it looks like the most extraordinary confidence was oozing through the woman when she almost arrogantly provoked anyone and everyone by blatantly admitting all relevant details of the red-diary-con. For someone with not a scrap of history in the game, she was astonishingly flagrant in her advertising of the thing that Algernon Orsam cites as the principal (only?) reason he thinks Mike Barrett organised the hoax of the century.
Nay, nay and thrice nay. I'm really trying hard not to call anyone stupid but this is testing me.
Anne was not "astonishingly flagrant" in advertising "the thing" that I cite as the principal reason why I think Mike organized the hoax of the century. On the contrary, she had no idea that the thing I cite as the principal reason showing Mike organized the hoax of the century even existed! Tom Mitchell is, of course, talking about the little red diary. I'm on record over a number of years as saying that I do not regard the little red diary as of any importance. It held no danger to Anne and, in helping Shirley and Keith, she was not 'blatantly admitting all relevant details of the red-diary-con'. On the contrary, by telling them that Mike had been seeking a Victorian diary in order to see what a Victorian diary looked like so that he could compare it to the Jack the Ripper diary, something which cannot possibly be true, she was covering up the details of the red-diary-con and preventing Shirley and Keith from understanding Mike's true motives.
None of this is difficult. Nor is it anything I haven't said before. Why I have to waste my time saying it every year, year in and year out, is beyond me.
LORD ORSAM 17 January 2024