top of page
  • Lord Orsam

The Big Con

Updated: Jan 6

"Go on Lord Orsam's new blog and revel...."

So said the mighty Assistant to the Chief Diary Defender, Mr Thomas Mitchell himself, on 8th December, in a Casebook post. Wow! What a compliment! What an advertisement! What an unexpected delight!

Oh hold on, botheration, there's more:

"Go on Lord Orsam's new blog and revel in how the truth can be twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools if you really want to be persuaded blah blah blah."

Oh dear.

Naturally, and this will not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with diary defender behaviour in the wild, Mr Mitchell was unable to find the space in his post to identify a single example of truth being twisted on this new blog (nor on the old one for that matter).

Further, I hardly need tell anyone who has been reading my accounts of the antics of the diary defending clan over the years that this was projection of the highest order because Mitchell, assisted by his superior officer, the Chief Diary Defender, was in the midst of one of the greatest truth-twisting scams that he's ever pulled. Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you THE BIG CON.


It all began on 5th December when the dictionary obsessed Chief Diary Defender, Mrs Caroline Morris-Brown, claimed incomprehensibly that, 'The Battlecrease provenance only survives because of the absence of anything concrete to demolish it'. I guess that must have had some kind of meaning in her mind when she wrote it but, aside from being impossible for a normal human being to understand, it appears to put the onus of proof for a very poorly constructed theory, based on a literally impossible timeline of events, onto others to demolish it rather than applying the usual standard whereby the onus of proof is on someone who is advocating a particular theory. In response, RJ Palmer quite properly turned the table and provided (in quotation marks) an example of the type of statement that the Chief Diary Defender would normally, and naturally, object to:

"The only reason Mike and Anne survive as the prime and obvious suspects in the hoax is the complete absence of anything that proves their innocence. In 30 years, the diary's supporters have not come up with one coherent reason why Mike and Anne couldn't have faked the diary."

It was a great response which created evident difficulty for the Chief Diary Defender when she replied to it the next day, at which time (after putting forward a batty claim that, while the onus of proof is indeed on her to prove that Mike received a stolen diary, there is actually less of an onus on her to do this than there is for those who say he forged it, because 'there is a growing body of documented evidence for this' even though none of it has been produced for public inspection) she totally missed the point by saying:

'So the diary 'supporters' lack one coherent reason why Mike and Anne couldn't have faked the diary?

'I'm not sure that anyone will see this as evidence that they did so, because over the same 30 years, the Barrett Hoax believers have failed to come up with is a single hard fact proving it.

I can tell the readers now that they will be waiting for the proof that knocks out the Battlecrease provenance until the 12th of never - and that's a long, long time.'

I'll deal with this quickly because it's not the subject of this blog post, just a classic example of a diary defender evading the issue.

We see that her first sentence is a question to which she never supplies the answer:

'So the diary 'supporters' lack one coherent reason why Mike and Anne couldn't have faked the diary?'

Yes, is the answer. As RJ Palmer's statement had already made clear - and all she's doing here is strangely repeating it with a question mark appended to the end - not one coherent reason has ever been offered as to why Mike and Anne couldn't have faked the diary. I asked her to provide one myself when I was a member of the Casebook Forum in 2017 (as I have demonstrated in a previous blog post That Little Red Diary) and she was unable to do so. She just babbled a bit about her personal feelings. No coherent reason has ever been provided since.

Then her second sentence skips on to a totally different point, namely:

'I can tell the readers now that they will be waiting for the proof that knocks out the Battlecrease provenance until the 12th of never - and that's a long, long time.'

But that simply repeats the point to which RJ Palmer was objecting in the first place that she is putting the onus of proof, or rather disproof, on RJ and others to disprove what is currently an incoherent and unlikely theory. Nay, considering that the diary has been proven to be a fake, not written by James Maybrick, her Battlecrease provenance theory is all but impossible, bearing in mind that, realistically, only James Maybrick could have hidden such a diary in Battlecrease. We know for a fact that he didn't do this, so Q.E.D. the Battlecrease provenance theory is already disproved. There is certainly no part of the theory which explains how it could have been hidden in Battlecrease, especially under the heavy, nailed-down floorboards, if it's a 20th century fake, which we know it is. Without such an explanation, the theory is a complete non-starter. It is a dead theory. It has ceased to be. No wonder they won't produce any of the underlying evidence behind it for scrutiny


So Caroline's response was a non-event. The Big Con had actually started before she'd even had a chance to reply, when her faithful servant, Thomas Mitchell, stepped in to try and protect her by immediately responding to RJ Palmer's post about the onus of proof, even though it had nothing to do with him, it wasn't a post which actually contained a question (there being no question mark) and its purpose had simply been to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the Chief Diary Defender when it came to the onus of proof. Like any good con artist, Mitchell started off his con with the old switcheroo.

To the extent that RJ Palmer had asked a question which needed answering, that question was:

'Why couldn't Mike and Anne have faked the diary?'

But the switcheroo pulled by Mitchell was to answer an entirely different question, namely:

'Why wouldn't Mike and Anne have faked the dairy?'

The answer he gave, in essence, was about risk v. reward. He basically didn't think the reward for doing it would justify the risk. If that's all he had said, while not being an answer to why the Barretts couldn't have done it, it would have been mildly unobjectionable as a post expressing his own personal belief about why they wouldn't have done it, albeit wildly misguided and based on no actual knowledge of the personalities of the Barretts. But, in expressing his answer, he madly claimed that there was no financial motive for Mike to have attempted to persuade a literary agent to publish a fake diary of Jack the Ripper.

One only needs to think about it for a moment to appreciate the sheer absurdity of such a claim. If accepted as genuine, the real diary of Jack the Ripper would have been worth an absolute flipping fortune to its owner. Hundreds of thousands of pounds at least, and possibly millions. Wealth beyond the dreams of avarice for an unemployed scouser living off disability benefit. I mean, honestly, why would that not have been a motive to have forged the diary? For anyone, not just Mike Barrett. One doesn't even need to get into the actual details of Mike's finances when it's glaringly obvious in the abstract, just from knowing he was a relatviely poor Liverpudlian, that the temptation of a pot of Ripper gold would, without doubt, have provided a motive for him to create the forgery.


But Tom Mitchell wants to take us down the road of the minutae of Mike's finances to offer up a quite extraordinarily mad argument (even for him) that there was no motive for Mike to have involved himself in a diary forgery. Here are his exact words, being his first purported 'coherent' reason as for why the Barretts wouldn't have forged the diary:

'The obvious one - they had no motive. Despite Barrett's claims, they were NOT struggling to pay the mortgage or indeed the gas bill, newspaper boy, or milkman (kids, ask your grandparents for the latter two).'

Now, you might think this is a very odd (negative) way of putting it. Why does the fact that they were not struggling to pay certain bills eliminate a financial motive? Are the only people who actually want more money in their lives those who are struggling to pay their bills? Or might there be some people in this world who simply want to make a lot more money than they already have and are prepared to do unethical, risky and possibly illegal things to obtain that money?

The answer is, of course, that there are so plenty of such people, so the subject just isn't worth the time of day. But Tom somehow thinks he can con the readers of his posts into accepting that there was no motive.

The reason why Tom put his argument in the negative, i.e. that the Barretts were not struggling to pay their mortgage, rather than that they would obviously have been happy to have made a fast buck with an easy and cheap-to-produce Ripper diary, is because of how Mike has explained his motive for creating the diary.

But, in rushing to try and contradict Mike's explanation (which, as we will see, Tom fails to do), Mr Mitchell doesn't even understand it.

The place I always go to try and understand Mike's motive behind creating the diary is the recording of the evening at the Cloak & Dagger event in April 1999. He might have said something on one of the Gray/Barrett recordings but these are still being ruthlessly suppressed and not available to me so I can't consult them. As to that, incidentally, we find as part of The Big Con, that Tom posted this massive lie on 8th December:

Remember how I started this post with a quote from Tom Mitchell about twisting the truth and I said it was projection. Well here, as you can see, we find him saying that the Gray/Barrett tapes:

'eventually found their way to those arch-anti-scrapbookists Lord Algernon Orsam and his lickspittle acolytes'.

Those tapes most certainly did not find their way to me. I can't even believe I'm having to say this. I've been repeatedly calling for those tapes to be released because Ive never heard them.

But I digress. I was talking about Tom Mitchell not understanding Mike's explanation of his motive. Let's check out Mike's own words from 1999.


Now, of course, I've already reproduced the below extract in A Man in a Pub but one can't expect Tom Mitchell to bother to check anything when he can rely instead on a vague memory he's got in his head of something Mike once said. Here is what Mike actually said in April 1999 about 'where the Diary starts' and what prompted him to consider creating a fake Jack the Ripper diary:

'I’ve been writing, god knows, I’ve been writing for an awful long time. So I phoned David Burness. And he produces a magazine. And the magazine is called Celebrity magazine. This is very, very, important. This is where the Diary starts. Now, David Burness produces Celebrity magazine. Meanwhile, I go along and, you can go and check these facts, look at the people I interviewed. I interviewed Kenneth Williams, Bonnie Langford, various people… and I do all the interviews, so I come back and I write it on a word processor. Right. And I’m only making about £120 if I’m lucky. Then Maggie dies. Now you are going to ask, 'who is Maggie?' Maggie is Billy Graham’s father, mother, sorry I do apologise. And when she dies, she dies on New Year’s Eve. And I thought to myself, my life has totally changed here, 1987, get that wrote down, 1987. So, in 1987 I turn round and thought to myself oopsie daisie and Anne - Anne - wants me to build up a mortgage. I didn’t have the money. That’s a fact. I’ll be perfectly honest with you. I only had £600 at the time. £600 wasn’t enough to pay for the mortgage. It was like that. It was half and half. So I paid the mortgage and we moved to 12 Goldie Street...So we moved to Goldie Street and Goldie Street was, shall we say, a tie around my neck, and I mean literally a tie around my neck, it was hanging me, I couldn’t keep up with the mortgage so I thought to myself, okay, I’ve been writing for David Burness, Celebrity magazine, I’ve been writing for Chat Magazine, I’ve been writing for Look-In Magazine. I’ve been writing for all these magazines. And I thought to myself, okay Michael, let’s do a Sir Walter Scott. Now anybody is in here, is shall we say familiar with English literature? Sir Walter Scott, if you know anything about Sir Walter Scott. Sir Walter Scott was in a hell of a lot of trouble in the past. And what Sir Walter Scott done, he wrote himself out of it. I mean, literally, he wrote himself out of it. He wrote Ivanhoe. And that’s a god given fact. And that is a god given fact. So I thought to myself, I’ll do the same, I’ll write myself out if it.'

The explanation as to why Mike started to tell the diary story here at the end of 1987 with the death of Maggie Graham, who was actually Billy Graham's wife (and Anne's step-mother), not his mother, is because when she died, Anne apparently wanted to move near to her father who was now living on his own, which meant that the Barretts needed to take on a mortgage for 12 Goldie Street.

What is clear from this account is that Mike was saying that it was the financial pressure of having to pay the £600 deposit and take on the mortgage with its monthly repayments which is what caused him to start thinking about writing himself out of financial difficulty by creating a fake Jack the Ripper diary, and that this was shortly after the house purchase. He wasn't actually saying that 'he was losing his home', as Tom Mitchell would later twist it but that the mortgage payments were a severe burden to him which he was having trouble keeping up with (and perhaps this meant that Anne had to pay them for him). He also wasn't talking about financial pressure in 1992, which is when Mitchell and his partner in crime, Morris-Brown, want to place the pressure, but much earlier.

So when Morris-Brown wrote: 'Mike was lying repeatedly from 1994 onwards about needing the money back in 1992 to pay the mortgage' she had misunderstood what Mike was saying, just like Alan Gray and Tom Mitchell appears to have done. Mike wasn't talking about needing money to pay the mortgage in 1992, he was talking about money needed to pay the mortgage in 1988/89 when he first had the idea to create a diary of Jack the Ripper.

In other words, Mike wasn't actually saying that he was under crippling financial pressure in March 1992 (although there is no good reason to think that he wasn't) simply that the crippling financial pressure occurred at the time of the purchase of 12 Goldie Street many years earlier, thus triggering the idea to write the diary in the first place.

Even the authors of 'Inside Story' seemed to appreciate that Mike was talking about what they describe as 'The initial cause' for the forgery. When they record Mike as saying (on p.153) that he was under 'crippling financial pressure' they must be talking about the time when the Barretts moved into 12 Goldie Street because they make the point that Mike, who, they say, was not happy in the 'new' neighbourhood, was 'incensed' when Billy Graham moved into sheltered accommodation, thus rendering the disruption caused by the move as having been unncessary. So, according to the authors of 'Inside Story' summarizing Mike's account on the Gray tapes:

'Barrett formulated a plan, to which Anne assented; they would forge the diary of Jack the Ripper.'

Hence the first question that needs to be addressed is: when did the Barretts move into 12 Goldie Street?

Tom Mitchell, happy as ever to states things as facts which are probably not facts, first told us categorically that it happened in1989. Hence:

As soon as RJ Palmer asked him to justify his claim that the house was purchased in 1989, as opposed to 1988, he fell apart, admitting that, 'I can't recall the specific reason for thinking it was 1989'.

So why does he post such things, not knowing or caring if he is spreading misinformation or not?

He added that he had to 'assume' that it was 1989 because the previous owner was included at that address in the 1988 electoral register and the Barretts not until the 1989 register but, as he himself admitted, 'clearly the Barretts could have moved in between the publication of the 1988 electoral register and the end of that year'.

We later learnt from Caroline Morris-Brown that Mike explained that 12 Goldie Street was purchased in March 1988.

Why is this even important?

Well, it's because as part of his BIG CON Tom wanted to claim that, having obtained a mortgage (but totally ignoring Mike's own point about the difficulty of paying the £600 deposit) Mike would have had no problem whatsoever paying it off.

His argument developed and became more complicated over time - no doubt as he came to appreciate its inherent absurdity - but, as we've seen, it started off with him saying this:

'No doubt Anne Graham will explain to you at some point how her then unemployed husband, living off a disability allowance, in rented accommodation, managed to miraculously raise a deposit and secure a mortgage to buy the house in Goldie Street in 1989? At what point after their move did it occur to Mike he had no money to make the monthly repayments? You can imagine the red-face on the bank manager who approved that one, eh? Is there any evidence, apart from what Mike claimed, they were actually in debt?'

In this form, especially if applied to a house purchase in 1988, the argument makes no sense at all, and is, indeed, financially illiterate. How can Tom be unaware that thousands of people who purchased houses after having obtained a mortgage from their bank or building society, especially in the late 1980s, had their houses repossessed? Tom's quaint but outdated reference to a 'bank manager' who would have approved such a mortgage tells us that he still lives in the 1930s.

One reason for people having their houses repossessed is that they get caught out by interest rate fluctiations which increase the amount of their mortgage to more than they can afford, or have budgeted for. Tom seemed to be hit by the realization of this the next day when he posted:

I'll be dealing with all of this but look, for the moment, at that penultimate sentence:

'Interest rates went through the roof around May 1989 but - if they were sensible - they'd have been on a fixed-rate mortgage'

If they were sensible!

What is the one thing we are told over and over again by Tom Mitchell and the other diary defenders about Mike Barrett?

It is that Mike Barrett was not a sensible person. He was Bongo the Clown! Yet, when it suits them, he is put forward as a paragon of financial virtue, making sensible decisions. Not just him though. Even though Tom has so far failed to prove that Anne Graham had anything to do with the mortgage for 12 Goldie Street, he lumps her into the equation, obviously hoping that her influence would have persuaded Mike to fix his mortgage. Because, of course, if the mortgage wasn't fixed, and Mike bought the house in 1988 (or Mike or Anne did so), he (or they) might have been absolutely screwed by a virtual doubling of interest rates in 1989 if he (or they) had no additional budget.

As of 13 March 1988 when Mike said he and his family moved into 12 Goldie Street, the Bank of England interest rate stood at 8.88%. Four days later it fell a little to 8.38% then fell even further to 7.38 in May but then rocketed up from June, so that by October 1989 it stood at 14.88%. Anyone whose mortgage was on a variable rate would have been screwed if they were already at the very limit of what they could afford to pay.

Is it sensible to fix your mortgage rate?

Well it can be prudent to do so but what if the interest rate falls? Then you are stuck paying more than you need to. No one - least of all Mike - could have predicted in 1988 that the interest rate would sky-rocket in 1989. Certainly between February 1988 and June 1988 it fell by more than 1%.

Let's not forget that you need to pay an arrangement fee to fix a mortgage. What if Mike was a gambler and decided to save money on the arrangment fee or simply couldn't afford it? He might have taken on a variable mortgage and then lived to regret it. That alone would explain why he was under crippling financial pressure, after having had to spend all his savings to put down the £600 deposit.

The other thing that can easily lead to a house repossession is if there is a loss of income, perhaps because the borrower loses their job.

A key piece of information to bear in mind is that Celebrity magazine folded in August 1888. If Mike and Anne moved house in March 1988, shortly after Maggie Graham died, they might well have completed their house purchase a mere few months before Mike's income from Celebrity dried up. That expected income continuing might well have been a factor in Mike taking on the mortgage in the first place. Tom Mitchell's imaginary bank manager might well have assumed that Mike's journalistic income would have continued to flow in the same way as it had been doing during 1987.

The funny thing is that Tom Mitchell always likes to pooh-pooh the circa £120 that Mike said that he made per article for Celebrity but he now tells us that this sum - for just one article - would have covered Mike's entire mortgage payment for a month!

As to that, it's remarkable, isn't it, that Tom is perfectly happy to accept Mike's word that he only made £120 per article for Celebrity, yet refuses to accept his recollection that he was under financial pressure when he took on the mortgage for 12 Goldie Street. Hence:

We see that Tom is happy to use the £120 sum to calculate a total income of £2,000 'over four or five years' which is utterly absurd because Celebrity only started in January 1986 - with Mike's first known article in Celebrity (his uncredited Kenneth Williams interview) being in June 1986 - and stopped in August 1988, a period in which Mike contributed material consisting of barely more than two full years, so where has four or five years come from? Further, Tom has forgotten about the income Mike would have received for his contributions to Chat and Look-In not to mention any further uncredited work he did for Celebrity over and above his Kenneth Williams interview.

But what we also see is an admission by Tom that Barrett would have been under financial pressure whether he was writing for Celebrity magazine or not. Leaving aside the point that each article published would have apparently allowed Mike to pay off his monthly mortgage, if he'd had a mortgage prior to August 1988, it is therefore uncontroversial that, without Anne's financial help, Mike definitely would have been under financial pressure to pay the mortgage from his own income during late 1988 and 1989.

So what we need to know is (a) what was Anne earning in 1988/89 and (b) did she contribute to the deposit for the mortgage and the monthy mortgage payments?

The answers are........NONE. Nobody knows.

The way that Tom works the Big Con is by speculating furiously that an unspecified payment of £107.56 in May 1992, repeat May 1992, after the diary had been brought to London, was a mortgage payment. From that speculation, he then extrapolates backwards in time to conclude that if Anne was paying the mortgage in 1992, she must have been doing so back in 1988 and 1989.

He also speculates that because Anne's salary could comfortably cover the mortgage in May 1992 it must have been able to cover it in 1988 and 1989. But what was her salary in 1988 and 1989? Tom doesn't know! Was she even in paid employment in 1989? I have literally no idea. Does Tom?

Tom also seems to be clueless about personal finances. While apparently impressed that Anne received a salary of £750 per month (in May 1992, not 1988!), he doesn't seem to understand the concept of disposable income and thus fails consider whether Mike or Anne had debts that they needed to repay over and above normal monthly expenditure for food, clothing, electricity, heating, telephone, water etc. Might they have taken out a loan for home improvements or a holiday which they were repaying? Did they purchase househould appliances or furniture on hire purchase? Did they have historic debts which needed to be repaid? Did Mike, for example, have gambling debts? Did Anne own a car? Her payment of £107.56 could have been for anything. Tom simply assumes that it was a mortage repayment.

Has anyone seen Mike's bank statements before March 1992? No, is the answer. So all this nonsense about there being no evidence that Mike made mortgage repayments during this period is nothing more than guff and hot air because there is no evidence that the didn't.

And, of course, no one has seen Anne's bank statements from before March 1992 either.

Tom's entire spiel which forms his Big Con is based on his own understanding of the entirety of the Barretts' finances between 1988 and 1992 derived from a single bank statement of Anne Graham in a month after the diary had been brought to London and shown to Doreen Montgomery.

This is what he wants to use to convince everyone as meaning that Mike Barrett was never under sufficient financial pressure to spark the idea to make money by forging a Jack the Ripper diary!

This is all before we consider a point made by RJ Palmer that even if Anne did become responsible for the mortgage payments, this might have been a source of huge embarrassment for Mike who might well have been of the view that he, and he alone, should be the breadwinner in the family and that such things should be his responsibilty so that he wasn't dependent on his wife's earnings. Such things are just plain obvious but totally ignored by Mitchell.

It's worth reminding ourselves of what Caroline Morris-Brown said when she chipped in on the subject:

It's obviously wrong to say that 'the crucial period' was from 1988 to January 1994. That was just the period when Mike was living in the house. Anything after March 1992 is entirely irrelevant to the diary. The actual 'crucial' period was immediately after the house purchase because that is when Mike said the idea to write himself out of trouble by creating a fake diary came to him. That plan might not have been executed until March 1992 but if we are trying to understand why Mike formulated the plan in the first place as a result of crippling financial pressure, we need to look at what was going on in 1988-89, at which time we literally have no documentary or evidence to assist us.

Just look at Caroline Morris-Brown's argument. Her admission that she has no idea who was paying the mortgage for 12 Goldie Street between 1988 and January 1994 doesn't stop her speculating furiously that if, repeat if, it was coming out of Anne's salay 'it would beg the question' as to why Mike referred to it 'from June 1994' as his mortgage and his struggle to pay it. Well it doesn't beg that question at all, if Mike was left by Anne to pay the mortgage after she moved out from12 Goldie Street - the answer as to why Mike would then have referred to it as 'his' mortgage is obvious - but what is the purpose of mentioning it? She seems obsessed with the idea of Mike 'pissing' away his book royalties as if this means that the financial pressures were self-inflicted, but so what? The only issue here is whether Mike would have formulated a plan to fake the diary in response to financial pressure, whether self-inflicted or otherwise. She has literally no evidence to say it wasn't so.

For some bizarre reason, she then tells us about Mike's bank statement from May 1994. She says that it contained what she describes as 'unexplained' payments by Mike totalling £5,500.

These payments are no more 'unexplained' than Anne's payment of £107.56 in May 1992. They are no more unexplained than any cheque payments I might make from my own bank account which would appear on the statement as a cheque number only, as Mike's do.

I happen to have a copy of the bank statement in question. Not that it's of any relevance to the issue of Mike's motive in 1988 but here it is:

I've redacted the account number and sort code even though that's historic. The £8,886 credit was royalties paid by Smith Gryphon arising from sales of Shirley's book.

What we can see is that Mike was making direct debit payments to Sun Alliance, presumably for some sort of insurance cover, something which Tom Mitchell was evidently unaware of and hasn't factored into any of his calculations about Mike's monthly expenditure.

As for the outgoings, that was Mike's own money from the diary and he could spend it any way he liked. If he spent it on unnecessary luxuries in 1994, including alcohol, which meant he couldn't pay the mortgage, so what? By this time both Anne and his daughter had left him. Perhaps he didn't care about 12 Goldie Street any more and didn't want to live there. May 1994 was the month before Mike confessed to forging the diary. What does it matter what his bank statement said at this time?

To the extent that the relevant period can be considered to be when Mike said he and Anne actually forged the diary, i.e. March 1992, even though Mike never said that he was under crippling financial pressure at this time, we've even had an admission from Caroline Morris-Brown that Anne herself told the authors of 'Inside Story' that she was under financial pressure in this period due to MIke's increased drinking, hence:

'We do have Anne complaining that Mike was sent out with money to do the food shopping and came back with little to show for it and that, together with his increased drinking, while she was paying the mortgage, home insurance and other household bills, would undoubtedly have caused friction. If he spent money as soon as he got it, and was resentful when he didn't get it, one can imagine the financial pressure on Anne to try and keep everything on an even keel.'

Tom Mitchell's attempt to con the readers of his thread into thinking that everything was financially rosy in the Barrett household simply falls apart with this one piece of evidence.


It's time to move on to Tom's second reason why the Barretts wouldn't have forged the diary.

2) The risk they were taking was off the scale relative to the likelihood of return. They were perpetuating a fraud (in your world) so they were staring down the barrel of a ten-stretch in chokey ("The Fraud Act is typically used to charge individuals involved in these types of offences, and the maximum sentence under this act is 10 years imprisonment. However, it is important to note that a sentence of this length is typically reserved for the most severe cases, such as large-scale fraud.​"). Who would be taking young Caroline to school and university if both parents were banged-up in Joliet, as it were?

This is all false. More disinformation spread by a diary defender.

There is no crime in writing out a diary of Jack the Ripper in a disguised handwriting. If, for example, I were to write onto the blank pages of a Victorian photograph album a diary of Walter Sickert from 1888, in which he supposedly recorded his thoughts after murdering women in Whitechapel, there is no crime. I have a perfect right to do it. I could do it as many times as I wanted.

If, as Mike claimed, he dictated the text of the diary to his wife in 12 Goldie Street, he was not committing a crime. He was legally entitled to do it. Anne was legally entitled to write down what he told her in disguised handwriting. It was a risk-free endeavour.

If that's all Anne did, she couldn't possibly be convincted of a crime or go to prison. She didn't attempt to falsely persuade anyone that the diary was genuinely by either James Maybrick or Jack the Ripper. How could she? Even Mike didn't claim that. He just said he had been given it by Tony Devereux and knew nothing more about it. While that was a lie, it's not necessarily a crime to lie.

The only legal document Anne signed was a collaboration agreement with Shirley Harrison in July 1992. She couldn't have warranted in that agreement anything about the authenticity of the diary because she never claimed to know anything about it.

Robert Smith, who actually purchased the diary (albeit for £1 only), and thus could be said to have been a victim of a crime of fraud, notes in his book that:

'Anne hadn't come to London [with MIke] and doggedly refused to accept any of the advances and royalties paid by my company to Rupert Crew Ltd.'

He asks himself, 'Why was she so reticet to be financially involved?'. Delusionally, he came to accept Anne's explanation from 1994 that she 'panicked' and had 'just wanted to burn the diary in its entirety'.

The problem is that this story is directly contradicted by the contemporaneous documentary evidence which tells us that on 21 April 1992 Anne told Doreen Montgomery that, 'her only anxiety in asking her husband to place the Diary with the bank was because of the fact that they have had a couple of burglaries and she is also frightened of fire'. This is the direct opposite of wanting to burn the diary! She was literally wanting to pay a bank to keep it safe so that it didn't burn in a house fire. Or get stolen.

Given that it's not true that Anne wanted to burn the diary in a fire in 1992, might her actual reason for not going to London with Mike, and for doggedly refusing to accept advances and royalties, have been because she wanted to avoid being compromised by having personally financially benefitted from the diary if the police ever did get involved?

If there was no risk of Anne going to prison, which there wasn't, this argument as to why the Barretts wouldn't have forged the diary falls apart in its entirety.

Even with the risk of Mike going to prison for offering a diary he knew to be fake to Doreen Montgomery (itself questionable because she was a literary agent) or causing her to offer it to Robert Smith as a potentially genuine document, it would mean that young Caroline could have got taken to school and university by her mother (although why she needed her parents to be at liberty to go to university as Tom seems to think, I have no idea). She seemed to cope in going to school without her father when Anne moved out from Goldie Street in 1994 so I think she would have survived in 1992 or 1993.

So Tom's point number 2 is another dead-in-the-water point


Part 3 of the con job is:

3) Neither had any known track record whatsoever of attempting such a feat before they were suddenly inspired to make a well-known middle class Liverpool cotton merchant come celebrity murder victim the most infamous criminal in history: the level of implausibility involved speaks to the extremely low probability that anyone in their right mind would consider such a venture as worth starting.

On Tom Mitchell's understanding of events, James Maybrick didn't have a track record of murdering women until, at the age of 49, he committed his first murder in Manchester. Yet, this doesn't stop Tom thinking that Maybrick was responsible for that murder.

What the Barretts had was a track record in combining to jointly produce (professionally) written material. That's all that was needed. Mike also had a track record in criminal behaviour, having mugged an old lady for her purse.

The whole point of Mike's story is that it was the financial pressure of the mortgage which prompted him to try and write his way out of financial trouble which is what led to the creation of the diary. That financial pressure hadn't existed before the move to Goldie Street which is why he attempted a money-making feat that he'd never attempted before.

This point of Tom's about no track record is such a daft point which doesn't even begin to demonstrate that the Barretts wouldn't or couldn't have forged the diary, so let's move on.


Tom's point 4, in which he appears to be saying that Mike was used by Eddie Lyons as someone who would help him dispose of unwanted rubbish (apparently Eddie couldn't read the perfectly clear signature of 'Jack the Ripper' at the end of the diary and thus wanted to be 'rid of' it rather than make money from it) is completely irrelevant to the issue of why the Barretts wouldn't or couldn't have forged the diary - it relates only to the Battlecrease provenance argument - so Tom seems to have lost track here. This is his point in full:

4) Barrett had some previous in the celebrity gossip rags in the 1980s and was a known blowhard so who better to turn to to be rid of an old Victorian scrapbook with a tale in that was extremely hard to read? The illusion of his literary prowess explains why he was able to take possession of the scrapbook whilst never for a moment conveying any sense that he could have actually written such a text it held. In reality, Barrett was either utterly illiterate or else suffered from raging dyslexia (his random use of upper and lower cases probably speaks to the former but that's me just guessing).

To the extent that Tom's last sentence is supposed to relate to why the Barretts wouldn't or couldn't have forged the diary, Mike's supposed dyslexia is utterly irrelevant. If the diary was a Mike Barrett forgery it would surely have been written out in pen by Anne. So what does Mike's dyslexia have to do with the price of fish? What does it matter that he was illiterate if Anne could correct his spelling and grammar? We know that Mike and Anne were perfectly capable of producing competent written work, so this point is itself garbage.


With his fifth and final point, Tom again veered wildly off course, forgetting that he was supposed to be arguing why the Barretts wouldn't or couldn't have forged the diary, not why he thinks they didn't. But here is the point for what it's worth (nothing):

5) The transcript that they typed out to help people understand the scrapbook text did not mirror the very text they were supposed to have written. This is clear evidence of their innocence unless you argue further that not only were they suddenly amazing hoaxers (ex nihilo) but they were also crafty enough to make errors in the transcript to make it look as though they definitely didn't write it. Now, you will say that none of these is proof-positive of Mike and Anne's innocence, but others might look at the holistic sum of the parts and consider the utter implausibility of such a scenario having been so well proven that any alternative possibilities require too much stretching to be realistic.

The transcript in question, supposed to be 'clear evidence' of innocence is, of course, being ruthlesssly suppressed and withheld, with no one other than a select few allowed to even look at it, which is real strange if it actually clears the Barretts of forging the diary. But, as we can see, there's a catch. They might have been 'crafty enough' to make a one or two deliberate errors. That's not rocket science. It would have been totally daft to produce a perfect transcript of their own handwritten work. The problem here is that Tom thinks two working class people from Liverpool must be completely stupid and clueless, without a functioning brain cell between them, while only he would have been clever enough to devise such a clever ruse to throw Doreen and Shirley off the scent by including some deliberate transcription errors. Producing a slightly inaccurate transcript would have been the most obvious thing that any self-respecting forger would have done. It's not difficult, yet it clearly fools those who think the diary is genuine.

Then look at that final sentence commencing: 'Now, you will say that none of these is proof-positive of Mike and Anne's innocence'. It proves that Tom has forgotten what he was supposed to be doing. As I've said, he was supposed to be showing us why the Barretts couldn't have forged the diary then decided to argue why they wouldn't have done so but ends up thinking that his purpose was to demonstrate that they didn't forge the diary. He has the barefaced cheek to look at the 'holistic sum of the parts' and consider 'the utter implausibility' of the Barretts having written the diary when he refuses every single day of the week to look at the holistic sum of the multiple parts which proves that the diary is a fake and the utter implausibility that it could have ended up beneath the floorboards of Battlecrease.

Even worse is that despite the BIG CON, he's produced nothing to show that it is implausible for the Barretts to have writtten the diary. After all, Mike had been a struggling professional freelance journalist whose career had effectively come to a halt with the folding of Celebrity magazine and was surviving on disability benefit while he was either having trouble paying the mortgage or was having to rely on his wife to do it for him. Anne was his writing partner who helped tidy up his work and certainly forms some of her written characters in the same distinctive way as the person who wrote the diary. Both Mike and Anne are known to have used similar expressions to those used by the diarist and Anne was remiss with her apostrophe use, often forgetting to include them in her known correspondence, and was capable of making the same sort of mistakes as the diarist. The diary Mike produced for the first time ever in April 1992 has no known history or provenance. Mike confessed on multiple occasions to having been involved in the forgery, while Anne came up with a story which even Tom now regards as a cock & bull load of nonsense about the diary having been in her family for donkey's years, having originally given the impression that she'd known nothing about it. With Mike, someone with a known interest in both true crime and Liverpool, the owner of a book containing two chapters about the Maybrick case, now confirmed to have been secretly hunting for a genuine Victorian diary with blank pages for a reason Tom is quite unable to explain, and now known to have produced a research note hiding any mention of Ryan's book about Maybrick which the forger used as the main Maybrick source, the holistic sum of the parts tells us that it is very likely that Mike and Anne were involved in that forgery. What is absolutely certain is that there is no coherent reason why they couldn't have done it.


Tom's scam on his readers didn't stop with his five miserable points. For it involved posting further misinformation about Lord Orsam.

'Okay, so Lord Orsam managed to concoct a world which just about fitted Michael Barrett's affidavit of January 5, 1995, but the sole piece of available evidence for it proved to be utterly ambiguous - namely, the purchase of the little maroon diary from two years after James Maybrick died (you know, the one Barrett sought in case he needed to produce a genuine Victorian document at some point and didn't want to have to produce the actual Maybrick scrapbook itself).'

I don't know how many times I have to say that I don't rely at all on the purchase of the little red (or moroon) diary as evidence for Mike's involvement in the forgery scheme. For all I know, Mike could have purchased that diary to see what a Victorian diary looked like. What I rely on as very strong evidence of forgery is the advertisement placed on Mike's behalf in which it is made clear that he wanted a diary with blank pages.

I'm not saying anything new here. I said it in May 2018 in Tom Mitchell's own thread:

As we can see, many years ago I said:

'It's perfectly true that the the little red diary doesn't prove anything at all.'

Did Tom miss this?

Then I said:

'It's the undisputed fact that Mike, in March 1992, was seeking a used or unused Victorian diary with a minimum of 20 blank pages which is the salient point and, as no sensible reason has ever been produced for Mike to have wanted such a diary at this time period, other than to create a forged Victorian diary, we can all draw our own conclusions as to why he was wanting to forge a Victorian diary in March 1992.'

It's not difficult to understand, so why does Tom say totally false and incorrect things about me relying on the red (or maroon) diary?

I'll tell you exactly why. It's because he knows that the Bookdealer advertisement proves that Mike wasn't seeking a diary 'in case he needed to produce a genuine Victorian document at some point and didn't want to produce the actual Maybrick scrapbook itself'. Had that been Mike's intention, there wouldn't have been any need to limit his request to diaries with a certain minimum number of blank pages. Any Victorian diary would have done. Tom can't explain that, so he prefers to twist the truth by claiming that the only evidence of forgery that I rely on is the maroon diary, something I've repeatedly said isn't the case.

Here is yet another example of me having said this in March 2018:

See. 'The red diary did not provide any evidence for Mike forging the diary'. Even by March 2018, I had obviously been saying this repeatedly. It's the blank pages requirement which is the slam dunk smoking gun in this case.

The red diary is, if you'll forgive the pun, a red herring because it simply happened to be the only Victorian diary with blank pages which Mike was offered.


At one point, Tom tried to tell us what he would have done in his middle class world had he been struggling to pay his mortgage. Surprisingly it didn't involve forging a Jack the Ripper diary or, indeed, commiting any type of forgery. It involved all kinds of other things to try and keep up the payments.

In doing so, Tom has managed to prove that no one in the entire world would ever try to make extra money by robbing a bank, selling drugs, kidnapping a person, burgling a house, stealing goods from a shop, inducing someone to fraudulently transfer their money in a phishing scam, or engaging in any other form of criminal enterprise because, you see, that's not what Tom would do if he needed to make some additional cash. No, he would sit down with his partner to try and work out some civilised and legal ways of making money.

It's kind of amazing, though, because all over the world we find people (some of whom are even property owners) arrested, convicted and imprisoned for doing all these things. Why didn't they just ask their local Citizens Advice Bureau to see if there was any governement support available, like Tom would have done? Why didn't they first downsize or seek help from the council to obtain affordable housing, like Tom would have done? I mean, it's all so easy.

These criminals, huh? They just don't think straight like Tom does, do they?

So, well done Tom for showing us why no person would ever commit a criminal offence if they were short of cash, either to pay their mortgage or for any other reason, and that there is no crime currently being committed in the world, never well be and never has been. Simply by telling us that he wouldn't do it, he's proved that no one else would.

It's laughable of course, which is why we laugh at it.


It has to be said that during the madness of his Big Con, there was one brief moment of self-awareness by Mitchell in coming to the realization that RJ Palmer was right after all and that, as Palmer said, there has never been a coherent reason put forward why Mike and Anne couldn't jointly have forged the diary.

'In fairness to RJ, Caz, if you're looking for unequivocals, his claim (above) is absolutely 100% spot-on. Well done, la!'

What a complete waste of time, then!

Naturally, having proved himself wrong he has to come up with a silly remark to try and pretend otherwise. On this occasion it was;

'Oh, hold on, but it also applies to everyone else who was alive in March 1992 and old enough and sufficiently capable of thinking creatively. That was probably around 5 billion people? So did you write the text of the Maybrick scrapbook, Caz, in red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue?'

Yes, Tom, well done, that was RJ Palmer's exact point. He was saying that the onus of proof is on a person putting forward a theory. It was in response to the suggestion that it was for RJ (and others) to prove that the diary didn't come out from Battlecrease, and that his failure to do so explains why that theory is still around, that RJ issued the challenge he did. This is why it isn't good enough for me to say, for example, that the diary actually came out of my backside and that it's for the rest of the world to prove it didn't, otherwise it's a theory that won't die. The onus is on me to prove that the diary came from my backside. If I fail to do so, it doesn't matter how many times I claim it did, or how many other idiots I might find to say that they think it might have done, without coherent reasons and evidence, it's not a serious theory and is certainly not worth discussing.

In the end, the only person likely to have been conned by Tom's BIG CON was Tom himself but, bearing in mind his belated admission that RJ's claim was 'absolutely 100% spot on', it looks like he couldn't even manage to do that.


11 December 2023

63 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
Dec 11, 2023

I know nothing about UK housing schemes, but Tom Mitchell claims that Anne's monthly income was £750, while the mortgage payment was only £107, which seems awfully low. That's only about 14% of her income, while I'm seeing figures that suggest the average housing costs were closer to 38% of one's monthly income in the early 90s.

Either way, it doesn't really matter. Mitchell has no idea what the Barretts' financial situation was. Further, his entirely argument is ludicrous. He's claiming that Barrett, an unemployed writer with a young child and a drink problem and who knows what else, had no motive for creating a document that Mitchell himself compares to a "bag of £100 notes." When Tom eagerly s…

Lord Orsam
Dec 11, 2023
Replying to

Hard agree.  It’s difficult to believe that only yesterday Mitchell was posting on Casebook: “I consider myself to be a scrupulously honest, honourable, and fair person”.  I’m sure he does – never let it be said that he has a low opinion of himself – but how someone who is honest, honourable and fair could write such utter garbage is a mystery.  Yet, bafflingly, Keith Skinner seems happy to feed his top secret material to such a person for him to use selectively as he wishes and, when he is accused of being a “grotesquely partisan gamekeeper”, which he is, Skinner takes umbrage at that, as if he has been personally insulted.  This is the strange world of diary defending.

bottom of page