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  • Lord Orsam

The Missing Tapes

Over two months have now passed since the Gray/Barrett recordings were released to the public with three inaudible mp3 files, unfortunately, amongst them.


I cannot think why audible files for these three recordings have not yet been supplied to Jonathan Menges for him to make them available on Casebook or, if that's not possible, an explanation for why it's not possible for them to be supplied. Keith Skinner frequently posts statements on Casebook, or, rather, causes them to be posted by others, but he has kept radio silence in respect to this issue.


If the original tapes have become corrupted, so that good quality recordings cannot now be made, that's one thing. It would be unfortunate, but there wouldn't be anything that can be done. But is that the case? We don't know because we haven't been told.


Jonathan Menges has said on the Comments page on this website that he personally requested "high quality lossless audio files" from James Johnston to help aid listeners in their own private restorations. He has confirmed that "these lossless files do exist" but that his request for them "has been denied."


Jonathan's full statement as posted on this website on 16 January 2024 is as follows:



This is very unfortunate. Why would James Johnston not wish to assist listeners to hear the best possible quality copies of the recordings? Why has Jonathan Menges' reasonable request been denied?


It's particularly troubling in view of Keith Skinner's public statement that the reason he initially refused to agree to release the recordings was because of his sensitivity that it will be possible to compare the summary of the November 1994 recordings included in his 2003 book with the contents of the actual recordings and, perhaps, identify mistakes and/or omissions in the summary in his book. Thus, he said in his statement of 9 December 1993:


'I now won't be releasing any of the tapes, as it is clear to me that Mr Palmer, having referred to Tom Mitchell as a "grotesquely partisan gatekeeper" would also find fault in the authors account and criticise us for being selective and deliberately omitting detail he considers we should have included.'


Now, I don't like to think or talk about cover-ups, but the current situation is almost designed to encourage the belief that Skinner and Johnston are covering up something deficient about the summary of the Gray/Barrett conversations from November 1994 presented in 'Inside Story' by releasing deliberately inaudible recordings for the key November 1994 tapes. Indeed, within the context of the very public criticism faced by Keith Skinner when his initial decision to refuse to release the tapes was made public, one could potentially go further and say that the release of the 15 Gray/Barrett tapes was a charade designed to conceal that the three key tapes were actually being withheld and suppressed, while recordings of lesser interest and relevance were released to the public.


I would personally prefer to think that a mistake was made during the transfer process whereby the tapes were digitally transferred at the wrong speed, which wasn't picked up in any quality control check. But the fact that nothing has been done about the totally inaudible digital files of previously audible cassette tapes, in over two months, with not a word of explanation, in circumstances in which it is being falsely trumpeted that, "Everyone is now free to do exactly what Keith and others have tried to do, and work out for themselves what appears to be happening" (per C. Morris-Brown, 11 Jan 2024), is really very troubling. This is especially true considering that the missing recordings are those in which Mike evidently told the full story of the creation of the diary for the very first time.


Given the passage of time since Jonathan's statement, it seems to be the case that it's not possible to correct the speed of these tapes and render them audible, with software such as Audacity, as Jonathan had hoped, but this remains unconfirmed.


While one of the tapes which has been released effectively resolves the longstanding question of the misdating of 1992 for 1990 in Mike's affidavit - something the diary defending team may not have appreciated beforehand - there remain other issues from the affidavit which need resolving, such as how much involvement Mike was saying Tony Devereux had in the drafting of the diary's text.


In this respect, it's astonishing that Caroline Morris-Brown still hasn't learnt her lesson and continues to spout the line that the contents of the affidavit must accurately reflect the story told by Mike to Gray, ignoring the fact that, in reality, the affidavit must reflect Gray's understanding of what Mike told him, which may not be accurate. Hence, on 26th January 2024 she posted on Casebook:


'Wrong dates have much less to do with it than the impossible order of events, which Mike goes into at some length, and has a dead man with him all the way through, from conception to obtaining all the raw materials and physically creating the diary with Anne. He even sets it to one side when it's finished, waiting for this dead man to die again so he can give it a provenance.'


What we need to know is: was Gray confused by the distinction between the drafting process of the diary's text and the writing process of the text into the photograph album? For the drafting process might well have happened in a different time period to the writing process. Such confusion could easily explain the confusion in of the sequence of events as set out in the affidavit.


On the audible parts of the tapes I've heard, nothing has been mentioned about Tony Devereux's role in the forgery process. As it's dealt with in the affidavit, one assumes it is discussed on one or more of the three unreleased recordings. It would be very helpful to see if Mike was actually saying that the process of physically writing the diary's text into the photograph album was done while Tony was alive.


If he was simply saying that Tony helped in the initial drafting of the diary text, then we do not have an impossible order of events. With the knowledge that Mike intended to say that the auction at which he purchased the diary was in March 1992, which we now know is what he did intend to say, everything could suddenly become clear.


But where are those three key tapes in audible format? What is going on?


LORD ORSAM 12 March 2024




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