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  • Lord Orsam

The Original Diary Defender

If you were thinking that the original diary defender was Shirley Harrison, you'd be wrong.

It was, of course, none other than Michael John Barrett.

For he was the first person to call the forgery "Jack the Ripper's diary".

It's kind of ironic that the other diary defenders don't seem to realize that Barrett was the very first of their number, especially as they like to call those who expose the diary "Barrett defenders".

Well in defending the diary they are defending the original incarnation of Mike Barrett.

But who was the first Barrett defender?

Oh that's easy, it was the diary defender Shirley Harrison.

See, in an interview she gave to Harold Brough of the Liverpool Daily Post in September 1993, as part of a publicity campaign for her forthcoming book, she wanted to emphasise the honesty and trustworthiness of Mr Barrett.

Don't believe me? Here's the receipt from that Liverpool Daily Post interview dated 25 September 1993:

As we can see, from her extensive forty years of experience, she was able to say that there was something, almost saintly, about Mike Barrett, "which made me feel there was something in what he had to say".

Were any doubts entertained by her about his story that he'd obtained the diary from Tony Devereux? Not at all. Shirley went on to tell Brough that: "She believes Barrett was motivated by Scouse loyalty, a desire to fulfill the wish of a friend', that friend being Tony Devereux.

Doubts about Mike's motives? Might he have been in it for the money? Not at all, Shirley was able to reassure us. All he wanted was a teeny weeny little greenhouse:

You see, it's right there in black and white. Money was the very last thing on Mike's mind. He never even asked for any. Only when the possibility of making money from the diary was mentioned by someone else did he think longingly about buying a cheap small greenhouse, being the honest down-to-earth passionate gardening lover that he was, always out in the garden tending to the flowers was Mike.

This interview, remember, was 17 months after Shirley had first met Mike, so she had had plenty of time to assess his character. She wanted the world to know that Mike was as honest as the day was long (the longer the daylight the less he did wrong, as Madness might have put it). A paragon of virtue with not a thought for himself. And, you see, don't forget, there was something about Mike - something bloody honest and reliable - which made Shirley feel there was something in what he had to say.

But then again, as the article makes clear, she only knew Mike as "a former scrap metal man from Liverpool". He wasn't a former professional freelance journalist. Oh no, not at all. Just a humble former scrap metal man with no interest in writing or creating stories.


There's more gold to be extracted from Shirley's 1993 interview.

Let's first remind ourselves of what Bag Expert Caroline Morris Brown told RJ Palmer on 22nd August 2023:

'Like it or not, the diary showed up in London on 13th April 1992 wrapped in brown paper.'

This would appear to have derived from her own 2003 book in which it is stated that on 13th April 1992, Mike turned up at Doreen Montgomery's office dressed "in a smart new suit", and that:

"After the initial introductions he [Mike Barrett] produced from a briefcase held tightly under his arm a parcel wrapped in brown paper, which he laid gently on the table before tearing off its wrapping."

And this reflected almost word for word what was in Shirley Harrison's own 1993 book The Diary of Jack the Ripper in which had been stated:

"Mike was wearing a smart suit and clutching a case containing the diary, still in its brown paper'.

So Mike was carrying the diary wrapped in brown paper in a briefcase. That's clear.

Oddly, though, when Shirley Harrison related the story to Harold Brough in advance of publication of her book, in the September 1993 interview, she said this:

"He had the diary in a plastic carrier bag."

So what was it? A briefcase or a plastic carrier bag? And if there was no briefcase, was the story about the brown paper even true? After all, if she was talking about her "first impression" wouldn't she have mentioned the brown paper that the diary was wrapped in, if it really had been?


4 June 2024

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Jun 05

I agree with the assessment given by Lord O on another posting. Barrett had a personality disorder. He was a fabulist and it's in the nature of the beast to tell irrational lies that defy explanation.

To me, the lies told by Anne Graham are far more interesting. She doesn't appear to have had a similar affliction, so her lies require a rationale. And yet no one on the 'diary side' can explain why Anne was lying to Paul Feldman, Keith Skinner, Shirely Harrison, and others----unless what Barrett said in his secret affidavit was true. To me, that's game, set, and match.


Jun 05
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

One of the worst consequences of the Barrett hoax is that in 1993 it sucked up all the mass media oxygen that should have rightfully belonged to Stewart Evans' discovery of the Littlechild Letter, which was genuine and a major find about a forgotten suspect. This was not the diary hoaxer's intention, that's true, but it is still a big bummer and the Barretts' responsibility. That's just my two cents.


Jun 04

The Diary has to be the most wrapped, unwrapped, and rewrapped book human history.

It must be a Scouser thing.

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