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  • Lord Orsam

The Schooling of Thomas Mitchell

Suspended and asterisked from Casebook, a bored and quarrelsome Thomas Mitchell resurfaced to cause trouble on JTR Forums with more of his inflammatory "I am much cleverer than you" diary nonsense but, in the end, before the thread got closed by Admin, he got schooled by another member of the board.

Before we get to that, there is quite a lot to discuss.


Let's deal with Mitchell's first post in the sequence, dated 4 March 2024, replying to a post by Harry Mann from10 January 2024 in a thread entitled 'Diary Forgery'. Mitchell told Harry:

"One of the hoaxers is looking at the death scene photograph of Mary Kelly's bedroom and they spot the 'FM' on Mary's wall and the 'F' carved into her arm.

This causes them to stop and think and at the end of that period of thinking they have imagined that those initials could refer to Florence Maybrick. This immediately led to James Maybrick therefore being imagined into the role of Saucy Jacky for the nascent hoax which is soon to be inflicted upon an incredulous world.

That's the only way your version could have gone down, Harry. The only way."

Mitchell is, of course, wrong. As usual. It's not the only way.

What could easily have happened is that the forger, having chosen James Maybrick as Jack the Ripper for his fake diary, spotted in a Ripper book what looked to him like the initials 'F.M' on the wall in the Kelly crime scene photograph (or possibly just 'M' on the wall and 'F' on the arm) and decided to incorporate that, in a vague and unspecified way, into the diary text. What is so difficult for Mitchell to understand about this? It was just an opportunistic addition to the already conceived forgery plot.

It's because Mitchell thinks that the 'F.M' is so obviously on the wall that his brain really can't comprehend that it's such a minor part of the diary. A diary which doesn't even mention the initials 'F.M.'.

We should not forget that if Maybrick had married a woman called Emma or Emily or Elizabeth or Elaine or Esther or Eleanor,, Mitchell would undoubtedly be telling us that the initials 'E.M' are on the wall. After all, Martin Fido first thought that what Mitchell believes to be an 'F' was an 'E' and only adjusted it because the diary didn't appear to be referring to Edwin Maybrick's initials at this point in the story. The brain sees what it wants to see.

The problem with Mitchell is that he doesn't understand that if you want to know what was actually on Kelly's wall you need to look at the best quality reproduction of the photograph. He's never seen it! He's only ever seen poor quality reproductions in books which introduce artifacts. When one goes to the original source, it is plain that there were no letters on the wall. None at all. Rob Clack, who has seen an original reproduction, as I have, confirmed it in the same thread the next day. It's why Keith Skinner, who has also seen the original print, has never publicly stated that the letters 'F.M' are on the wall.


If one had to guess why Tom Mitchell decided on 6 March to reply to a post from January, the likelihood is that he wanted to make some points about the Hitler Diaries in response to That Other Fake Diary which I'd posted only about a week earlier. Needless to say, Tom's points were as absurd as they were ignorant. The guy didn't even seem to have done any kind of basic fact checking or thinking about what he was posting.

There were actually two mentions of the Hitler diaries in his post, both as silly as the other. The first was a comment that, 'when our erstwhile Scouse hoaxers were planning the Hoax of the Century' they were 'toppling the monumental effort which had been put into the failed Hitler Diaries - not that that had put them off of course.'

Personally, I have no idea how a single failed Jack the Ripper diary of a mere 63 pages managed to topple, in terms of effort, the more than 60 failed Hitler diaries. Given that the handwriting in the Hitler diaries was at least a passable effort for Hitler's handwriting, whereas the forger of the Jack the Ripper diary didn't even bother to attempt to recreate the handwriting of its supposed author, it's difficult to know how the Ripper forger(s) managed to topple Kajau's effort. Sure, as I said in my article, they might have learnt some lessons, such as how to ensure that the forgery was written on the correct paper for the period, but in terms of effort, considering that the Ripper diary is just as sloppy in terms of content as the Hitler diaries, it's difficult to know what Mitchell is thinking here.

But that wasn't his main point about the Hitler diaries. His main point, which appeared in a postscript, was in response to a fairly daft post by Harry Mann who couldn't seem to understand why the forgers chose to create a forged diary (which had prompted Caroline Morris-Brown, not understanding at all the commercial value of a diary, to make the equally daft suggestion that a one line letter would have sufficed) in which he (Tom) said:

'It was a journal format they chose. If it had been a letter, you'd have asked 130+ years later, "Why a letter?", would you not? Why did Konrad Kujau compile an additional 61 volumes of Adolf's inner thoughts when he could presumably have flogged Heidemann a few long epistles and still commanded a fair old fee? Or, at least, compiled three or four Hitler diaries instead of those extra 61 and still asked for DM2.5m? Why did he do so much and therefore massively increase the likelihood of his hoax being quickly unravelled?'

Now, this is rather odd. Tom is writing here like a diary opponent! When he says that it was a journal format "they chose" he can surely only be talking about the Barretts. He certainly can't mean James Maybrick who did not exist in the plural. So he seems to be accepting here for the first time ever that the Barretts created the diary!!! Here is the proof for posterity:

As for his question of why Kajau 'did so much' I'm not sure I understand its purpose. If he's trying to rebut Harry's strange suggestion that the forgers could have done something other than a diary by saying that there's nothing odd about them having forged a diary, I would agree with him but can he really be doing that? Although he asks why Kajau complied an additional 61 volumes, his question seems to be rhetorical but I'm not quite sure.

In any event, his question is based on a misunderstanding of what occurred. As I explained in my blog post, Kajau did initially only create one diary. It was for the period January to June 1935. The problem was, if I can put it this way, that this was a fucking boring period in Hitler's life. Sure, Kajau could have made a small amount of money by selling a diary of Hitler covering this six months of his life, long before the Second World War had started, on the basis of a few minor and relatively boring insights into Hitler's personal life, but it wasn't going to garner massive headlines around the world and be an international publishing sensation. It wasn't, in other words, going to bring Kajau the big bucks.

What happened is that Kajau, in some respects, created his own burden by devising a back story that the diary had come from a wider collection of documents which had been lost during the crash of Hitler's plane at the end of the war but were rescued by locals. This generated a demand for the rest of the diaries, as well as any other documents which had been rescued. In fact, prior to the appearance of Gerd Heidemann and Stern on the scene, Kajau, no doubt with any eye to reeling in rich collectors, had boasted that there were 27 volumes of Hitler's diary hidden in East Germany which he could only smuggle out one at a time in intervals of one or two months (because more journeys than this, he said, would be suspicious). With regards to his deal with Stern, Kajau was paid for every diary he supplied. There wouldn't have been such a deal with Stern if Kajau hadn't agreed to provide a complete set of the diaries. Stern needed diaries which covered the period of the Second World War, which was the period of real interest to its readers and to the rest of the world. Even if Kajau had wanted to minimise the work he needed to do, having provided one diary covering a 6 month period in 1935, he could hardly now condense the rest of Hitler's life into one or two volumes.

We can differentiate this from Mike Barrett who said he received the diary from a now dead person so that, even if the diary hadn't finished with Maybrick's death, which of course it did, Mike could hardly have produced more volumes. Not to mention that he would have needed to find more Victorian diaries or photograph albums (whereas Kajau was able to buy the exercise books he used for his diaries from a department store). The best he could have done - which he did appear to try to do - was to say he had retained some earlier pages from the diary which he'd cut out. He was always looking to make more money from the diary but, because he hadn't come up with a cover story which involved him being able to smuggle documents out of East Germany, he was stuck with one volume. And one volume was sufficient to cover the period of the Ripper murders.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Tom's post in this respect is his inability to understand how a forger thinks. For Tom, the most important factor weighing on Kajau's mind was a fear of the hoax unravelling so that, in his view, Kajau should have stopped after three or four diaries. In reality, Kajau, while not wanting to get caught, was evidently more interested in making money and, perhaps, in actually producing more content in order to demonstrate what a creative genius he was. People who are professional con artists just think differently from normal people (not that Tom Mitchell can be described as "normal" or even as someone who isn't a con artist).


The following is such a strange point made by Mitchell in his second post on 6th March (replying to his fellow True Believer, Jay Hartley):

"If seven point seven billion people on the planet (I guess minus the illiterate ones and those under the age of 12), Jay, were asked to produce a Jack the Ripper hoax diary prior to March 9, 1992, not a single one of them would have produced anything even vaguely like the one we eventually got. Let that sink in."

That's pretty much self-evident. If you had asked all 7.7 billion people on the planet prior to 9 March 1992 to produce a Jack the Ripper hoax diary, you would likely have ended up with 7.7 billion very different Jack the Ripper hoax diaries.

Not that 7.7 billion people is the correct number. It would be pointless asking everyone, because most people wouldn't even know where or how to begin. You would have to reduce it to asking all con artists on the planet to produce a Jack the Ripper hoax diary, which would be a much smaller number. And, frankly, if you are looking for comparisons, you'd have to reduce that number to a subset of all con artists who lived in Liverpool because such people were far more likely to identify James Maybrick as the Ripper than con artists from any other city. And, whether from Liverpool or not, we would surely expect every con artist to produce something completely different from every other con artist, would we not? Does Mitchell think there is some kind of generic template for a hoax diary?

Of course any hoax Jack the Ripper diary produced by the Barretts was going to be unique. Why would it not?

What possible point can Mitchell think he is making by saying that if the Barretts forged the diary they produced something unique, different from what anyone else would have produced? Why does it have to sink in that no one else would have done it in the way they did it? There's nothing to sink in. It's exactly what we would expect, isn't it?


Tom's next sentence in his post (written in response to Jay Hartley saying that Mike never produced any "real evidence" - whatever that is supposed to mean - that he was the hoaxer) was just false. He said:

"Technically, he sought a Victorian diary with twenty blank pages in March 1992 and he also 'found' the Crashaw quotation ("O costly intercourse ..."). Other than those two established facts, he did not do a single thing whatsoever to even tempt me to think he was responsible for anything other than making vacuous claims and generally being an egocentric prat."

No, no, no. Mike did not technically seek a Victorian diary "with twenty blank pages". This is simply untrue. He sought a totally unused and entirely blank Victorian diary, alternatively one with a minimum of twenty blank pages.

These people are so focussed on twenty pages they forget that this was the absolute minimum. But they love to falsely say "twenty pages" because that seems too small for a Jack the Ripper diary (even though it isn't).

But at least Tom now admits that he is tempted to think that Mike was responsible for hoaxing the diary on the basis of his requirement for a Victorian diary with blank pages and his discovery of the Crashaw quotation.

Baby steps.


Well folks, he said it:

"The handwriting and the claimed anachronisms of 'one off instance', 'bumbling buffoon', et cetera, occasionally cause me to awaken at 4am in a cold sweat screaming into the uncaring darkness of my cell in the mental hospital, but I fall asleep again fairly soon thereafter as I consider that we simply do not know what James Maybrick's private hand looked like nor can we be certain that expressions such as those cited were categorically not yet imagined in 1888-89."

We can, however, be certain that 'one off instance' was categorically "not yet imagined" in 1889. We know how this expression evolved in the English language in the twentieth century (see One Off Article), thus proving the diary to be a fake. The same is true of 'bumbling buffoon'. That's why there are no examples in the English language during the nineteenth century and never will be.

One might also note on the handwriting issue that Tom's obsession with a person's "private hand" seems to be based on the notion that his own "private" handwriting as a youth was different to his normal handwriting, but that is something that has never been tested by a handwriting expert (i.e. would an expert rule out his "private" jottings as having been written by him?) nor has he ever produced any expert evidence that there is such a thing as a normal person having different handwriting on different occasions, specifically having a private hand. I've always accepted that the handwriting of a psychopath might change on different occasions but it's a real stretch. Thankfully, the 'one off instance' issue means we don't need to trouble ourselves with the handwriting in this case because the diary is, already a proven fake, not written by James Maybrick.


According to our friend, the expert on all things:

"The watch is obviously real. By the very standards invoked by those who criticise the scrapbook for not being in James' handwriting, the watch contains his known (and highly idiosyncratic) signature - let that sink in - so you are absolutely correct when you say that the watch was genuinely James Maybrick's and therefore Jack the Ripper's."

Yes, of course the watch is real! A real gold watch is involved. But it's almost certainly not a genuine watch that ever belonged to James Maybrick.

Despite Tom's bombastic claim that the watch contains Maybrick's known signature, the signature engraved on the watch has never been authenticated as matching Maybrick's signature. In fact, as far as I can tell, when asked to demonstrate the match, the diary defenders only claim that one letter in the entire signature - the "k" - is a match, which could easily be by pure chance.

In any case, even if the signature, or part of it, is a match for Maybrick's, something which is very far from having been established, there are two fundamental defects with Tom's claim that because the watch bears Maybrick's known signature it must be genuine:

The first is that Maybrick's signature was publicly available in 1992. Consequently, anyone could have attempted to copy it for the purpose of a forged engraving.

The second is that an engraved signature is no more a real signature than an electronic signature is a real signature. They both represent reproductions of physical signatures. A signature requires a flow of handwriting which can only be done with some sort of pen (or pencil). By definition, an engraving of a signature using an engraving tool is a deliberate and slow copy of a signature. Why would Maybrick have attempted to engrave and thus copy his own signature? Or, to put it another way, if Maybrick could have done it, anyone could have done it.


Tom also says:

"I suspect that time will eventually show that Maybrick wrote in his watch and also wrote in the company scrapbook. We should all curse Lowry for making him rip out those early pages containing company memorabilia, business cards, et cetera, should we not?"

I can assure Tom that we will all be long dead and still the diary will be a forgery.

But I do love this new touch, coming out of nowhere, about the photograph album having been a "company scrapbook". Such delusion.


This is weird:

'The most damning 'coincidence' is not that Maybrick's floorboards were lifted that morning nor that one or even two of the workmen at Portus & Rhodes liked a swift half in The Saddle Inn where Tony Devereux and Michael Barrett happened to share that occasional urge. Nope, the very apogee of this ridiculously unlikely series of events (if it didn't involve the exchange of a Victorian scrapbook) is that the guy who rang the literary agency in London that same afternoon happened to be living in Liverpool, and not just Liverpool, but within binocular distance of the home of one of the workmen who admitted he was in Maybrick's old house that morning.

Why did the call not originate in Southport or Swansea or Southampton or Sierra Leone or Sydney? If it was a completely random event, it should have come from somewhere other than where it actually came from. But it didn't.'

Tom is quite wrong in saying that Mike Barrett's telephone call to Doreen Montgomery was supposed to have been "a completely random event". Who is saying this?

What happened on 9 March 1992 is that a man offered a literary agent a diary of Jack the Ripper supposedly written by James Maybrick of Liverpool. The most likely person to create a fake dairy in which a famous Liverpudlian was Jack the Ripper was someone who lived in Liverpool. So, if we are talking about probability, the call was less likely to have originated in Southport, Swansea, Southampton or Sierra Leone than in Liverpool.

I'm not sure what is difficult about that or why Tom Mitchell doesn't understand it.

As for Mitchell's claim that Mike lived within binocular distance of the home of one of the workmen, by which he means Eddie Lyons, I don't know what binoculars Tom possesses but they must be pretty bloody powerful to be able to see Fountains Road from Goldie Street across three main roads and all the buildings in the way. Perhaps he means from space? Goldie Street is closer to Liverpool's football stadium, Anfield, and thousands of people in Liverpool live close to Anfield just like thousands of people live close to Fountains Road. In any case, Mike did not live close to 'the home of one of the workmen'. The home of Eddie Lyons in March 1992 was six miles away from Fountains Road. What we are told is that he was residing in his girlfriend's home in March 1992 although no proof has ever been provided of this and the records of Portus & Rhodes do not show that he was living in Fountains Road at this time.

Oh and no admission from Eddie Lyons has ever been produced of him saying that he was in Battlecrease during the morning of 9 March 1992. Given that some form of admission was supposed to have been made on film about six years ago, this is astonishing. Why is it being suppressed? And even if he remembered being there for some rewiring work on the first floor which could only have happened in March 1992, could he really have been able to distinguish between 9th and 10th March and then between the morning and afternoon of 9th March? As far as I'm aware from Robert Smith's book, which is the only place one finds any mention of this supposed admission (albeit without any quotes from Eddie), Lyons "admitted on film that he had indeed been working at Battlecrease on 9th March 1992" but nothing was said here by Smith about him having admitted to being there on the morning of that day. I rather suspect that Tom has invented the morning bit because it fits in better with his narrative. Considering that, in his 2017 interviews with James Johnston, Eddie couldn't recall any dates, it seems unlikely that he was able to pinpoint having been there during the morning of any particular day and, if he had, why would Robert Smith not have mentioned it? There is certainly no documentary record that has ever been produced showing that Eddie Lyons was in Battlecrease on 9th March 1992 , let alone during the morning of that day.


Now the moment you've all been waiting for. The actual schooling of Thomas Mitchell.

It was a short but deadly question from Chris Phillips on 6th March 2024 which did it, as he enquired:

'I'm always curious to know how Diary proponents can explain why on earth he [Michael Barrett] would have wanted to obtain a Victorian diary with at least twenty blank pages, unless for the purpose of forgery.'

Now Tom isn't used to being challenged in this way by anyone other than RJ Palmer and the explanation he provided to Chris was rubbish and failed to address what he had been asked. What Tom said was that, after Mike had obtained "a potentially priceless but certainly thoroughly hookey artifact", he might have sought to :

"rapidly acquire something that could pass as a genuine Victorian document in case anyone came seeking its immediate return"

That was all he said by way of explanation as to why Mike wanted to obtain a Victorian diary with at least twenty blank pages. But, as can be seen, he didn't mention the blank pages requirement at all! If Mike had wanted to rapidly acquire something that could pass as 'a genuine Victorian document' why did he need a Victorian diary with at least twenty blank pages? Apart from anything else, that is only going to delay the process of rapidly getting his hands on a genuine Victorian document because he's limited it to one with a minimum of twenty blank pages.

So he ducked the question.

Yet, when Chris Phillips pressed him to answer the question, Tom said:

"I answered your question in my original reply to you"

But, of course, he had done on such thing.

There was, it seems some jiggery pokery involved on Tom's part of using the edit function, but even so, he'd still not dealt with the issue. So Chris Phillips had to try and work it out himself and said to Tom:

"To be clear - your suggestion is that he did place the advertisement because he wanted to fake a Victorian diary - just as I suggested - isn't it?"

But rather than deal with this, Tom simply repeated his original answer which, of course, didn't deal with the blank pages requirement at all.

He then tried to give us an insight into Mike's thinking by imagining Mike saying to himself:

"Whoever properly owns this priceless artefact is very likely to attempt to find it. The police might get called in. Buckshee Bobby might dob me in, the big dobber. What can I do to keep possession of this priceless artefact if that happens? Well, it may not work but I think I'll see if I can get another genuine Victorian document from around the time of the crimes so that - if anyone does ask for Buckshee Bobby's scrapbook back - I'll just give them that one."

Once again, in this fictional thought process, Tom has failed to explain why Mike needed a diary with a minimum of 20 blank pages in order to obtain "another genuine Victorian document".

Then, in total contradiction of what he'd just said, he wrote:

"As a matter of interest, if you were seeking a vehicle to write a James Maybrick Jack the Ripper diary into, would you put an advert in Bookfinder for a diary from the period 1880-1890?

Let that sink in."

I say it's in total contradiction because he'd just told Chris Phillips that Mike was attempting to obtain "another genuine Victorian document from around the time of the crimes". But 1890 wasn't around the time of the crimes. It was after the crimes. So how could Mike plausibly have given the owner of the diary, or the police, a genuine Victorian document supposed to be 'Buckshot Bobby's scrapbook', which was a scrapbook of the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888, written in a diary dated 1890, or 1889 for that matter? Furthermore, how would an 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886 or 1887 diary suit the purpose? It makes no sense at all does it, within Tom's explanation of Mike's motive?

It makes no sense unless the thing Mike was after was paper from the correct period so that scientific testing couldn't prove it was manufactured after the period of the murders.

Chris Phillips spotted immediately that Tom hadn't answered the question and said:

"What you need to explain is why the blank pages were needed, if not for the purpose of faking Victorian diary entries."

Finally, having been dragged kicking and screaming, Tom turned his attention to this question. Ruling out the idea that Mike was seeking to write the hoaxed diary of Jack the Ripper in a genuine Victorian diary, for no reason other than the time period of Mike's request went up to 1890, failing to understand that Mike would have removed any trace of the date, and also failing to understand that the photograph album in which the diary is actually written may well have been manufactured after 1888 (but we have no way of knowing), Tom said that the reason was:

"Because the Victorian scrapbook he had in his hands also had multiple blank pages at the back which he would be delighted to mirror if he could because it would provide even more reassurance to the police (or whoever came knocking at his door seeking the 'diary' he had recently received from Buckshee Bobby in The Saddle Inn) that the genuine Victorian diary he was handing them was genuinely the document he had purchased in the pub, thereby increasing the likelihood that he would be left with the actual Jack the Ripper document still."

We can see here that the devious boy has described the 17 blank pages in the Ripper diary as 'multiple blank pages' so that he doesn't have to admit that this theory is flawed from the start. Indeed, it means he still hasn't answered the question of why Mike specifically asked for a minimum of twenty blank pages. If he didn't care about the specific number, why didn't the advert say: "must have some blank pages"? Why pick on a number which didn't match the number of blank pages in the diary? But, in any case, Mike's primary request was for a totally unused diary in which every page was blank. That wasn't going to work was it? It wasn't going to "mirror" the Ripper diary (to use Tom's words) if it didn't have any writing in it. The one obvious thing about the diary was that it had 63 pages of writing in it. So, if the diary was totally blank, how was it going to pass for a journal containing 63 pages of script written with fountain pen ink?

And again, Tom is contradicting himself. How was an 1890 diary going to pass for the "genuine Victorian diary" of Jack the Ripper which the owner would have known was dated 3 May 1889 on the final page of text? It makes no sense on his own terms.

How can Tom possibly raise an objection to the idea that Mike was seeking a diary in which to forge the Jack the Ripper diary on the basis that his request included an 1890 diary (an objection which fails to understand that Mike would have intended to remove any trace of the 1890 date) yet raises no objection with his own theory for which an 1890 diary would have been fatal for the plan he attributes to Mike?

Chris' reply was deadly:

"You are really suggesting that the key identifying feature of the diary, to anyone who had seen it, would be that there were "at least 20 blank pages" in it? Not anything else to do with the contents?

It really is mind-boggling."

And there is the nub of the issue. No one could ever, in a million years, however daft, have thought that someone looking for the stolen diary of Jack the Ripper dated 3 May 1889 on its last page and written in a large black leather bound album would have been satisfied to have received any old diary of any size and colour by a random Victorian person, including one from 1890 (or 1891), simply because it contained at least 20 blank pages (and possibly 50 or 100 blank pages), thinking it was the stolen diary of Jack the Ripper being returned. It just DOES. NOT. MAKE. SENSE.

Tom then tried to deny that he'd made the very argument that Chris Phillips understood him to be making, which is what he was making, without clarifying exactly what he was saying, an obvious giveaway that he is unable to articulate his argument. I assume he denied it on the basis that his theory is that it might have been Mike's thought process that the owner or the police would think that the key identifying feature of the diary was that there were at least 20 blank pages in it, without giving any thought to its look or contents.

The thing about this is that one might as well say that Mike wanted a diary with at least 20 blank pages because he wanted to swim with dolphins. That makes no sense but, hey, perhaps it made sense within Mike's head. After all, how can we know how crazy Mike was?

Or to bring it just a little closer to reality, perhaps Mike wanted to see what 20 blank pages looked like in a Victorian diary. How can we know that he wasn't thinking this?

Or perhaps what he wanted to do was compare the blank paper in a genuine Victorian diary with the blank paper in the Jack the Ripper diary, through some from of scientific experiment in his home, so that he could check the authenticity of the Ripper diary. It's insane but how can one be sure that Mike wasn't thinking this insane thought?

Ultimately, Tom appears to accept that his theory involves Mike having an insane thought and doggedly pursuing that insane thought throughout March 1992 to obtain this diary with a minimum of 20 blank pages even though it would serve not one single useful purpose for him.

Chris Phillips sensibly refused to engage with this insanity any longer. Tom Mitchell had already been schooled.


Amidst all the madness, no one seemed to notice a post by Jay Hartley on 6th March. So it's going to fall to me to school Jay right now. He asked:

"If you were going to hoax a diary of history’s most famous unknown serial killer, how would you know that 20 blank pages of an unspecified size would even be enough?"

Out of any question regarding the diary that I've ever seen, that one has to be the dumbest.

He is essentially asking how the future author of an as yet unwritten text, the length of which was entirely within the control of that author, knows that he will be able to fit that text into a certain number of pages.

Can he really be that stupid?

I mean, if someone wanted to fake a document by Jack the Ripper but only had 3 blank pages to write on, they would just keep the story that they were manufacturing short, to fit 3 pages.

If they only had 10 blank pages, they would keep the story down to 10 pages.

If they had 20 blank pages, they would ensure that the story could be written on 20 pages.


I mean, it's like asking how a hoaxer would have known that 63 pages was enough for the diary of history's most famous serial killer.

As I've said before, Shirley Harrison's typed transcript of the diary fitted 20 pages of her book. But if the hoaxer had been tight for space, a lot of junk which fills the existing diary could have been dropped, especially the poetry which serves no narrative purpose. Of the 63 pages, there is a vast amount of padding and unnecessary material, a lot of space isn't used and the handwriting varies between small and large throughout the diary. If fewer pages had been available, the handwriting could simply have been smaller, the pages used more efficiently and some parts of the draft text deleted.

One thing about the 1891 diary that Mike said after he received it was that it was too small. In other words, it was obvious his advert couldn't guarantee that it would produce the right size diary but the point that the diary defenders always forget is that his advert produced no responsive hits at all. There were no diaries available in the required time period with the required minimum number of blank pages. Had there been multiple diaries on offer, Mike could have chosen the one with the most blank pages and/or the largest one on offer. But there weren't any! Hence he was stuck with a small 1891 diary. It was either that or nothing. On the basis that something was better than nothing, and running out of time, I imagine that this is why he agreed to purchase it, sight unseen.


We have another failure of rational comprehension by Tom Mitchell when it comes to the handwriting. In a post on 7 March 2024, Mitchell queried why the hoaxer didn't wait until Outhwaite & Litherland were selling a genuine Victorian typewriter so that he could type out the journal on genuine Victorian paper.


"I have heard it said that the lack of examples of Maybrick's hand was the reason why the hoaxer just wrote in any old random hand. This is a strange argument, though, as it implies that the hoaxer knew in advance that no undiscovered examples of Maybrick's hand would be uncovered very quickly once the scrapbook reached the public's attention. If I were the scrapbook hoaxer, I think I would solve the handwriting problem by removing it entirely. I've got Maybrick's signature, thank you very much, so I'll just nip down to Outhwaite & Litherland Auctioneers every month until they are eventually selling a genuine Victorian typewriter. I would outbid the military man who was trying to buy it, throw away the useless compass that would come with it (it would have no hands, see?), take it home with the genuine Victorian A4 paper I'd also bid for, and type out the contents of Maybrick's 'journal' instead."

Well, apart from the fact that Mike had already contacted Doreen Montgomery on 9 March 1992 and wasn't in a position to wait fifty or a hundred years years until a genuine working pre-1889 Victorian typewriter was put up for auction or, more crucially afford to buy it in the highly unlikely event that one ever did become available (and bear in mind that typewriters from 1888 are extremely rare and expensive, because they were hardly used by businesses at this time and certainly not by members of the general public), it's a cunning plan, Baldrick.

No, the diary of Jack the Ripper in 1888 would not have been written on a typewriter bearing in mind that most private individuals in 1888 did not possess typewriters which were then cumbersome and difficult to operate so that they would never have been used by a private individual for something like a diary or a journal. It's a completely ridiculous and nonsensical idea, and a genuine functioning and useable 1888 (or earlier) typewriter, if such a thing existed, would have been totally out of any affordable price range for the Barretts in 1992, if it was even possible to find one for sale.

In the same post, Mitchell also wonders why the watch is a "diligent" hoax (simply because of the some kind of similarity of letter "k", would you believe) whereas the diary is an "undisciplined" hoax. But hardly anyone thinks that the Barretts were behind the watch hoax as well as the diary. That was surely done by a a different, opportunistic, con artist.


At the end of a post on 7 March 1992 full of complete nonsense, which I'll deal with in a moment, Tom concluded with:

"The biggest laugh is that you (and Orsam, and Palmer, and all the other Barrettites) think that Anne Graham went along with this hoax and even wrote the thing in her own hand even though it doesn't look anything like her handwriting!"

An even bigger laugh (as already mentioned by RJ Palmer in the comments section of an earlier post) is that Tom has no problem whatsoever with a diary supposedly by James Maybrick in a hand which doesn't look anything like his handwriting.

It's also disingenuous in any event for Tom to say that the diary handwriting 'doesn't look anything like' Anne's handwriting. When I posted examples of Anne's handwriting on Casebook in a thread to which Tom contributed, everyone who commented agreed that there was some similarity between aspects of Anne's handwriting and the handwriting of the diary author. Tom did not disagree. He knows very well that there are similarities. And it should be obvious that no forger was going to write the diary in their own handwriting. They would obviously disguise it.

Let's just have a quick look at the other observations Tom made in this thread, in which he said "Seriously, you pro-Barretites have not shame!". Firstly,

"Surely you don't really believe that Mike Barrett - professional journalist of many minutes standing - genuinely forgot that James Maybrick died in May 1887? Oops - gone and done it myself! 1889?"

There is no reason to think that Mike forgot that Maybrick died in 1889. He needed paper from the correct decade. It's only Tom's "mirror" or doppleganger theory which requires Mike to have forgotten that Maybrick died in 1889 by thinking that an 1890 diary of a random Victorian person would pass for the diary of James Maybrick.

"And surely you don't expect me to believe that he just assumed that his requested blank pages would be contiguous? If it were me, I'd have said "At least twenty blank pages one after another, please, thank you very much". I might even have asked for some of my advert to be in bold so that it couldn't be misunderstood!"

He didn't necessarily need them to be contiguous bearing in mind that he could have removed any pages that he didn't want, although, frankly, anyone keeping a diary will almost certainly without exception write in it from the start to the end. What diary defenders also always forget is that Mike was likely hoping to be able to choose from a number of diaries offered to him, about which he would have been given descriptions, so that he could have chosen the best one. The irony is that it's Tom's own theory which literally requires that the (minimum of) 20 blank pages were all at the end of the diary for it to match the Ripper diary, for reasons which are incomprehensible.

"And surely you don't expect me to believe that it never occurred to Barrett that his wife would one day give up the evidence of his attempt to purchase a genuine 1890 Victorian diary having suffered on the rack for a week whilst a cackling Keith Skinner turned the screw, as it were?"

Why would Mike have thought for one second that his own wife who had assisted him in forging the diary would grass him up? And of course she never did, keeping it a secret from researchers for three long years until Mike himself confessed in January 1995 to having forged it, and even then she did nothing for six months until Keith Skinner confronted her in July of that year, keeping secret forever her own knowledge of the contents of Mike's affidavit.

"And surely - having at the end of March 1992 realised the foolishness of his earlier actions that month - you don't expect us to believe that Barrett ploughed on with his ridiculous efforts even though they were by then doomed to abject failure?"

Given that Tom is a True Believer in the authenticity of the diary 32 years later, and given that Mike made a substantial amount of money from the diary, in what way were his ridiculous efforts "doomed to abject failure"?


The extraordinary thing about these ludicrously comical diary defenders is how seriously they take themselves.

After Chris Phillips correctly compared their arguments to those of a Flat Earther arguing beyond hope that the earth is flat, Jay Hartley became all agitated and reported the comment to Admin!

One could equally compare their arguments to those of a holocaust denier but, in this day and age, I think that the most appropriate comparison is with those in the United States who continue to argue that the 2020 election was stolen. It's the exact same mindset that, while they can't, right now, prove the election was stolen, they are sure that one day some evidence will emerge which will prove it. All very similar to what Tom Mitchell said in this very thread about one day finding some evidence of 'one off instance' or 'bumbling buffoon' from the nineteenth century. It's all about their feelings. They feel that the diary must be genuine so hope that one day they will be proven right.

It will never happen.

The final absurdity was Tom Mitchell's statement that:

"The scrapbook's authenticity, on the other hand, is not yet proven to be impossible (despite Lord Orsam's claims to the contrary) therefore it must currently be possibly authentic."

Sorry Tom, but the diary of Jack the Ripper written in an old photograph album from which pages have been crudely ripped out, containing expressions which did not enter the English language until after 1888, and errors of fact which James Maybrick or Jack the Ripper would never have made, is definitely now proven to be inauthentic.


My good friend, Tom Mitchell, who I know visits this website, is very welcome to respond to this article in the Comments section and, indeed, I would positively invite him to do so because there are many questions I would love to ask him. This website may be one of the few online spaces where he can speak freely without any censorship and he will be able to speak of Parallel Palmer, 'Orrible Orsam and Bastard Barrat to his heart's content should he choose to do so.

We've already had two diary defenders on here, Jay Hartley and San Fran, both of whom fled once they were asked difficult questions and presented with hard truths.

Surely the great Tom Mitchell has more backbone that those two individuals. He can't be another coward unable to defend his diary defending theories, surely?


21 March 2024

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Apr 16
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

In regard to the "Flat Earthers," there is a documentary well worth watching called "Behind the Curve" (you can watch it for free on-line at Tubi as long as you're willing to sit through the commercials) which delves into this little-known sub-culture.

If you've been following the Diary debate at all, you'll recognized some of those people!


Mar 21
Rated 1 out of 5 stars.

For the love of God, 'toppling' was self-evidently a typo. The word clearly should have been 'topping'. You've got typos in your blogs too, by the way.

Lord Orsam
Mar 22
Replying to

Is that you, Tom?   Weird comment, if I may say so.   Whether you were saying “topple” or “top”, doesn't it amount to the same thing?   In my article, I was challenging the notion that the author(s) of the Ripper diary surpassed or exceeded the author of the Hitler diaries in terms of effort, as you had claimed. One would have thought from your response (assuming it's you) that I was drawing attention to, and laughing at, a typo of yours, but I wasn’t. I’m not interested in typos.  I didn’t even question your use of the word “toppling”. I knew exactly what you meant. 

But the weirdest thing is that, out of the entire blog post, that’s all you want…


Mar 21

Tom certainly has a unique way of approaching logic.

""If seven point seven billion people on the planet...were asked to produce a Jack the Ripper hoax diary prior to March 9, 1992..."

Well, 2.4 billion of them would stare blankly and scratch their heads, because they weren't even alive on 9 March1992, when the population was only around 5.3 billion.

Mitchell is apparently baffled why the hoaxer (ie., Michael John Barrett) chose Maybrick to be his victim. It was simply a matter of geography. If one is an out-of-town scam artist like Mike Barrett was, it's only natural to pin the crimes on a local, otherwise the scam artist is going to have to explain how- he---a resident in f…

Lord Orsam
Mar 22
Replying to

My theory is that Tom wanted to try out his new catchphrase, "Let that sink in", but had nothing that could be said to need to sink in so he babbled nonsense about the diary being unique, as if that would come as a surprise to anyone.

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