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  • Lord Orsam


As Simon Wood doesn't do it, it falls to me to list all the things I've done to help ensure that his book is accurate. In this sister piece to Mistaken History, I'll be looking at the way Wood has used and relied on Lord Orsam in his book.


Use 1

Even in his first edition, Wood borrowed stuff from what I'd posted on the forums. He obviously liked my Casebook thread The Secrets of the Special Reports because he posted in that thread on 17 January 2015 to say that I had provided 'excellent information' and that this was 'Casebook at its best'.

In post #1 of that thread, on 7 December 2014, I had referenced a Police Order issued on 9 February 1888 which said that, in all cases of serious crime, a special report was to be sent to the Executive Branch i.e. not to the Criminal Investigation Department. I followed that thread with a number of other related threads: The Gripes of Mr Williamson (part 1), started on 31 January 2015, in which Wood made a couple of posts, and The Gripes of Mr Williamson (part 2), started on 2 February 2015, in which I discussed that Police Order of 9 February 1888 at length (having also spoken of it on the previous day in The Special Reports of 1888) and I believe I was the first person to make the connection between that Police Order and a criticism which appeared in the Globe of 10 September 1888 saying that 'Superintendent' Williamson had received no notice of the Tabram murder for a week which was supposed to have been, 'in accordance with a deliberate plan on the part of the Commissioner of Police'.

Lo and behold, in the 1st edition of his book, published as an e-book on 8 March 2015 (and remaining in all editions, being at p.29 of the 4th edition), Wood said that the reason for the criticism which had appeared in the Globe of 10 September 1888 was due to Sir Charles Warren's Police Order dated 9 February 1888.

Use 2

Following publication of Wood's 1st edition, I published the Suckered! Trilogy in May 2015. In the first part of that trilogy, England Sends Her Spies, I pointed out that the person who gave an interview in Philadelphia in the name of 'Inspector Soyle', having arrived in New York on 21 November 1888, could not have been Superintendent Shore, as Wood had speculated, because Shore was sick with eczema between 3 and 19 November 1888, returning to work on 20 November, making it impossible for him to have been sailing on the Atlantic Ocean at that time. Lo and behold, having said in his first edition that Soyle 'may have been' Shore, Wood amended this in his second edition, now saying that Soyle 'may not have been' Shore. Then, in his third edition, adding a reference to a schedule of Shore's sick leave which I had located in the National Archives, he came to the conclusion that Soyle 'could not have been' Shore. Wood's newly found knowledge about Superintendent Shore remains in the fourth edition (p. 473).

Use 3

Another fact revealed by me in England Sends Her Spies was that there was incontrovertible evidence that Inspector Jarvis was present at the arrest of Thomas Barton, contradicting Wood's claim in his first edition that Jarvis committed perjury on this matter when he gave evidence of the arrest under oath at Bow Street Police Court. The allegation of his perjury along with the claim that Jarvis 'continued to dazzle and confuse' when he testified about being present at Jarvis' arrest was deleted from the second edition.

Use 4

In England Sends Her Spies, I revealed (for the first time, I believe) an account I had discovered in the Daily Telegraph of 21 September 1897 of how Inspector Jarvis tracked down Barton in Philadelphia. Wood reproduced this account into his second edition without acknowledging my contribution in finding it. It remains in the fourth edition (page 106).

Use 5

In The Thomas Barton Affair, I reproduced the below image of the second page of a briefing note written by Robert Anderson for the Home Secretary relating to the allegation that inspectors Jarvis and Shaw had been doing unauthorised things in America :

Wood didn't know of the existence of this document until he read about it in The Thomas Barton Affair in November 2015 which is why it didn't feature in the first edition of his book but he included a transcript in the second edition and it remains in the fourth edition (page 114).

Use 6

Wood made a number of other errors about Inspector Jarvis in his first edition, not least in claiming that he died in 1899 (having been suckered by a false report of his death). After I drew his attention to his error in my November 2015 article Fred Jarvis and the Secret Cypher, Wood realized his mistake in time for his second edition, published in December, and got the date of Jarvis' death right, almost certainly taking from my article the cause of death as heart disease.

Use 7

Wood also learnt from me that Walter Jarvis was not Fred's son, but his stepson.

Use 8

He also discovered from me that Fred Jarvis (but not Edward Plant) was on the passenger list of the Arizona which sailed to America from Liverpool on 17 November 1888.

All of this information, coming directly from me, found its way into Wood's second edition, and remains in the fourth edition, without any acknowledgment, naturally.

Use 9

Some more newspaper content discovered by me which found its way into Wood's book (the third edition) was a letter from Mrs Jarvis to the editor of the New York World, discovered by me and mentioned in an article about Francis Tumblety entitled 'The English Detective', published on 29 September 2016. Although the letter was irrelevant to any of the points in Wood's book, he reproduced it anyway, just for jolly I suppose. It remains in the fourth edition (pp.126-7).

Use 10

As to Mrs Jarvis, I pointed out to Wood in Reconstructing Jack that he had spelt her first name inconsistently in his second edition, at one point referring to her as 'Fannie', elsewhere as 'Fanny'. Wood refers to this in a footnote in subsequent editions, calling it 'nit-picking', but the reason he spelt it two different ways (and the reason I pointed it out) was because it showed he had directly, without attribution, used biographical information I had published in my November 2015 article Fred Jarvis and the Secret Cypher in which I had identified her as Fannie Curtiss, in contrast to Wood who had merely referred to her in his first edition as 'his wife Fanny', not having even established her maiden name. The inconsistent spelling was merely a dead giveaway.

Use 11

In his first edition, Wood was confused as to why Henry Matthews had stated that 'Jarvis and Shaw are inspectors in the Metropolitan Police Force'. He thought that Matthews must have been talking about Superintendent Shore, so he corrected 'Shaw' to 'Shore'. If fell to me to explain to him in The Thomas Barton Affair, published in May 2015, that there was an Inspector Edward Shaw of V Division and that, because a written question had been asked in the House of Commons about an 'Inspector Shaw', the Home Secretary's answer must have related to him, not to Superintendent Shore. Nevertheless, Wood still didn't quite get it and he questioned me on the Casebook Forum on 29 May 2015:

As I said in my response: 'Did you actually read my trilogy Simon? I have answered all that.' Then I patiently explained it again to him:

He still didn't quite get it because he asked me later the same day, 'Why would Robert Anderson believe a V Division Local Inspector had been accused of travelling to America on behalf of the Times?'. I had to explain to him that the Home Secretary had been asked about an 'Inspector Shaw' so that it didn't matter what Anderson believed, he was required to address his mind to the only Inspector Shaw in the police force. Although Wood never replied to accept my answer, and the mistake stubbornly remained in the second edition of his book (p.82), following my Reconstructing Jack article of March 2016 in which I repeated the point in some detail, his resistance collapsed and he quietly amended his third edition to remove the substitution of 'Shaw' for 'Shore', adding a footnote (number110) which explained that Inspector Edward Shaw was a local inspector in V Division. This footnote remains on page 116 of the fourth edition.

Use 12

Another mistake made by Wood about the visit of Inspector Jarvis to America in his first edition was to claim that Jarvis could be placed at the Prospect House Hotel Hotel in Niagara over the weekend of 15 and 16 December 1888 on the basis of a fanciful story in the Boston Sunday Globe. I made the point in The Third Man, published in May 2015, that Wood had miscalculated the date because the newspaper must have been saying that Jarvis was at the hotel on 14 December. In his second edition, he amended his book so that date of the visit was now said to be 14 December. Even better, he accepted that Jarvis could not, in fact, be placed at the hotel on 14 December but that it was only 'press reports' that alleged that he was there on that date (albeit that it was only a single report published in multiple papers). This remains in the fourth edition (p.104).

Use 13

Wood also incorporated into his second edition some of my research from the Suckered! Trilogy regarding Inspector Andrews' visit to Canada. In his first edition, Wood had simply said that Andrews, Barnett and Inspector Stark boarded a special mail train at Halifax for the journey to Toronto. After I provided details of their short stop in Quebec in The Third Man, Wood included mention of this brief stopover in his second edition. He now also included information from a newspaper report I had discovered in the Toronto Daily Mail of 12 December 1888, providing two footnote references to that newspaper on page 56 of his book. All of this new information which I helped him locate is found in the fourth edition (pages 80-1).

Use 14

In the first two editions of his book, Wood claimed, ludicrously, that James Monro had 'spared' the life of Queen Victoria. It fell to me to explain to him in Reconstructing Jack that he'd used the wrong word and that he must have meant 'saved' or something like that. He then changed it in his third edition to 'prevented the murder of' but evidently realized that he had been a bit too hasty because now, in the fourth edition, he's amended that to 'prevented the injury or death of' (p.263). Had it not been for me, it would likely still have said that Monro had graciously spared the queen's life.

Use 15

On 15 October 2015, five months after publication of his e-book first edition, in which he had asked what Dr John Rees Gabe had been doing in Millers Court on 9 November 1888, Wood posted on the Casebook Forum (in thread 'The broken window') to say:

'I don't understand why anyone thinks it's plausible that [Dr Gabe] just happened to be at the London Dispensary on the morning of Friday 9th November 1888.'

According to Wood, in the same post, Gabe's connection with the London Dispensary in Church Street, Spitalfields, 'ended in 1884' when he moved to Mecklenburgh Square to work for the LSPCC.

He must have been shocked, therefore, when, within an hour of his post, I drew his attention to a report in the Birmingham Daily Post of 27 December 1887 which appeared to refer to Dr Gabe attending to a patient at the London Dispensary during that month. It named him as 'Dr Gale' but, as I said to Simon, Dr Gabe could be proven to have been mistakenly referred to in a number of newspapers at the time as 'Dr Gale'.

Simon's response was that this was 'interesting' but that it wouldn't stand a chance in a court of law.

I continued to conduct research into Dr Gabe and, five days later, asked Simon why he had stated earlier in the thread (on 12 October) that Dr Gabe was 'not a gynaecologist':

It took him six days to respond, no doubt because, suspecting a trap, he had been doing some belated research of his own into Dr Gabe and had discovered (as I already had) that Dr Gabe was a founding fellow of the British Gynaecological Society. Nevertheless he doubled down on his statement that Gabe was 'not a gynaecologist', explaining that it was because he was described in a directory as an 'M.D. surgeon' and that he 'never hung out this qualification on his shingle'.

I would shortly debunk his argument in The Gynaecologist Society published on 5 November 2015 in which I demonstrated that not a single famous and undisputed gynaecologist from the period was described as such in any directory. I had already told him in person that 'of course' Gabe was a gynaecologist but he had replied that my statement was 'loud confident and wrong' although he was unable to explain why.

Even worse for Wood was that on 2 November 2015, I had published The Mysterious Dr Gabe which proved that Gabe was still employed as the medical officer at the London Dispensary on 9 November 1888, thus providing a simple explanation for his presence at Millers Court, just around the corner from Church Street, that day (and confirming that he had been the 'Dr Gale' mentioned in the December 1887 press report).

Wood didn't make any change in his second edition (published in December 2015) but when it came to his third edition (in June 2017) he finally admitted on page 595 that Dr Gabe 'was a gynaecologist'. Even more amusingly, he also confessed on the same page that 'Gabe was also Resident Medical Officer at the London Dispensary, 21 Church Street, which ran along the north side of Spitalfields church, barely two hundred yards from 26 Dorset Street'. This remains in his fourth edition (page 592 and also 594). With my help, the mystery has been solved.

I received no thanks for helping Simon get to the bottom of the mystery but he may or may not have been alluding to me when wrote on page 597 of his third edition that, 'Ripperology has dismissed the story of a young boy living in Mary Kelly’s room, one Ripperologist going so far as to suggest that Dr. Gabe just happened to be in the area and dropped in out of professional courtesy.' I certainly didn't say anything about Dr Gabe just happening to be in the area (and in writing this, Wood appears to have already forgotten his admission that Gabe actually worked in the area) nor did I ever say he dropped into Millers Court out of professional courtesy. Readers will be pleased to know that this silly sentence has been deleted from the fourth edition and that, as noted in the Mistaken History blog post, Wood now admits he is no longer certain that there was a little boy living in Mary Kelly's room, having previously said that there was 'little doubt' that the boy was the reason for Gabe's appearance on the scene.

Use 16

In my November 2015 article, 'The Missing Hour, Found!', I pointed out that Wood had made a mistake in his first edition in saying that, on 9 November 1888, 'news of the murder had not been received by Sir Charles Warren until 12.30pm'. The time of 12.30pm was the time that the Home Office had been informed, not Warren. This was removed in Wood's second edition in December 2015 (p.523) but Wood introduced an equally inaccurate claim that 'news of the murder was not received by Sir Charles Warren until an hour-and-a-half later [than 11am]'. I raised the point again in Reconstructing Jack and this time Wood seems to have understood his mistake, deleting the claim about news of the murder having been received by Warren 90 minutes after 11am, saying feebly on page 585 of his third edition: 'It is difficult to construct an exact sequence of events that morning', and asking, 'Was 12.30 pm the time the information was first received by Sir Charles Warren or the time it was received at the Home Office?'. The answer, of course, is that it was the Home Office. There is nothing difficult about it, unless you are someone who doesn't want to admit to Lord Orsam having got it right while you have got it wrong, once again. In his fourth edition, he's re-worded it slightly and, while continuing to insist that it is difficult to construct an exact sequence of events that morning, even though it isn't, now asks (p. 578): 'If as Anderson said, "At 11 o'clock the last murder was discovered, and we knew of it here in Scotland Yard a few minutes later," why was Warren's memo to the Home Office timed at 12.30pm?'. As I explain in Mistaken History, Warren's memo to the Home Office was not timed at 12.30pm (that was the time it was received at the Home Office) so the question is easy to answer.

Use 17

In the first two editions of his book, Wood famously claimed that there was a clue 'as big as the Rock of Gibraltar' which could have helped solve the murder of Annie Chapman, yet, despite this, seven detectives and one divisional surgeon neglected to mention it in their reports. It fell to me to explain to Wood that the clue he thought was as big as the Rock of Gibraltar was not a clue at all. He was referring to a leather apron found at the scene of the crime which was immediately discovered to belong to John Richardson and thus had nothing to do with the murder (or with John Pizer). The embarrassing mention of this massive 'clue' was removed from the third edition and does not appear in the fourth.

Use 18

Another error made by Wood in the first two editions of his book was that he told us that 'Church Street, Spitalfields, disappeared in 1879' claiming that it was 'subsumed as the eastern district of Hanbury Street'. This, ironically, was while making fun of the police for searching for Pizer in the wrong Church Street. As I mentioned in my 2016 article, Reconstructing Jack, that particular Church Street in Spitalfields did not disappear in 1879 but was still there in 1888. Wood had got confused with the other Church Street in Mile End New Town which was renamed Hanbury Street in 1879. What did disappear very quickly from the third edition of Wood's book was the sentence in which Church Street's 1879 disappearance is mentioned! With his new-found knowledge, learnt from me, Wood was now able to inform his readers that, 'There were two local Church Streets: one in Shoreditch, the other in Spitalfields' and that, 'In 1879 Church Street in Mile End New Town was renamed and renumbered to become part of Hanbury Street.'. This information remains in the fourth edition (p.349).

Use 19

In the first two editions of his book, Wood was uncertain if the person who wrote to a newspaper in September1888 under the name of 'Eye-Witness' was male or female, using both pronouns of 'he/she' throughout. I had to point out to him in Reconstructing Jack that the newspaper itself had no doubt, referring to 'Eye-Witness' as 'himself', with another newspaper referring to 'his name'. What do you know, in the third edition, all of Wood's uncertainty had disappeared and Eye-Witness was now very much a 'he', with Wood now telling us that Eye-Witness had 'muddled up his streets', remaining so in the fourth edition (pages 340 and 350).

Use 20

In Reconstructing Jack published in March 2016, I wrote in respect of the resignation of Sir Charles Warren that, 'I can offer Simon a lifeline of sorts by directing his attention to a report in the London Evening Post of 12 November 1888 which said that Sir Charles handed in his resignation on the evening of Saturday, 10 November 1888.' This report hadn't been mentioned in the first two editions of Wood's book but it was included in his third edition (published in June 2017), attributed to the Press Association, and remains in the fourth edition (p.569-70). No thanks have yet been received by me from Simon for drawing his attention to this (probably inaccurate) report.

Use 21

Wood is not one of the world's great thinkers and he obviously hadn't thought it through when claiming in his first two editions that if the statements of Israel Schwartz and Matthew Packer had been admitted into evidence at the Stride inquest, 'the whole notion of a double event would have been exposed as an elaborate fiction'. When I confronted him on the Casebook Forum in October 2015 about an identical claim he had made in an online post and asked him how their evidence could possibly have exposed the double event as such (thread: Packer and Schwartz), he appeared to be taken by surprise and was unable to provide an answer. Instead, he quietly removed the claim from his third edition, replacing it with a new claim that it was Wynne Baxter who was 'disguising the fact that the idea of a 1.00 mutilandum interruptus was elaborate fiction'. The problem with this is that Baxter floated the idea of the murder of Stride being 'the work of an imitator' (as Wood himself wants us to note) so, apparently, according to Wood, Wynne Baxter was both disguising the idea that person who murdered Stride wasn't Jack the Ripper while also putting forward into the open the idea that the person who murdered Stride wasn't Jack the Ripper! That seems a bit odd. Furthermore, Wood, having just told us on page 545 of the third edition that the coroner was disguising the elaborate fiction of the killer having been interrupted, suddenly performed a reverse ferrett three pages later (p.548) by telling us that it wasn't Baxter who had been promoting the double event but the police! Like I say, he's not a great thinker.

In the fourth edition, despite retaining the claim that Baxter was deliberately disguising the elaborate fiction of the killer having been interrupted (p.520), Wood, who seems to have been giving the coroner's puzzling behaviour some more thought, now tells us that Baxter was 'becoming a liability' who needed to be kept away from the Kelly inquest because he was suggesting that 'the Berner Street victim might have been the work of the imitator' (p.524). From being one of the main proponents of the fiction of 'Jack the Ripper', Baxter has become a threat to the conspiracy in a heartbeat! Then, evidently wanting to revive his original illogical and discredited claim about Packer and Schwartz, Wood has added a new paragraph (p.523) in which he tells that, to make the double event work, it was imperative that both murders were credited to Jack the Ripper, 'which meant the testimonies of Packer and Schwartz had to be dismissed'. This makes as little sense as his original claim about the evidence of Packer and Schwartz exposing the double event as elaborate fiction, and I doubt that Wood, if pressed, would be able to explain it. He certainly doesn't do so in the book.

Use 22

Not included in Wood's first edition, but making a debut appearance in his second edition was Wood's claim that Joseph Jones was not a shady character in the world of pawnbroking because he and his son had made several appearances at the Old Bailey as 'expert witnesses'. This was very odd because in his first edition he had correctly stated the position that Jones and his son had 'made a number of witness appearances' at the Old Bailey (not that this rules them out of being shady characters). Why Wood added the word 'expert' into his second edition is a mystery. Anyway, I publicly corrected him on the Casebook Forum in February 2016 so that he was able to correct the position in his third edition and Jones remains as a normal witness in the fourth edition (p. 542).

Use 23

In part 4 of my Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy, published on 18 September 2015, I included a number of references to a Home Office file, HO 45/9698/A50055, including an extract from a transcript of the evidence of Chief Inspector Donald Swanson to the Metropolitan Police Superannuation Inquiry of 1889. Between the publication of his first edition in March and his second edition in December 2015, Wood appears to have taken a look at the same transcript because he reproduced five questions and answers from it in the paperback second edition (pp. 35-6) which were not in the first edition. His interest in the transcript is in Swanson's evidence that he was involved in the Whitechapel murder investigation from September to December 1888. This use of Lord Orsam's research remains in the fourth edition (pp.51-2).

Use 24

As mentioned in Mistaken History, Wood claimed in his first edition that, following his resignation in June 1890, Monro had grounds to press a case for 'constructive dismissal' but instead 'rolled over obediently'. As usual it fell to me to point out (in part 4 of my Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy) that there was no such legal concept as constructive dismissal in 1888. In response to this, Wood amusingly modified the text of his second edition to say that Monro had grounds to press a case for constructive dismissal had such a procedure been in place at the time although it's absolute nonsense because Monro would have had no such grounds. This nonsensical (but at least a little bit more accurate than before) sentence remains in the fourth edition (p. 69).

Use 25

On 16 April 2017, I posted on the Censorship Forum to ask if anyone had any information about the Curtis Bennett inquiry from July1888 (see thread The Curtis Bennett Inquiry). I already knew what it was about but wanted to discover if anyone else did. The first response was from Simon Wood who suggested it might have had a connection to an inquiry into a fire in the basement of No. 3 Palace Yard used for storing Fenian records. Wood had already mentioned this 'secret inquiry' in his first two editions but hadn't been able to find out anything about it. In fact, he claimed that it was so secret that there was 'no further mention of it' following a single mention in the press and left his reader thinking there was something mysterious about it. Indeed, in the second edition he mentioned it in a chapter entitled 'Blackmail', suggesting to his reader that it was something to do with police blackmail. I went on to explain what the inquiry was actually about, and that it was nothing to do with Fenians or blackmail but was an inquiry into alleged corruption in the Receiver's office, which had been openly mentioned in the press at the time. In response, Wood added a vague footnote into his third edition, using information from a press report of 16 July 1888 which stated that Wontner & Sons had employed Maurice Moser to inquire into 'irregularities' although he left his reader in the dark as to what those irregularities actually were. In the fourth edition, he has augmented that same footnote, (p.313, fn290) to include the information that 'Charges had been levelled against officers receiving bribes...' which, as I explain in Mistaken History, is false. Even when you spoon feed the guy, he still can't get it right.

Use 26

There was no mention in the first two editions of Wood's book of Monro's assistant in the secret department from September 1888 onwards, referred to in the newspapers at the time as 'Colonel Wilkinson'. But, in May 2017, Wood was wondering about the identity of the person he called 'the mysterious Colonel Wilkinson' and started a thread on Casebook to ask for more information:

There were the usual wild and inaccurate guesses from forum members. Was it Colonel Osborn Wilkinson of the Bengal Cavalry? (nope). Was it Colonel Wilkinson Taylor of the 16th Lancers? (nope). Wood himself put forward Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Reginald Wilkinson, formerly of the Bengal Infantry and former personal assistant of the Bengal Police. He had got the right man but was talked out of it by forum member DJA because his retirement from the Bengal Infantry was stated to be 20 March 1889 and because a Lieutenant-Colonel was a different rank to a Colonel. Hence, Wood posted on 2 May 2017 that it was 'back to the drawing board':

Fortunately, on the question of rank, I was able to save the day, providing contemporary evidence that "Colonel Wilkinson" was, in fact, Lieutenant-Colonel Wilkinson:

Wood's response was effusive. With his magic powers he somehow knew I would 'turn up trumps':

So, as a result of me helping him out, in the third edition of his book (p.42), Wood was able to reveal that 'James Monro's mysterious assistant was Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Reginald Wilkinson, of the Bengal Infantry'. And still I received no thanks in the Acknowledgements! Nor do I in the fourth edition where the information about Wilkinson's identity remains (p.57). What do I have to do to get a mention?

Use 27

Back in 2017, Wood must have been feeling quite miserable about life. On 23 August 2017, he posted in Casebook thread 'Lost police records & documents':

'This is my last post on Casebook or anywhere else. Illness and encroaching old age are taking their toll, and I have many other things I want to do in the years before the Grim Reaper comes a-knocking.'

Never fear though, reader, this statement by Wood was as true as most of the statements in his book (i.e. false) and he continues to post on Casebook and other places to this day.

But what led up to that outburst?

Well, in the same thread, I had been explaining to those who were complaining that so many Ripper files had gone missing, yet 'files of all kinds, unrelated to the ripper case, are still available', that out of the surviving Metropolitan Police files from the 1880s relating to murders, 97% of those relate to the Whitechapel murders (and possibly 98% if you include the Poplar Murder of 1888). Contrary to popular belief, there is a huge volume of surviving Met Police material relating to the Ripper murders which is far greater than any other murder of the period.

Up then popped my old friend 'Pierre' to make a predictably misguided point by saying, 'Except of

course from the secret police files'. I replied that these were not Ripper files, confirming the point I had made, and this seemed to bring Simon Wood to life. He made a typically cryptic (and daft) post about the number 52893:

My reply was:

This seemed to confuse Simon and I had to explain to him that 45492 was a Metropolitan Police file reference number, just like the one he had posted, and I that I thought we were exchanging such numbers. I then gave him 57855. It was in response to that post that he told me that he was retiring from Casebook and, at the same time, posted three documents bearing the number 52983. I don't know what he thought that demonstrated but I replied to tell him:

'52983 was a standard Metropolitan Police file/correspondence reference (created in early September 1888) for the series of Whitechapel Murders, as shown in the police report in the third image above, and the top two images are cross-references to that file in the margin of a Special Branch register. All very dull really.'

What, you may be wondering, is the relevance of all this to Wood's book? Well, in his third edition, published on 21 June 2017, only a few weeks before the above exchange, Wood had mentioned for the very first time (p.541) that a report by Sergeant White dated 4 October 1888 contained the number 52983 in the margin, and commented mysteriously 'of which more later.' It was another false statement because is no further discussion in the book about that number, only a footnote (618) in which it is stated:

'The file reference 52983 appears on various reports, yet has never been clarified. It does not appear amongst available MEPO files, but does appear in various Special Branch ledger indexes.'

This was, unsurprisingly, despite not really saying anything, a whole heap of nonsense. The file reference 52983 doesn't need any clarifying and it most certainly does appear as a reference amongst available MEPO files.

The reason for Wood's interest in an otherwise dull file reference number is undoubtedly because there was a nutty conspiracy theory floated about 20 years ago in connection with Melvyn Fairclough's fake Abberline diary that the number had some kind of secret significance.

Anyway, the good news is that Wood has excised from his fourth edition (p.498) the mention of 52893 in connection with Sergeant White's report, while the offending footnote (which would otherwise have appeared on p.613) has also been deleted. I like to think that I made my contribution to knocking some sense into Wood about this dull and entirely unremarkable file reference number.

Use 28

Sometimes it's not entirely clear if I've been responsible for Wood deleting certain portions of his text but it's certainly the case that in my March 2016 article Reconstructing Jack I wrote about Wood's point in his second edition that not every paper, document and report passed across Chief Inspector Swanson's desk as Sir Charles Warren had intended in his memo dated 15 September 1888, saying:

'We have to wait until page 460 to find out what it was that Chief Inspector Swanson did not see. Then we learn that it was nothing more than correspondence between the British Ambassador in Vienna and Sir Charles Warren relating to a possible informant who claimed to know the identity of the Whitechapel murderer.'

I also stated that if Warren intended for Swanson to be his eyes and ears there was no need for him to read Warren's own private correspondence.

I wasn't sure if Wood understood this because there was no change made to his third edition published in August 2017 but, in his fourth edition, the point about Swanson not seeing every document has been deleted from the book. This is quite likely because he has removed the entire pointless chapter about the Vienna informant. Nevertheless I like to think I played my part in influencing Wood into understanding that he was making a complete non-point in relation to Swanson.

Use 29

Along similar lines, Wood told us in his second edition that, 'Swanson's eyes and ears role in the Whitechapel murders ended in December 1888' and that this 'appears to have coincided with Monro's appointment as Commissioner'. Of this, I said in Reconstructing Jack:

'Wood notes that the end of Swanson's role coincided with the same month that Monro was appointed as Commissioner. It is one of those strange observations of Wood of which he does not explain the significance. There must be some kind of significance otherwise why else would Wood have bothered to insert this otherwise innocuous information into the paperback version of his book? His reader is left to draw his or her own conclusions.

Perhaps he is saying that as soon as the secret Home Office cabal got their man Monro into the Commissioner's office they ensured the removal of Swanson from his overseeing role. But why? According to Wood, Swanson deliberately attempted to make the murders of Stride and Eddowes look like a double event which was exactly what the cabal wanted. So maybe Monro wasn't the cabal's man after all but Swanson was and the upright Monro removed him from the investigation because he knew he was corrupting it. But that can't be right because the whole Jack the Ripper hoax, we are told, revolved around the removal of Sir Charles Warren and his replacement by James Monro.

This brings us back to the question of why Wood has bothered to include the information that Swanson ended his role in the investigation in December 1888. The answer is: I don't know'.

Wood didn't make any changes regarding this in his third edition but in the fourth edition there has been a notable shift in emphasis. Gone is the observation that the end of Swanson's role coincided with Monro's appointment, so perhaps my point sunk in.

Use 30

Sometimes Wood's reliance on Lord Orsam is very subtle but still possible to detect. Up to his third edition, Wood had always claimed that the famous letter published by the Times in 1887 and attributed to Charles Parnell was 'an obvious forgery'. In Part 1 of the Suckered! Quadrilogy, I explained why the position wasn't so clear cut as to be able to say that it was an obvious forgery. As this was the position taken by Sir Robert Anderson, the very last person I expected to agree with me was Simon Wood, but we find that on page 32 of the fourth edition he has replaced the words, 'The letter was an obvious forgery' so that it now reads, 'The letter was a forgery'.

These are exciting times for us who specialize in Simon Wood studies.

Use 31

A more certain use of Lord Orsam by Wood can be found in the footnote on page 64 of the fourth edition which first appeared in the third edition. In part 4 of the Suckered! Quadrilogy from September 2015, I explained in detail what Monro's demands were in respect of police pensions and how that differed to what was in the final bill. I also revealed that Monro had written an article on the subject of Police Pensions which was published in The New Review in September 1890. Sure enough, Wood now references The New Review article, which he obviously hadn't known about until I mentioned it my article, and sets out the detail of what Monro wanted in respect of pensions as against what the government finally compromised on, thus demolishing his own point that there was no real issue regarding pensions and that Monro's resignation was due to something else.

Use 32

I was the first person to discover Robert Anderson's letter to the Home Secretary dated 19 November 1888 in the National Archives (as revealed in The Third Man) and we find Wood referring to the content of this letter on page 86 of his fourth edition. Still no thanks to me though.

Use 33

In my 2015 article, The Third Man, I criticised Wood's claim from his first edition that, while some parts of the Boston Sunday Globe story of 23 December 1888 about Inspector Andrews' visit to Canada were 'clearly inaccurate', it was possible to cross-check other non-agency press reports which suggested that the events the newspaper described were 'fundamentally accurate', saying:

'According to Wood, 'cross-checking other non-agency press reports suggests that the events described are fundamentally correct' but, as he does not let us know what those other reports are, or how they can possibly corroborate the fantastic yarn spun by the Boston Globe, the entire thing should be consigned to the garbage.'

Wood's false claim about the existence of these other non-agency press reports corroborating the Boston Sunday Globe article survived into the third edition but it has finally been removed from the fourth edition (p.89) which I regard as a major victory for Orsam.

It may be noted that, in the process of deleting an entire paragraph, Wood's poor editing skills now mean that the next paragraph on p.89 which commences 'We are on firmer ground as to Inspector Andrews' movements...' now makes no sense (not that it made much sense in the previous editions).

Use 34

When writing the first edition of his book, Wood was clearly unaware of the contents of a Home Office File catalogued by the National Archives as 'Case of Inspector Jarvis' with reference HO 144/478/X27302. I say this even though his first edition contained a single quote from a document within this file. That quote had already appeared in Bernard Porter's The Origins of the Vigilant State and I suspect that Wood took it either from that book or another secondary source. The reason I say this is because, after I included numerous quotes from documents in the file in my March 2015 article, Wood evidently obtained a copy of the entire file and his second edition (published December 2015) suddenly included a number of additional references to documents in it (all inaccurately given as either 'HO / X27302' or just 'X27302', which indicates that he was using the original but superseded Home Office reference as marked on the file, as opposed to the correct National Archives file reference which was used for the quote in the first edition, just as Porter had given it). He also expands the quote which was in the first edition, adding what was not in Porter's book. We find such references on pages 103 and 132 of the fourth edition. Once again Wood has learnt from Orsam.

Use 35

In his first edition, Wood had said that Gilbert & Sullivan observed in HMS Pinafore that 'things are seldom as they seem'. It fell to me to inform him in The Thomas Barton Affair that the correct line is 'Things are seldom what they seem'. He corrected the error in his next edition, and the corrected version remains in the fourth edition (p. 106). Still no thanks have been forthcoming.

Use 37

In the first two editions of his book, Wood said that it was 'not known' if the expenses of former Superintendent James Thomson while staying at the Gilsey House Hotel in November 1888 were being paid for the by The Times (Ieaving open in Wood's mind the possibility that they were being paid for by the government or the Met Police). I had to tell him in Reconstructing Jack that this was wrong and that it is known very well that Thomson's expenses (of £500) were being paid for by the Times and, indeed, that this has been had been known since February 1889 when Joseph Soames testified to this at the Parnell Commission inquiry. Needless to say, Wood immediately included this information in the third edition where it remains in the fourth edition (p.120).

Use 38

In all previous editions of his book, Wood had claimed that the purpose of the Sun publishing a series of articles accusing Thomas Cutbush of being Jack the Ripper was 'to trigger an inquiry into the Whitechapel murders'. I made the point in my June 2019 article Cutbush City Limits that what the Sun was actually asking for, as clear as day, was an investigation into its own story that Cutbush was the murderer. In the fourth edition, Wood has now deleted the sentence in which he said the Sun's aim was to trigger an inquiry into the Whitechapel murders and (on p.172) replaced it with this:

'The Sun wasn't asking for a public investigation into the Whitechapel murders; it was asking for an investigation into its own suspect and story, which amounted to much the same thing.'

It's not actually much the same thing, but what's so odd is that a couple of pages later (on page 174) Wood contradicts himself by saying that the Sun 'was attempting to press for an inquiry into the Whitechapel murders'. You might think that Wood has simply overlooked this sentence while doing his revision but he did amend it because, in the third edition, it had said that the Sun was attempting to press for 'a full inquiry' into the Whitechapel murders. In other words, he deleted the word 'full' but kept in the claim that the Sun was pressing for an inquiry into the Whitechapel murders even though he had literally just said that it wasn't doing so! A similar claim is made on page 175. I should note that, prior to publication of my article, Casebook forum member Herlock Sholmes had confronted Wood with his misunderstanding of what the Sun was asking for, but I'm still claiming it as my influence which caused Wood to change his book!

Use 39

Noting that four police reports relating to the 30th September discovery of the writing on the wall were not written until 6 November 1888, Wood says on page 438 of his book that, 'The sudden need for these reports has been explained away as the anticipation of questions being raised in the Autumn Session of the House of Commons [parliament reconvened on 6th November]...' . He's talking there about little old me! For I explained it to him (not 'explained away') on the Casebook Forum in June 2016....

Despite my explanation, Wood says in his fourth edition that it is 'interesting to note' that the police reports were not written until 6th November 1888 even though there is nothing remotely interesting about it. He seems to accept my explanation for it, not offering an alternative, but gripes that the police should have had the reports ready just in case the Home Secretary decided to request them, although what the apparent failure of the Commissioner to accurately predict the future has to do with the topic of his book is anyone's guess.

Use 40

In my Reconstructing Jack article I wrote:

'Wood seems to think that there is something suspicious about the fact that early newspaper reports suggested a link between the two murders (supposedly based on information obtained from the police). The prime example he gives is from Lloyds Weekly Newspaper of 30 September in which it was stated that 'reasons exist for believing that the assassin was disturbed, and thus his savage intention unfulfilled'' (p.30). Of this, Wood says it is not known how the police arrived at 'such a definitive conclusion' about the two murders being a double event in such a short space of time. In doing so, he not only assumes that the police were the source for the LWN report but wrongly summarizes that report as containing a definitive conclusion when it said no more than that reasons existed for thinking the killer was disturbed which is not only not a definitive conclusion but a reasonable statement bearing in mind all the circumstances of the way the body of Stride was found and the physical and temporal proximity to the Eddowes murder.'

It may be that this criticism has finally sunk into Wood's heavily protected cranium because, whaddya know, he's deleted from his fourth edition ("Jack the Grapestalk" chapter) the quote from LWN about reasons existing for believing that the assassin was disturbed and, accordingly, he no longer comments that it is hard to understand how 'the police' reached this 'definitive' conclusion so soon after the murders.

Still no thanks to me for my help.

Use 41

I mention in Mistaken History that Wood originally thought that Inspector Abberline was based at Scotland Yard at the time of the Kelly murder and thus claimed in the first two editions of his book that it would have been impossible for him to have arrived at Millers court at 11.30am given the road closures due to the Lord Mayor's Parade. After I pointed in out in Reconstructing Jack that Abberline had already transferred to H Division, and thus would have been based in Commercial Street or Leman Street police station, he added a sentence to that effect in his third edition and it remains in his fourth edition (p575).

Use 42

Wood's belated appreciation that Police Orders required superintendents to be present at Scotland Yard on the morning of 9 November, and assigned Superintendent Arnold to duties in Chancery Lane for that day, found at page 579 of his book (but not in his first two editions), came from me flagging this point in Reconstructing Jack having discovered it myself from Police Orders, probably for the first time, as I don't think anyone had ever spotted it before me. And still no thanks from Wood!

Use 43

As late as the 3rd edition of his book, Wood was peddling the false notion that Inspector Abberline had said that: 'The key of the woman’s door has been found, so her murderer did not carry it away with him, as was at first supposed.' As I mentioned in Re-Reconstructing Jack, this claim, which is only found in the newspapers, was never attributed to Abberline. In the 4th edition, Wood has now deleted the claim that Abberline ever said that the key had been found. From the fact that Wood has failed to correct so many mistakes pointed out by me in Re-Reconstructing Jack, I might have said he hadn't read it but what convinces me he has done so is another change he has made. In the 3rd edition, the quote about the key being found was said to have come from an early edition of the Evening Standard of 12 November as well as the fifth edition of the Star on the same date. I pointed out in Re-Reconstructing Jack that the quote wasn't from an early edition of the Evening Standard at all but from a different morning newspaper, The Standard. In response, Wood has simply removed any mention of the Evening Standard, even though it was The Standard which, during the morning of 12 November, first carried the quote about the key having been found, and he now attributes the quote solely to the Star (p.585) even though that newspaper came later in the day. I can only think that he's done this in response to my article. Wood also takes the report of the key being found as gospel even though it was probably false.

Use 44

At the time he wrote the first two editions of his book, Wood was under the impression that Joseph Barnett had let slip in an interview with the Star that Mary Kelly had a little boy, aged six or seven years, living with her. He was corrected on the Forum by both myself and Wickerman (and the issue was dealt with by me in detail in They Mysterious Dr Gabe) so that in his third edition the claim that Kelly had a little boy was now said to be 'an unattributed statement' in the Star. This remains in the fourth edition (p.592) and, as mentioned in Mistaken History, Wood has lost heart in his previously firm belief that the boy existed.

Use 45

Another noteworthy example is when Wood quotes Dr Bond as saying that there was 'no evidence' that the Whitechapel murderer had an accomplice then follows it with the non sequitur that a police notice offering a pardon for any accomplice was 'irreconcilable' with Dr Bond's opinion (p.376). It may not be entirely consistent but it's hardly irreconcilable given that Dr Bond did not actually rule out the possibility of there being an accomplice.

Wood has deleted from his fourth edition the claim that Dr Bond's opinion was 'quite irreconcilable' with the offer of a pardon (p.646).

Use 46

In Wood's first three editions, he claimed that 'there is no doubt' that Tumblety was remanded in custody between 7th and 16th November 1888. Since April 2015, starting with my Casebook post Cracking the Calendar Code, I have repeatedly been stressing that there certainly is doubt about this. While I can't say for sure that Wood has finally accepted my argument, this claim does not appear in the fourth edition albeit that it was found in a chapter entitled 'The Malta Story' (a very badly titled chapter because it was largely about Tumblety) which has been deleted in its entirety.

Use 47

In Wood's second edition he added a comment regarding Labouchere's humiliating climbdown in the Jarvis legal proceedings which wasn't in the first edition when he said:

That at the eleventh hour Labouchere finally realised the error of his ways and decided to quietly settle out of court rather than face an embarrassing public climb-down is easy to believe, but doing so would be to ignore a hugely important political issue playing out at the time.

This was in direct response to my Casebook Forum posts in which I told him that Labouchere had indeed realised the error of his ways and decided to quietly settle out of court rather than face an embarrassing public climbdown. The 'hugely important political issue' was, in Wood's mind, supposed to be related to Parnell's divorce proceedings because he thought that Labouchere would regard it as 'politically undesirable' to continue with proceedings 'which would have defended Parnell'. As I explained in Reconstructing Jack, Parnell would have been irrelevant to the Jarvis libel trial. That trial wouldn't have involved defending Parnell at all. As a result, there couldn't possibly have been any connection between Labouchere's decision to settle the libel action and Parnell's divorce proceedings. This might have sunk in because Wood made a change to his third edition which remains in his fourth so that the sentence now reads (p.139):

That at the eleventh hour Labouchere finally realised the error of his ways and decided to quietly settle out of court rather than face an embarrassing public climb-down is easy to believe, but doing so would be to ignore some behind-the-scenes shenanigans.

Those behind the scenes shenanigans are unexplained in the book. They are supposed to relate to the Home Office file relating to Jarvis' legal action, the existence of which I tipped off Wood to, but as explained in Mistaken History, the correspondence in that Home Office file concluded in May 1890, after the Home Office gave permission for Jarvis to commence legal proceedings, so nothing in it could possibly explain Labouchere's climbdown and apology.

Still no thanks or acknowledgment from Wood.


4 December 2023

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