Following the publication of Simon Daryl Wood's Deconstructing Jack: The Secret History of the Whitechapel Murders as an e-book in March 2015, I published on (on 21 May 2015) a trilogy of articles entitled 'The Suckered! Trilogy' which cast a critical eye over, amongst other things, Wood's claim that police officers from Scotland Yard were conducting illegal investigations in America in 1888/89.
Some additional comments about issues raised in Wood's book were subsequently published by me in a series of four articles on 18 September 2015 under the collective name of 'The Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy'. Further discussion of issues arising from Wood's book was published on 2 November 2015 in an article called The Gynaecologist Society and then on 18 November 2015 in an article entitled 'Some Thoughts' under the umbrella of 'A Year of Research' (see especially The Curious Case of the Fake Pensioner and The Missing Hour, Found! now published as individual articles).
With the publication of the paperback version of Wood's book in December 2015, I wondered if the author had made any modifications to his text as a result of my articles.
So I purchased the paperback version, to find it has the words '2015 BOOK OF THE YEAR' on the front cover. One needs to look at the back cover to see that this was an award at the Jack the Ripper Conference held in Nottingham in August 2015 and thus, presumably, relates only to books published in the year up to that date about Jack the Ripper. A bit ironic considering that, according to Wood, Jack the Ripper did not exist - but perhaps it is a lesson not to judge a book by it's cover!
The purpose of this article is threefold. Firstly, I wish to try and work out what Simon Wood actually means when he says that Jack the Ripper did not exist. This is no easy task. One does not so much read Simon Wood as decode him, so nothing is entirely clear, but I will do my best. Secondly, I want to consider how Wood's argument about the activities of Scotland Yard officers in America in 1888/89 ties in with his claim that Jack the Ripper did not exist. Thirdly, as mentioned above, I want to discuss the extent that Wood has modified his arguments as a result of my own articles on this website.
I feel I am in a unique position to comment on Wood's book not only because he has (without admitting it) amended his book in response to my arguments and, indeed, used some of the material I posted on this website in the paperback version of his book, but also because, even in the e-book, he incorporated material that I had discovered from my own research and had posted on the Jack the Ripper Casebook Forum, albeit that this remains unacknowledged by him in both versions of his book.
Let us focus on understanding the central theme of Wood's book.
JACK THE RIPPER DID NOT EXIST
Anyone who has followed Simon Wood's postings on the Casebook forum over the last few years will know that there is one big point he has made over and over again, namely that Jack the Ripper did not exist. For example:
'....any serious re-evaluation of the Whitechapel murders requires us to stop buying into the concept of "Jack the Ripper" who existed other than as a name on a letter and postcard.' 26 March 2009, Thread: 'The "Canonical Group" defines the Ripper...but accurately?'.
'Jack the ripper was hokum, pure and simple...' 13 September 2010, Thread: 'Belief'.
'Jack the Ripper did not exist.' 11 December 2011, Thread: 'Have Ripperologists been polled As To Who They Think Jack Really Was?'.
'Jack the Ripper is exactly the same story as the Emperor's New Clothes.' 2 July 2013, Thread: 'The probability of being fed disinformation'.
'There was no Jack the Ripper.' 2 July 2013, Thread: 'The probability of being fed disinformation'.
'As there was no "Jack the Ripper", this mythical personage could not have been Joseph Fleming or, whilst we're at it, any other suspect you might care to name.' 23 July 2013, Thread: 'Where does Joseph Fleming fit into the equation?'.
'...there was no such person as Jack the Ripper...' 5 August 2013, Thread: 'One incontrovertible, Unequivocal Fact [which] Refutes the Diary'.
'The real madcap theory is that perpetuated by those people who, on the basis of absolutely no evidence whatsoever, believe hook, line and sinker that there was such a person as Jack the Ripper.' 14 August 2013, Thread: 'Crowley's Request - Howard never got the memo'.
'Jack the Ripper did not exist.' 15 April 2015, Thread: 'Cracking the Calendar Code'.
'There was no Jack the Ripper.' 4 October 2015, Thread: 'To Diagnose a Serial Killer'.
After so many categorical statements on the subject, which are repeated in similar terms in his book, one would have thought that Wood would have taken the opportunity afforded by his book to explain clearly what he means when he says that Jack the Ripper did not exist. After all, he does not deny that a number of women were murdered in the Whitechapel area during 1888. However, one of the most surprising aspects of Wood's book is that the statement 'Jack the Ripper did not exist' is not explained at any time in clear terms.
The name 'Jack the Ripper' was invented by the author of a letter signed in that name addressed to the 'Boss' at the Central News Agency, dated Tuesday, 25 September 1888, postmarked Thursday, 27 September 1888, which was first revealed to the public on Monday, 1 October 1888, on which morning there was receipt of a further communication by postcard.
From the fact that two women were murdered in Whitechapel only a few days after receipt of the letter, and the fact that the author had promised to clip his next victim's ears off, with Eddowes' ears being cut, it was widely believed that the author of the communications was the murderer. The name 'Jack the Ripper' famously became the sobriquet assigned to the serial killer who appeared to be operating in the East End.
Even at the time, however, there was a school of thought that the letter and postcard were nothing more than a hoax. When the Central News Agency circulated the 'Dear Boss' letter during the morning of 1 October, the accompanying syndicated report stated that the letter, 'was, of course, treated as the work of a practical joker...'. Similarly, the Central News Agency report about the receipt of the postcard stated: 'The idea that naturally occurs is that the whole thing is a practical joke'. Today most people believe that the author of the 'Jack the Ripper' communications was an enterprising journalist, possibly connected with the Central News Agency, whose motive was to generate income for the agency and/or himself and his journalistic colleagues.
For most people, however, the possibility that the man (or woman) who wrote and posted the 'Jack the Ripper' letter was a hoaxer does not mean that a serial killer known as 'Jack the Ripper' did not exist. The name 'Jack the Ripper' is generally regarded as nothing more than a convenient label which avoids the need to keep referring to 'the man (or woman) who killed an uncertain number of prostitutes in the East End during 1888 and/or 1889'. The term 'The Whitechapel Murderer', which was also in use at the time, would do exactly the same job but is rather less punchy (and not 100% geographically accurate) so that 'Jack the Ripper' tends to be the name of choice.
In claiming that Jack the Ripper did not exist, Simon Wood cannot possibly be saying something as trite and banal as the fact that the individual who wrote the letter and postcard calling himself 'Jack the Ripper' was not the same individual who killed some or all of the women murdered in 1888, can he?
Well, as it happens, in the absence of any clear indication from him as to whether or not at least some of the murdered women in 1888 were killed by the same person, this must be exactly what he is saying. Nothing more, nothing less. He may not even appreciate this himself but the fact that he is making a claim with no real meaning probably explains why he has never been able to articulate his argument in any kind of sensible fashion.
What I am going to argue, from having read his book and his internet postings, is that it is Simon Wood's claim that Jack the Ripper did not exist which is the equivalent of the Emperor's New Clothes. Those who are aware of his claim probably can't believe that it is as simple as saying that the murderer of the women in 1888 did not write the letter and postcard so a deeper meaning is attributed to it.
JACK THE MYTH
The notion of Jack the Ripper as a myth, or part myth, is hardly new. Plenty of people have argued that the person known as the Whitechapel Murderer, or Jack the Ripper, did not murder all the women who were killed in 1888 and 1889. The solicitor George Lewis was one of the earliest reductionists. The Montreal Star of 8 December 1888 contains a letter from London dated 6 December 1888 in which Lewis was said to have deduced that, 'the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Beddowes (sic) were not committed by the same person' and that there were 'two or more murderers' who were 'acting in collusion or prior arrangement'.
Melville Macnaghten, then the Chief Constable at Scotland Yard, who thought that Stride and Eddowes were murdered by the same person, is nevertheless the most famous of the early reductionists. In his well-known 1894 memorandum, he stated that the serial killer only murdered five women, the canonical victims, not the eight or more that had previously been attributed to him (or her). In attributing these murders to one individual he was supported by Dr Thomas Bond who wrote in a report to the Home Office that all five murders 'were no doubt committed by the same hand'.
Subsequently, doubts have been expressed that all of the five canonical victims were the work of one person. Elizabeth Stride is the easiest to remove from the list bearing in mind that she was not mutilated, but others have sought to claim that Mary Jane Kelly, usually regarded as the quintessential Jack the Ripper victim, despite being murdered in a room, was another exception.
In his 1996 book, The Killer Who Never Was, Peter Turnbull tells us that Nichols, Chapman and Eddowes 'appear to have been slain by three different men and it is likely that these men were horse slaughterers, employed in the Spitalfields meat markets, each man unknown to the others, and each being a resident of one of the common lodging houses'. Oddly, he also says that, with the weekend of 10/11 November 1888 looming, 'one man, perhaps a horse slaughterer, evidently felt obliged to act in the way people expected of the fiend' and murdered Kelly but does not make clear if it was one of the three horse slaughterers who had committed the other murders. He also believes that Michael Kidney killed Stride.
Thirteen years later, in a book which anticipates a number of Wood's arguments, especially in respect of the 'Dear Boss' correspondence, Andrew Cook, in his 2009 book 'Jack the Ripper', also suggested that Stride was killed by Kidney and, continuing the boyfriend as prime suspect theme, expressed the view that Kelly was murdered by Joseph Barnett. He felt that the other murders were committed by a slaughterhouse employee, with his conclusion being that, 'Without doubt a number of the murders were carried out by a psychopath whose identity was hidden behind a 'mask of sanity', others were copycat killings'.
Turnbull aside, it is usually conceded, as Cook appears to, that Nichols, Chapman and Eddowes were murdered by the same individual but it is always possible that, after reading in the newspapers about Nichols being mutilated, a copycat killer, who had reason to murder Chapman, mutilated her to make it look like she was murdered by the same person who murdered Nichols and someone else did the same when murdering Eddowes, followed by yet someone else doing the same to Kelly, so that all of the women murdered during 1888 were murdered by different people, with newspaper hype designed to boost circulation, combined with a clueless police force, meaning that all the murders were wrongly attributed to a lone maniac.
Clearly, if this was what Simon Wood meant in saying that Jack the Ripper did not exist then at least it would make sense of his point about the non-existence of the Ripper even if it would be a hard argument to make good, due to the basic implausibility of so many different individuals murdering and mutilating so many prostitutes in a small geographical area within such a short time frame. However, it is certain that this is NOT what Wood means when he says that Jack the Ripper does not exist. He is very careful in his wording and he never, ever, says that a serial killer did not exist in 1888. Nor does he say there was no 'Whitechapel murderer'. It is always without exception 'Jack the Ripper' who did not exist.
Wood has said publicly that Nichols, Chapman and Eddowes were all killed by the same person, although we don't find this in his book. One has to turn to his Casebook dissertation from September 2005 entitled 'Room 13 Millers Court'. In that dissertation he stated:
'I firmly believe that the person known as Jack the Ripper committed murders 1, 2 and 4, and that Elizabeth Stride was a domestic look-alike murder'.
He made clear in the dissertation that he had held this belief since the 1970s saying that, in thirty years, 'nothing has changed my mind about the events of autumn 1888.'
Where this leaves Wood's thesis that there was no 'Jack the Ripper' is rather hard to say. He appears to accept in the dissertation that a serial killer (as we would recognize the term today) murdered three women in the East End during the four week period between 31 August and 30 September. As far as most people are concerned, that person would be 'Jack the Ripper'.
It may be that Wood's 2005 dissertation was written before he came to realize that history had fallen for 'an elaborate hoax' , which realization, he tells us, vaguely, occurred ten years prior to the publication of his (2015) book. Given the timing, we may speculate that this light bulb moment came about as a result of his reading Wolf Vanderlinden's two articles, in Ripper Notes of July and October 2005, about Inspector Andrews' trip to Canada. Wood describes these articles in his book as 'ground-breaking' but I think they can now fairly be described as having been discredited, in the sense of their key arguments having been debunked (see my Suckered! Trilogy articles and my exchanges with Wolf in the corresponding Casebook thread).
To the extent that Wood's sudden understanding that history had fallen for an 'elaborate hoax' came about after his 2005 dissertation, so that his long and firmly held view regarding the murders of Nichols, Chapman and Eddowes has changed, we might note that Wood effectively said in a Casebook post dated 21 December 2011, six years after his dissertation, that his statement about Jack the Ripper being non-existent really only means that the murderer did not kill all of the canonical five. Thus, he said (underlining added):
'There was no Jack the Ripper - doctor, barrister, Jewish lunatic or otherwise - who was singly responsible for the five murders under consideration'.
However, what he was not saying in that statement was that one serial killer did not murder at least three women in 1888. Had he wished to, he could have said that there was no Jack the Ripper (or serial killer) who was responsible for any of the five murders under consideration but he did not do so.
He confirmed that he was not denying the existence of some unknown killer (or killers) in 1888 in a post dated 12 October 2011, in a thread called 'E Petitions and Ripper Files and papers':
'Saying Jack the Ripper never existed is not the same as saying that one or more unknown killers never existed.'
So Wood is here definitely accepting that there was at least one unknown killer prowling the streets of Whitechapel in 1888, and, further, that there might only have been one unknown killer, but he is quite wrong to say that a claim that Jack the Ripper never existed is not the same as a denial that there was an unknown killer of multiple women prowling the streets. For such a claim to make sense, it has to be exactly the same thing. To say that Jack the Ripper did not exist is precisely to deny the existence of a killer (or killers) of multiple women in Whitechapel in 1888 but, by not saying this, he is basically admitting that all he means is that the Jack the Ripper correspondence was not written by the murderer, something which is hardly even worth bothering to mention, let alone repeatedly posting on Casebook and making it the central theme of his book.
At this point we should note that, despite his firmly held belief of thirty years that one person murdered Nichols, Chapman and Eddowes, Wood hinted for the first time in April 2013 that Chapman might have been murdered by someone who did not commit any other murders. Thus, in a JTR forums post dated 3 April 2013, in a thread entitled 'Did Jack the Ripper Even Exist?', he said:
'Fresh evidence gathered during a stroll along the avenue suggests that we should perhaps delete Annie Chapman [from the list of Canonical Five victims].'
This tentative statement was followed up by two articles in Ripperologist, of June and August 2013, entitled 'One Lone Maniac Too Many', in which Wood set out a convoluted and unconvincing theory regarding the possibility (and he seems to put it no higher than this) that Colonel Hughes-Hallett (who left England for the United States on 25 September 1888) murdered Annie Chapman. In doing so, he said in the second of the two articles that, 'the murder of Annie Chapman bears all the hallmarks of having been a standalone event, with no serial connection - other than by design - to what had gone before or what would happen afterwards.'
This theory about Hughes-Hallett being the possible murderer of Chapman is repeated in his book but it is confusingly also implied that the Colonel might have killed Tabram and Nichols too! This will be discussed below but for now I simply note that this theory is, at best, argued half-heartedly in Wood's book and he does not exactly radiate belief that he has solved the Chapman murder or any other of the murders.
Wood certainly never attempts to start a discussion that there are signs that the murdered women were killed by different people based on, for example, the modus operandi and/or the medical evidence. There is no doubt that he excludes Elizabeth Stride, deriding the notion of a 'Double Event', and, in the case of the murder of Mary Jane Kelly (or whoever the woman was who was found dead in Millers Court), hints that it might have been a Special Branch operation, or rather someone told him that it bears the hallmarks of such an operation but he can't reveal who that person was. Hopefully Simon is not part of a wider conspiracy to conceal the truth about Mary Jane Kelly's murder from us! More seriously, because Wood refuses to reveal the identity of his 'informants', we cannot be sure that he has not been hoaxed by people falsely claiming to have knowledge of Special Branch operations in the nineteenth century.
Wood repeatedly tells us that, because Jack the Ripper did not exist, there is no point in trying to establish his (or her) identity but there can be no doubt that Ripperologists, or anyone else, would be interested in the identity of the person who killed Nichols, Chapman and Eddowes, if it was a single person, and also in the identity of the people who killed Stride and Kelly, if that involved a different person or persons.
Even if one person only murdered two of the prostitutes in 1888 - and we can put aside modern and arbitrary definitions of a 'serial killer' - that person would be a multiple murderer and would still qualify as being 'Jack the Ripper' so that even if Wood has found Annie Chapman's murderer, and can exclude Chapman from the canonical five, it would not mean that the Ripper did not exist if one person nevertheless murdered Nichols and Eddowes. If, on the other hand, in Colonel Hughes-Hallett, he has identified the murderer of Nichols and Chapman (and Tabram?) then he has potentially found Jack the Ripper, the original Whitechapel Murderer, even if it that would mean that this Jack the Ripper did not go on to murder Stride, Eddowes and/or Kelly.
I would suggest that when Simon Wood says that Jack the Ripper did not exist, most people interpret him to be saying that all the murdered women in 1888 were killed by different hands. However, I think that, despite his flirtation with the notion that Colonel Hughes-Hallett murdered Chapman (and others?), what he would like to say is the complete opposite. I believe he would like to say that all (or, at least, most) of the women murdered during 1888 were killed by the British authorities or Special Branch or, even better, by the Metropolitan Police under the instructions of Robert Anderson, ideally for some purpose relating to the Special Commission which was investigating the allegations of the Times against Charles Parnell.
However, Wood knows that there is no evidence for such a claim and it would be regarded as a crackpot theory. So he makes do with the second best alternative which is that the 'Jack the Ripper' correspondence was the work of the British authorities or Special Branch or the police, rather than the Jack the Ripper murders themselves.
For Simon Wood has stated a number of times that he does not believe that a journalist was responsible for the Jack the Ripper correspondence. In a post on 21 December 2011, he denied that Jack the Ripper was 'a journalistic invention'. When another member of Casebook said on 12 March 2013 that Jack the Ripper was an intellectual construct of a journalist, he replied, 'I agree with you entirely, except for the hoax having been originated by a journalist.' Confirmation is found in a post dated 24 December 2014 in which he said: 'The Ripper correspondence was not conceived by a journalist.' In his book, Wood is a little less emphatic, merely saying that is 'unlikely' that the 'Dear Boss' letter was conceived by a journalist (p.445).
While he never expressly tells us who actually did conceive the correspondence, the inference is clear that it was done at the behest of British officials. Although it is rather hard to be certain due to a lack of clarity in his writing, on page 446 of his book he seems to be suggesting that 'a small group of people who met regularly at the Home Office' arranged for 'Tom Bullen', supposedly a journalist at the Central News Agency, to write the Ripper correspondence.
Why would a small group of people at the Home Office want to enlist the assistance of a journalist to devise a better nickname for the Whitechapel Murderer?
JACK THE PLOY
We find clues in his Casebook postings to the way Wood thinks. On 13 September 2010, he said that Jack the Ripper was hokum, 'designed to take people's eyes off the ball'. On 12 October 2011, he said 'JTR was a handy contrivance.' While saying that 'conspiracy' was too strong a word to describe what was going on, he stated in a post on 21 December 2011 that:
'A much better word would be ploy, defined as "a subterfuge or gambit as part of an overall strategy".'
What was this ploy or gambit of which Wood speaks? What was the overall strategy?
Answering these questions takes us to the very heart of Wood's book.
On the aforementioned page 446 of his book, the theory seems to be that the small group of unidentified people who met regularly at the Home Office wanted to exploit the Whitechapel murders in order to undermine Sir Charles Warren and bring about his resignation. Why did they want to do this? Apparently so that James Monro could be inserted as Commissioner of Police instead. Why did they want James Monro to be the Commissioner of Police? Wood doesn't really say, but it presumably had something to do with Monro's more helpful attitude towards the Times' case at the ongoing Special Commission.
According to Wood, Monro was already helping the Home Office to get up the Times' case at the Special Commission before Warren resigned. Wood bases this claim on a single report in the Star newspaper of 19 November 1888 (which alleged that Monro had left the Metropolitan Police four months earlier to assist the Times' case on a full time basis). Wood claims that this report is corroborated by a 1910 memo recording that Monro came over to the Home Office, after his resignation, to continue to direct 'the secret Irish work' but, as I pointed out in part 4 of the Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy, that was an entirely different matter relating to the continuation of his previous work at Scotland Yard as Secret Agent (which was quite separate from his work as Assistant Commissioner of the C.I.D.), being nothing to do with the Times' case for the Special Commission. It is inconceivable that Wood does not know the difference between Monro acting as Secret Agent on Irish matters and him working on the Times' case before the Special Commission so it is hard to understand why he confuses the two things in his book.
Other contemporary newspapers stated that, following his resignation as Assistant Commissioner, Monro was to be 'head of the Secret Inquiry Department' (as Wood notes in his book) or, as the London Evening Post of 4 September 1888 stated, his work 'will be of a similar character to that formerly performed by Mr Jenkinson'. This is a description of his role as Secret Agent.
The simple fact is that there is no corroboration of the Star's claim, said to be have come from 'an authoritative source' that Monro did anything at the Home Office relating to the Times' case following his resignation as Assistant Commissioner in August 1888.
In part 4 of the Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy, I noted that the Star's report came shortly after the resignation of Sir Charles Warren as Commissioner and said: 'it looks like the Star report might have been based on nothing more than Sir Charles Warren's suspicions about what Monro was up to in his office, something which Warren knew very little about due to the secret nature of the work.'
It is always gratifying for one's suspicions to be confirmed and Wood has helpfully found another report in the Star nine days later, on 28 November 1888, alleging that Monro was 'constantly intriguing against his chief', an allegation which can only realistically have originated with Sir Charles Warren who was undoubtedly briefing the Star and must have been that newspaper's source for its story about Monro assisting the Times. As Sir Charles was kept in the dark about Monro's Irish work, far from being an authoritative source about Monro, he could really only have been guessing about what he was doing.
Going back to Wood's theory about the reason for the creation of the 'Jack the Ripper' name, he seems to be saying that the unidentified cabal of sinister men at the Home Office believed that the fact that women were being killed and mutilated by a maniac within the Metropolitan district of London was not enough in itself to be able to remove Sir Charles Warren from his post.
Something more apparently needed to be done so they came up with a wheeze to make the murders more scary for the population of London by inventing the name 'Jack the Ripper'. As a result, not only would everyone think that one individual was behind all the murders but newspaper editors would be driven into a frenzy of excitement, leading them to publish endless stories about the murderer, thus heaping the pressure on Sir Charles Warren to make an arrest.
This plan obviously assumed that the police, either by accident or design, would not actually catch the murderer because then Sir Charles Warren would have been a hero, the very reverse of what the plotters presumably intended.
In writing the 'Dear Boss' letter on or about 25 September, and sending it to the Central News Agency on or about 27 September, the puppet masters in the cabal evidently knew or suspected that there would be more murders to follow soon, and indeed they knew that some of them would not be committed by the same person who had killed Nichols and Chapman (hence the very need for the letter), although how or why they would be in a position to know what would happen in the future is not explained by Wood.
It seems that the Metropolitan Police themselves were involved in the plan because one thing that Wood is clear about is that the police falsely promoted the notion of the 'double event', a term which had been coined in the 'dear old Boss' postcard. Senior officers in the Metropolitan Police (such as Chief Inspector Swanson) were, apparently, conspiring with a group of men at the Home Office to force the removal of their own Commissioner.
The plan supposedly involved the suppression of the evidence of Israel Schwartz and Matthew Packer at the inquest of Elizabeth Stride. According to Wood:
'...had their statements been admitted into evidence the 1.00 am mutilandum interruptus story, the confirmatory Saucy Jacky postcard and the whole notion of the double-event would have been exposed as an elaborate fiction.' (p.492)
Unable to understand why the whole notion of the double event would have been exposed as an elaborate fiction had Schwartz and Packer testified at the inquest, I posted an almost identical quote from him on the Casebook Forum on 13 October 2015 in a thread entitled 'Packer and Schwartz' and asked the entire membership of the forum if they understood what Wood meant by it. Despite there being more than a thousand subsequent posts in that thread, including a number of actual replies to my question, not a single person was able to explain it. Simon Wood himself posted in the thread on 17 October 2015, not to explain himself, but to say that an understanding of his sentence depended on 'a combination of facts, reason and logic.' Finding that combination seems to have eluded everyone.
TWO MURDERS IN ONE NIGHT
As far as I can see from the papers on the case held at the National Archives, the police were doing the very best they could in the face of some conflicting and contradictory evidence to try and work out what had happened during the early hours of 30 September. One can, if one is lacking generosity of spirit, accuse the Metropolitan Police in 1888 of incompetence but the idea that they deliberately tailored the evidence, and silenced witnesses, in order to falsely create the impression that the person who murdered Stride was the same person who murdered Eddowes when they knew full well that two different people murdered these women is quite frankly bizarre, especially when we bear in mind that their supposed reason for doing so was to force the resignation of their own boss.
Just pausing there, let us reflect on what would have happened had there not been any correspondence from the person calling himself 'Jack the Ripper' who claimed to have been responsible for a double event.
On the morning of Monday, 1 October 1888, before the 'Jack the Ripper' correspondence had been revealed, newspaper readers around the country awoke to news in their morning papers (had they not already heard about it on the Sunday) of two more murders in the East End. The headline of the Times that morning was, indeed, 'MORE MURDERS AT THE EAST END'. The first paragraph of its report read:
'In the early hours of yesterday morning two more horrible murders were committed in the East-end of London, the victim in both cases belonging, it is believed, to the same class. No doubt seems to be entertained by the police that these terrible crimes were the work of the same fiendish hands which committed the outrages which had already made Whitechapel so painfully notorious. The scenes of the two murders brought to light are within a quarter of an hour's walk of each other...'
The press, in other words, did not need the 'Jack the Ripper' postcard to convince them that the two murders were not only connected with each other but with the other murders committed in the preceding months. Even if it is said that the Times was reporting what the police had told them, the simple truth is that anyone aware of the fact that the Stride murder was committed within an hour of the Eddowes murder, that Stride had her throat cut (but had not been mutilated suggesting the possibility of an interruption) and that Eddowes' body was found within a fifteen minute walk of where Stride's body lay, was always going to put two and two together and conclude that the murders were committed by the same individual. They might not have been correct but it hardly needed a police conspiracy to join the dots.
According to Wood, the police had no evidence linking the two murders other than the physical and temporal proximity of the two murders (p. 474) but to put it that way is to grossly underestimate the importance of the physical and temporal proximity. One did not need to be Sherlock Holmes to conclude that there was a reasonable possibility that the murderer of Stride had been interrupted before he could commence mutilating the body and then went on to murder and mutilate Eddowes. It may or may not be what actually happened but it was not only a reasonable assumption but a fairly obvious one.
Let's look at what an editorial in the Daily Chronicle said on the morning of 1 October:
'Both of the butcheries were perpetrated in the early hours of yesterday morning, and again women have been selected. In the one case the same frightening mutilation followed apparently the cutting of the throat with ferocious determination; but in the other it does not appear that any abdominal injuries of the nature of which ANNIE CHAPMAN was the victim were inflicted. There is a possibility, however, that the sounds of approaching footsteps may in the latter case have alarmed the murderer ere he could carry out his design. Of course until the results of the surgical examinations are authoritatively known, it would be premature to say positively that both the women, killed when most people were in their beds, were dispatched by the same hand. But it seems to us that there are some grounds for suspecting this to be the case...'
None of this is sourced to the police and seems to be a sensible analysis of the situation by the editor of the Daily Chronicle. Similar views were expressed in the Daily Telegraph on the same morning:
'Again this vast metropolis has been horror-stricken by a repetition of the hideous murders and mutilations of which the East-end of London, four times in succession, has already been the scene during the past few months. On this occasion a double crime, in all its leading characteristics so closely resembling its predecessors as to leave little doubt that it was committed by the same merciless hand which deliberately slaughtered and mangled Mary Ann Smith, Ann Tabram, Mary Ann Nicholls, and Annie Chapman, has been added to the dread list of assassinations perpetrated with impunity in the chief city of the civilised world...It seems probable that the assassin having cut the throat of his first victim in Berner-street was alarmed by the sound of some approaching footstep, possibly that of a member of the club above alluded to [International Working Men's Educational Club] and took to flight, forgoing his ghastly purpose of mutilation for the moment.'
On the afternoon of the same day, the Globe said:
'It is taken for granted by the inhabitants that the crime in Berner-street is by the same hand as the one in Mitre-square, and, as far as time and distance are concerned, there is nothing incredible in the hypothesis.'
This, it will be noted, sourced the theory of a 'double event' to local residents, not the police. It would seem, however, that the police agreed with the theory.
On the following day, the Globe stated:
'The police are becoming more and more convinced that the murderer must have had a very narrow escape when he succeeded in getting away from the yard in Berner-street after cutting the throat of "Long Liz". The theory now advanced is that he was actually in the yard engaged in the horrible work when the steward of the International Club, Mr. Diemschitz, drove in the trap and disturbed him, and that during the confusion that followed he succeeded in mingling with members of the club as they rushed out in a body into the enclosure, and finally escaped unobserved before the police arrived on the scene. How far this is true it is, of course, impossible to say, but the theory is at least a feasible one.'
Continuing this theme of the murderer having been interrupted, the Daily Chronicle of 3 October reported that it was the belief of both the police 'and also that of many members of the International Club' that the murderer was disturbed by the arrival of the club's steward, Louis Diemschutz. If this is correct then other newspaper reporters could have picked up on this belief simply from speaking to members of the International [Working Men's Educational] Club.
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 Lloyd's 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.
Since writing the above some interesting new information has come to light. In JTR Forums, Howard Brown has uncovered an 1897 interview from The Sketch with W.T. Madge, the proprietor of the Sunday newspaper The People (which can be found here). In that interview, Madge says of his newspaper:
'The circulation went up steadily, but the paper did not boom until 1888. One Sunday morning in September came the news of the famous Whitechapel murders to the office when I was in charge. Of course, I rushed off to the spot - anybody would have done that - but I hit upon the idea that both had been done by the same hand, and no one had hit upon that. Back I went to the office in a cab regardless of the views of the police about furious driving, stopped the machines, wrote out my theory, had new plates cast, started the machines again, and flooded London with copies of the paper, eagerly bought which gave a true idea of the cause of the fearful crimes. We did nearly half-a-million that day.'
Madge must here be referring to the edition of The People published on Sunday, 30 September 1888. Yet the surviving edition of the People (which can be found on the JTR Casebook Press Reports Section) makes no mention whatsoever of the double murders.
We may note that in the following Sunday's edition, on 7 October 1888, it was stated:
'When the usual edition of the People went to press on Sunday morning last, those engaged on it little thought that within a few hours they would be called upon to chronicle two more fiendish atrocities in the east end, which had even then been committed, but the news of which had not reached the Strand. But such, unhappily, was the case, and the editions published later in the morning and in the afternoon contained all the particulars that were then known of the dreadful tragedies which had occurred soon after midnight...'
This confirms that later editions of the People did indeed run stories about the double event.
So, assuming that Madge's memory of events is broadly correct, there is an entire newspaper story about the murders of Stride and Eddowes missing from history which was only published in late editions of The People on that Sunday and, moreover, it is one in which the theory that the two murders were committed by the same person was given prominence. Whether Madge is right that he was the first person to think of this is open to question but he may well have been the first to put this idea into print. And he says nothing about having had this idea put into his head by the police or anything like that. On its own, I suggest it destroys Wood's entire theory surrounding the linking of the murders of Stride and Eddowes to one individual.
Wood also thinks there is something suspicious about the fact that the 'Jack the Ripper' postcard referred to the killer having been interrupted and mentioned a 'double event'. But the link between the two murders would have suggested itself to a hoaxer just as much as it would have suggested itself to the police. Even today, with all the evidence available to us, we cannot in any way rule out the idea that Stride was killed by the same hand that killed Eddowes (as Wood himself does) and many informed people would say it is quite likely that there was what Wood likes to call mutilandum interruptus.
THE ROOTS OF THE RIPPER
The same is true of the link between the murders of Eddowes/Stride and the earlier murders. It is often hard for those not fully acquainted with all the facts to appreciate that, following the murder of Nichols, who, if Macnaghten is to be believed, was the first in the series of killings by the person known as 'Jack the Ripper', there was already believed to be a serial killer on the loose (even if the actual term 'serial killer' was not used).
The murder of Martha Tabram in early August 1888, while not grabbing any headlines, had nevertheless seeped into public consciousness and had prompted memories of earlier reported murders of women in Marylebone (January 1888), Whitechapel (April 1888) and Walthamstow (July 1888). When the body of Mary Ann Nichols was discovered on 31 August 1888 it somehow caught the mood of the zeitgeist, especially when the shocking nature of the mutilations was revealed. The story instantly became the major news story of the day so that newspaper editors and press agencies urgently sent their court reporters to the small coroner's court in Whitechapel.
There was no need, in other words, for anyone to invent a name of the murderer in order to put pressure on Sir Charles Warren to catch that murderer. That pressure was already there. From as early as 1 September 1888, for example, discussing the Nichols murder, the Evening Post was on the back of Sir Charles Warren:
'The police must justify themselves; they must be judged like everybody else, by results; they stand or fall not only by what they do, but what they fail to do and if they fail to discover the perpetrators of the murders that have smeared the London streets with blood, first in one neighbourhood and then in another, following each other with awful rapidity, then they must be pronounced incompetent...let us hear no more of these quarrels and frictions of Scotland Yard. If Sir Charles Warren cannot silence them Sir Charles Warren must go.'
Bearing in mind that these words were written before the murders of Chapman, Stride, Eddowes and Kelly, it is doubtful if the 'Jack the Ripper' correspondence really made any significant difference to the pressure upon Sir Charles Warren for his force to solve the crimes and it seems like a bizarre idea that a secret cabal would feel the need to invent such correspondence in order to force the Commissioner's resignation.
Furthermore, Wood himself quotes from the Star of 1 September 1888 in which the Star asks: 'Have we a murderous maniac loose in East London?' So hard it is for Wood to accept that a newspaper editor could possibly have asked such a question himself at that early stage in the sequence of murders that he wonders if the Star was reporting Metropolitan Police thinking (p.336). The alternative for Wood was that the Star was creating its very own Frankenstein monster. Wood does not seem to like the idea but that is the type of thing that 'tabloid' newspapers do.
An editorial in the Echo of 1 September 1888 made exactly the same point:
'The murder which was committed yesterday morning would be horrible enough even if it stood alone. The ghastly nature of the wounds, which filled with horror even those accustomed to such sights, have suggested to some that the crime was the work of a maniac. It may be so, and terrible as is the idea that such a madman is at large, we could almost wish it were. But unfortunately the crime does not stand alone. It is the second which has happened in the same district within three weeks; it is the third within twelve months. In each case death was inflicted in the same way - by stabs or cuts; and worst of all, the murderer got away scot-free, and left no clue. One can almost imagine that Whitechapel is haunted by a demon of the type of Hyde, who goes about killing for the mere case of slaughter.'
Here we have a newspaper editor seeing a series of murders by a maniac on the very day after the murder of Polly Nichols. He didn't need any help from the police or anyone else to come to this conclusion.
THE CABAL AND SIR CHARLES WARREN
I have already mentioned that the plot envisaged by Wood relied firstly on a murder being committed soon after receipt by the news agency of the JTR letter and secondly on the police not arresting the murderer but, for it to have had any chance of success, it also relied on the killer committing at least one more gruesome murder after the double event. The secret cabal could not have known there would be such a murder unless they were already planning one. Of course, Wood hints in passing that the murder of Mary Kelly might have been committed by Special Branch but, in the absence of any evidence, this is no more than imaginative fantasy.
Aside from its basic implausibility, the other problem with Wood's theory is that Warren's resignation, and his subsequent replacement by Monro, was actually triggered by the publication of an article by Sir Charles in the November 1888 edition of Murray's Magazine. How the plotters could have known at the end of September 1888 that such an article would soon exist (when the Home Office only learnt it was forthcoming on 19 October) we are not told. Further, how could the plotters have known that Sir Charles would hand in his resignation after being told by the Home Secretary not to publish further articles without authorization? At one point, Wood says that all possible eventualities were calculated by those in charge of the conspiracy (p.103) but did this small cabal of plotters really have the ability to forsee the future down to every small detail?
On the issue of Sir Charles' resignation, we may note that Wood claims in his book (p.35) that Sir Charles had, two years earlier, published a 'similar' article in Contemporary Review but no action had been taken. He doesn't tell us what the article was about, or provide any further details, but if it was the one entitled 'Recent Events in South Africa' in the January 1886 issue of the Contemporary Review it was completely different. If, on the other hand, he means Warren's article in the January 1887 issue of the same publication entitled 'Dogs in London' that was also completely different and it is fair to say that the Commissioner's views on canine matters were not regarded as terribly controversial at the Home Office.
In fact, it can only be a reference to Warren's article about dogs because Warren was not even Commissioner in January 1886. In no way, therefore, was his previous article 'similar' to his November 1888 article as Wood claims.
The point about Warren's 1888 article dealing with policing in London, which the Star (of 25 October & 9 November 1888 respectively) called 'extraordinary' and 'maniacal', and which Reynolds's Newspaper (28 October 1888) described as, 'one of the most insolent productions that ever came from the pen of a paid servant of the people', was that it expressly criticized the actions of politicians and 'successive Governments', not to mention that it described certain quarters of the British public as a 'mob', which opened Warren up to political attack in the House of Commons thus forcing the Home Secretary to take some kind of action by reminding the Commissioner of his responsibilities.
I have dealt in some detail with Sir Charles Warren's resignation in part 4 of the Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy, countering Wood's claim, which has little merit, that the resignation had anything to do with the murder of Mary Jane Kelly. Aside from Warren's resignation letter dated 8 November 1888, Sir Charles told an American reporter that he had resigned before the Kelly murder. Does Wood have any evidence to the contrary? No, only his suspicions, which are not worth a great deal.
Having said this, 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. The report headlined 'EXIT CHARLES WARREN' stated:
'...It now appears that Sir Charles Warren, on the receipt of the request from the Home Secretary to comply in future with a rule of whose existence he had pleaded ignorance, consulted with his friends. This consultation took place on Saturday, and in the result resignation was determined upon. On Saturday evening, therefore, Sir Charles Warren sent in his resignation to the Home Secretary. It was couched in the briefest language, and gave as a reason for the act that the writer could not accept the reproof the Home Secretary had administered to him in the House of Commons on the previous Thursday evening.'
Even if this is true, however, and Sir Charles submitted his letter of resignation on 10 November, having dated it (and perhaps written it) on 8 November, this is nothing more than a matter of timing and does not mean that the murder of Mary Jane Kelly had any part to play in his thought process. The story in the Evening Post makes clear that the resignation was entirely due to the public criticism that the Home Secretary had made of Sir Charles in the House of Commons (following on from a private reproof) regarding the Murray's article and it would have been very surprising had the Commissioner not considered his position in the circumstances.
HELPING THE TIMES?
When it comes to Monro's resignation as Assistant Commissioner in August 1888 and his subsequent return to Scotland Yard as Commissioner in December 1888, Wood believes, as we have seen, that during the interim period, Monro was helping the Times with its case against Parnell at the Special Commission, and he says that (rather fortuitously) Monro's secret Irish work at the Home Office had come to an end by the end of 1888 (p.35). But what exactly was that work? If it was related to the Special Commission, as Wood seems to think, why had it come to an end? The hearings of the Special Commission were ongoing and the most important sessions had not yet begun. What had Monro been doing to help the Times bring its case?
One major problem with Wood's theory is that the man who actually was helping the Times with its case, William Joyce at the Irish Office, wrote a long memorandum in 1910 about the assistance being given by the Government to the Times yet was evidently unaware of any involvement by Monro in helping the newspaper in 1888. According to Joyce, as I have explained in part 2 of the Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy, it was not until May 1889 that the Home Office requested a reluctant Monro to hand over his papers relating to Irish Nationalist terrorist crime to Joyce. If Wood is right, then Joyce must have been duplicating work already done by Monro in 1888. What else did Monro have to offer the Times other than information about Irish Nationalist terrorism contained in papers held by Scotland Yard? And if he gave this information to the Times it wasn't very valuable because none of it seems to have been used.
THE OVERALL STRATEGY
I would argue that Wood has failed to make out any case that the name of 'Jack the Ripper' was a creation of anyone connected with the British authorities. The motive does not make sense.
What is intriguing though is that the motive attributed to the creators of the 'Jack the Ripper' name by Simon Wood in his book is rather different to the motive he gave in his internet postings.
As we have seen, Wood said that the invention of 'Jack the Ripper' was designed to 'take people's eyes off the ball.' That simply does not fit in with the supposed motive of forcing Sir Charles Warren's resignation whereby 'Jack the Ripper' must have been designed to focus people's eyes very much on the Ripper ball. So what did Wood mean? And when he refers to 'Jack the Ripper' being a ploy, a subterfuge or gambit as part of an overall strategy, is he merely referring to an overall strategy to install James Monro as Commissioner of Police? Or is there, in Wood's mind, more to it?
There is a clue in the introduction to the book where Wood refers to 'Jack the Ripper' being employed as a device to 'explain things away' while at the same time as being used to create 'a diversionary scare' (p.7). He then suggests that Jack might have been an 'official device' upon which to conduct 'extralegal activities' (p.7) with the prize being connected with the Special Commission (p.8). Later in the book he refers to the exploitation by the Metropolitan Police 'and others' of the 'Jack the Ripper' mystery 'for political ends' but despite the large number of people that this would seem to involve, he tells us that, 'as few people as possible' were in the know (pp.102-103).
Although he does not really develop the point at all in his book, I believe that Wood would dearly love to have said that 'Jack the Ripper' was designed to take people's eyes off illegal activities in America of Scotland Yard officers who were, in his mind, desperately trying to dig up evidence to help the Times' case against Charles Parnell at the Special Commission. When one appreciates that this is what Wood really believes, then the way he has written his book starts to make sense even if it becomes clear that his thesis is nothing more than elaborate balderdash.
It is worth noting that there is a fundamental issue between the two supposed aims of the conspiracy (i.e. the replacement of Sir Charles Warren and the sending of Scotland Yard officers to America). The three police officers from Scotland Yard whom Wood thinks were engaged in illegal activities in America were Detective-Inspector Fred Jarvis, who left England on 17 November 1888, Detective-Inspector Walter Andrews, who left England on 29 November 1888, and Superintendent John Shore, who, in my opinion, never left London but whom Wood believes arrived in New York on 7 December 1888 and thus presumably sailed from England at the end of November. Considering that Sir Charles Warren remained in office as Commissioner until 3 December 1888, this means that all three officers (if Shore ever left for the United States) sailed for America while Warren was in charge of the Metropolitan Police, raising the question of why the conspirators needed him replaced with James Monro at all. But let us leave this aside.
In the Suckered! Trilogy I set out at some length why it is ridiculous to assert that Scotland Yard officers were conducting illegal activities in the United States and Canada. I defended the arguments in that trilogy in full on the Casebook Forum (and I think it is fair to say that none of those arguments, or the facts used to support the arguments, were in any way undermined) and I further defended my trilogy against a challenge by Wolf Vanderlinden in the quadrilogy.
I don't want to repeat all the points I have previously made but Wood has responded in his book to some of those points by amending the text of his book, so let us see how he has dealt with them. Let's start with 'Inspector Soyle'.
THE MYSTERIOUS INSPECTOR SOYLE
Despite having an entire chapter named after him in the paperback, Inspector Soyle has been somewhat downgraded in the book. Previously, in his e-book, Wood said that Detective Inspector Soyle, who had supposedly arrived in New York on the S.S. Elbe on 21 November 1888, and spoke to a journalist of the Philadelphia Times a few days later, 'may have been Superintendent John Shore'. This has now been deleted from the text and a corresponding footnote amended to remove the claim that the two men were the same person. In fact, Wood now says that Soyle 'may not have been Superintendent John Shore of Scotland Yard.' (p.454, fn 463).
Readers of the first part of the Suckered! Trilogy entitled 'England Sends Her Spies' may recall that I challenged the notion that Shore could have been Soyle on various grounds and it seems that Wood now agrees with me.
That being so, it is very strange that Soyle now has a whole chapter named after him. Even stranger is the fact that it is a chapter which starts on page 435 but Soyle does not feature until page 454 and then only for three pages when Wood reproduces the interview he supposedly gave to the Philadelphia Times.
There is no doubt that the man who spoke to the Philadelphia Times appears to have been very well informed about the investigation into the Whitechapel murders but there was no-one at Scotland Yard called 'Soyle' or anything similar. He was certainly not a 'Famous Scotland Yard Detective' as the Philadelphia Times described him. This raises the question of whether the man claiming to be Detective Inspector Soyle was an imposter, alternatively whether the journalist invented the interview.
With such doubts about the credentials of the man who gave the interview, one wonders why Wood has bothered to reproduce large chunks of it. There doesn't seem to be anything in it which supports his thesis. On the contrary, Soyle stated that the Jack the Ripper letters were 'the work of some stupid and brutal joker'. So what happened to the 'ploy' by the police to make people believe the letter-writer was the murderer in order to convince them that Jack the Ripper existed?
We can, in any event, prove that Soyle was not Shore. According to the Philadelphia Times article, Inspector Soyle was: 'A big brawny man with broad shoulders supporting a thick, ruddy neck and massive head, his heavy blond moustache and carefully tended goatee give a thorough American look to his mobile features. A pair of steel-blue eyes peep out from beneath bushy eyebrows.'
So Inspector Soyle had blue eyes. What about Superintendent Shore? Was he a blue-eyed man?
No, is the answer. His pension record states that he had brown hair and hazel eyes (MEPO 21/25).
It looks like it was physically impossible for Soyle and Shore to have been the same person.
One of the most significant amendments made by Wood in his paperback is that he now accepts that Inspector Jarvis was present at the formal arrest of Thomas Barton in January 1889, something he had previously denied in the e-book, as he had then believed him to be totally unconcerned in Barton's arrest due to allegedly conducting inquiries elsewhere relating to the Special Commission at the time.
It is hardly surprising that Wood now accepts that Jarvis was present at the arrest because, as I showed in the Suckered! Trilogy, a finding of fact was made by a United States Commissioner in a formal judgment that Jarvis personally read the arrest warrants to Barton at the office of Pinkerton's Agency in Philadelphia on 11 January 1889.
Consequently, Wood has removed one of the most offensive phrases from his e-book in saying that Jarvis 'continued to dazzle and confuse' when he gave his evidence at Bow Street Police Court in relation to the arrest.
Wood had previously accused Jarvis of falsely claiming on oath to have found Barton in custody but now this allegation has, thankfully, been withdrawn.
He has, at the same time, added an amusing sentence to his book in which he now says that it is 'difficult' to work out the actual sequence of events leading to Barton's arrest (p.77) and he then quotes from a press report that I discovered in the Daily Telegraph of 21 September 1897, and published in the Suckered! Trilogy, but, needless to say, my contribution in finding the article is not acknowledged. It is rather odd that Wood is responding to my articles and amending the text of his book without even acknowledging the existence of any of those articles. Perhaps he thinks that if he ignores me then, like Jack the Ripper, I don't exist!
It's also a bit strange that he reproduces the article from the Daily Telegraph, in which Jarvis explains how he was able to establish by use of a clever trick that Barton was in Philadelphia, because it shows, contrary to Wood's original belief, that Inspector Jarvis was working hard to establish Thomas Barton's whereabouts while he (Jarvis) was in Canada.
Wood, however, sees something different in it. He makes the point that Jarvis had travelled from Philadelphia, United States, to Manitoba, Canada, only to find that Barton was in Philadelphia. It's hard to work out what Wood means. Perhaps he thinks it was easy for Jarvis to find Barton and, with his psychic powers, should have remained in Philadelphia, knowing that he was there all along. He doesn't seem to appreciate that Jarvis needed to go to Manitoba (to play the trick on Barton's wife) in order to establish that Barton was actually in Philadelphia.
He also likes to make something out of nothing. In my article 'Fred Jarvis and the Secret Cypher' I stated:
'The passenger list of the Arizona, which sailed from Liverpool on 17 November 1888, reveals that F.S. Jarvis, described as a 'Gentleman' from London, sailed with his wife, Mrs F.S. Jarvis (Fannie Sarah Jarvis). Strangely, there is no mention on the passenger list of Edward Plant, who was supposed to have travelled with him to identify Thomas Barton.'
This seems to have interested Simon Wood. In his paperback (p.74), he now refers to the ship's manifest, which he apparently did not know about at the time of writing his e-book, and correctly spells Mrs Jarvis' first name as 'Fannie', whereas he previously thought it was 'Fanny' (yet he still refers to her as 'Fanny' on page 84) and mentions that Edward Plant was not on the passenger list, as if this is of any importance.
What difference it really makes to anything that Plant is not on the passenger list of the Arizona is unclear. He was definitely in Philadelphia to identify Barton at the time of his arrest so he must have travelled to the United States at some point. Perhaps he wasn't ready to leave with Jarvis and sailed over a bit later. But Wood seems to want to build it up into something more. Funnily enough, despite making the point that Plant was not on the manifest of the Arizona, Wood ignores the fact that there is no-one called 'Soyle' on the manifest of the S.S. Elbe (nor any other known detective) and that John Shore has not been found on any ship's manifest in 1888, yet Wood still believes both men were in the United States in November/December 1888.
Wood says that Edward Plant, 'if he ever did travel to America in the first instance' appears to have been co-opted by the Pinkertons who, like Jarvis, 'had no idea what Barton looked like' (p.475). It is however, untrue to say that Jarvis and the Pinkertons had 'no idea' what Barton looked like. A description of Barton was forwarded to the Home Office by the London and North Western Railway on 12 November 1888 (HO 46/93) and would have been in the possession of both Inspector Jarvis and the Pinkertons. So they all had a very good idea of what Barton looked like. Plant's presence was required because he was the only person who could identify Barton for the purposes of satisfying a court of law in America that the correct man had been arrested.
On page 78 of his book, Wood adds a brand new paragraph in which he says that, 'Even allowing for Inspector Jarvis being present at Barton's arrest on 11th January 1889' - he doesn't like it but he has to suck it up! - he nevertheless had 'ample time' in the previous month to do 'what he was denying'. In actual fact, Inspector Jarvis had denied absolutely nothing. There had been newspaper reports clarifying that Jarvis was in America to arrest Barton but there had been no denials by Jarvis at that time of anything whatsoever.
The fact that Wood is reduced to a claim that Jarvis had 'ample time' to carry out investigations relating to the Times' case while he was in America only serves to highlight the fact that Wood has no evidence at all to show that Jarvis was carrying out such investigations. Further, Wood has no idea how much time Jarvis had spent on the search for Barton between the time he set out for Canada on 7 December 1888 and Barton's arrest on 11 January 1889. If he was working full time on this case then he would not have had 'ample time' to carry out other investigations.
While discussing Inspector Jarvis, we may note that, following publication of my article, Fred Jarvis and the Secret Cypher', Wood has amended his biographical information about Jarvis. In my article, I showed that a number of newspapers printed a false report about the death of Inspector Jarvis in 1899. I stated that the false report, 'continues to confuse researchers and writers even today'. I did not think it necessary to point out that Wood was one of those writers. In his e-book (perhaps copying Wolf Vanderlinden who also made the same error in his Ripper Notes article of October 2005) Wood stated that Jarvis retired in 1897 and that, 'Two years later he died from apoplexy, aged 49'.
Having obtained Fred Jarvis' death certificate I was able (for first time, I believe) to reveal that Jarvis actually died of mitral valvular disease of the heart and anascra, in 1908 at Brighton, while aged 58. If Wood took this information from my article in his paperback book he does not acknowledge it but he has now corrected the information about Jarvis' death and says that Jarvis died of a 'heart condition' in 1908 (pp.98-99) so perhaps he independently ordered the death certificate like I did.
It may also be noted that in his e-book Wood wrongly stated that Fred Jarvis had a son, Walter, whereas my own research discovered that Walter was the result of Fannie's previous marriage. Wood has now amended his text so that Walter is now 'her son' rather than 'their son' but he hasn't mentioned that he found this out from me, so, again, perhaps he independently noticed his error and carried out his own research, in which case he must have been surprised when I beat him 'to print' in my own article.
In a new paragraph on page 78 of his paperback, Wood quotes from a memo by Robert Anderson to Ruggles-Brise that I found in the National Archives, and reproduced in the Suckered! Trilogy, in which Anderson says that, between 20 and 25 December 1888, 'there was no English police officer in the United States'. The reason why he refers to this document, which entirely contradicts his own case that Jarvis was in Colorado at this time, is so that he can make a false point later in the book.
On page 99 he seems to think that Anderson's claim that there was no English police officer in the United States between 20 and 25 December 1888 is contradicted by another text authored by Robert Anderson in which he stated that Jarvis was 'in America' during the same period in December 1888. Wood must know that a reference to 'America' in the nineteenth century could include Canada so that when Anderson said that Jarvis was in America, it was no way inconsistent with his claim that no Scotland Yard officers were in the United States at that time. Indeed, on page 49 of his book, Wood quotes Timothy Healy asking the Home Secretary if Inspector Andrews had 'visited America' since the passing of the Special Commission Act and the Home Secretary answered in the affirmative. Clearly the Home Secretary was not confirming that Andrews had visited the United States. 'America' here was taken to include Canada.
It was, of course, Henry Labouchere who made the allegation that Inspector Jarvis was in Colorado at some point between 20 and 25 December 1888 but he subsequently withdrew this allegation in the most humiliating circumstances imaginable short of having to retract it while standing in a witness box. Wood has added some new sentences relating to the Labouchere allegations.
The first is that Wood now claims that it should have been 'the easiest thing in the world' for Scotland Yard to have disproved Labouchere's allegations about Inspector Jarvis. Despite this, says Wood, there is no record of anyone asking for, or providing, any documentary evidence that Jarvis was in Manitoba, Canada, between 20 and 25 December (which would have proved that he was not in Kansas City or Del Norte).
Wood's argument, however, is deeply flawed for so many reasons. Let's take them one by one.
1. Scotland Yard did not need to prove anything. The allegations were being made by Henry Labouchere in the House of Commons initially (and then in Truth). It was for Labouchere to prove the allegations. Scotland Yard had no standing whatsoever in the House of Commons and had no outlet to publish anything even if it had wanted to.
2. The fact that neither Labouchere or any of the Irish Nationalists asked for any documentary evidence that Jarvis was in Manitoba is hardly the fault of Scotland Yard.
3. It was actually an inherent part of Robert Anderson's strategy to taunt Labouchere by stressing that he (Labouchere) had no evidence, which taunts prompted Labouchere to publish his allegations in Truth which enabled Jarvis to sue him. Publication of proof that Jarvis was in Canada (assuming Scotland Yard had any) at the time would have ruined this strategy.
4. To suggest that it was for Scotland Yard to respond to allegations in the House of Commons is to fundamentally misunderstand the way that Parliament worked. It was for the Government to respond to the allegations and, while documents could be laid before the House by the Government, this would normally only include documents in the possession of the Government, not documents in the possession of Scotland Yard (other than official publications or statements) and certainly not confidential reports created in the normal course by its detectives.
5. To the extent that Wood is saying that the Government should have disproved Labouchere's allegations, the fact is that the Home Secretary does not seem to have been the slightest bit concerned by them. He informed the House of Commons in the clearest possible terms that Jarvis was not where Labouchere claimed he was and the word of a Government minister in the House of Commons was almost invariably accepted by members of the House and the public at large. In other words, he had done enough to disprove the allegations by denying them. Only the lunatic fringe continued to believe in Labouchere's allegations in the face of official denials.
6. In any event, it is hard to conceive why Wood thinks it would have been 'the easiest thing in the world' for Scotland Yard to prove that Jarvis had been in Canada during 20-25 December 1888. How could they have done it? Jarvis no doubt sent reports back to London from Canada regarding his hunt for Barton but probably not every week unless he had news to report. There was, in any case, no precedent for Scotland Yard to release to the public highly confidential documents about their investigations and it would have been extraordinary for them to have done so. In fact, it would have been so extraordinary that anyone who believed Labouchere in the face of the official denials would probably have believed any such reports to have been forgeries. As a result, a release of Jarvis' reports, which could have been written at any time, would have been useless for the purpose.
7. If there was any other documentation relating to Jarvis' stay in Canada which would have proved that he was in Manitoba between 20 and 25 December it would probably have been in Canada and thus not the easiest thing in the world for Scotland Yard to produce.
8. Even a document dated 19 December showing Jarvis was in Manitoba, not Del Norte, which would have led to the inference that Jarvis must have therefore been in Manitoba on 20 December would not really have been sufficient for the purpose because it would have relied on inference and thus left room for argument. So there really needed to be documentation unequivocally showing Jarvis physically in Manitoba during a narrow five day period and it is uncertain what type of documentation Wood thinks would have proved this.
9. The proper forum in which to produce evidence proving where Jarvis was between 20 and 25 December was a court of law and Jarvis would have been bound to disclose any relevant documents to Labouchere during the legal proceedings. The result of those proceedings was that Labouchere engaged in a humiliating climbdown and retracted the allegations in the most comprehensive terms. For that reason, it is evident that Jarvis did manage to disprove Labouchere's allegations.
It really is incredible that Wood still gives credence to the Labouchere allegations when Labouchere himself has told us that the allegations were complete and utter nonsense. In the paperback version of his book, Wood adds two critical new sentences regarding the withdrawal of the Labouchere allegations. Firstly, he says that it is 'easy to believe' that, at the eleventh hour, Labouchere finally realized the error of his ways and decided to settle out of court in preference to being destroyed in a courtroom but rather than conclude that this simple explanation is the correct one, he says that believing this would be to ignore 'a hugely important political issue being played out at the time' (p. 95). Secondly, he says that it is hard to know if Labouchere's allegations against Jarvis (and Shore) were false or whether Labouchere was 'advised' not to press the matter 'because of a greater political imperative' (p.97).
In saying that Labouchere might have been advised not to press the matter - by which Wood seems to mean that he was advised by Irish Nationalists - Wood has shifted his position from that stated in his September 2009 Ripperologist article 'Smoke and Mirrors' (Issue 106). In that article, Wood stated that there was 'little doubt' in his mind that 'Labouchere was manoeuvred into a retraction' and that one could only guess at the nature of the quid pro quo (with the British authorities).
Some doubt now seems to have entered Wood's mind that there was any manoeuvring at all and he appears to have quietly dropped the notion of a quid pro quo. The first I heard of his new theory about Labouchere being advised, by his allies, to settle the proceedings brought against him by Jarvis for political reasons, was in a long Casebook post by Simon dated 4 June 2015 in my own thread 'The Suckered Trilogy' (at post #145). In that post, Wood said:
'...despite Labouchere's support for Irish Home Rule, an appearance in court around this time to defend Charles Stewart Parnell against the machinations of Scotland Yard and the Times would have been politically unthinkable.'
Wood's point is that Irish Nationalists were distancing themselves from Parnell at the time because of the O'Shea divorce proceedings (which was, it seems, the 'hugely important political issue' to which Wood was referring). In his book, therefore, he says that an appearance in court by Labouchere would have been politically undesirable (p.95).
This argument, however, is wrong and completely unhistorical because the divorce hearing which ruined Parnell did not begin in the High Court until 15 November 1890 yet Labouchere settled his action against Jarvis in the previous month. That Parnell had been named as a co-respondent in the divorce proceedings was publicly known since the start of the year, being reported in the Times of 3 January 1890, yet Labouchere's questions about Jarvis in the House of Commons began some time after this, in March 1890, so the pending divorce hearing did not affect Labouchere's allegations in any way.
In any event, Parnell was completely irrelevant to Labouchere's allegations and to the libel proceedings. As I posted on Casebook, in the 'Suckered! Trilogy' thread (#147) in response to Simon Wood's post on the subject on 4 June 2015:
'Simon, you are piling nonsense upon nonsense. Jarvis' libel action against Labouchere was all about whether the inspector was in Del Norte in December 1888 doing something or other about Sheridan. It had nothing to do with Parnell other than that the alleged aim of Jarvis' visit was to obtain evidence for the Parnell Commission inquiry. Parnell would barely have been mentioned in any trial, if at all. Thus Parnell's difficulties in 1890 are wholly irrelevant. There was precisely no implications for Labouchere in defending his action, had he gone on to do so. There were, however, political implications for Labouchere personally in having to write a grovelling apology because it exposed him to ridicule and made him look like a fool. But it was better than the alternative of total destruction in the witness box.'
Did Simon Wood challenge any of this? Not at all. His response to my post in #148 of 'The Suckered! Trilogy' thread was this:
Perhaps it was foolish of me to think that Simon had understood and accepted the total weakness of his newly formed theory that Labouchere had any motive whatsoever to settle his action against Jarvis because of Kitty O'Shea's forthcoming divorce trial. But, whether Wood understands it or not, the fact is that the two things were completely separate and had no bearing on each other.
The simple truth is that Simon is unable to offer any sensible explanation as to why Labouchere, a wealthy member of Parliament and owner of an influential publication, who was being advised by Lewis & Lewis (perhaps the most well regarded solicitors of the time), would have caved in to Jarvis in the libel proceedings unless he accepted that the allegations were wholly false and unfounded.
When it comes to the Labouchere allegations, Wood makes one error after another. In particular, he misunderstands a lawyers' letter relating to the libel action. On page 91 of his paperback, he adds a sentence, not included in his e-book, in which he says that Jarvis' solicitors 'hedged their bets' in respect of the libel action. This is because he has misunderstood a letter written by Wontner & Sons, Jarvis' lawyers, to Labouchere, in which Wonters reportedly stated that, if what Labouchere was saying was true, Inspector Jarvis was, 'doing business which was outside the scope of his authority, and spending time over matters which his superiors knew nothing about, and he never reported to them.'
Wood (evidently unaware of the duties owed by lawyers to their client) seems to think that Wonters were preparing to hang Jarvis out to dry if he lost his libel action. They were, of course, doing no such thing. What Wood fails to understand is that Labouchere could not be sued for libel just because he mistakenly said that Jarvis was in Del Norte. There was nothing libellous about this in itself. For Jarvis to succeed in his legal proceedings he had to establish that Labouchere's words were libellous and to do this he had to convince the court that he must have been in Del Norte in a personal and unauthorized capacity. If Jarvis had been there under orders from Scotland Yard there was nothing libellous in the allegation against Jarvis at all. As Jarvis himself said of the allegations in a report to the Commissioner:
'I beg to submit that the paragraph in question is decidedly libellous as it really implies that I have wilfully deceived the Commissioner concerning this question and accuses me of conduct which if true would render me liable to well merited dismissal.' (HO 144/478/X27302)
It was essential to Jarvis' case, therefore, that any appearance by him in Del Norte must have involved him doing business on his own volition, outside the scope of his authority, spending time on a matter which his superiors knew nothing about. Far from Wonters 'hedging their bets', they were properly acting in Inspector Jarvis' best interests by writing to Labouchere in the way they did. There was no 'ambiguous' message from Wonters as Wood claims (p.92). Wood today might not be able to understand the message Wonters was sending to Labouchere but we can be sure that Labouchere and his own solicitors understood it.
Wood is also mistaken in suggesting (on page 93) that, in a House of Commons debate on 20 June 1890, Labouchere wanted to know how Jarvis, on his Scotland Yard salary, could afford to sue him for libel. This was not what Labouchere was asking at all. Labouchere's question for the Home Secretary was whether Labouchere was bringing the action with his own money or with taxpayers' money. He explained that his reason for asking this question was that if the police or government was funding the action, and Jarvis lost, he wanted to know if he (Labouchere) would be able to look to the police or the government for his costs in case Jarvis had, by that time, run out of money.
Another mistake that Wood makes in respect of the Labouchere proceedings is one that he should have corrected in response to my Suckered! Trilogy but one that he does not seem to understand.
When Henry Matthews responded in the House of Commons to a question from William Macartney on 17 March 1890, he stated that 'Jarvis and Shaw are inspectors in the Metropolitan Police Force.' After the name 'Shaw', Wood inserts the name '[Shore]' in his book (p.82) as if to say that the Home Secretary meant to confirm that someone called 'Shore' was an inspector in the Metropolitan Police Force. Before doing so, Wood should have asked himself why the Home Secretary would be wrongly informing the House of Commons that John Shore, a superintendent in the Metropolitan Police, was a mere inspector.
As I explained in the Suckered! Trilogy, the Home Secretary was answering a written question (so there was no ambiguity of spelling) as to whether there was an officer called 'Shaw' in the Metropolitan Police. There was: Local Detective-Inspector Edward Shaw of the 'V' Division. When answering Macartney's question, the Home Secretary must have been doing no more than confirming that Edward Shaw was an inspector in the police force. He was, in other words, answering the question he was being asked. He could have had no idea that Macartney should have been asking about a superintendent called 'Shore'.
The reason I don't think that Wood has understood this is because in response to my Suckered! Trilogy, in which I said that the Home Secretary was never asked about Superintendent (or Inspector) Shore, Wood posted on the Casebook forum (post #60 of the 'Suckered! Trilogy' thread) in which he quoted the Home Secretary's question and asked me:
'Who was Inspector Shaw, apparently falsely referenced as being in America on behalf of The Times in December 1888?'
His question revealed that he had not followed the point. I had already explained that the Home Secretary, briefed by Robert Anderson, was answering a question about the officer he thought was Inspector Edward Shaw. My answer to Simon (#63) was as follows:
'Did you actually read my trilogy Simon? I have answered all that.
The quote that you produced from the Home Secretary confirms that he was not referring to Superintendent Shaw because he said that Shaw was an inspector in the Metropolitan Police Force. Without wishing to labour the point, Shore was a superintendent so the Home Secretary could not possibly have been speaking about him. As I explained in 'The Thomas Barton Affair', Sir Robert Anderson (who provided the Home Secretary's briefing note) evidently understood the question to be about Local Inspector Edward Shaw.'
Yet Simon's reply (after confirming that he had read my trilogy) was as follows (#66):
'Why would Robert Anderson believe a V Division Local Inspector had been accused of travelling to America on behalf of The Times?'
I'm not sure I can do any better than repeat my answer to Simon (#71):
'It was not up to Anderson to work out why bizarre accusations were being made against members of his department. He was providing answers to questions being asked of the Home Secretary.
And, in any case, the first question asked was: Was there an Inspector Shaw in the Metropolitan Police Force? The correct answer to this question was: Yes, there was an Inspector Shaw in the C.I.D.
Did Inspector Shaw go to Kansas or Del Norte? Answer, No.
If a member of Parliament wanted to know if Superintendent Shore had been to Kansas or Del Norte then that was the question they needed to ask.'
Where I suspect Simon has gone wrong is that he assumes that Robert Anderson was omnipotent and knew absolutely everything. In this age of digital searches of newspapers, we can easily find the allegations being made in the American press about 'Inspectors' Jarvis and Shore in 1888 but why should Robert Anderson in London have known about them?
That Wood thinks Anderson knew about the allegations in the American press is shown by a comment he makes on page 99 of his book in which he says that Anderson omitted to mention in his 1906 book that John Shore had reportedly been with Fred Jarvis in Colorado. Yet, he never proves that Anderson was aware of such press reports from the United States.
It was impossible for Anderson to have read all of the American newspapers from every state, even if he had the time. His job was to run the Criminal Investigation Department in London not read the foreign newspapers. So why should Anderson have even known about the allegation of American journalists that Shore was in New York in December 1888?
Since writing the above I have since discovered that The London Evening Post of 28 December 1888 ran the following story under the headline 'THE PARNELL COMMISSION - Scotland Yard Detectives Searching for Evidence in America':
'Fred Jervis (sic), a well-known Scotland Yard man, has, says the New York Herald of 16th inst., been in America during the last couple of months. Mr. Jervis, it seems, makes the same mistake that his predecessors have made in that country - that of telling about their mission. Mr. Jervis is reported to have acknowledged that he was here, in fact, from Scotland Yard, and that he would succeed in getting evidence on behalf of the Times to connect Mr. Parnell and the Parnellites with crimes charged against them.
It was known in New York on Friday, the 14th inst., that Chief Inspector Shore, superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department of the London Metropolitan Police arrived and proceeded without loss of time to Kansas City. There he was to meet with the representative of the Pinkertons, and with Mr. Fred Jervis.'
To this extent, it is obviously possible that Andersen was aware of the stories in the American press about Shore. However, we don't know if Anderson actually saw the story in the Evening Post (despite the cuttings agency service as mentioned below) or that, if he did see it in 1888 (knowing that it was all untrue), he remembered it sufficiently to understand in 1890 that a question about an Inspector Shaw being in the U.S. related to Superintendent Shore.
I should note that Wood mentions in another context (and without providing any reference) that Anderson subscribed to a press cuttings agency (p.172). This information was obtained from Stewart Evans who posted about it on the Casebook forum on 8 October 2008 (in a thread entitled 'Anderson - More Questions Than Answers') although Mr Evans' contribution in this regard is unacknowledged by Wood in his book. When this information was posted on the forum, it was accompanied by an image of a compliments slip from the press information agency, Romeike & Curtice, dated 29 April 1893, making it unclear if Anderson was receiving any such cuttings in 1888. Most importantly, Stewart Evans stated that the agency 'scoured all the papers and sent any mention of his name in the newspapers to him' so that Anderson would only have received articles with his name in them, thus excluding the reports about Jarvis, Andrews and Shore which, even if they had mentioned Anderson, might not have been included in the cuttings in any case, being from American newspapers.
From my own research I can reveal that, from 26 April 1887, the Metropolitan Police started paying a £5 annual fee to receive press cuttings on police matters from Curtice's Press Information Agency (prior to its name change to Romeike and Curtis) taken from what the Home Office referred to as 'Country newspapers' . The Met was already being supplied with the London newspapers (HO 144/225/A50403) and the cuttings supplied by the agency were from the regional press outside of London (HO 45/9674/A46745). But there was no mention in the Home Office file authorising the expenditure of any cuttings from the foreign press.
The uncertainty in London about what had appeared in the American newspapers can be seen from a story in the 'Atlas' column of The World of 10 March 1890 which I published in my article entitled 'Anderson and the World'. In that column, the source of which appears to have been none other than Robert Anderson himself, 'Atlas' claimed that the allegation that Inspector Jarvis was in Del Norte in December 1888 had first 'appeared in the American newspapers' in December 1888.
This was untrue and Labouchere responded by saying, 'To the best of my belief, the fact never appeared in any American newspaper'. 'Atlas' subsequently retracted the claim but the uncertainty shows that there was only minimal knowledge of what had been published in America (and checking it was probably not an easy matter).
Even if I am wrong, and Robert Anderson understood that the Home Secretary was being asked about John Shore, but spelt his surname wrongly as 'Shaw' and got his rank wrong in his briefing note to Henry Matthews, so that the Home Secretary was actually confirming that there was an officer called Shore in the Metropolitan Police Force, this gets Wood nowhere because Anderson also stated in his briefing note: 'Shaw has not been in America at all in recent years'.
If we were to translate this as being a reference to John Shore, it means that Anderson in March 1890 was informing the Home Secretary, for the Home Secretary to inform the House of Commons, that Superintendent Shore had not been in America at all in recent years, thus spelling doom for Wood's last hope of finding a Scotland Yard officer who went to the United States in 1888 on whom he can pin some 'illegal' investigations on behalf of the Times in that country in order to make sense of the 'Jack the Ripper' hoax.
All of Simon's points relating to Labouchere's allegations seem to fall apart immediately upon examination and, when he closes his chapter by informing his readers, as he must do, that the matter ended with Labouchere paying Jarvis's legal costs, £100 in damages and inserting an apology in Truth, he quickly tries to change the subject by gratuitously quoting Anderson from his 1906 book as saying, 'Apart from the Le Caron disclosures I had nothing to do with The Times case' (p.100). Why Simon includes this quotation at this point in his book dealing with Labouchere, other than as a distraction, is not clear, but his comment that Anderson's revelations in his 1910 book 'would give the lie' to this statement is clearly wrong.
The fact that Anderson was the author of some articles in the Times under the 'Parnellism and Crime' heading does not mean that he had anything to do with the Times' legal case. The same, indeed, would be true of John Woulfe Flanagan who authored the main 'Parnellism and Crime' articles. He had nothing to do with the Times' case either which was in the hands of the newspaper's legal team.
MONRO'S RESIGNATION AS COMMISSIONER
The key conclusion that Simon Wood draws from the Labouchere episode is that it somehow led to the resignation of James Monro as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. In the penultimate paragraph of chapter 4 of his book, Wood begins by saying 'But if Henry Labouchere's story was true...'. This in itself is laughable. Wood has failed to even begin to demonstrate that Labouchere's story might have been true and Labouchere himself admitted that it was false, yet off goes Wood into a fantasy of 'what if' in respect of the story.
Well, according to Wood, if Labouchere's story was true, Monro had done 'something wrong' (p.100). Here we a have a logic fail of the highest order. If Labouchere's story was true it might be that Jarvis, not Monro, had done something wrong. Perhaps, unknown to his superiors, Jarvis had accepted money from the Times to go and speak to Sheridan in Del Norte for example. In that scenario, neither Anderson nor Monro would have known anything about it and both would have been relying on Inspector Jarvis's word that he had never been to Colorado.
Wood seems to be so carried away with the notion that the senior officers at Scotland Yard were running some sort of illegal operation that he can't even seem to envisage any other possibility.
In one particularly baffling sentence, Wood says that if Labouchere's apology was genuine it makes James Monro's resignation in June 1890 'difficult to comprehend' (p.100). But there is no connection whatsoever between Labouchere's apology and Monro's resignation.
As I have conclusively demonstrated in the Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy (part 4), James Monro resigned as Commissioner due to his opposition to the Police Pensions Bill. Wood is so obsessed by the notion of the resignation being connected to the Jarvis libel action that he fails to appreciate that the timing was entirely due to the introduction of the Police Pensions Bill in June 1890 allied with the death of Assistant Commissioner Colonel Pearson. That death had occurred a few days earlier, on 30 May 1890, which caused a succession crisis due to the desire of the Home Secretary to appoint Ruggles-Brise as Pearson's replacement in the teeth of Monro's opposition.
Wood also misleads himself because he wrongly thinks that the police pensions issue was 'small beer' (p.51) and a 'minor hiccup' in the machinery of government (p.47). As I set out in part 4 of the Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy, however, the police pensions issue was a major issue of the day and one which was of such vital importance to James Monro that he was prepared to commit professional suicide to protect and improve the pensions of his men.
As of 10 June 1890, when Monro resigned, Fred Jarvis' libel action against Labouchere was only a few weeks old. As I showed in part 4 of the Suckered! Trilogy, Monro had pushed for this action to be brought by his inspector and it is inconceivable that anything could have happened in those proceedings in the space of a few weeks which caused Monro to resign but for those proceedings to continue for three more months and conclude with a humiliating apology by Labouchere and settlement on very favourable terms for Inspector Jarvis.
In short, there is nothing in the timing of Monro's resignation which links it with the Labouchere proceedings. It is somewhat of an obsession with Simon Wood that the two are connected but they are not. In any way.
With Labouchere's story being admitted by Labouchere himself to be untrue, what does Wood have left in his locker to show that Inspector Jarvis was doing anything illegal in America?
Not much is the answer.
We find another of Wood's amendments in response to the Suckered! Trilogy, in the paperback version of his book, regarding Inspector Jarvis. In the e-book, Wood said that 'we can place Jarvis' in the company of Inspector Andrews at the Prospect House Hotel in Niagara over the weekend of 15th and 16th December 1888. Following my Suckered! Trilogy, in which I queried both the purported date and existence of the meeting, Wood now dates the meeting to 14 December (which is when I suggested the newspaper report on which he relies was saying it must have been) but, more importantly, Wood's claim that 'we can place' Jarvis in the company of Inspector Andrews at Niagara has been deleted in the paperback version and replaced with the claim that 'press reports' place Jarvis in the company of Inspector Andrews at Niagara (p.75).
Unfortunately, in making this amendment, Wood has fallen into error because the fact is that there was only a single press report that made an allegation of Jarvis meeting Andrews in Niagara, albeit that this same press report, with some minor changes, appeared in a number of different newspapers. The report in question first appeared simultaneously in the Boston Globe and New York World on 23 December 1888.
As I pointed out in 'The Third Man', within the Suckered! Trilogy, Wood admits in his book that parts of that report are 'clearly inaccurate' although he has not managed to get round to identifying them. Further, Wood's book still contains the claim that 'cross checking other non-agency press reports suggests that the events described are fundamentally correct' without explaining what non-agency press reports he is referring to or how they could possibly corroborate the report of the meeting between Jarvis and Andrews in Niagara.
My submission is that the supposed meeting between Jarvis and Andrews at Niagara in December 1888 is based on a single press report from a single journalist and is not corroborated by any other report. I seriously doubt that it happened but if such a meeting did take place, there is no good reason to suppose it had any connection with the Special Commission and/or the investigations being carried out by the Times. It could have been a meeting about absolutely anything.
The same is true of the supposed meeting between Superintendent Shore and Inspector Andrews at Hamilton. According to the dodgy journalist for the Boston Globe, Shore handed Andrews a bundle of documents; but what is suspicious about this? Even if such a meeting occurred (which it almost certainly did not) they could have been documents relating to the extradition of Roland Barnett, or absolutely anything at all. The documents were never seen by the person supposedly spying on Andrews and Shore so how does such a meeting help Wood?
We may note that another change made by Wood in this paragraph, on page 75 of his book, is to delete the claim that 'Evidence would also come to light' which placed Jarvis and Shore at Kansas City in December 1888. He now says (again) that it is 'press reports' which place Jarvis and Shore in Kansas City. There only appears to be a single press report from December 1888 (Chicago Daily Tribune of 16 December 1888) which suggests that Jarvis and Shore were in Kansas City during that month, albeit that this allegation was later repeated in the New York Herald of 16 January 1889 (and then again by Henry Labouchere in Parliament in 1890).
INSPECTOR ANDREWS IN CANADA
Wood has made some use of my research from the Suckered! Trilogy, and has expanded his section dealing with Andrews' trip from Halifax to Toronto (page 56), having added information from at least one of the Canadian newspapers I mentioned, yet does not include the quote from Inspector Andrews, given to a Canadian journalist, denying that Francis Tumblety was Jack the Ripper. One might think this is surprising because one of Wood's obsessions - which appears to relate more to his online debates with Mike Hawley than to the main theme of his book - is that Tumblety was not suspected by Scotland Yard of being Jack the Ripper.
Yet one can see why Wood does not really like this quote of Andrews. He would like to be able to argue that the stories put out in Canada in December 1888 that Andrews was leaving for New York on the hunt for Jack the Ripper in that city were part of a coordinated cover story by Scotland Yard; that cover story being based on the notion that Tumblety's flight from justice to New York was deliberately arranged by the British authorities for the sole purpose of providing Scotland Yard detectives with an excuse to rush over to America on the hunt for the Ripper but really to carry out illegal investigations to help the Times. It was the culmination of the plot which began with the false 'Jack the Ripper' correspondence and continued with the murder of Mary Jane Kelly. Inspector Andrews was supposed to be using the chase for Tumblety as cover for whipping up evidence on behalf of the Times.
Consequently, Andrews telling a newspaper reporter quite bluntly that he did not think Tumblety was Jack the Ripper does not fall into line with Wood's view of what was going on at the time. It would mean that even if Andrews was doing work for the Times in Canada, Wood cannot link this to his 'Jack the Ripper' hoax.
As I explained in the Suckered! Trilogy, Inspector Andrews only went to Canada to escort the criminal Roland Barnett to Toronto. This was not a cover story for anything else. It was what he did.
Unfortunately, Wood has not taken the opportunity afforded by his paperback to correct a number of issues that I identified in his e-book. He still says that extradition was a routine errand which could have been handled by a detective-sergeant (p. 52) even though, as I pointed out in the Suckered! Trilogy, it was perfectly normal, and indeed appropriate, for a detective-inspector to carry out this task, especially in such an important case as Roland Barnett.
Wood also still says that, as at 19 November 1888, the Toronto police had not been informed of the outcome of what he refers to as 'the extradition hearing' and claims that this explains why no Canadian official had arrived to collect Barnett (p.60). In fact, although there was a committal hearing on 6 November 1888, at which Barnett was committed to prison to await his surrender to the Canadian authorities, he then had fifteen days to make a habeas corpus application so that the legal proceedings were not, in fact, concluded until 21 November 1888 and no Canadian official could lawfully have collected Barnett before this date. Once these proceedings were concluded a telegram was sent to the Canadian authorities to inform them that the extradition could go ahead. I explained all this in the Suckered! Trilogy but it has had no effect on Wood's thinking.
Regarding the week Inspector Andrews spent in Toronto, Wood has nothing to suggest that the detective was whipping up the case for the Times other than the dodgy Boston Globe report which even he admits contains 'clearly inaccurate' statements. He does his best to try and augment this report with various little comments such as saying that it is 'not known' if the expenses of Andrews when staying at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal (for two nights, says Wood) were paid for by the Times (page 67). Apparently, for Wood, if this fact is 'not known' then it must be the case that, nudge nudge, wink wink, the expenses were paid for by the Times or at least that is what he would like his readers to think.
It's very hard to see why the Times would have covered Andrews' expenses considering he was doing nothing for the Times at the Windsor Hotel. Furthermore, we know for a fact that Inspector Andrews' expenses were being paid for by the Canadian Government and a stay at a hotel in Montreal on his way back to England would surely have been factored into the expenses required for the trip.
But did Inspector Andrews actually stay at the Windsor Hotel? Not according to Wolf Vanderlinden who, in his October 2005 Ripper Notes article, 'On The Trail of the Ripper', tells us that, 'Inspector Andrews' train pulled into the station in Montreal on the 20th December' and that 'Inspector Andrews left Montreal on the 20th December only hours after he reached it...'.
If Andrews arrived in Montreal on Thursday 20 December and left the city on the same day, he would not have needed to have booked a room in the Windsor Hotel.
However, Andrews did stay at this hotel. I have located an entry in a social column in the Montreal Gazette of 21 December 1888 which, reflecting the position as at 20 December, states:
'Mr. Walter S. Andrews, Inspector of Detectives at Scotland Yard, London, England, is at the Windsor.'
Before considering the precise date when Andrews arrived in Montreal, let us look at what is supposed to have happened following his departure.
Wood claims that, due to a Montreal snowstorm, Inspector Andrews missed his return voyage to Liverpool aboard the Dominion Line steamship SS Sarnia which, he claims, departed from Halifax on Sunday 23 December (p.68). How does Wood know that Andrews was not on this ship? Well he relies on the dodgy Boston Globe report of 23 December that Andrews had booked passage on the Allan Line steamer Peruvian which was due to leave Halifax on Monday 24 December (and did so). That is the only 'evidence' he has, yet he is happy to make a categorical statement that it is correct. But is it?
The answer is that it is not correct.
From the Montreal Gazette of Thursday 20 December 1888:
'Inspector Andrews...will leave for England via New York to-morrow.'
Ignoring the New York destination given here, the newspaper was saying that Andrews would leave Montreal on Friday 21 December. Assuming he left very early in the morning, this would make sense because the 8:00am Intercontinental Railway train departing from Levis,150 miles from Montreal, was scheduled to arrive at Halifax at 12.05pm the following day (22 December).
This would surely have allowed Inspector Andrews time to board the Sarnia - the steamship that had brought him to Canada - which would not have left Halifax on its return voyage until after the arrival of the Intercontinental train.
Wood is, in fact, wrong to say that that Sarnia departed Halifax on Sunday 23 December. The Montreal Gazette of 24 December 1888 reported:
'The mail steamship Sarnia sailed from Halifax for Liverpool on Saturday'.
In other words, it left on Saturday 22 December, which was its scheduled departure date.
What about this snowstorm? Might it have delayed Andrews?
Well, it is true that the Montreal papers of 18 December reported a 'tremendous wind and snow-storm' which set in during the night of 17/18 December. The snow continued falling during 18 December but by the following day it was all over.
Wood suggests that Andrews was trapped in Montreal for four days and three nights, having arrived on 19 December and departed on 22 December (although, inconsistent with this, he says that Andrews stayed two nights at the Windsor Hotel but fails to provide a documentary reference to support this claim). I have seen no evidence that there was any further snowfall after 18 December nor that anyone was trapped in Montreal as a result. The Montreal papers I have examined stopped reporting on any weather issues occurring after 18 December (and, while Wood refers to some non-Canadian newspapers of 20 and 21 December, they were evidently reporting on events from the 18th).
As stated above, Wolf Vanderlinden says that Andrews arrived in Montreal on 20 December. This, no doubt, is derived from a newspaper report in the New York Evening World of 21 December, filed from Montreal on 20 December stating that, 'Inspector Andrews, arrived here today from Toronto...'. If this was true, it would have meant that Andrews' train must have been seriously delayed in the snow because, considering that he left Toronto late on Tuesday 18 December, he should have arrived in Montreal during the morning of Wednesday 19 December.
Wood has some remarkably specific information about Andrews' arrival in New York. He says (p.63) that he arrived by train at 9:15am on Wednesday 19 December, only 75 minutes behind schedule. But how can Wood possibly know what train Inspector Andrews was on? There is a footnote reference to the Toronto Daily Mail of 19 December 1888 but an examination of this newspaper reveals that Wood has got himself terribly and embarrassingly confused about timings. The Toronto Daily Mail of 19 December 1888 contains a report filed from Montreal on 18 December which says:
'The Grand Trunk western from Toronto, due at 8 a.m., was one hour and 15 minutes late.'
This is where Wood derives his information that Andrews' train arrived at 9:15am. But was Andrews on this Grand Trunk western train? Absolutely not! It would have been a physical impossibility. The train being referred to in the Toronto Daily Mail arrived at 9:15am in the morning of Tuesday 18 December, while Inspector Andrews was still in Toronto.
By Wednesday 19 December the trains appear to have been running on time so Andrews presumably arrived at 8:00am that morning.
In fact, I can now confirm that Andrews was in Montreal on 19 December.
Here is the full report from the Montreal Gazette of 20 December 1888:
'Inspector Andrews, of Scotland Yard, London, who brought Barnett to Toronto called at the Central police station yesterday and was shown around the city by Detective Robinson. Inspector Andrews will leave for England via New York to-morrow.'
If the local newspaper was reporting, on 20 December, that Andrews had called at the Central Police station 'yesterday' then he was definitely in Montreal on 19 December. Bearing in mind that we know for a fact that he left Toronto on 18 December he simply must have arrived in Montreal on 19 December.
But did Andrews actually leave Montreal on 21 December or was it on 22 December as Wood tells us? Again, Wood purports to have some very specific information about the time of his departure. He claims that Andrews left on the 7:55am train on Saturday 22 December (p.68) but on this occasion there is no footnote source provided by Wood at all. I am at a loss to know why Wood thinks this information is accurate, especially bearing in mind Wolf's claim that Andrews left Montreal on 20 December. Wolf's date presumably comes from the New York World report of 21 December, filed from Montreal on 20 December, which says that Inspector Andrews had arrived in Montreal that day from Toronto and 'left tonight'. (The report also says he left for New York but this is certainly inaccurate because we know from other evidence that Andrews never went to the United States).
I asked Simon to tell me the evidence that Andrews caught the 7:55am train out of Montreal on 22 December on the Casebook forum on 5 July 2015 (in my 'The "Suckered!" Trilogy' thread #451). In his reply (#452) he failed to provide any evidence or even acknowledge the question.
It may be that Wood believes that Andrews left Montreal on 22 December due to a reference in the dodgy report in the New York Herald of 23 December filed in Montreal on 22 December which said, 'This morning...on the eve of his departure home the emissary from Scotland Yard could not deny the charge [that his mission was to injure the Parnellites] and practically acknowledged that this was his mission.'
The problem for Wood is that the story of Andrews saying that he 'could not deny the charge' first appeared in the Montreal Daily Star of 22 December and referred to an interview which took place in Montreal 'on Thursday evening' i.e. 20 December. There is no reliable report placing Andrews in Montreal at any time after Thursday 20 December and there doesn't seem to have been any reason for him to have stayed there beyond this date.
Although the Montreal Gazette anticipated that Andrews would leave Montreal on Friday, 21 December, there is good reason to believe that he actually left late on Thursday 20 December (or, perhaps, in the early hours of Friday 21st).
I have uncovered a report from page 3 of the Montreal Daily Star of 22 December 1888 (separate from another report about Andrews on page 5 of that same newspaper) which states:
'Inspector Andrews of Scotland Yard, who brought Roland Gideon Barnett to Canada, left for Halifax Thursday evening. He returns to England by steamer "Sarnia" next Monday.'
This seems to confirm that Andrews did indeed leave Montreal on Thursday evening, 20 December. This was probably to ensure he was at Levis at 8:00am on 21 December to catch the Halifax bound train. The Montreal Daily Star report confirms that he would have caught the SS Sarnia at Halifax on 22 December and one would have thought this would have been his preferred steamer considering he had taken the same vessel on the journey from Liverpool (and probably had a return ticket with the Dominion Line). As the Sarnia left Halifax on Saturday, the reference to 'next Monday' in the report must be to the date (of Monday 31 December 1888) that the Sarnia was due to arrive at Liverpool (although it actually arrived on Tuesday, 1 January 1889). It will be noted that Andrews is stated to have returned to England, not gone to New York.
Wood believes that Andrews caught the Peruvian but the only evidence for this is the dodgy Boston Globe report and that report is demonstrably wrong on many facts (as Wood himself admits) not least in saying that Andrews left Toronto on the Wednesday (19 December) when even Wood accepts that it was on the previous day.
Clearly, the Boston Globe has been found out again. Andrews did not sail back to England on the Peruvian. We now know it was definitely the Sarnia.
While this episode raises an issue of Wood making unsupported statements as if they are proven facts, the key point is that, while Andrews might have stayed one night at the Windsor Hotel, this would presumably have been factored into the estimated expenses because a change at Montreal on the return journey was unavoidable. There is no reason to suppose that Andrews stayed any longer in Montreal than he needed to in order to catch his connecting train to Halifax. Consequently there is no issue relating to who paid Andrews' expenses.
Getting carried away with his lack of knowledge, Wood says it is 'not known' if the expenses of what he refers to as the 'North American excursion by the Metropolitan Police' were paid for by the Times (p.85) but this is ridiculous because we know that Inspector Jarvis' expenses were being paid for by the London and North Western Railway Company while, as Wood knows, the expenses of Andrews, to repeat the point, were being covered by the Canadian government. There were no other officers in North America at the time in question, despite Wood's belief that Superintendent Shore was there, so it is, in fact, known that the expenses of the North American 'excursion' by the Metropolitan Police were NOT being paid for by the Times.
While on the subject of expenses, we may note that Wood also says it is 'not known' whether the expenses of former Superintendent James Thomson incurred while staying at the Gilsey House Hotel were being paid for by the Times. On this point I can actually inform Wood that these expenses WERE being paid for by the Times because Thomson was in New York on behalf of the Times. The Times' lawyer, Joseph Soames, testified before the Special Commission on 15 February 1889 that he paid Thomson £500.
Wood mentions Mrs Thomson too but here he gets himself confused with two separate missions involving James Thomson. Wood claims (p.85) that, under the name of 'Johnstone', the Thomsons had been staying at the Gilsey House Hotel on expenses since November 1888, having been charged by Robert Anderson with the task of negotiating with General Millen to give evidence before the Special Commission. This is pure fantasy on Wood's part and confuses a mission, which might have been initiated by Anderson, and paid for by the Home Office or the Metropolitan Police, for Thomson and his wife to go under cover to Boulogne to spy on Millen in the summer of 1887 with a totally different mission initiated by Joseph Soames and paid for by the Times, commencing in November 1888, for Thomson to negotiate with Millen to give evidence before the Special Commission.
Wood surely must know the difference between the two missions carried out in two different years, and the two different employers for each one, so it is extraordinary that he conflates the two and states that Anderson had sent Thomson to negotiate with Millen as if that is a matter of fact when it is no more than the product of his imagination.
Although Wood also mentions Mrs Thomson, and she was certainly assisting her husband when he was spying on Millen in 1887, there is no reason to suppose that she was being paid by the Times herself in 1888-89 and the likelihood is that she went to New York to be with her husband at his expense, albeit that his expenses were to the account of the Times.
We might note in passing that although Wood says that Thomson was also known as 'Johnstone', there is no actual evidence that Thomson was also Johnstone, it's just an assumption that they were the same person.
We now need to mention Superintendent Shore whose appearance in New York is absolutely crucial for Wood's thesis about Jack the Ripper being a diversionary ploy by a group within the British government. With Jarvis and Andrews either being there on genuine business (in my view) or (in Wood's view), being there with cover stories reflecting business which had nothing to do with Jack the Ripper, Wood badly needs a Scotland Yard officer working for the Times in North America with a Jack the Ripper cover story.
The problem for Wood is that there is no hard evidence that Superintendent Shore was ever in North America in 1888 let alone doing anything involving the Times' case against Parnell. Perhaps this is why he only really mentions Shore's role in passing but we know from his internet postings that he would love to say that Shore left for New York a few days after Tumblety departed from Havre bound for New York, in hot pursuit of the fugitive or at least that this is what (he thinks) the British authorities wanted the public to believe.
The problem here for Wood is that if Shore really did go to New York in late November 1888, it was done secretly so that Tumblety was not used as any form of cover story to enable Shore to get there on a trip paid for by the British taxpayer. As we have seen, the story that Shore was in New York was so completely unknown to the British press and public that the question asked and answered about him in Parliament involved a completely different officer of Scotland Yard called Inspector Shaw.
For Wood's thesis about the Jack the Ripper hoax even to begin to make any sense it must surely involve Scotland Yard using Jack the Ripper for some purpose but it was not used in the cases of Jarvis and Andrews nor was it used in the case of Shore, who probably never left London in any case.
As mentioned above, Wood is very keen to inform his readers that Tumblety was not genuinely suspected by Scotland Yard of being Jack the Ripper. In doing so, he contrasts the attitude of the Metropolitan Police with that of the Northallerton police who, in November 1888, sent a cablegram to the New York police to request the arrest of James Shaw. As reported at the time by the American papers, Shaw fitted the supposed description of Jack the Ripper and a newspaper cutting relating to the murders was found in his pocket. Wood makes the point that Tumblety was 'also' suspected in connection with the Whitechapel murders but that no cablegram was received from London by the New York police requesting his arrest (p. 37).
It is a false point.
The reason why the Northallerton police sent a cablegram to New York, and the reason why the New York police detained Shaw, had nothing whatsoever to do with the Whitechapel murders. It was because Shaw was believed to be James Pennock who was wanted for the murder of his wife, Hannah, in Pickering, Yorkshire, on 7 November 1888. The connection with Jack the Ripper was only made in American newspapers (and repeated in British ones) after Shaw's arrest but was never seriously considered for one moment by the British or American police. Surely Wood knows all this.
Further, as I explained in my article entitled 'Are you Shaw? The Pennock Chase', published in the August 2015 edition of the Whitechapel Journal, the fact that the Northallerton police had communicated directly with the New York police, in a case where extradition was being requested, was most irregular and a breach of protocol for which the Chief Constable of Northallerton was reprimanded by the Home Office. All communications with the United States should have been made through the Foreign Office.
In other words, Wood should not have been comparing the flight of Tumblety with the flight of Shaw and no conclusions can properly be drawn from one event to the other.
Despite Wood stressing that Tumblety was not Jack the Ripper, and was not suspected of being Jack the Ripper, it seems that he would like us to believe that Scotland Yard wanted people to think he was Jack the Ripper. How else to explain his comment on page 54 of his book that the stories about Tumblety being suspected of being Jack the Ripper which appeared in the American newspapers could only have originated in London? A writer who supported Tumblety's candidacy as a genuine Ripper suspect might, ironically, make such a comment to give the stories more credibility but surely Wood is trying to say that it was part of a deliberate ploy manufactured in London. Thus, on page 320, he says that Tumblety 'was given' one of the most ingenious cover stories in history.
Wood claims that Tumblety's bail was 'paid for' but (despite dropping hints in the Casebook forum that he knows the names of the men who stood bail for Tumblety - see his post #6 dated 20.02.15 in thread 'Tumblety's Bail') he does not say by whom. He says it 'beggars belief' that Tumblety was able to 'evade security' at every railway station and port (p.318) - the implication being that the police deliberately allowed him to escape - but he does not explain what legal basis a police officer would have had in preventing Tumblety travelling on a train or a ship. As I explained in The Escape of Frank Townsend there was no outstanding warrant for Tumblety's arrest as at 24 November and nothing in his bail conditions would have prevented him from travelling or leaving the country.
Apparently, for Wood, after having created Jack the Ripper, the authorities were now creating a prime suspect, but a false one. However, if Wood is trying to say this, he certainly fails to explain why the authorities wanted to do it. A cover story for officers to go to the United States and chase him? Well, as already mentioned above, this cover story was never used. The stories about Tumblety hardly even made the British newspapers so what use were they?
On the subject of Tumblety in the British press, it may be noted that on 21 January 2015, I posted on the Casebook forum a hitherto unknown report I had located in the London Evening Post dated 10 December 1888 about a warrant being issued for the arrest of Francis Tumblety following his non-appearance at the Old Bailey that day. Simon Wood congratulated me on the find on the forum that same day. He then reproduced the article in his e-book and it can be found in his paperback (p.319). Simon, you are welcome and I'm glad you found it of use.
The same is true of three Evening Post editorials quoted by Wood in his book (pages 322, 343 and 452) which I originally posted on the Casebook forum in February 2015. I put them on the Casebook forum precisely so they could be used for such purposes and it is good that Wood has found use for them.
The same is true in respect of the information I posted on the Casebook forum on 7 February 2015 showing that Tumblety's Counsel, Mr Bodkin, applied to postpone Tumblety's trial until the December sessions although it has to be said that Wood has misunderstood the information I found when he says (p.318) that, 'Mr Muir [prosecuting for the Treasury] agreed to the request'.
The entry in the Central Criminal Court Book held at the National Archives states:
'Upon application of Mr Bodkin for defence & after hearing Mr Muir for prosecution the case is adjourned till next session all recognizances being respited' (CRIM 6/17).
This does not mean that Mr Muir agreed to Mr Bodkin's application. For all we know, he could have strongly opposed it. Alternatively he could have left it in the hands of the judge. He might have agreed to the application but it is not possible, on the basis of the available information, to say that he did so.
I want to stress that I make no complaint whatsoever about Wood using the Evening Post articles or the Tumblety information. Once I publish anything on the Casebook Forum, or elsewhere, it is obviously for anyone to use. I don't own the articles nor do I have exclusive access to the Evening Post or any files at the National Archives. I also have no desire to be mentioned in Wood's book and don't care that he hasn't done so. It's just that everyone else has been remarkably generous, when using any of the documents I found in acknowledging my contribution and Wood's behaviour is in stark contrast to this.
One can't help wondering if Robert Anderson arrested one of Simon Wood's ancestors, such is the contempt in which he holds the man. There doesn't seem to be anything that Wood is not prepared to accuse Anderson of doing. At one point (p.159) he even suggests, on the basis of the weakest possible evidence, that he might have been involved in writing the infamous forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion!!!
It is no surprise that Wood quotes from correspondence between Sir William Harcourt and Earl Spencer and between Edward Jenkinson and Earl Spencer in which Anderson is described as 'useless' and his appointment to Assistant Commissioner in September 1888 as 'infamously bad' . Following the publication of his e-book, Wood has clearly had a new thought because in his paperback he adds, gratuitously, that no correspondence applauding Anderson's appointment has so far been located (p.25). Perhaps Wood thought that any uncertainty his readers might have had about whether Anderson was useless would disappear once they learned that there is no known correspondence applauding his appointment but I suggest that it does no more than expose Wood's bias against the man.
Not everyone thought Anderson was useless. The author of a London letter of 19 September 1888 which appeared in the York Herald of 20 September 1888, for example, said the following:
'Mr. Anderson's qualifications for the post of chief of the Detective service have been called into question by those who are probably ignorant of his antecedents. It was Mr. Anderson who organised the system which checked the Fenian outrages in 1868 and following years.'
The World of 18 June 1890 even recommended that Anderson replace Monro as Commissioner saying that he 'has given undoubted proofs of great administrative capacity, and has won golden opinions on every side.' While it is perfectly true that the editor of the World, Edmond Yates, was a friend of Anderson, it is equally true that Harcourt and Jenkinson were not, so one should be careful about accepting such personal opinions too easily.
From the start, Anderson can do nothing right for Wood. The man was sick with throat trouble when he was appointed Assistant Commissioner on 25 August and it was agreed at the end of August that he should be allowed to go to Switzerland to recover. The timing was obviously unfortunate but it is a non sequitur for Wood to say (p.27) that, because the Home Office refused to accept the resignation of Sir Charles Warren following the murder of Nichols, as Warren's grandson believed happened, and as newspapers were reporting on 4/5/6 September (pp.25-26), they should have recalled Anderson from his sick leave after Chapman's murder. A sick man would have been no good to anyone and the most sensible approach was to allow Anderson a few weeks for his throat to recover.
In any event, we can be certain that Sir Charles Warren did not offer his resignation in the days after the murder of Polly Nichols. At the time of Nichols' murder, Sir Charles was on holiday in France (see letter from Sir Charles Warren to Robert Anderson dated 28 August 1888 reproduced in the Ultimate JTR Sourcebook by Evans & Skinner and a report entitled 'The Home Office and Scotland Yard' in the Daily Chronicle of 5 September 1888). He did not return to England until on or about 7 September, subsequently resuming his duties on Monday 10 September (Daily Chronicle, 11 September 1888). Henry Matthews was also on holiday at the time (in Penmaenmawr, Wales - London Evening Post, 4 September 1888). The Commissioner had offered to resign earlier in the year, on 10 March 1888, over a dispute he was embroiled in with the Receiver of the Metropolitan Police but had been told by members of the Government that his resignation would not be accepted (HO 144/200/A47288).
The resignation rumour was quickly rubbished in the press at the time. A London letter dated 5 September 1888 in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 6 September stated:
'The gossipers who talked of plans and intentions of Sir Charles Warren are all at fault. Mr. Matthews is still making holiday in the country. Sir Charles Warren himself is abroad...With regard to the intentions of Sir Charles Warren, nothing is likely to be heard for some little time.'
The Liverpool Mercury carried a similar letter from London dated 5 September 1888 in its 6 September issue:
'There is absolutely no truth in the story that Sir Charles Warren has resigned. The question of the appointment of his successor has come in no form whatever before the Home Secretary. Sir Charles is on the Continent enjoying himself, and he has not so much hinted at resignation.'
The false story of Warren's resignation offer in September can be traced as far back to 17 August when the London correspondent of the York Herald referred to 'a rumour that Sir Charles Warren will succeed Sir Hercules Robinson [as Governor] at the Cape' while adding, 'There is of course no basis for the report.' This rumour simmered away over the next fortnight until 3 September when the London correspondent of the Manchester Courier claimed 'on good authority' that Sir Charles had been offered the post of Governor at the Cape Colony in succession to Sir Hercules Robinson but that it was not known if he was going to accept the appointment. This story was repeated in the London Evening Post of the same day under the headline 'IS SIR CHARLES WARREN GOING?' and seems to have sparked off speculation in Manchester that Sir Charles would be replaced as Commissioner by Malcolm Wood, the Chief Constable of Manchester.
The supposed offer to Sir Charles of the post of Governor of the Cape seems to have been no more real than his reported resignation. According to the London Evening Post of 5 September 1888 (quoting the London correspondent of the Birmingham Daily Post):
'Various paragraphs have appeared as to the approaching appointment of Sir Charles Warren to a Colonial Governorship, but I am informed, on what I believe to be a good authority, that there is no more foundation for the rumour than that a suggestion was made in a London evening paper last week that Sir Charles would be better suited for such a situation than as Commissioner of Police'.
The London correspondent of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 8 September agreed with this assessment, saying:
'Without waiting for the return of Sir Charles Warren...I am able to announce that the Government have no intention of a desire on the part of Sir Charles Warren to resign his post as Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. He has not been offered a Colonial Governorship as has been stated by one of the newsagencies. Indeed there are no good grounds whatever for assuming that Sir Charles has taken any step or expressed any desire to retire'.
It is clear, therefore, that Warren's grandson was wrong in saying that his grandfather offered his resignation in the late summer of 1888 but this was refused due to the outbreak of murders in Whitechapel. Consequently, there is nothing in Wood's point that Anderson's rest cure in Switzerland should have been urgently curtailed.
Wood is wrong to say that it was an inopportune time for Anderson to leave the country due to issues relating to Thomas Beach, a.k.a. Henri Le Caron. He claims that Beach's appearance in the witness box before the Special Commissioner was going to require some careful handling, presumably by Anderson, (p.28) but the only 'handling' that Anderson did in 1888 was to try and dissuade Beach from giving evidence to the Commission, something he could do in correspondence with Beach in the United States just as easily from Switzerland as from London.
Wood comments disparagingly about Anderson's absence during the murders of Stride and Eddowes but what, one asks oneself, is the point he is making about this? Was Anderson providing himself with an alibi? If so, for what? Or was Anderson supposed to be doing something connected with the Special Commission in Switzerland and Paris? Wood doesn't explain so it is hard to see what significance, if any, Anderson's absence has to the story Wood wants to tell.
Quoting Anderson from his 1910 memoirs that, 'The newspapers soon began to comment on my absence', Wood comments in a footnote that the only mention of Anderson's absence was in the Pall Mall Gazette of 8 October 1888 and provides the following quote from that newspaper in support of this statement: 'Mr. Monro's place is nominally filled by a Dr. Anderson, who is said to be in Switzerland'. The implication is clear. Anderson has exaggerated his own importance by claiming to recall newspapers commenting adversely on his absence.
Wood's choice of quotation to illustrate the Pall Mall Gazette commenting on Anderson's absence is very strange because it said far more caustic things. What that newspaper actually said on 8 October 1888 was this:
'But although Dr. Anderson is nominally at the head of the C.I.D. he is only there in spirit. At a time when all the world is ringing with outcries against officials who allow a murderer to stalk unchecked through the most densely crowded quarter of the metropolis the chief official who is responsible for the detection of the murderer is as invisible to Londoners as the murderer himself. You may seek for Dr. Anderson in Scotland Yard. You may look for him in Whitehall-place, but you will not find him, for he is not there. Dr. Anderson, with all the arduous dates of his office still to bear, is preparing himself for the apprenticeship by taking a pleasant holiday in Switzerland.'
That was some quite serious criticism of Anderson's absence and it is no wonder that some twenty years later Anderson recalled that comments were being made in the press about it.
On page 71 we are told that Anderson was at his 'mendacious best' when stating in a letter to the Times in March 1889 that neither he nor Scotland Yard had given any help to the Times in its presentation of its case before the Special Commission other than in respect of providing documents to Henri Le Caron. If Wood was able to produce any evidence that Anderson was lying when he said this, he might be justified in referring to Anderson as 'mendacious' here but he doesn't find the space to do so in his entire book. To make matters worse, his next paragraph contains a quote from Michael Davitt, of all people, to supposedly show that Anderson was lying. With relish, Wood quotes Davitt as saying that 'All the resources of...Scotland Yard...were at the disposal of The Times'. But why does Wood think that Davitt was doing anything other than guessing?
When it comes to Henri Le Caron, we may note that Wood has failed to amend the last main paragraph of his third chapter (page 69) in which he tries to suggest to his reader that the contents of Inspector Andrews' valise, which he was supposed to have brought back with him from Canada, contained the documents that Anderson eventually gave Henri Le Caron before he entered the witness box.
As I demonstrated conclusively in 'The Third Man' in the Suckered! Trilogy, the documents that Anderson gave to Le Caron could not possibly have been documents that Andrews brought back from Canada. Wood never responded to this part of my trilogy, and he has certainly never challenged it, so it is disappointing that he still wants his readers to think that Andrews brought back documents from Canada which Anderson then gave to Le Caron to assist him with his evidence before the Special Commission.
Then again, it's not surprising because Wood is clearly desperate to provide some kind of Special Commission related reason for Andrews' visit to Canada. He doesn't have any proper evidence that Andrews was doing anything related to Parnell in Canada so he has to rely on a feeble observation (which comes from a very dodgy newspaper report) that Andrews carried some documents with him out of Montreal and, hey, Anderson gave Le Caron some documents didn't he, so that clinches it.
One last thing about Anderson. Wood says that the Assistant Commissioner wrote to the Times under the names of 'CURIOUS and 'AN OBSERVER' as if it is established fact (pages 83, 87, 88 and 96). This is rather different from his 2009 Ripperologist article, 'Smoke and Mirrors', in which he said that the identity of 'CURIOUS' was never revealed, 'But I detect behind the pseudonym none other than Anderson...Who else would have had that degree of interest in the matter? Who else would have had that degree of knowledge of the question? Who else had such an axe to grind?'. That's fair enough but how has this speculation from 2009 suddenly become confirmed fact six years later?
As I said in the Suckered! trilogy, it may well be that Anderson did indeed write to the Times under the aforementioned names - there are certainly some similarities in his known writing style with that of 'CURIOUS' - but, while I think it probably was him, there is no actual evidence for this, it could have been a friend or colleague, and Wood should have made this clear in his book. It is another example of Wood stating assumptions as facts, even if, in this case, it is a reasonable assumption.
THE NEW YORK HARBOUR EXPLOSION PLOT
Wood cannot exclude from his book a sensational and clearly untrue American newspaper story that Scotland Yard detectives in New York were involved in a plot to blow up a British passenger steamer in the New York harbour. He devotes two pages to this report (pp.78-79) and says that the motive put forward by Patrick Egan for why they would have wanted to do this (i.e. to compel the American Congress to pass an extradition treaty in the form desired by the British Government) appears 'sound'. He then says that 'if the story was true' the fact that it had been given such publicity meant that it had to be abandoned.
Although he also says that the story might have been Nationalist propaganda, what Wood does not tell his readers is that he posted in Casebook on 18 November 2010 in a thread entitled 'Tumblety and Pinkerton' to say, 'even I draw the line at believing Andrews and Shore were conspiring to blow up steamships in New York Harbour' and then nearly five years later, posted in my Suckered! thread on the Casebook forum on 29 May 2015 in which, accepting that some US press reports were 'phony', said that the report detailing a British plot to blow up a ship in New York harbour 'goes way off the Richter scale'.
That being so, what purpose is there including mention of the plot in his book? In the absence of Wood informing his readers that it was a phoney story, all it does is plant the idea into the head of his readers that the story might have been true and that Scotland Yard detectives really were plotting to blow up a British ship in New York. Given that this fits in with Wood's general view of the type of thing that Scotland Yard was up to in America at the time, I don't suppose he minds too much.
By failing to demonstrate that any officers were conducting illegal or unauthorized activities in North America, a key plank of Wood's thesis collapses. Is there anything else left which explains the need by the cabal to create a 'Jack the Ripper' scare to divert attention from anything happening in respect of the Special Commission?
We will look at the JTR murders themselves, but there are a few little bits and pieces involving miscellaneous matters that Wood slips into his book such as the notion that Scotland Yard, or Special Branch, or the Secret Service, was running some sort of assassination squad, murdering witnesses due to give evidence at the Special Commission.
He clearly does not believe that Richard Pigott committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, calling it 'an alleged suicide', despite the fact that he did so in a hotel room to the direct knowledge of two independent Spanish witnesses who were also in the room and the suicide was confirmed by a Spanish Judicial Inquiry.
When discussing the death of Pigott, Wood still makes a major error in saying that he shot himself as two detectives from Scotland Yard arrived to arrest him (p. 187). As I pointed out in part 3 of my Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy, no detectives had even left England to arrest Pigott at the time. Wood was referring to two detectives who only departed for Spain after Pigott's death and thus could not possibly have had any part to play in it.
Wood also refers to one aim of the conspirators as involving 'two suspected London murders'. Assuming this is nothing to do with the Whitechapel murders, Wood never makes clear in his book which murders he is referring to but, from his internet postings, it wouldn't surprise me if one of them is the death of Professor Maguire who clearly died from natural causes as set out in my sub-article 'The 'Murder' of Professor Maguire' within 'They All Love Bruce'
The notion of Pigott and Maguire being murdered is barmy anyway. In the case of Pigott, the man was not only cross-examined at length by Sir Charles Russell (and could have blurted out anything in open court) but also had private meetings with Henry Labouchere and gave Labouchere a signed written statement so the notion that there was any need to murder Pigott to silence him doesn't make sense, and it is hard to think of another motive the authorities could have had. His suicide led to the virtual collapse of the Times' case which, surely, was the exact thing they wanted to avoid.
As for Maguire, who Wood doesn't actually mention by name in his book, he wasn't even certain to be a witness at the Special Commission - he had come over to London in case his attendance was required - and his only involvement in the affair had been authenticating the Parnell letters on behalf of Edward Houston. There was no obvious reason for anyone to murder him and the nature of his death, arising out of exhaustion caused by an inflammation of the trachea, symptoms of which he was suffering for some days before he died, shows that he was not murdered.
I don't really know who the victim of the second suspected murder in London was that Wood talks of. I certainly don't remember reading about it in his book. It's possible that Wood is referring to the death of Michael James Quilter, an assistant school teacher, from County Derry, who came to London on about 25 October 1888 in order to give evidence to the Special Commission and died on 4 November after having become ill on 29 October following an evening drinking seven or eight glasses of ale. A post-mortem was carried out and concluded that Quilter died from 'syncope, caused by extreme debility induced by continual vomiting, following an extensive disease of the pleura, the lungs and pericardium' (Times, 10 November 1888). Death was caused in part by 'free indulgence in beer', and foul play was ruled out (Ibid; Evening Post, 9 November 1888).
Neither Quilter nor Professor Maguire merit a single mention in Wood's book so it is hard to know if Wood truly thinks these men were murdered.
SCOTLAND YARD ADMINISTRATION
On 7 February 1888, Assistant Commissioner Monro wrote to Sir Charles Warren informing him that Chief Constable Williamson of the C.I.D. was sick and needed to 'take long leave' (HO 144/190/A46472B). As a result, Monro was swamped with work and in need of assistance. Due to the timing of events, this must help to explain why the Commissioner issued his Police Order of 9 February 1888 instructing that all special reports in cases of serious crime should be sent to the Executive Department at Scotland Yard in the first instance rather than to the Assistant Commissioner of the C.I.D.
It was my research at the National Archives that uncovered this Police Order and I posted about it on the Jack the Ripper Casebook forum on 7 December 2014 in a thread entitled 'The Secrets of the Special Reports', explaining that this Police Order seemed to be the reason why the report of the Martha Tabram murder had been sent to Superintendent Cutbush at the Executive Department and the report of the Nichols murder went to Acting Superintendent Davis at the Executive.
In a post dated 10 January 2015 I also suggested that this Police Order explained why an article in the Globe of 10 September 1888 reported that Chief Constable Williamson (referred to as superintendent) at the C.I.D., who had by then returned to work, had not been given notice for a week that any crime had been committed after the Tabram murder.
This was all repeated in Wood's e-book (and can be found at page 19 of the paperback edition) with Wood commenting that it is 'uncertain' why Sir Charles Warren wanted this arrangement, although I would wager that Sir Charles preferred it because he did not feel that the Assistant Commissioner at the Criminal Investigation Department was keeping him fully informed in respect of criminal matters, whereas he could rely on the Executive to let him know everything that was going on. As it would also have reduced Monro's workload at the same time, it might have been in both men's interests and there is nothing mysterious about it.
THE JUBILEE PLOT
I have no idea precisely how the Jubilee Plot fits in with Wood's thesis but any indication that the British authorities, and Scotland Yard in particular, were up to no good in relation to Irish matters seems to be very welcome to him and he makes sure that he lets us know that he thinks the Jubilee Plot was an invention.
Thus, referring to the fact that the parliamentary debate over Anderson's pension in 1910 fizzled out, Wood says that, as a result, we will probably never learn the full extent of the involvement of Anderson and Monro in (1) the writing of the Times articles, (2) the publication of the forged Parnell letter and (3) what he describes as the 'wholly mythical' Jubilee Plot.
To bolster his claim that the Jubilee Plot was mythical he makes a very bad point when he says that James Monro did not receive a knighthood for having 'spared' the life of Queen Victoria. He has surely used the wrong word because he must mean 'saved' - O.E.D.: Spare, n., 'The fact of leaving unhurt or unharmed, sparing; leniency, mercy' - but Monro never claimed to have saved Queen Victoria's life (or to have spared it for that matter).
According to Monro's memo to Sir Charles Warren dated 10 February 1888, what he and other officers had prevented in 1887, in his own words, was 'an outrage at the time of the Jubilee' (HO 144/211/A48482). He said nothing about a plot to murder Queen Victoria and, indeed, even if such a plot had been in the works, a police operation to foil it hardly involved saving anyone's life, an expression usually used when someone is in imminent danger of death.
Where Wood has gone wrong is that he has been misled by Robert Anderson's 1910 memoir into believing that the Jubilee Plot consisted of nothing more than an attempt to assassinate Queen Victoria during the Thanksgiving Service at Westminster Abbey on Jubilee Day (p. 23). This was how Anderson remembered it, or rather repackaged it for a mass audience, but, although it is true that there was a fear that there might be a dynamite explosion on 21 June 1887 (Jubilee Day) and precautions were sensibly taken so that the day of the Jubilee occurred under conditions of high security, especially at Westminster Abbey, there was never any hard intelligence of such a plot nor was there ever claimed to be.
In his unpublished memoir, Monro, then Assistant Commissioner, said that he was extremely fearful on the day because he received what turned out to be a hoax letter saying that conspirators had managed to get some dynamite into the vaults. However, he didn't even inform the Commissioner of this let alone the Home Office or the general public so it is not the case that any political capital was made of such a possibility.
The Jubilee Plot, as it became known, actually involved a much wider conspiracy, partially involving the puzzling activities of General Millen in Boulogne in June and July 1887 but mainly relating to an actual dynamite plot to cause an explosion in the state apartments at Windsor Castle after Jubilee Day (but still in Jubilee Year) which resulted in the convictions of Harkins and Callan at the Old Bailey in February 1888.
It is very interesting to look at the origins of the so-called Jubilee Plot because while, as stated above, there were certainly fears of a dynamite explosion on Jubilee Day, the plot did not necessarily involve an explosion at Westminster Abbey nor did it necessarily involve a plot to murder Queen Victoria.
In his third (anonymously authored) article in the 'Behind the Scenes in America' series published in the Times on 1 June 1887, Robert Anderson had referred to the possibility of a 'pyrotechnic display in honour of the Queen's Jubilee, or in other words a series of dynamite and incendiary outrages to startle the nation amid the peaceful rejoicings of the month which opens today'. There was no mention here of any specific plot on Jubilee Day, let alone at Westminster Abbey.
The fears of some kind of Jubilee Plot in the press really started eleven days before the day of the Jubilee when the Times of 10 June 1887, while discussing the arrangements to be made for the forthcoming Jubilee celebration, referred to 'the possibility that some attempts may be made by the dastardly hirelings of the Clan-na-gael and other murder clubs to create a panic or to do some diabolical mischief by means of dynamite.'
The Pall Mall Gazette later that day then raised the stakes by saying:
'The Times hints at danger in the streets but the real danger is the Abbey itself. We should not have dared to hint of such a danger which must from the first have been obvious enough to the authorities. But the Abbey has for weeks been in the hands of hundreds of workmen. Dynamiters have been known to disguise themselves before the day, and of all disguises that of a workman is the least difficult. Then the possibilities of secreting clockwork engines in the thousand and more stands and nooks and crevices are endless. No doubt the authorities have carefully considered this danger; but we would remind them that bombs are small and hiding places are many. It is said that the Irish members have declined to be present during the ceremonial.'
So it was W.T. Stead at the Pall Mall Gazette, hardly a friend of the authorities, who created the fears of an explosion in Westminster Abbey but there was no mention of Queen Victoria being a target.
Five days later, the Pall Mall Gazette returned to the subject, quoting a Mr Richardson, a representative of a firm carrying out upholstering works at the Abbey. He said to the editor:
'I would be glad to take you to the Abbey, but it is rather difficult for outsiders to get in. Every stranger is watched while inside the building, and with ladies they are far stricter. Indeed I do not know whether it would be possible to get them in at all. The fear of dynamite is very great, and the last explosion at Westminster was said to have been due to a lady.'
Later on the same day, 15 June, the Central News Agency released a worrying report which was widely published (for example in the Morning Post) the following morning. It stated:
'The Central News is enabled to state that information has reached London which leaves no doubt that the dynamite faction have been making arrangements for committing a serious outrage or series of outrages on Jubilee day.'
A longer and slightly different version of this report which referred to outrages during Jubilee week rather than on Jubilee day can also be found in some newspapers (this one from the Yorkshire Gazette):
'The Central News is enabled to state that information has been received that there can no be no doubt that the dynamite faction have made arrangements for an outrage, or a series of outrages, during Jubilee week. The authorities, however, have full knowledge of the conspiracy and those engaged in it, and are confident that they will be able to defeat the murderous machinations of the would-be terrorists. For months past reports as to the more prominent members of the conspiracy abroad, and their probable accomplices at home, have been received in London almost daily, and during the same period all the chief parts of the United Kingdom have been closely watched in anticipation of the possible arrival without previous notification for our agents abroad of certain suspected individuals. In Paris the movements of the real Patrick Casey, with whose passport the Maharajah Dhulap Singh travelled to Russia, have been attracting considerable attention on the part of the English detectives, who are on duty in the French capital. Casey and his associates have been very active lately but as they are well known there has been no difficulty in keeping them in sight. Certain persons in Paris outside the Casey ring, have also been receiving an amount of earnest attention, of which it is possible they may soon receive disagreeable proof. Our agents have been equally active in America and their operations have been confined to New York. On the 3rd inst. O'Donovan Rossa complained to the New York Police that he was being "Shadowed by British detectives in a manner so persistent and obtrusive as to make his life miserable." Rossa, however, was evidently desirous of an advertisement, for he is not of sufficient importance to require, and has not received much attention.'
It will be noted that no location of a plot was specified in this report but you may be wondering if the Central News Agency which, of course, was the recipient of the alleged Jack the Ripper hoax letter and postcard, was doing Scotland Yard's dirty work by creating fears of a Jubilee Plot. If you are, you could not be more wrong. Here is what most conspiracy writers won't tell you.
On 17 June 1887, Scotland Yard rubbished the Central News report through the Press Association, which released the following statement under the headline 'THE ALLEGED DYNAMITE PLOT':
'The Press Association is authorised to state that the Scotland Yard authorities do not endorse any of the statements published yesterday regarding possible dynamite outrages, except as to the movements of Pat Casey and his associates having recently attracted and received due attention. It may be added that for months the movements of suspected dynamiters have been watched, and the police believe their precautions are sufficient to frustrate outrages of this kind whenever attempted.'
As we know, nothing happened on the day of the Jubilee, so Scotland Yard's optimism was justified, but it was hardly unreasonable for the press (and public) to worry about a dynamite plot in 1887 considering the actual explosions that had occurred in Manchester and Liverpool in 1881, in Glasgow and London (offices of the Times and on the London Underground) in 1883, at Victoria Station, Scotland Yard and London Bridge in 1884 and at the Tower of London and the Palace of Westminster in 1885, as well as various actual bombs around the country which failed to explode in that period.
For those who think that the notion of a possible Jubilee Plot at Westminster Abbey was nothing more than fiction designed to scare the public, the following confidential note from the Home Secretary to the Lord Chamberlain dated 13 June 1887, buried in a Home Office file at the National Archives (HO 144/190/A46470B), should be noted:
With a view to avoiding as far as possible any untoward occurrence in the Abbey on the 21st instant I have to make the following suggestions.
1. That all tickets for admission be given to persons named on the ticket and be not transferable.
2. That all workmen be cleared out of the Abbey at least 24 hours before the ceremony begins.
3. That the Police have permission to make a full inspection of the Abbey, of the vaults under it, and of all the platforms and galleries erected in it, during the 24 hours preceding the ceremony.
It would save time if your Lordship would be so good as to communicate directly with Sir C. Warren on the last point.
I have requested him to place himself at your Lordship's disposal.
I have the honour to be
Your obedient servant
The protection of Her Majesty was clearly being taken seriously at the highest levels.
One of the earliest published accounts of the Jubilee Plot, if not the earliest, appeared in an 1889 book by Charles Tempest Clarkson and J. Hall Richardson entitled Police!. In relating 'the story of the Jubilee plot' the authors told the story of the death of the man known as 'Cohen' and the activities and arrest of Callan and Harkins. They stated that these men had come over to England 'for the purpose of committing an outrage in Jubilee week' but missed their steamer so did not arrive in Liverpool until the day of the Jubilee. No mention is made by the authors of an attempt on Queen Victoria's life at Westminster Abbey but they do mention that attempts at observation were made at Windsor Castle as part of a plot to cause a dynamite explosion there. So, as far as the general book-reading public in England was concerned in 1889, THIS was the Jubilee Plot.
In any event, Monro was awarded a C.B. in 1888 (while Assistant Commissioner) for his part in foiling any dynamite outrage in 1887, so he was fully honoured for what he did. It is all very well saying, as Wood does (p.195), that Monro is the only Commissioner of Police not to have received a knighthood but he is also the only Commissioner of Police to have led a rebellion of the police against the government, as he did over the Police Pensions Bill, virtually sabotaging it, and THAT is no doubt why he did not receive any further honours.
Before moving on, what about Wood's other points under this heading? What about the extent of the involvement of Monro and Anderson in the writing of the Times articles?
I have already dealt elsewhere (see 'Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy', part 1) with the fact that Wood has deceived himself into thinking that Anderson might have written the original 'Parnellism and Crime' articles for the Times (pp.187-188) but he didn't, it was John Woulfe Flanagan. Wood also thinks that Anderson telling Monro of his authorship of the articles might have been the cause of the deep rift between the two men which, according to Robert Anderson, occurred on the eve of Monro resigning the post of Commissioner of Police (p.191), an event which, says Anderson, 'broke up a close friendship of several years.' He says that this theory, originally put forward by J.A. Cole, makes 'perfect sense'. It does not.
When James Monro dealt with the issue of Anderson's authorship of the Times articles in his letter to Sir Edward Troup on 13 April 1910, he said that Anderson confessed his authorship of the articles to him a 'long time' after the event but it can't possibly have been on the eve of his resignation because Monro goes on to say in the letter:
'I felt much annoyed. However, the evil, if such it was, was done; and nothing was to be gained by saying anything on the subject. I therefore observed silence. I may have mentioned the matter at the Home Office in confidential talk, but as the incident had passed many months previously and there was no object in reopening the question, I did not report it officially.'
In other words, it is clear from this that the conversation about the authorship of the Times articles between Monro and Anderson could not have been the reason for the deep rift between the two men on the eve of Monro's resignation because Monro would not have had the opportunity to mention the matter at the Home Office in confidential talk, due to his resignation.
As I have said elsewhere (See 'Anderson and the World') the most likely explanation is that Anderson thought that Monro was wrong to resign as Commissioner on a point of principle, and told him so, which offended Monro to the point that he stopped speaking to Anderson.
Wood, however, speculates that Anderson's revelation about his authorship of the articles (in June 1890) would have put Monro on the spot, coming as it would have done, shortly after the start of the the Labouchere libel action but Anderson's authorship of the Times articles had no possible connection with the Labouchere libel action. Wood refers to a 'political furor then going on in Parliament regarding Scotland Yard's adventures in North America on behalf of the Special Commission' (p.192) but this was not actually occurring on the eve of Monro's resignation; all was quiet in Parliament at the time on this issue due to the commencement of libel proceedings.
I have dealt with the issue of the forged Parnell letter in part 1 of the Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy and don't need to repeat any of that here.
With nothing else to explain why 'Jack the Ripper' was created by a Home Office cabal, Wood is left with attempting find something, anything, in the murders themselves to justify his thesis.
On page 333 of his book he tells us that there is 'no available evidence' that Emma Smith, Martha Tabram and Polly Nichols were murdered by a policeman who had been attempting to blackmail prostitutes in the East End.
One can't help feeling that, if not a conspiracy by the Metropolitan Police or Special Branch, murder by a blackmailing policeman, providing Scotland Yard with a motive to cover up all the incriminating facts, is the next best thing that Simon Wood would love to be the answer to the mystery.
Just a shame about that lack of evidence.
Let's look at the individual murders and related issues.
My first experience of Simon Wood on the Casebook forum was during a discussion about the police evidence relating to the murder of Mary Ann Nichols. In a thread entitled 'The Missing Evidence - New Ripper Documentary', Simon told me on 22 November 2014 (#1043):
'I have never believed PC Mizen...PC Neil wasn't where he should have been at 3.45, so PC Mizen put him there with a simple lie'.
In a further post (#1050), Wood said that, 'Neil wasn't where he should have been at the time - somewhere in Great Eastern Square' and that 'Mizen lied to cover Neil's arse'. He added:
'And you can bet your last Snickers bar that Mizen and Neil got their stories straight as they could before attending the inquest.'
In response, I asked:
If that's the case then why were their stories different?
Mizen: Cross told me that a policeman [Neil] said I was wanted in Buck's Row.
Neil: I never saw or spoke to Cross.
Different stories, no?'
Simon's reply was:
'Steady on, old chap. Mizen did not name the PC as Neil.
Rather than argue ourselves blue in the face, let's just agree in the final analysis their contradictory stories went unchallenged'.
It will be noted that Simon now refers to their stories as 'contradictory', whereas previously he said they 'got their stories straight'. More importantly, I wasn't going to accept his attempt to make a point out of the fact that Mizen did not name the police constable as PC Neil, so I said:
'I know he didn't but I thought your point was that he was trying to cover up for Neil's absence from the scene. If the PC he was referring to was not Neil, what was the point of him inventing a conversation with Cross?'
I also pointed out that if Mizen had told the truth about what Cross said to him, but Cross had been lying, then both of their stories were consistent with Cross lying.
In the meantime, Simon told another poster:
'PC Neil was not where he should have been on this night of nights.
It makes far more sense to believe that PC Mizen lied to place PC Neil where he should have been.
Did PC Mizen find PC Neil on arriving at the murder scene? Eventually, of course.
Policemen lying under oath? Unthinkable as it is to Ripperology, newspaper letter columns full of such stories.'
I responded as follows:
'If you are saying that PC Mizen was first on the scene and PC Neil only turned up later then, far from making "far more sense" this actually doesn't make any sense! PC Thain arrived at the murder site before PC Mizen and was requested by PC Neil to summon a doctor so unless Mizen, Thain and Neil are all involved in some crazy conspiracy, it was Neil who found the body (after Cross and Paul)'.
In response, Wood, who, until then, had said that only two policemen were telling lies, now asked me why I believed three policeman with suspicious stories rather than Cross to which I replied:
'...it looks to me like you really do believe there was some sort of crazy conspiracy going on here! There clearly wasn't. The reason Thain ran off to fetch a doctor and Mizen ran off to fetch and ambulance, while Neil remained with the body, is because Neil was the first officer on the scene and was calling the shots.'
'I don't believe there was some sort of crazy conspiracy going on unless, of course, you mean three cops desperately trying to keep their stories straight.'
My reply was to call Simon's bluff:
'Go on then, I'm listening.
Do explain to me how and why three police constables all invented a completely false story about the finding of the body. And please tell me what really happened.'
The only response from Simon was cryptic:
Please be sure to let me know when you need more paint to trap you in that corner.'
I responded to say that I didn't understand this (and over one year later I still don't) to which Simon replied:
'Long posts are most often in inverse proportion to their logic.
I explained myself with precision.
PC Mizen lied to place PC Neil where he should have been but wasn't, when Cross and Paul walked from Bucks Row through Great Eastern Square and up Bakers Row to the corner of Hanbury Street.'
Cross's story about not seeing a policeman prior to encountering PC Mizen was bourne out by PC Neil himself.
Why else would PC Mizen make it up?'
'Hi Simon, your post is certainly short but I'm having difficulty seeing the logic. Neil's beat evidently took him half an hour to patrol (i.e. "He had been round the same place some half an hour previous to that and did not see any one" - Times inquest report) so why would he have had to have been there in the few minutes that Cross and Paul were there? Had Mizen found the body, having been directed to Buck's Row by Paul and Cross, all Neil would have had to do is say that he had been there at 3:20, saw nothing, and was due back at 3:50 hence he missed the discovery by Paul and Cross (at 3:40) and by Mizen (at 3:45). You also say nothing about Thain, who I asked you about. He said he came to the scene, saw Neil and was sent to fetch a doctor. Who do you say asked him to do this? Mizen? Who then asked Mizen to fetch an ambulance?'
There was no response to this post from Simon.
The reason I have quoted this exchange at some length is because it shows that Wood clearly believes that the police were lying about the discovery of the finding of the body of Nichols. When I purchased Wood's e-book a few months after the exchange, in early 2015, I was fully expecting to find Wood's theory as to what was going on set out in full with an explanation as to why the officers were lying.
To my surprise he said absolutely nothing about the police officers lying at the inquest of Nichols. Not a word.
Incredibly, Mizen, Thain and Neil don't even get a mention in Wood's book. I call this 'incredible' because Wood wrote an article for the April 2008 issue of Ripperologist (No. 90), entitled, prematurely it would seem, 'Deconstructing Jack', in which he set out the inconsistencies in the evidence of these three constables, although he did not provide any explanation in that article as to why their evidence might have been inconsistent. His cryptic conclusion, nevertheless, was that it was 'doubtful' that the murder of Polly Nichols 'was the handiwork of someone who would eventually become known as 'Jack the Ripper'.'
Although Wood had previously expressed his doubts that Mary Jane Kelly was one of the canonical five, this was the first public intimation of which I am aware that Wood did not believe in the existence of 'Jack the Ripper' but it is impossible even to guess what he was saying here about the murder of Nichols. Was he resiling from his previous belief that one individual murdered Nichols, Chapman and Eddowes? Was he saying that a police officer, or officers, murdered Nichols? I don't think these questions are capable of being answered from Wood's book. Certainly the absence of any mention of the police constables who discovered the body of Nichols in Bucks Row is striking.
But there is plenty more that Wood does have to say about the police.
He loves to cite newspapers which refer to police thinking - such as 'The police have concluded...' or 'The police are of the opinion...' - without ever questioning whether such stories are true in the first place and, if so, whether they merely reflect the (preliminary) views of an individual police officer. One can find a number of examples of this on page 337 of his book alone and, of course, Wood usually quotes opinions which do not match with all the facts as we know them today, thus making the police look to his readers at best incompetent and at worst devious or untruthful.
Did the police, for example, really believe on 31 August that Polly Nichols was murdered in a house as reported by the Morning Advertiser of 1 September 1888 only to change their opinion a couple of days later? Did the police really conclude on 31 August that Nichols was murdered by the same man who murdered Emma Smith and Martha Tabram as reported by the New York Times on 1 September? Who within the police was in a position to make such a comment within hours of the discovery of Nichols' murder? When Wood says (on p.378) that the Metropolitan Police 'promulgated' the notion of a single lone maniac having murdered Emma Smith, Martha Tabram and Polly Nichols he is really doing no more than referring to this single report in an American newspaper. The Metropolitan Police wasn't promulgating anything.
When the Star of 1 September 1888 made a mistake in its recall of the Emma Smith murder, it was, according to Wood, telling a 'blatant' lie (p.335) designed to steer minds away from the subject of blackmailing gangs but why it would want to do this is not explained. The implication is that the police were pulling its strings but that is rather fanciful to say the least.
With the murder of Annie Chapman, seven 'detectives', according to Wood, ignored a clue 'as big as the Rock of Gibraltar' in their various reports (p.344). This clue was that a leather apron had been found near the place where the body lay: the significance being that the police were already looking for a man nicknamed 'Leather Apron'.
It is a false point. As Wood admits in a footnote, the leather apron was the property of Amelia Richardson's son. She testified at the inquest on 12 September that she had washed it and hung it up in the yard to dry. The police would have known about this as soon as they spoke to Mrs Richardson (or her son) - quite possibly on 8 September - so the leather apron would not have been regarded as of any significance from that point onwards.
A reporter from the Star certainly established during the afternoon of 8 September that the leather apron belonged to John Richardson and was, therefore, not a clue at all. This information was included in the Star of 8 September under the headline 'THE LEATHER APRON AND THE KNIFE' (the knife in question also belonging to Richardson, as he explained to the Star's reporter). Hence, the police could have been aware of the origin of the leather apron on 8 September simply from reading the evening newspaper!
Of the seven 'detectives' identified by Wood, two of them - Inspector Chandler, Superintendent West - were not even detectives. Furthermore, Wood includes Detective Inspector Helson whose report of 19 September (relating to Isenschmid) was not only written long after Mrs Richardson had testified at the inquest that the leather apron was hers but also long after John Pizer ('Leather Apron') had been cleared by the coroner so that the leather apron found at the crime scene was doubly irrelevant.
Wood also includes in his list Detective Inspector Styles of 'Y' Division, based at Holloway police station, whose only involvement in the case was in the identification of Joseph Isenschmid as a suspect. Why does Wood think that Styles, who would never have been anywhere near 29 Hanbury Street, should have mentioned in his report about Isenschmid that a leather apron had been found at the crime scene?
Of the seven officers named by Wood, only the report of Inspector Chandler (not a detective) written on the day of the murder might reasonably have been expected to contain a reference to the fact that a leather apron had been found near the scene of the murder but if Chandler had established by the time he wrote his report on 8 September that it belonged to Richardson then it was not a clue as big as the Rock of Gibraltar; indeed, was not a clue at all.
Wood finds strange omissions all over the place. He says (p.347) that it is of interest that Inspector Helson of 'J' division did not include reference in his report of 7 September to an unconfirmed 'incident' reported in the Star (discussed below under 'The Albert Street Story' heading) involving a failed apprehension of 'Leather Apron' by two 'J' division constables on 2 September. Why Wood thinks that Inspector Helson should have included any mention of this in his report to the Assistant Commissioner concerning the murder of Mary Ann Nichols, written five days after the supposed incident, is not made clear, especially bearing in mind that Helson's report of 7 September recorded that, although the police were searching for Jack Pizer, a.k.a. Leather Apron, there was 'no evidence whatsoever' against him.
This demonstrates why Wood is wrong to say that the Metropolitan Police (as at 11 September) was sending mixed signals on the basis that 'J' Division had been searching for Leather Apron while someone at Scotland Yard was saying that there was nothing in the 'Leather Apron' story (p.355). The police had still had to find him to satisfy the public due to the newspaper pressure arising out of so many rumours about 'Leather Apron'. The fact they had been searching for him, however, did not mean that the police thought that 'Leather Apron' was the murderer, as Helson's report makes clear.
Wood makes the mistake in assuming that there was a single view of events held within the Metropolitan Police. Given that there were lots of different people and departments within the force - and no press office at that time - it is obvious that there must have been different messages coming from individuals within the police but it is no more than that. There were no mixed signals coming from the Metropolitan Police because the Metropolitan Police as a body was sending out no signals at all.
Wood tries to make something out of the fact that it took Sergeant Thick a few days to find Pizer (p.366), as if he was intimately acquainted with all his family details, and should have known he would have gone to his stepmother's for the Jewish New Year.
Here Wood falls into error because he thinks that the Jewish New Year commenced at sunset on Thursday 6 September 1888 and ended at sunset on Saturday 8 September (p.365). No doubt due to an ignorance of Jewish custom, he fails to understand that a Jewish holy day commences the evening before the day it appears in the calendar so that the Jewish New Year in 1888 commenced at sunset on Wednesday, 5 September and ended at sunset on Friday 7 September, at which time the Sabbath began.
This is significant because Pizer did not arrive at his stepmother's until late in the evening of Thursday 6 September (well after sunset) whereas, if he had gone there for the purpose of celebrating Rosh Hashanah, he would have been expected to have shown up before sunset on the evening of the previous day. There is nothing, in any event, in Jewish custom which says that family members should live together during Rosh Hashanah so that Pizer's appearance at his stepmother's house on the Thursday evening was probably more connected with the police search for him than the Jewish New Year.
Furthermore, both Rosh Hashanah and the Sabbath were over when Pizer was found, still at his stepmother's house, on Monday 10 September, so one wonders if the Jewish holy days had any relevance at all in the matter.
But who knows, with hindsight perhaps it is obvious where Pizer was, but then again everything is with hindsight. No doubt had Simon Wood been alive in 1888 he would have found John Pizer within a few minutes. Sergeant Thick probably wasn't blessed with such omnipotence.
Another piece of deception that Wood links to the Leather Apron story is in respect of Inspector Abberline's report of 19 September 1888 in which Abberline said that the police had been looking for John Pizer but 'through the publicity given in the 'Star' and other newspapers the man was made acquainted with the fact that he was being sought for and it was not until the 10th inst. that he was discovered when it was found that he had been concealed with relatives'. Wood interprets this as meaning that the hunt for Leather Apron had begun before the Star published a story on 5 September in which it named 'Leather Apron' as 'the real author of the three murders', whereas the Star had said that the police had not begun the hunt 'in earnest' until 5 September.
Wood's comment is typical: 'Somebody was not telling the truth' (p.356). But the Star ran a further story about Leather Apron on 6 September in which it was stated that 'The police are making efforts to arrest him'. This contrasted with its report of 5 September in which it was stated that 'the people wish to know why the police do not arrest "Leather Apron'. It would appear, therefore, that, even if the police had started searching for Pizer on 5 September, the first time that Pizer might have been aware from the press that the police were looking for him was on 6 September and he could have taken steps to conceal himself from the police on this date. Pizer did indeed remove himself to his stepmother's house on 6 September. There is no indication that anyone was deliberately lying about anything.
Wood's section on this topic concludes with the theory that John Pizer might have come to an agreement with the police to play the part of 'Leather Apron'. The basis of this strange theory is that Pizer was reported as telling journalists on 12 September 1888, shortly before giving evidence at the inquest, that he was not known by the name of 'Leather Apron' but then at the inquest said he was, indeed, known by this name. Presumably Wood thinks that, between his interview(s) with journalists and his appearance at the inquest, the police manipulated him into agreeing that he was called 'Leather Apron'.
There is, however, a far more sensible narrative of events to explain Pizer's behaviour.
After his arrest, Pizer explained that he had, in the past, walked around the streets wearing a leather apron. This had probably led to his nickname amongst the non-Jewish population in Whitechapel of 'Leather Apron'. However, he was clearly never called this name to his face, and his Jewish friends and neighbours evidently never called him it, or were even aware it was his nickname amongst the Gentiles in the local neighbourhood, hence Pizer was equally unaware of it.
To a reporter for the Press Association on 12 September, Pizer explained how he came to be aware he was under suspicion:
'Last Sunday week I was accosted in Church-street by two females, unknown to me. One of them asked me, ‘Are you the man?’ – presumably referring to the Buck’s-row murder. I said ‘God forbid, my good woman.’' (Evening Post, 12 September 1888, c.f. the report in the Echo of the same day quoted in Wood's book on p.352.)
Pizer's brother, Gabriel, told a similar story (as mentioned by Wood) that some women in an unidentified street in Spitalfields had identified Pizer as 'Leather Apron', adding a further detail that he was then chased by a howling mob. Whether there was such a mob or not, Pizer's brother had evidently worked out that local people thought Pizer was the murderer and it was not safe for him to remain at large on the streets, so advised him to hide himself away indoors. Pizer testified at the Chapman inquest that his brother gave him this advice.
From evidence at the Chapman inquest, it seems that, for the first three days after the incident involving the crazy woman in Spitalfields, Pizer hid himself away across town in a lodging house in Westminster before moving to his stepmother's house in Mulberry Street, under cover of darkness, on 6 September (possibly because he became aware that the police were looking for him, as mentioned above), and remained there until the arrival of Sergeant Thick.
Clearly, Pizer knew that he was suspected of being 'Leather Apron', and assumed it was because he used to wear such a garb, but still had no idea that this was his nickname amongst the Gentile population of Whitechapel until Sergeant Thick informed him of it when he arrested him. Thus, as Pizer told a Press Association reporter prior to the inquest (underlining added):
'He [Sergeant Thick] said ‘You know you are “Leather Apron” ' or words to that effect. Up to that moment I did not know that I was called by that name.' (Evening Post, 12 September 1888)
The underlined words are critical because, here, Pizer is accepting to the reporter that he was, indeed, called by the name 'Leather Apron' but he only found out about it when informed by Sergeant Thick. This explains why, when asked by the coroner if he was known by the name of Leather Apron, he said that he was (i.e. he was accepting as true what he had been told by the sergeant). His evidence at the inquest was consistent with what he told the reporters beforehand and there is no reason to suggest that the police had nobbled him after that interview but before he gave his evidence.
In short, there is no need to speculate about a bizarre and unnecessary arrangement by Pizer with the police to commit perjury by falsely agreeing that he was Leather Apron. Even Wood has difficulty in explaining why such a conspiracy (which, he seems to believe, also involved the Star newspaper) would have been hatched, something he describes as a 'real mystery' (p.366). However, he seems to think that the myth of 'Leather Apron' was needed by the police in the same way that the myth of 'Jack the Ripper' was needed; so that the public would think that a lone maniac had killed all the murdered women (pp.366-367). But why did they want to do that? It's not clear. If Wood said it was because the police wanted more money and resources from the Home Office it might make some kind of sense but that doesn't seem to have had anything to do with it, according to Wood.
In terms of the myth of Leather Apron, I would like to suggest that Wood is in error when he says that London's first introduction to this person was a brief mention in the Star of 4 September 1888 (page 338). According to Wood, the first ever mention in the press of the name 'Leather Apron', and identification of him as the murderer of Nichols, was a report in the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent on 1 September 1888 when it was attributed to Whitechapel prostitutes. He thinks it was not until three days later that the name was picked up by the London newspapers.
How likely is it that a reporter from the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent was roaming around Whitechapel speaking to local prostitutes? Not very, I would suggest.
The story about Leather Apron which appeared in the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent is also to be found, word-for-word identical, in the Sunderland Echo and Shipping Gazette of 1 September 1888. That newspaper gives us a big clue as to its source because the article in which its Leather Apron story appears begins: 'The Star reporter says...'.
This makes it almost certain that the story about Leather Apron was first published in the Star on 31 August 1888. Confusion probably arises from the fact that the microfilmed copy of that day's Star which is held at the British Library (from which the extracts in the Casebook's Press Reports section have been obtained), and stated to be the 'Fourth Edition', does not include any mention of Leather Apron. However, the likelihood is that there was a later edition (or editions) which did include the Leather Apron story but which has not survived.
This would certainly make sense of the fact that the Star's report of 4 September 1888 about Leather Apron having gone missing commenced: 'With regard to the man who goes by the sobriquet of 'Leather Apron'...' as if its readers would know exactly who 'Leather Apron' was.
It also makes sense of the fact that the New York Times report from London on 3 September 1888, which told the story of 'Leather Apron', also refers to Edgar Allan Poe's Murders of the Rue Morgue, which was originally mentioned in the Star's report of 1 September 1888 (in the surviving edition). The New York Times reporter in London was unlikely to have spent his time reading the Sheffield newspapers as Wood seems to suggest (p.337).
Before leaving this part of the Leather Apron story we may note that Wood tells us that the quid pro quo for Pizer in agreeing to falsely present himself as Leather Apron was so that he could go out and sue the Star newspaper for libel and win handsome damages. Wood explains that, to win such an action, Pizer would have needed to prove that he, and he alone, was known as 'Leather Apron', suggesting that Pizer had a remarkably sophisticated knowledge of libel law when he agreed to the deal on 12 September.
Wood draws attention to some newspaper accounts of local residents saying that they knew 'Leather Apron' and he comments that none of them were called by the police to identify Pizer. It doesn't seem to have occurred to Wood that the Star newspaper must have been equally aware of such reports and if there was any doubt as to whether 'Leather Apron' was Pizer they could have called these residents to testify on their behalf at any trial. If there was another 'Leather Apron' then, on Wood's analysis of the legal situation, the Star could have avoided paying damages to Pizer.
Another newspaper quote provided by Wood to the effect that Pizer was not 'Leather Apron' (p.363) can be explained by the fact that the name 'Leather Apron' had become synonymous with the Whitechapel Murderer so that, in saying that Pizer was not 'Leather Apron', the newspaper was saying no more than that Pizer was not the Whitechapel murderer.
THE ALBERT STREET STORY
I can't conclude the Pizer story without commenting on the incident mentioned in a letter written to the Star by an 'eye-witness', which Wood reproduces (on p.346). He takes it from Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper of 9 September 1888 although it can found earlier, e.g. it was published in the Dundee Evening Telegraph of 6 September and it was probably first published in the Star of 5 September in a late edition which has not survived.
Wood is unsure whether the 'eye-witness' was a man or woman but ignores a gender clue as big as the Rock of Gibraltar in the Lloyds Weekly Newspaper report which refers to 'A party signing himself 'Eye-witness'. This is confirmed by the Dundee Evening Telegraph which refers to: 'An eye-witness who sends his name and address to the Star'.
In his letter, the 'eye-witness', who lived near Buck's Row, says that he was about to turn into Albert Street when a woman rushed across the street by 'Cohen's sugar refinery' shouting at a man whom she accused of being Leather Apron, i.e. the Whitechapel murderer (but nearby police constables failed to react).
A few pages later (p.353), Wood then gets confused by his geography because he looks for a sugar refinery in Church Street (which is where Pizer placed his conversation with two women) but nearby Albert Street did not turn into or out of Church Street. He also says that Church Street, Spitalfields, 'disappeared in 1879', although it was, in fact, still there in 1888; he is confusing the old Church Street in Mile End New Town -which, by order dated 31 March 1876, had become part of Hanbury Street - with Church Street in Spitalfields (ironic, considering that he mocks the police for getting confused with another Church Street, in Shoreditch). He reveals some very strange reasoning by commenting that, while he can't find a Cohen's sugar refinery in Church Street, there was a Cowan's sugar refinery in Barnes, West London. So did the eye-witness to the verbal assault on the man accused of being 'Leather Apron' confuse a refinery in Spitalfields with one across the other side of London, in Barnes? Rather unlikely.
While Albert Street did not turn into Church Street, it did turn into Pelham Street (which was in Spitalfields) where one could find Schwartz's sugar refinery (which had closed in June 1887 but the building still existed, see e.g. the advert in the Times of 18 July 1891 referring to an 'Important Sale of the Plant and Machinery of Messrs Schwartz's Sugar Refinery, Pelham-street, Brick-lane, Spitalfields.'). The eye-witness had probably confused two Jewish surnames (although the owner, John Schwartz, was not Jewish) and meant 'Schwartz' not 'Cohen'.
Putting aside the 'Cohen' v 'Cowan' issue, Wood's theory is that when the the 'eye-witness' said 'Albert Street' he meant 'Deal Street' which extended from the southern end of Albert Street and intersected with the section of Hanbury Street which, until 1876, as mentioned above, had been called Church Street. Close to the corner of Deal Street and Hanbury Street was Dakin's Sugar Refinery which might have been what the eye-witness wrongly referred to as 'Cohen's sugar refinery' for no apparent reason [but it has since been discovered that Alderman Cowan had recently set up in Dakin's Sugar Refinery so it's possible that the eye witness did indeed mean Dakin's refinery, confusing 'Cowan' with 'Cohen', although he could still have muddled up his refineries]. This theory has the advantage of allowing for the possibility that Pizer's 'Church Street' was actually Hanbury Street and he thought of it by its old name, albeit that the name had changed 12 years earlier. It's certainly possible but seems to have nothing more going for it (and arguably less) than my theory that the sugar refinery identified by the eye-witness was the one formerly owned by John Schwartz [although in the light of the new evidence about Cowan, that could be said to make Dakin's old refinery the more likely one being spoken of by the eye witness].
Whether the eye-witness was recounting the same incident as in Pizer's story (and Pizer's brother's story) is a little hard to say for certain but, as both incidents were said to have occurred on Sunday 2 September, in fairly close proximity to one another, it is likely that they were the same incident and either Pizer or the eye-witness, or both of them, identified the wrong street.
If so, the sudden vehemence and ferocity of the verbal assault as described in the story told by the 'eye-witness' would certainly explain why Pizer's brother felt it advisable for Pizer to go into hiding. Knowing what we do now, we can also see from the eye-witness account -in which the woman was said to have accused Pizer of being the murderer twenty times without any 'denial' by Pizer, who merely said that he didn't know what the woman was talking about - that Pizer was utterly bemused as to what was happening when he was suddenly accused of being the Whitechapel murderer in the street.
SIMON THE BOOKIE
I don't know what mathematical qualifications Simon Wood has got but I don't think he has quite mastered an understanding of probability.
On page 379 of his book he tells us that the odds on both Nichols and Chapman, just prior to their respective murders, having had no money to pay for a bed at their lodging house, and telling the lodging house keeper that they would go and find some before coming back, are 'astronomical'.
I don't think so.
We have a situation where two women have been found murdered in the street in the early hours having probably both been soliciting. Why would they be soliciting? Probably to pay for their bed. The odds, therefore, that they would both have been unable to pay for their beds, but been optimistic that they would soon find the money, must be pretty low. Considering that it happened twice in a string of five murders we might reasonably calculate the probability as being 40%. Perhaps with odds of 5/2? Or, in strict betting terms, 3/2? Not astronomical by any means. Nor unbelievable (as Wood also claims).
But let's assume Wood is right and the chances of such a thing were highly unlikely. What is he trying to say? Were Nichols and Chapman killed by a serial killer (as he accepted in 2005), or were they murdered as part of some form of conspiracy? And if the latter, is he saying that the witnesses to their last known comments were lying or was there supposed to be some meaning in the fact that they both expected to come back to their beds? I doubt we will ever find out.
TED STANLEY AND THE COLONEL
Has Simon Wood identified the murderer of Annie Chapman?
He has certainly come up with an ingenious theory about the 'pensioner' Edward Stanley. Noting that the commanding officer of Stanley's militia reserve regiment, Colonel Hughes-Hallett, was a man who had written a newspaper article, published in New York on 7 October 1888, in which he said he had made an incognito trip to Whitechapel to investigate the murders, Wood does not think it can be a coincidence that Stanley's alibi for the murders of Tabram and Nichols was that he had been training with that same regiment.
In fact, Wood suspects that Colonel Hughes-Hallett had been slumming it in the East End under the false name of 'Edward Stanley' and was in a relationship of some sort with Annie Chapman. It is not entirely clear, however, whether Wood thinks that the Colonel actually murdered Chapman or simply that he could not face the consequences of it being known that he was living in the East End under a false name while having a relationship with a prostitute (which is why he took such extreme measures after her death to maintain his 'Stanley' persona).
Either way, with a little imagination, one can see that the Colonel, who had some amateur dramatic skills, could have appeared at the inquest as 'Edward Stanley' while ensuring that the police were provided with confirmation that 'Stanley' had been training at Gosport between 6 August and 1 September 1888, thus giving him(self) an alibi for the murders of Tabram and Nichols. One can certainly see that if the Colonel was 'Stanley', it was essential to provide 'Stanley' with an alibi for these murders and the only possible alibi could have been the training at Gosport because it was, presumably, where the Colonel himself was at that time.
The theory as set out by Wood has a three key flaws.
Firstly, it rests on the notion that Stanley (the real one) was ineligible to serve in the Colonel's regiment, the 2nd Brigade, Southern Division, Royal Artillery. As I explained in my sub-article entitled The Curious Case of the Fake Pensioner it seems that Wood is wrong about this and that Stanley could indeed have served in this regiment.
Secondly, as Wood notes (and accepts as reliable but evidently fails to appreciate the significance of), a newspaper report of an interview with the proprietor of a common lodging house at 1 Osborn Place stated that Ted Stanley had lodged there for the best part of 12 years. Would the wealthy Colonel, a member of Parliament, whom Wood describes as a gentleman and a toff, really have lived in a squalid lodging house in Whitechapel almost continuously since 1876? During that period, in March 1882, he married his second wife in Paris, having met her, as Wood notes, in Nice during the 1881 winter season. Would he really then have formed a relationship lasting the best part of two years with a common prostitute while living in Whitechapel? It doesn't make a great deal of sense.
Thirdly, if a person called 'Edward Stanley' did not exist, the Colonel could simply have let him die. No-one knew that Stanley and the Colonel was the same person and surely no-one would have accused the Colonel of being Stanley. Thus, 'Edward Stanley' could have disappeared, never to return to the East End, and no-one would ever have found him. If the Colonel was really determined to protect the secret of his relationship with Annie Chapman why present himself at the inquest and risk both exposure and humiliation?
Another factor which seems to suggest that Edward Stanley was a real person is his exchange with the coroner about whether he was a pensioner. When asked the question directly, he clearly did not want to answer, before confessing that he was not a pensioner as he had boasted to those who knew him. It was obviously humiliating for Stanley to admit this and it seems unlikely that the Colonel would have invented a character who was pretending to be a pensioner.
Nevertheless, let us assume that Wood has got it right and that Stanley was also Colonel Hughes-Hallett. Where does this get him in respect of his thesis that 'Jack the Ripper' did not exist and that the police were involved in a conspiracy relating to this?
I would suggest that the answer is nowhere. There is no reason to suppose that any police officers were complicit with the Colonel's plan. He wasn't important enough to prompt a cover-up. If the Colonel had confirmed to the police that Stanley was training in Gosport between 6 August and 1 September one could fully understand why Abberline (who may never have met the Colonel) was fooled.
In other words, if the Colonel was Stanley, it does not support a police conspiracy at all. On the contrary, as the most important part of the Colonel's cunning plan was that he was personally able to vouch for Stanley and provide him with an alibi, the ploy seems to be consistent with the police being hoodwinked.
Ultimately, Wood's theory is based on nothing more than the coincidence that Stanley's commander in the reserve had an unusual but brief interest in the Whitechapel murders. The Colonel could not have murdered Stride, Eddowes or Kelly because he departed for the United States soon after Chapman's murder.
Did the Colonel, a.k.a. Edward Stanley, actually murder Annie Chapman? Wood doesn't say so outright but he does note that the description provided by the Colonel in his newspaper article, about the type of person the Whitechapel murderer might have been, fits the description of the Colonel himself (pp.419-420). He speculates - just like any good old Jack the Ripper book author - that the Colonel might have been suffering from syphilis so that revenge was his motive. In suggesting (to the extent he does so) that the Colonel not only murdered Chapman but also Nichols and Tabram, Wood seems to have forgotten that the Colonel might just have had had a cast iron alibi himself for the Nichols and Tabram murders, assuming he was in Gosport commanding the 2nd Brigade, Southern Division, at the time of their deaths.
Having said this, research by Joe Chetcuti has established that the Colonel was in the House of Commons during the afternoon of 8 August 1888 so, on the basis that he was stationed at Gosport with his regiment during the entire period of training, he must have been able to come and go as he pleased, thus making it possible that he didn't have a cast iron alibi for any murders, but we simply don't know if he was at Gosport or not on 7 or 31 August.
Although not stated in evidence at the inquest, Stanley must himself have had a cast iron alibi for the murder of Chapman which satisfied both the police and the coroner. In his report of 19 September 1888, Abberline states that Stanley was in bed at his lodgings from midnight of 7 September to 7:00am of 8 September and this must have been checked out and confirmed by the inspector with an independent witness or witnesses. Consequently, Stanley couldn't have committed the murder.
In the absence of any additional evidence, it seems unlikely that either the Colonel or Edward Stanley murdered Annie Chapman or anyone else. Most importantly, it is even more unlikely that the police, after having spoken to Stanley and checked his story, suspected that he did.
A NOT BOLD MAN
Wood, sensationally, thinks he has found a reference to Jack the Ripper in the Star of 6 September 1888 (albeit that this reference is in the Press Reports section on the Casebook website).
On the back page of every issue of the Star at the time was a column called 'The People's Post Box'. It contained letters from members of the public and, at the bottom of the column, answers to unpublished questions to the editor (about virtually anything) in what might be considered a very early version of 'Ask Jeeves'. As the questions were not published, one usually had to guess what they were. In the Star of 30 October 1888, for example, one finds the answers:
'H.R.S. - Not yet.
ANXIOUS - We can give no further information.'
These answers only meant anything to the people who had asked the questions, in this case 'H.R.S.' and 'Anxious'.
The entry found by Wood in the Star of 6 September 1888, and which he thinks is meaningful, was addressed to 'Mothers-in-law'. It read:
'MOTHERS-IN-LAW. - The editor of The Star is a bold man, but he shrinks from the task "Jack" would impose on him.'
Wood thinks that what is going on here is that the editor of the Star, T.P. O'Connor, has been contacted by the mysterious cabal and asked to promulgate the existence of 'Jack the Ripper' but that O'Connor is giving his reply that he cannot do it. Presumably the cabal then went to the Central News Agency where the cunning plan found a more receptive audience.
Is it really likely, however, that this powerful, and no doubt wealthy, cabal was only able to communicate with O'Connor by writing to him in the name of 'Mothers-In-Law', with his reply published openly in the Star? If they had to write to him at all, rather than speak to him personally, couldn't O'Connor have written them a private response?
If, however, there was a need to remain anonymous, hence the choice or communicating via The People's Post Box, wasn't there a huge risk in revealing the plot in advance to a newspaper editor? How could they ensure the Star's silence once the plot was under way?
If Wood is right and 'Jack' was 'Jack the Ripper' then is it not far more likely that it was an enterprising journalist who was communicating with O'Connor under the name of 'Mothers-In-Law' and had asked him if he was interested in publishing a fake letter signed 'Jack the Ripper' to which proposal O'Connor declined?
This is on the basis that Wood is right about his interpretation of the message. It could be about virtually anything. Sure, someone was asking the editor of the Star to do something, but a reference to 'Jack' in early September 1888 in no way necessarily meant 'Jack the Ripper' and almost certainly did not.
Unworried by the possibility that he has misinterpreted a harmless comment, Wood suggests (p. 372) that O'Connor's knowledge that the 'Jack the Ripper' letter was a fake might explain why the Star refused to publish facsimiles of the Ripper correspondence and dismissed the whole thing as a practical joke. A rather better explanation of this, however, was suggested in Andrew Cook's 2009 book, 'Jack the Ripper', in which he tells us that the Star was not a Central News Agency client and 'never, as a matter of principle, took Central News copy'. Not terribly surprising then that it would wish to denigrate an agency story being published by its competitors.
A good example of the relations between the Star and the Central News Agency is actually found in Wood's own book (p.427) where he quotes the Star of 8 October 1888 rubbishing what we now know to be a genuine Central News Agency report that some writing had been found on a wall close to where the blood-stained part of an apron was found. Clearly the Star was going to dismiss any Central News story if it could and there was nothing surprising in the fact that it did so in the case of the 'Dear Boss' letter.
THE SINGLE EVENT
In his 1993 book, 'Jack the Myth', A.P. Wolf theorised that Michael Kidney murdered Elizabeth Stride whereas the other four canonical murders were carried out by a different man, possibly Thomas Cutbush. Three years later, as we have seen, Peter Turnbull raised the stakes by attributing all the murders to different men but he too identified Kidney as the killer of Stride.
I have already mentioned the incomprehensibility of Wood's claim that the evidence of Israel Schwartz and Matthew Packer, if given at the inquest of Elizabeth Stride, would have exposed the whole notion of the double event as an elaborate fiction. It is hard from Wood's chapter 24 to really understand what the significance of Schwartz's and Packer's evidence actually was. Was it simply that it suggested that Stride was murdered by a different hand to the hand which killed Eddowes or did their evidence actually point in some way to a particular suspect? Wood doesn't tell us.
Regarding the murder of Eddowes, Wood seems interested in discrepancies in the evidence of John Kelly (Eddowes' partner) but for what reason is unclear considering he does not seem to suspect Kelly of being the murderer.
THE PAWN TICKETS
For some reason, the two pawn tickets found next to Catherine Eddowes take on some kind of significance for Wood. He spends nine pages on the subject (pp.494-495 & 501-507) although for what purpose is unclear. He seems to have issues with both pawn tickets.
The first pawn ticket was reportedly in the name of Emily Burrell (or Birrell), for a flannel shirt, with a value of 9d. The story told by John Kelly was that it was given to Eddowes by Ms Burrell in Kent while Eddowes and Kelly were on their way back to London after hopping during the summer. Of this, Wood says something very strange. He says that Eddowes' acceptance of the pawn ticket made no fiscal sense because, after interest and pawn fee, it would have cost 10½d to redeem (p.506). Well this would be true, and it would not have made fiscal sense, if the shirt's retail value was 9d, or 10½d, but Wood does not seem to consider the possibility that the shirt had a value in excess of 10½d so that Eddowes' acceptance of the pawn ticket would then have made perfect fiscal sense.
The value of an item on a pawn ticket would invariably be a fraction of its value. In her 1983 book, Making Ends Meet: Pawnbroking and Working Class Credit, Melanie Tebbutt states that there was a great discrepancy between the pledge price and the retail value (p. 34) and that it was a common belief that a pawnbroker would only lend one third of a pawned article's value (p.87).
A good actual example can be found in the Times of 23 March 1868 which reported from Mansion House Police Court the case of James Clark, who pawned a stolen gold watch worth £20 for a mere £6 and 10 shillings. He then sold the pawn ticket to a man called William Robert Burnett at Waterloo station for 15 shillings and Burnett then redeemed the ticket for a total of £7 and 17 shillings which included £1 and 7 shillings in interest. Clearly, it was in Burnett's fiscal interest to pay 15 shillings to acquire a £6 ticket on a £20 watch.
When I raised the possibility with Wood in the Casebook forum that Burrell's flannel shirt might have been worth more than 10½d it seemed to take him by surprise.
In the thread 'Pawn Tickets in Mitre Square', I asked him if Eddowes' acceptance of the pawn ticket would have made fiscal sense if the shirt was worth more than 10½d. In his eighth flustered response to that question, he finally gave something close to an answer when he said:
'Catherine Eddowes may well have said to herself, "Tenpence halfpenny; that's cheap for a flannel shirt, John, if it fits you. They cost four bob in that shop on Commercial Road."'
In other words, although he refused to confirm it in terms, he seemed to be saying that it would have made fiscal sense for Eddowes to have spent 10½d redeeming a pawn ticket for a shirt worth more than 10½d. Not terribly surprising. It's fairly basic economics after all.
So what's the problem?
Well, Wood seems to think that Eddowes would not have known that the flannel shirt was worth more than 10½d. If so, he hasn't read his own book. The Star of 3 October 1888, which Wood quotes on page 506 of his book, carries an interview with John Kelly in which Kelly said that the woman known as Emily Burrell told Eddowes (underlining added):
'I have got a pawn ticket for a flannel shirt. I wish you'd take it, since you're going up to town. It is only in for 9d., and it may fit your old man.'
The word 'only' here, as in 'only in for 9d', can only have one meaning, namely that the shirt was worth significantly more than 9d. Thus to the question, how did Eddowes and Kelly know that the shirt was worth more than 10½d, it wasn't simply that all pawned items were pawned for a fraction of their true value, but, in this case, they had effectively been told so by Burrell.
Wood, in any event, makes far too much of this issue, even fretting about whether the shirt would have fitted Kelly. Burrell would have been able to estimate that Kelly was roughly the right size and Kelly probably wasn't expecting a bespoke, made to measure, Savile Row shirt.
Accepting a pawn ticket was hardly a burden for Eddowes. It didn't weigh very much. She could have sold it, swapped it, redeemed it or thrown it away. Perhaps she was just being polite in taking it from Emily Burrell. Who knows, but why does it matter?
Wood thinks she couldn't have redeemed it because, as he told me on the Casebook Forum:
'Catherine Eddowes pawned Johns boots under the name Jane Kelly, so she could not have passed herself off as Emily Burrel to redeem the shirt. Joseph Jones and his son made a number of expert witness appearances at the Old Bailey. He kept strict accounts and was very proper about such things.'
The problem identified by Wood, however, did not exist. According to the Pawnbrokers Act of 1872 at Section 25:
'The holder for the time being of a pawn-ticket shall be presumed to be the person entitled to redeem the pledge, and, subject to the provisions of the Act, the Pawnbroker shall accordingly (on payment of the loan and profit) deliver the pledge to the person producing the pawn-ticket, and he be hereby indemnified for so doing.'
In other words, the pawnbroker was legally obliged to return the goods to the person who handed in the ticket regardless of whether that person's name was on the ticket.
Everyone who used pawnbrokers in the nineteenth century knew this, not least because, printed on the reverse of every single pawn ticket, by law, was the following:
'...the Pawnbroker will be bound to deliver the pledge to any person who produces this ticket to him and claims to redeem the same.'
One could even advertise pawn tickets for sale in newspapers, as the Leeds Mercury of 14 November 1903 confirmed:
'In our opinion, it would be perfectly legal to advertise a pawn-ticket for sale. The Pawnbrokers Act provides that the holder for the time being of a pawn-ticket is to be presumed to be the person entitled to redeem the pledge, and the pawnbroker must in payment of the loan and profit, deliver the pledge to the person producing the ticket. The property in the ticket, therefore, passes by delivery (subject to any notice being given to the pawnbroker by the true owner of the pledge) and may be freely sold by the person entitled to it.'
It didn't matter, therefore, that Kate Eddowes was not Emily Burrell and she did not need to pass herself off as Emily Burrell to redeem the shirt.
In any case, who was this paragon of virtue, Joseph Jones? How does Wood know he was 'very proper'? He is certainly wrong to say that Jones and his son 'made a number of expert witness appearances at the Old Bailey' (something he also says in his book on page 502 to prove that Jones was not a shady character in the world of Whitechapel pawnbroking). Unfortunately, Wood got himself confused as to the difference between an expert witness and a witness of fact (although, in fairness to him, when I pointed this error out on the Casebook Forum in February 2016 he immediately admitted it, blaming a misreading of his notes).
Joseph Jones was never an expert witness for the police. He was a prosecution witness (of fact) a number of times but that was almost invariably because he kept accepting stolen goods from people who usually gave him fake names!
One pertinent example occurred in March 1879 when he gave evidence at the Old Bailey in the trial of George Brown and William Eccles for burglary. Susan Curtis testified that she was asked by Eccles to pawn some boots he had given her (which he had stolen) and to ask six shillings for them. Joseph Jones gave evidence at the trial confirming that the boots in question were pawned with him by Susan Curtis for five shillings and sixpence but in the false name of 'Susan Hickels' with a false address of 6 Paternoster Row (whereas Curtis lived at 56 Flower and Dean Street).
Another example of the 'very proper' pawnbroking practices of Mr Jones can be seen in a further appearance at the Old Bailey in November 1888 at the trial of John Edwards for theft. Elizabeth Jones testified that she pawned a shawl with Joseph Jones on 23 October 1888 on behalf of Edwards in the name of 'Reed' (although she gave a correct address of 1 Vine Street). Jones said in his evidence, 'I do not recognise the girl', which says a lot for his memory of his clientele.
Earlier, in December 1887, Jones gave evidence that he had accepted a stolen overcoat pawned by Rudolph Kotcher who gave him the name of 'Charles Smith'. Jones said: 'I made the usual inquiries of him as to whether it was his own property, and he said "Yes," but he was short of money.' Jones had not quite got to the bottom of the matter for Kotcher was convicted of theft of the overcoat, and other items, and sentenced to fifteen months hard labour.
Being a prosecution witness, in short, was no guarantee of probity. In my book, The Camden Town Murder Mystery, I tell the story of a prosecution witness in the trial of Robert Wood for murder in 1907 called John William Crabtree who had a string of previous convictions in England for theft and brothel keeping (and who had only recently been released from licence from prison at the time he gave his evidence) not to mention a number of convictions in New Zealand of which the British police were unaware. Another dodgy prosecution witness who springs to mind is the serial killer John Christie who gave evidence at the trial of Timothy Evans which helped to convict him of murder in 1950.
As to why Emily gave Eddowes the ticket in the first place, the answer seems to be in the Star's report, namely that Emily was going to Chatham, not London. The ticket was worthless unless it could be redeemed and it couldn't be redeemed from Chatham. It was just a small friendly gesture by someone who couldn't use the ticket anyway.
On the Casebook Forum, Wood told me:
'Personally, I doubt the provenance of the Emily Burrell pawn ticket.'
However, apart from any good reason to doubt the provenance, he doesn't tell us in his book what he thinks the provenance of the ticket actually was or why it is in any way significant to anything. If Kelly was lying about it to the press, so what? Perhaps it was stolen by Eddowes from Emily Burrell. Perhaps Eddowes herself was Emily Burrell and the flannel shirt was stolen. It just doesn't seem to matter at all.
Wood also has issues about the pawn ticket for Kelly's boots. It is true that John Kelly got his chronology of events muddled up but, as he admitted at the inquest, he and Eddowes had spent 'the greater part' of the two shillings and sixpence obtained from the pawning of his boots on food and drink (Times, 5 October 1888), probably most of it on drink. His recollection of events was, thus, probably distorted by the effects of alcohol.
Many of the problems Wood identifies are solved if one assumes that the boots were pawned on the morning of Friday 28 October and that Kelly and Eddowes then spent most of the money on alcohol during the day, leaving them broke again. We may certainly note that, while Kelly originally thought the boots were pawned on Saturday morning, he eventually agreed that the boots were 'pledged last Friday'.
Unless Wood is able to tell us why it actually matters, then why should we care about when the boots were pledged?
THE CITY POLICE
Was the City Police involved in the alleged conspiracy? A comment by Wood on page 494 of his book suggests it might have been.
One of Wood's tactics is to take two contradictory newspaper reports, or a newspaper report and a police report, and, finding that they don't match, to leave hanging in the air the notion that some form of conspiracy is going on. At almost any time that a newspaper report conflicts with a police account, Wood does not question whether the newspaper might have got its facts wrong but automatically assumes that the police are up to no good, or at least that is the impression he tries to give the reader.
A classic example is in respect of what the City Police are supposed to have told a reporter from the Echo about the pawn tickets found next to the body of Catherine Eddowes. After quoting from an article in the Echo in which it was stated that a reporter of that newspaper had been informed that morning by an officer of the City Police at Old Jewry that the name of a man appeared on one of the tickets, Wood says (p.494) that the City Police were 'dispensing faulty information'. To make good this point, Wood relies on the Pall Mall Gazette of 1 October 1888 which states that the names given on the tickets were Emily Burrell and Jane Kelly respectively.
There are five issues worth commenting on here:
1. Wood assumes that the City Police were giving out faulty information as opposed to the reporter from the Echo misunderstanding what he was told or making a mistake. Why?
2. Even if the City Police gave out faulty information, so that an official of the City Police made a mistake, so what? What possible meaning could it have which has led Wood to point it out? Wood, of course, does not say anything about the significance of the police giving faulty information but leaves it to the reader to imagine that something untoward was going on.
3. Why does Wood assume that the Pall Mall Gazette reporter was more accurate than the Echo reporter? Were the names "Emily Burrell" and "Jane Kelly" definitely correct? Some other newspapers said the names were "Emily Birrell" and "Anne Kelly". If "Jane Kelly" was wrong then perhaps the second ticket said "John Kelly" and the Echo was right after all.
4. Wood wrongly dates the Echo's report as being in its edition of 1 October 1888. It was not. It was in its edition of 2 October 1888 and thus came after the Pall Mall Gazette report. Yet, the way Wood tells it, it would seem as if that the Echo obtained its information from the City Police in the morning of 1 October, only for the Pall Mall Gazette to get it right a bit later on during the same day. With the true chronology placing the Echo's report after the report in the Pall Mall Gazette, Wood will have difficulty telling the story in a way that indicates something untoward happening.
5. If the City Police was dispensing faulty information then where did the Pall Mall Gazette get its own (correct, according to Wood) information from? Surely it got the names of Jane Kelly and Emily Burrell from the City Police. The same City Police that was dispensing faulty information to the Echo. It doesn't make sense!
JACK IN THE HOUSE?
In a dizzying passage of his book (pp.456-457), Wood, certain that everything the police did had an ulterior motive, and noting that a house-to-house search failed to find the murderer, wonders if the search was no more than a pretext allowing the authorities to compile an unofficial head count of Jews, foreigners and anarchists living in London. But, then again, he wonders if the large number of police brought into London at this time (presumably to help carry out the searches) was connected with a reported plot by the Invincibles to assassinate Arthur Balfour. But then again, these plots were all British government fantasies weren't they? For once, he questions the accuracy of newspaper reports and suggests that the idea of such an Irish assassination plot should be treated with as much caution as the 'bogus' 1887 Jubilee Plot.
The reader is spinning around. Who? Where? What is going on? What is he actually talking about?
One of Wood's non-points is that the Central News Agency sat on the 'Dear Boss' letter for two days, having thought it to be a joke and then suddenly, for no apparent reason, decided to send it to Chief Constable Williamson causing him to wonder why they had belatedly decided to forward it (p. 438). But is this a fair interpretation of what happened?
I think not. The 'Dear Boss' letter was postmarked Thursday 27 September 1888 which means it could have been received late that evening (after the editor had gone home) or on the Friday morning. Either way, the 'boss' might not have seen it until the Friday morning. After having originally been thought to be a joke, it was evidently decided that it would be a good idea to send it to the police, which it was on Saturday. In other words, it might have been sent the very day after it was seen by the editor of the Central News Agency.
For that reason, and bearing in mind that the Central News Agency could have had no idea that another murder would be committed that weekend, it is unlikely that Chief Constable Williamson spent any time wondering why the letter had not been sent to him on the Friday instead of the Saturday.
JACK THE POSTER BOY
The response of the Metropolitan Police to the 'Dear Boss' letter seems to be a key factor in the success of the cabal's plot. Explaining why it is unlikely that the letter was conceived by a journalist (pp. 445-446), Wood says that the success of the letter rested with someone in authority at Scotland Yard taking it seriously. A journalist could not be certain, he tells us, that Sir Charles Warren might not dismiss the letter 'and toss it into his wastepaper basket' (p.446). He also tells us (p.442) that the ultimate decision to put up posters of the correspondence around London rested with Sir Charles Warren.
But hold on. Does that mean that Sir Charles Warren was in on the whole 'Jack the Ripper' hoax? I'm confused. Wasn't the purpose of the hoax to put so much pressure on Sir Charles that he would be forced to resign when the murderer was not caught and thus be replaced by Monro? Was Sir Charles Warren in on a plot to force his own resignation?
I don't know the answer.
Wood, incidentally, is not impressed with the decision to plaster the correspondence across London in an attempt to identify the killer (pages 31 & 439). Even if the letter had actually been from the killer, says Wood, it was a calculated risk due to 'public reaction' and the costs of printing and distributing the posters. It's funny that Wood is worried about administrative expenditure because elsewhere he gives the impression that the police should have done everything possible to catch the murderer. On page 20 of his book, for example, he appears to be strongly critical of Sir Charles Warren for not being able to give the savage murders of four East End women his undivided attention.
Further, on page 453, Wood refers to the 'limited scope' of 80,000 leaflets circulated by the police to local house occupiers because they were all in English, not Yiddish, German, Russian, Polish or any other language then spoken by the residents of Whitechapel. So he seems to think that more money should have been spent on translated versions.
The English speaking public, however, seemed to cope with posters of the correspondence, which had already been reported in the newspapers, being plastered around London without any of the unrest of which Wood fears (although he seems to take a more relaxed view of the possibility of unrest in respect of the writing on the wall, referring to the destruction of what might have been 'vital evidence' on page 433). He is surely wrong to say that the scare which gripped London and the world would never have happened had it not been for the decision to circulate the posters around London on 6 October (p.31). There was an enormous amount of press comment in the first five days of October and it was unquestionably the murders of Stride and Eddowes, followed by Mary Jane Kelly in November, which truly caused the scare.
In saying that the reasoning behind the decision to publicise the 'Dear Boss' letter was hard to discern (p.31) and suggesting that it was a bad idea to publicise it, even if it was written by the murderer (p.439), perhaps Wood did not have in mind the case of another Wood, Robert, which occurred in 1907. Then, a postcard was found in the room of Emily Dimmock, who had been brutally murdered with her throat cut, and a massive publicity campaign in the press, orchestrated at Scotland Yard by the then Assistant Commissioner, Sir Melville Macnaghten, with reproductions of the postcard being circulated, ensured that Wood's former girlfriend recognized the handwriting and, subsequently, informed the police, enabling Robert Wood to be arrested (as set out in my own book, The Camden Town Murder Mystery). Although acquitted, he confessed he had been the last known person to see her alive. So the idea to try and catch the murderer by his handwriting was by no means a hopeless one.
MARY JANE KELLY
The murder of Mary Jane Kelly is, for Wood, the most important of the batch.
Wood's suspicions are aroused by the fact that everyone involved, both police and public, immediately seemed to think that the fact that a woman was found murdered and mutilated in Whitechapel meant that 'Jack the Ripper' had again been at work, despite it having been over a month since the last such murder (p.520). He appears to be puzzled as to why people instantly assumed it was a Ripper murder although, to me at least, it seems an obvious assumption for everyone to have made.
In his narrative account of the murder, Wood does his very best to whip up evidence of police mendacity and withheld evidence but fails time after time.
Noting that Inspector Abberline told the inquest that he arrived at Miller's Court at about 11:30am on 9 November, within half an hour of the discovery of the murder, Wood tell us that it would have been impossible for Abberline to have arrived from Scotland Yard so quickly due to the Lord Mayor's Day road closures (p.521). This is very strange because in his May 2006 article in Ripperologist 67, 'Return to Millers Court', Wood said that Abberline was probably based at Leman Street at the time. In this respect, Neil R. A. Bell notes in his book, Capturing Jack the Ripper: In the Boots of a Bobby in Victorian London, that Abberline had been moved back from Scotland Yard to Whitechapel to work with Local Inspector Reid during the period of the murders. Consequently, Abberline would indeed have been based at a police station only a few minutes walk from Dorset Street.
Wood then picks up on a supposed discrepancy involving the timing of events at Scotland Yard but gets himself in a muddle. It's all based on the fact that he thinks that Sir Charles Warren did not receive news of the murder until 12:30pm and he contrasts this with newspaper reports suggesting that Scotland Yard was aware of the news much earlier (pp.522-523) However, - as I explained in The Missing Hour, Found! Wood has misinterpreted a document in the Home Office files which bears the time of 12:30pm. This was clearly the time that the Home Office received a handwritten letter from Sir Charles Warren informing them of Kelly's murder. It wasn't the time that Sir Charles Warren found out about it.
What is interesting is that Wood has, in fact, deleted a sentence in his paperback saying that Warren found out about the murder at 12.30pm. In his e-book, the paragraph in which Wood said that it would have been impossible for Abberline to have arrived from Scotland Yard so quickly, concluded, '...especially as news of the murder had not been received by Sir Charles Warren until 12.30pm' but this has been deleted in its entirety from the paperback (p.521). Perhaps it is an acknowledgment by Wood that he made a mistake in his e-book. If so, his editing process does not seem to have been very thorough because there is a sentence (on p.523) which says that Warren did not receive news of the murder until 'an hour-and-a-half hour later [than 11:00am]'. Regardless of what is going on in the editing, there is nothing in the point.
Equally, there is nothing in Wood's bafflement as to how Superintendent Arnold reached Scotland Yard by just after 11 o'clock in the morning, had a conversation with Anderson and returned to Millers Court by 1:30pm. From Anderson's interview with the New York Sun on 14 November 1888, which is a new addition to the paperback, and the source of the information that Arnold was at Scotland Yard at the time the news reached Scotland Yard about Kelly's murder, it is evident that Arnold was there on a visit unconnected with the Kelly murder.
In fact, Police Orders of 6 November 1888 show that Superintendent Arnold (the superintendent of H Division) was assigned, with a team of 50 constables, to duties in Chancery Lane during the Lord Mayor's Parade on 9 November from 12:30pm. Those Police Orders (MEPO 7/50) also state:
'The Superintendents on duty are to attend this Office [i.e. Scotland Yard] at 11:30am 9th inst. for any further instructions which may be necessary.'
This undoubtedly explains why Superintendent Arnold was with Assistant Commissioner Anderson at Scotland Yard that morning when the news of the murder in Millers Court came in by telegraph.
There is certainly no reason to suppose that Arnold first travelled from Dorset Street to Scotland Yard other than some obviously inaccurate newspaper reports. As he stated in his evidence at the inquest, Superintendent Arnold did not arrive at Millers Court until 1:30pm which is perfectly consistent with him having been at Scotland Yard when the news of the murder came in and him perhaps struggling to travel across London due to the Lord Mayor's Day Show.
As a result of his misunderstanding of the evidence, Wood thinks that someone is not telling the truth (p. 524). If he wasn't so determined to believe that all police officers are liars he would appreciate that Abberline's evidence that he remained outside Miller's Court until 1:30pm, when Arnold gave orders for the door to be forced, is exactly what happened.
We may note in passing that Wood fails to correct his error (p.523) that Warren informed Charles Stuart-Wortley, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office, of the Kelly murder which is a mistake based on his failure to understand that a letter from the Commissioner addressed to the Under Secretary of State at the Home Office was a reference to the Permanent Under Secretary, Godfrey Lushington (as explained in The Missing Hour, Found!.
Naturally, Wood makes sceptical comments about the bloodhounds. I have set out the story of the bloodhounds in On The Trail of the Bloodhounds which I would only add that the Lord Mayor's Day Procession, which might have prevented Superintendent Arnold travelling quickly from Scotland Yard to the murder scene, in order to rescind the order to wait until the bloodhounds arrived, could explain the amount of time that Abberline was required to kick his heels outside 13 Miller's Court.
In response to the New York Sun story in which Anderson said that Arnold begged him not to send bloodhounds to Whitechapel, Wood (in a new passage in the paperback version of his book) comments caustically that Superintendent Arnold must have been begging Anderson not to send non-existent dogs to Millers Court (p.524). It is possible that Sir Charles had not informed Anderson and Arnold that the bloodhounds had been removed from London (about which he himself had only recently been informed) but it is equally possible that Anderson did not want to reveal to a journalist the total confusion within Scotland Yard that morning about the whereabouts of the bloodhounds, and whether their use was still possible, so told the story as if the decision not to use them was taken in a rather calmer fashion than was actually the case.
Then we have Wood wondering why the door to Kelly's room was forced when police and doctors already had access to the room (p. 525). By 'access to the room', Wood seems to be referring to a report in the Times which mentioned the removal of one of the windows. Does Wood really think that the divisional surgeon and a procession of police officers should all have climbed into Kelly's room through the window? Forcing the door open with an axe was hardly a difficult operation, which would have taken only a few seconds, so it is hardly surprising that an entrance through the door (which none of the police officers knew at that stage could be opened by putting one's hand through the window) was the preferred method of entry.
Fooled by a poorly written and misleading newspaper report which seems to suggest that Joseph Barnett told a journalist that Mary Kelly had a young boy living with her (although he said no such thing), Wood mistakenly thinks that the arrival of Dr John Rees Gabe at Millers Court had something to do with this boy (who did not in fact exist) whereas it was probably due to the fact that Gabe, a surgeon with gynaecological knowledge, was the medical officer of the London Dispensary just around the road from Dorset Street.
I set this all out in my articles 'The Mysterious Dr Gabe' and 'Gynaecologist Society' to which Wood has never responded. The really interesting thing about Wood spending a couple of pages on the issue is that he never tells us what the significance of Kelly having a child is to his thesis. Even a certainly inaccurate newspaper story that Wood has found in the Galveston Daily News of 11 December 1888 (a step up from the Te Ahora News which was used in his e-book), saying that the little boy had seen the murderer, makes clear that he could not remember the man's face so he was hardly going to ruin any plot that the authorities were trying to hide. It's almost as if Wood thinks that any sort of police cover-up proves his thesis even if he can't tell us why the police were engaging in the cover-up.
One thing we can safely take from Wood's book about the murder of Mary Kelly is that it wasn't committed by the same person who killed Nichols and Chapman and, presumably, Eddowes - someone we might want to call 'Jack the Ripper' - nor (one assumes) by the same person who killed Stride. Yet, he tells us, the Metropolitan Police did not want to discourage the press and public from believing Kelly to have been murdered by 'Jack the Ripper' (p.536). So what does he think was going on?
As we know from his hints at the end of chapter 27 of his book, Wood believes that Kelly might have been killed as a result of a Special Branch operation. He doesn't say so in so many words but he presumably thinks that Special Branch wanted Kelly dead for some reason and deliberately and opportunistically mutilated her to make it look like the work of Jack the Ripper. In doing so, Special Branch took a bit of a risk that the man who committed the previous murders did not come forward and confess to them while having a rock solid alibi for the murder of Kelly. There might have been awkward questions for someone to answer had this been the case. Perhaps the murderer of Nichols, Chapman and Eddowes might have been discovered to have committed suicide in October. Would that not have ruined the cunning plan?
In any case, if Special Branch really wanted Kelly murdered couldn't they have made it look like an accident? Did they really need to put one of their operatives at risk of getting caught red handed while mutilating Kelly's body? Surely that man would have been torn apart had the locals found him. The whole idea seems, well a bit, Stephen Knightish. A bit Final Solutionesque. No?
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 e-book in March and his paperback in December 2015, Wood appears to have taken a look at the same transcript because he reproduces five questions and answers from it in his paperback (pp. 35-36) which were not in the e-book. His interest in the transcript is in Swanson's evidence that he was involved in the Whitechapel murder investigation from September to December 1888.
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.
CHIEF INSPECTOR SWANSON
On the subject of Swanson we may note that Wood tells us (p.20) that not every paper, document and report concerning the Whitechapel murders passed across his desk as Sir Charles Warren had intended. 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.
It's not entirely clear from the book why Wood thinks that Swanson was unaware of this correspondence but it's hardly important. Swanson was instructed by Sir Charles Warren to be his eyes and ears. Sir Charles did not need Swanson to be his eyes and ears in respect of his own correspondence. There was simply no operational need for Sir Charles to trouble Swanson with this high level diplomatic correspondence which also involved the Home Office. If the information provided the name of the murderer all well and good, if not Swanson did not need to know.
On page 91 of his paperback (also included in his e-book), Wood quotes from an 1890 memo of Godfrey Lushington to the Home Secretary, at a time when consideration was being given to backing Jarvis' libel action against Labouchere, in which Lushington is worried that there might have been 'questionable proceedings on the part of the Government or Police Agents' which could come to light in the course of a trial with damaging consequences. He recommended that the Home Secretary might want to consult the Prime Minister.
Wood uses this as evidence to show that the Government was not eager for a public hearing. However, the fact is that the Home Secretary subsequently gave his express approval for Jarvis to commence legal proceedings. Had the Government wanted to avoid a public hearing, the Home Secretary could have said that under no circumstances was Jarvis to bring a legal action; yet that legal action was given the Government's blessing. Wood fails to provide any explanation as to why the proceedings were given the go-ahead if the Government was opposed.
I would submit that the memo shows the direct opposite of what Wood wants us to believe. For Lushington is clearly saying that he is unaware as to whether there were any questionable proceedings on the part of the police or not. In his memo he uses the phrase 'if there have been any questionable proceedings' showing that neither he nor the Home Secretary knew that there had been any questionable or illegal police actions.
Just look at the letter sent by Sir Charles Warren to Ruggles-Brise in October 1888 discussing the possibility of the police conducting (illegal) house-to-house searches, as quoted by Wood at pages 424-425 of his book. In that letter, Sir Charles stated that he was prepared to take the responsibility of adopting the most drastic or arbitrary measures that the Home Secretary could name in order to arrest the murderer, 'however illegal they may be'. The proviso, however, was that 'H.M. Gov will support me' and 'the Government will indemnify us for our actions'. It's clear that Sir Charles was not going to ask his men to commit illegal acts without the approval of the Government.
In part 4 of the Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy, I set out the deep concerns expressed by Commissioner Monro in 1890 that his officers would be acting illegally in arresting a suspect for a misdemeanour without being in physical possession of the warrant for their arrest. The Home Secretary was informed that 'Mr Monro is not prepared to allow his officers to run any such risks or to carry out an illegal system' (MEPO 2/186). Monro repeatedly pressed the Home Secretary for legislation which would avoid the need for his officers to 'act in violation of the law'.
From the attitude shown by both Commissioners, how likely is it that either of them would have authorized illegal acts to be committed by their officers without the knowledge and approval of the Home Office? Yet, in Godfrey Lushington's 1890 memo in respect of the Jarvis proceedings, as we have seen, it is clear that the Home Office has no knowledge of any questionable, let alone illegal, activities carried out by Scotland Yard.
Would Monro have allowed his officers to conduct such unapproved activities? Surely not, is the answer. His overriding concern at all times was the protection and welfare of his men. As I showed in part 4 of the Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy, this was the very reason why he resigned when he felt their pensions were not sufficient.
As Wood raises the Cleveland Street scandal (pp.48-49), it is worth noting that Monro was not, as Wood seems to think, obsessed with arresting homosexual aristocrats. His concern about the Cleveland Street scandal, and the reason why he might have threatened to resign if a warrant was not issued for the arrest of Lord Arthur Somerset, was that the press and public believed that the failure to issue that warrant was the fault of the Metropolitan Police. This was damaging the reputation of the Commissioner and his police force. We can see this in Monro's letter to the Home Office about the Hammond case dated 21 October 1889 in which he said (HO 144/477/X2427):
'I cannot but feel that throughout this case the Police have not been fairly treated, and charges have been, and are still being made against them, which are absolutely groundless, and which are calculated seriously to affect their reputation. I have up till now been unsuccessful in getting any definite instructions on the case, and the result has been that the most undeserved odium has been cast upon the Police which certainly should not be allowed to rest upon them.'
On the same date, Monro wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions asking, 'whether the charge against the nobleman in question with reference to which there is evidence in possession of yourself and the Police, is to be proceeded with' and, he said:
'Inaction has been publicly attributed to the Metropolitan Police in connection with this case, and this assertion, absolutely groundless as it is, has now been magnified into an accusation against the Police of having brought an unfounded charge against the nobleman in question.'
It was for this reason, and this reason only, that Monro pressed for the issuance of the warrant against Somerset. Thus said Monro to the DPP on 21 October 1889:
'It is obvious that I cannot allow the reputation of the Police to be thus unfairly assailed, and I must press for definite information as to the action which is to be taken by you, in the case referred to....I cannot but consider it unfair to the Metropolitan Police that their action should be, on account of this delay, exposed to the criticisms and misinterpretation to which I have called your attention, especially when, as you are aware, such criticisms are altogether groundless and calculated seriously to affect the reputation of the Police.'
Once a warrant was issued, the criticisms of the Metropolitan Police died away and Monro was satisfied. As I stated in the quadrilogy, Wood is wrong to link this issue, which arose in 1889, with Monro's resignation in 1890 but the key point here is that Monro was acutely concerned about the reputation of his force. He was not going to authorize illegal activities of Scotland Yard officers either in the United Kingdom or abroad.
Wood does like to reproduce a quote of Robert Anderson from 1898 referring to 'unlawful' activities being carried out ('I wish to state emphatically that in recent years the Police have succeeded only by straining the law, or in plain English, by doing utterly unlawful things...'). As I showed in part 1 of the Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy, in respect of a similar comment by Anderson, this referred to little more than surveillance of foreign anarchists in the 1890s - perhaps other counter measures against them too, such as interception of mail - but nothing that we would today regard as anything extraordinary.
I am sure that Anderson chose his words carefully and it is important to recognize the subtle distinction between 'illegal' and 'unlawful'. An illegal act is one expressly forbidden by law, and thus against the law, so that a criminal sanction could be applied, whereas an unlawful act is one which is not authorized by law but not actually forbidden by it.
At this point, we should pause and ask ourselves whether inquiries made by Scotland Yard officers in North America regarding Irish Nationalist crime (whether to assist the Times or not) would have been illegal. Despite asking the question on Casebook, no-one has been able to tell me what laws would have been broken had such inquiries been carried out. Such inquiries might have been unlawful, although, as it was perfectly legitimate for Jarvis to carry out inquiries into the background of Cream in North America, even this is not clear. There was nothing, apparently, to prevent a private company (the London and North Western Railway company) paying for a Scotland Yard officer to hunt for Thomas Barton in North America so even if the Times had paid for officers to carry out an investigation for them in North America there is a grey area as to whether that would have been illegal, unlawful or simply politically unacceptable. If Scotland Yard sent officers to North America to assist the Times, yet the taxpayer was paying for it, no doubt that would have caused a big stink but could anyone have gone to prison for it? The answer is uncertain.
Another quote that Wood likes, and includes at the start of his book, is equally misleading. It is from an 1889 book by a former police officer, Charles Tempest Clarkson, assisted by journalist J. Hall Richardson, called 'Police!', mentioned earlier. The book is very supportive of the police but Wood finds a quote which, taken out of context, makes it sound sinister. The full passage, which comes from the book's preface, with the parts quoted by Wood in red, is below:
'THERE is a good deal of unnecessary mystery about the police. It leads to considerable misunderstanding. Official reticence has been fostered by successive Home Secretaries, but this policy of secrecy may not altogether be of benefit to the public. Certainly there are some disadvantages. For example, the police have had no historian. There is not an officer in the metropolitan force, at all events, who dares place on record a faithful account of the service to which he belongs. Consequently the public are dependent for their information upon incomplete intelligence in the daily press, supplemented by casual magazine articles, and spasmodic "revelations," all more or less garnished with fiction.'
Read out of context, it might seem like the authors were saying that no police officer in the Metropolitan Police dared to tell the truth about the force so that the public was fed an official diet of lies by the authorities, something which is entirely consistent with what Wood believed happened. When read in context, however, it is clear that Clarkson and Hall Richardson were only saying that because there was no official account of the workings of the police force - serving officers not being allowed under the rules to speak about their work - all the public knew about it was rubbish that they got from the newspapers. It was, in other words, a pro-police point that was being made, not an anti-police point. The book was being published to set the record straight.
Wood omits to mention that the authors state on page 170 that:
'At the time of the Jubilee the real danger was not to be feared from the populace of the capital, but from American emissaries upon whom Mr. Monro, then chief of the Criminal Investigation Department, had kept a watchful eye.'
It is then said that Monro was 'instrumental in frustrating' a plot referred to as 'the Jubilee plot' (the one, remember, Wood says didn't exist). Clearly, when the authors referred to stories being garnished with fiction, they did not mean to doubt the existence of the Jubilee Plot.
RECONSTRUCTING CONSTRUCTIVE DISMISSAL
In part 4 of my Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy, as stated above, I set out in detail the reasons why Monro's resignation was clearly connected to his opposition to the Government's policy on police pensions and, in the third part of the Suckered! Trilogy, 'The Thomas Barton Affair', showed that it had nothing whatsoever to do with the Labouchere libel proceedings against Inspector Jarvis.
As part of Wood's argument that something funny was going on with the resignation, he made the point in his e-book that Monro appeared to have more than sufficient grounds to press a case for constructive dismissal but instead 'obediently rolled over'. In part 4 of my Suckered! Plus Quadrilogy I pointed out that the concept of constructive dismissal was not recognized in English law in 1888 so that there is nothing in the point.
Wood has accepted this but instead of deleting what was a bad point he has tried to keep it alive by saying that Monro would have had a case for constructive dismissal 'had such a procedure been in place at the time' (p.45). The addition of this caveat, accepting that there was no legal procedure in place for Monro to claim for constructive dismissal, makes a nonsense of his point (which remains in the paperback) that by not taking any action Monro 'obediently rolled over'. There was literally nothing else that Monro could have done. He had resigned of his own free will and that was it. There was no legal action he could then have taken. So he didn't obediently roll over. He simply resigned and that was that.
LABOUCHERE SEES INTO THE FUTURE
In October 1888, Henry Labouchere referred to the letters published in the Times in April 1887 which had been ascribed to Parnell as 'forgeries'. Wood finds this 'intriguing' because, he says, it wasn't until February 1889 that they were publicly exposed as such (p.439).
What Wood thinks was going on here is anyone's guess but it certainly wasn't intriguing. Parnell publicly claimed that the letters were forgeries as soon as the first one attributed to him was published which was, of course, the whole reason for the establishment of the Special Commission. Patrick Egan, who possessed copies of letters by Pigott, believed he recognized Pigott's handwriting in the 'Parnell' letter, and submitted samples of Pigott's handwriting to a committee of cashiers who concluded that Pigott was the author of the letter (as reported in the Dundee Evening Telegraph of 10 May 1887). Before this, Pigott had been publicly identified as the Times' source of the letter by Labouchere himself in Truth of 21 April 1887, with Labouchere describing the 'Parnell' letter as 'a clumsy forgery'. Labouchere, with his many Irish Nationalist contacts, including Patrick Egan, hardly needed a crystal ball to see what was coming.
Wood spends a fair amount of time discussing the various individuals suspected by senior police officers of committing the Whitechapel murders. Personally I accept that no senior officers are likely to have known the identity of the Ripper so it's a lot of hot air but I assume that Wood's point is something more than this, namely that these senior officers were deliberately throwing up smokescreens, pretending that they knew the identity of Jack the Ripper when they were fully aware that there was no such person.
The main flaw in his argument (to the extent it is capable of being understood) is that he seems to say that if Monro believed that a certain murder after 1888 was by Jack the Ripper then Anderson, Swanson et al must also have believed the same thing (see e.g. p.178). If one officer, or former officer, in the Metropolitan Police thought that the Ripper was still alive after 1888 then, suggests Wood, every other officer should have thought the same. Equally, if one officer thought the Ripper was dead or in prison at some point after 1888 there is something noteworthy for Wood in another officer thinking he was still alive or at liberty.
The Metropolitan Police force, however, did not have a single brain. It was comprised of a collection of individuals, all of whom probably had their own pet theories as to the identity of Jack the Ripper but all of whom probably only 'thought they knew'. There is nothing remarkable, untoward or suspicious in the fact that different officers had different, and conflicting, views on the case.
As for errors of recollection as to the facts, this doesn't necessarily undermine the credibility of a theory. Police officials were capable of making mistakes just like journalists, internet posters and book writers. To give one example of error in an official police report to the Home Secretary, Robert Anderson wrote on 19 November 1888:
'I may mention for the information of Mr Secretary Matthews that Rowland I.G. Barnett was in custody (for an offence committed in England about 5 years ago) when the papers for his surrender under the Fugitive Offenders Act were received from Canada.'
There are three mistakes in Anderson's report. Barnett's name was Roland not Rowland, his middle initials were G.I. not I.G (although that was a common error and it would not be surprising if Barnett himself got it wrong) but, more importantly, Barnett was in custody at the time for an offence committed in 1879 which was nine years earlier than the time Anderson was writing, not five years.
Anderson should have known the date of the offence for which Barnett was being held by Scotland Yard but there is no significance in the fact that he got it wrong other than that he made a simple error of fact.
There is also a tendency by Wood to exaggerate. For example, on page 130 of his book, Wood quotes Melville Macnaghten's 1894 memorandum in the Home Office files as mentioning three men - Druitt, Kosminski and Ostrog - 'any one of whom would have been more likely than Cutbush to have committed this series of murders'. That is not a very strong accusation against anyone, and is hardly 'final and conclusive', yet only a few pages later, on page 149, Wood describes Fred Abberline's comment that there was no final and conclusive solution to the matter as meaning that Macnaghten's 1894 memorandum was 'not worth the paper it was written on'. There is no real need for Wood to make this type of comment but he is so determined to try and show that senior officers were making contradictory statements that he leads himself into making overblown comments of this type.
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.
In any event, Dr Bond's opinion was not provided to the Home Office (by Robert Anderson) until 13 November 1888 and bears a Home Office received stamp of 14 November 1888 (HO 144/221/A49301C). The police notice offering a pardon to an accomplice of the murderer was issued by Sir Charles Warren on 10 November 1888 on the instructions of the Home Secretary, provided by Godfrey Lushington in a letter to the Commissioner dated 10 November 1888 (MEPO 3/3153).
Given that the Home Office instructed the Commissioner to issue a pardon on 10 November 1888 but did not receive Dr Bond's report until some days later, it is irrelevant whether or not the offer of a pardon was 'irreconcilable' with Dr Bond's report on the issue of an accomplice because the Home Secretary had evidently not seen Dr Bond's report at the time he decided to grant the pardon.
A more important issue arising from Dr Bond's report relates to his conclusion that 'All five murders were committed by the same hand'. A point arose on the subject during an internet discussion between myself and Simon on the Casebook Forum in June 2016, after this article was first published, which clarified Wood's opinions for me. It is worth setting out the issue here because it goes to the heart of Wood's challenge to there being a single murderer.
During my discussion with Wood on the Casebook forum, he advised me to 'Take a look at what Bond was given to form his opinion. Then compare and contrast it with his professional opinion.' (Thread: Why Bond? #20, 2 June 2016). It seems that what Wood was getting at was that it was not possible for Dr Bond to have concluded, on the basis of the material he was given, that there was a single murderer. In his book, he tells us what Dr Bond 'would have read' (p.375) which would have been some doctors saying that the murderer had no surgical skill while others said he did have surgical skill.
It seems, however, Wood has fundamentally misunderstood the exercise that Dr Bond carried out and the material he would have been given to read. At the start of his report, Dr Bond makes clear that what he has read (and, indeed, the only thing he has read) are 'the notes of the four Whitechapel Murders', referring to the murders at Buck's Row, Hanbury Street, Berner's Street and Mitre Square. In his report, he states 'I have seen the notes only' of the four murders. It's patently obvious that these would have been the post-mortem notes of the examinations of the bodies of the four previous victims prepared by the doctors involved, similar to those he prepared himself at the post-mortem of Kelly.
In his book, (p.374) Wood says that Dr Bond was given 'the medical evidence' which is not an objectionable description but he must be quite wrong to say that Dr Bond 'would have read' the conclusions of the previous doctors because these would not have been contained in the post-mortem notes which would simply have set out the detailed nature of the wounds etc. as would have been observed at the post-mortem.
On page 375, Wood says that 'it appears Bond had not been given the full inquest transcripts'. Well that is certainly true because no such transcripts existed and the depositions (if that is what Wood is referring to) remained with the coroner, with copies only for the Director of Public Prosecutions. Those depositions would not have been available to either the Metropolitan Police or to Dr Bond. But Dr Bond would not have needed those depositions because he was only asked to offer a medical opinion which it was perfectly possible to provide based on the underlying notes relating to each murder which were written, as any medical or surgical notes would be, with sufficient information so that any other doctors could understand and interpret them and form their own conclusions.
Dr Bond was being asked by Sir Robert Anderson to provide his expert opinion 'as to the amount of surgical skill and anatomical knowledge probably possessed by the murderer or murderers'. In that respect, it is irrelevant that his opinion differed from some of the previous doctors who examined the bodies because he was engaged precisely to form a considered expert view from having seen all the post-mortem evidence. Just as Dr Bond's conclusions are not contained in his notes of Kelly's post-mortem, he would not have read the opinions of previous doctors but would have formed his own opinion based on the medical observations set out in the notes.
Wood doesn't really make clear what he is trying to say about Dr Bond's report in his book (at pages 374-377), but, from his internet posts, I think the point he wants to make is that certain material was deliberately withheld from Dr Bond so that he would arrive at the conclusion that Robert Anderson, and the conspirators involved in creating a fictional 'Jack the Ripper', wanted to hear, namely that there was a single murderer. Thus he suggested to me on the Casebook Forum that Warren wasn't saying 'anything of the sort that Anderson was telling Bond' (i.e. that Anderson was misrepresenting the Commissioner's views to Bond about him being held in high professional esteem) and that there was a certain 'answer Anderson was after' (Thread: Why Bond? #18 & #20, 2 June 2016). Either that or he thinks that Dr Bond was part of the conspiracy himself.
The notion that Robert Anderson was seeking a certain conclusion from Dr Bond doesn't make any sense because Dr Bond's report was a confidential one prepared for the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office. It was never published, or intended to be published, so it had no effect on public thinking as to whether there was a single murderer known as Jack the Ripper. Dr Bond was engaged to provide an independent conclusion to enable the authorities to know what they were dealing with. It is not surprising, therefore, that he formed an opinion which was different to the other doctors as to the amount of surgical skill and anatomical knowledge possessed by the murderer. But this cannot be considered to be suspicious because one would expect an expert to form his own opinion on these matters. There is nothing in the point in other words.
Wood's extended discussion of suspects in general is no doubt designed to show how ridiculous all of the theories are but while it is true that if we take the best 100 theories, 99 of them must be wrong (and hokum) with the other one probably being wrong, at the same time, even if 99 are utterly ridiculous hokum, it doesn't necessarily mean that the 100th is wrong, so Wood's huffing and puffing doesn't really get him anywhere. Even if he manages to prove that all 100 are wrong, and ridiculous, it could simply be that the identity of the Ripper is as yet unknown. It doesn't mean that there was no 'Jack the Ripper'.
In the introduction to his book, Wood makes the point that we have not got much closer to the truth of the identity of Jack the Ripper in 127 years whereas we have learnt such details as the price of pawn tickets and the dimensions of a nineteenth century police truncheon (p.3). But what he fails to realize is that we have also learnt the real reasons why Sir Charles Warren and James Monro resigned their respective posts as Commissioner of Police. We have learnt why Inspectors Andrews and Jarvis went to America in 1888. We have, furthermore, learnt that Scotland Yard did not have any role to play in the Times' case against Parnell at the Special Commission. We have also learnt that Wood's thesis is badly wrong.
When he says that Jack the Ripper did not exist he gets himself lost in a hopeless tangle of mangled logic. He never denies in his book that there was a serial killer at large in Whitechapel in 1888 yet he somehow thinks that he can magic away the existence of that serial killer simply by pointing out, as is obvious, that this person might not have devised his own moniker. Due to his failure to tell us who actually did commit all the murders, one simply cannot extract from his book a sensible explanation for his claim that Jack the Ripper did not exist.
If we do our best to make sense of Wood's thesis by considering his published articles, which seem to provide more information than his book, the situation is still hopeless. We can conceive that, contrary to his clearly stated position in 2005 about the murders of Nichols, Chapman and Eddowes being connected, Wood now thinks that the murder of Nichols was a standalone murder with no connection to any of the others (as he said in his 2008 Ripperologist article). We can also conceive that he thinks that Colonel Hughes-Hallett murdered Chapman. There is no problem with the notion that Michael Kidney murdered Stride (in what Wood has referred to as a 'domestic' murder, so he presumably thinks Kidney did it) and we know that he thinks Kelly was a Special Branch hit, even if he has not a single bit of evidence to support this extraordinary notion.
That would have got him close to a sensible argument, at least according to its own internal logic, that a multiple killer known as 'Jack the Ripper' never existed but then what about Eddowes? How would he explain her murder? Another standalone? Surely that is one standalone too many. Or perhaps it was another Special Branch operation to coincide with the receipt of the 'Dear Boss' letter? Perhaps the plotters got real lucky that Stride was killed by her boyfriend on the same night thus allowing them to promote a 'double event'. But then we have Eddowes being killed by the same person or group of people as Kelly and suddenly there is a link between the victims and we are back into Stephen Knight territory.
It would certainly be strange if the Kelly murder looked like a typical Special Branch operation while the Eddowes murder gave no such signs yet they were both Special Branch hits. Wood never claims that Eddowes was murdered by Special Branch so that gets us back to the problem faced by Wood of who killed her. His silence on the point is a serious problem because he needs to be able to detach her from the other murders but just can't do it. Perhaps this is why he never feels able to say that every murder was committed by a different person.
Even if he could have come up with an explanation for Eddowes' murder, it would still not have helped him because, in his book, he seems to have abandoned the notion that the Nichols murder was a standalone one and decided to play the game of 'Hunt the Ripper' after all - a game he effects to despise - by half-heartedly suggesting that Colonel Hughes-Hallett just might have been responsible for the murders of Nichols and Chapman (and Tabram).
Even if the Colonel was only supposed to have murdered Chapman, as indicated in his JTR forums post prior to publication of his Hughes-Hallett theory, this does not rule out the existence of a serial killer in 1888 or, if one prefers, a multiple murderer of women.
Consequently, Wood is left without any coherent argument. The murder of Eddowes is simply not explained and the reader is left not knowing if the very fact of the Eddowes' murder disproves Wood's suggestion that Hughes-Hallett might have been the Whitechapel murderer. Ultimately, we are left with the possibility that Nichols, Chapman and Eddowes might well, even according to Wood, have been murdered by the same hand, so that Jack the Ripper was real after all.
As for Mary Kelly, nowhere in his book does Wood provide any proper reasons why she should be excluded from the canonical five victims of the Ripper. He says it has indications of a Special Branch operation but does not tell us what those indications are. Consequently, there is no good reason to think that Kelly was killed by anyone other than the killer of, at least, Nichols, Chapman and Eddowes. Even in respect of Elizabeth Stride, Wood offers no convincing argument that she was not murdered by the same person who murdered Eddowes.
As mentioned, there is nothing in the book which makes clear to the reader who murdered Nichols, Chapman and Eddowes but if Colonel Hughes-Hallett was responsible for the deaths of Nichols and/or Chapman, Wood does not explain how this fits into his thesis about Jack the Ripper not existing and, in particular, about the actions of the Metropolitan Police. Did they know Hughes-Hallett was the murderer and covered it up or were they clueless? And, to repeat the point, if Hughes-Hallett did kill Nichols and/or Chapman then, with Hughes-Hallett out of the country, who killed Eddowes? Was it the same person, or people, who killed Kelly? Or someone completely different? None of these questions are answered but they seem to be crucial in respect of an argument that Jack the Ripper did not exist.
All this aside, as I mentioned earlier, there wouldn't be anything terribly objectionable in saying that 'Jack the Ripper' was nothing more than a creation of media hype, invented by editors desperate to sell newspapers, so that a series of unconnected murders were falsely connected to make the whole mystery more interesting for the newspaper buying public. Where Wood goes down an objectionable path, because he has neither evidence or a coherent motive, is in saying that the Metropolitan Police Force, with the implied assistance of the Government, deliberately wanted the public to think there was a serial killer at large. Given that the existence of 'Jack the Ripper' put the police of the metropolis under a huge amount of unwelcome pressure and criticism, it would seem that 'Jack the Ripper' was the very last person that the police wanted it to be believed was prowling round London unchecked and there is no evidence that they received more Government funding as a result, which would at least have provided some kind of sensible motive for such an odd strategy.
The irony of the situation is that it is not Jack the Ripper who did not exist but the secret cabal of unidentified powerful men who purportedly invented 'Jack the Ripper' by commissioning the 'Dear Boss' correspondence. This sinister group is a product of Wood's imagination with no supporting evidence whatsoever.
It is, of course, tempting to think that because the Jack the Ripper murders occurred in the autumn of 1888 and the Special Commission started in the autumn of 1888 and Robert Anderson, who had written some of the articles in the Times, was the Assistant Commissioner of the C.I.D. from autumn 1888, that there must be some sort of connection between the Special Commission and the Whitechapel murders. Well, let's just put in this way, no-one, least of all Wood, has yet discovered any evidence of such a connection.
The other mythical creature we find in Wood's book is the type of Ripperologist who, Wood tells us, not only wants the mystery to remain unsolved but cannot envisage that at least one of the canonical five victims might have been murdered by someone other than the person known as Jack the Ripper nor that some of the other murdered women outside of the canonical five might have been murdered by Jack the Ripper. He is, I think, trying to kill a strawman.
So we wait now to see whether a second edition of Wood's book will ever appear, assuming the paperback version is not the second edition. When posting in the Casebook Forum on 8 October 2015, Wood told another poster that his theory - first hinted at in his 2005 article, 'Room 13 Millers Court', and then referred to again in posts on the Casebook forum in August 2014 - that the photograph known as 'MJK3' was not taken in room 13 Millers Court on 9 November 1888, 'will be discussed in the second edition of "Deconstructing Jack: The Secret History of the Whitechapel Murders"', adding in a subsequent post, 'I wish I could tell you right now what I've got, but that would make a second edition of my book pointless'.
With respect to Simon Wood, my strong advice to him is not to bother with this long heralded theory about 'MJK3' because, as far as I can tell, it's just another one of his hopelessly misguided fantasies. It will, however, be interesting to see if he changes anything in the book's second edition, should it ever be published, as a result of this article - and I will be watching carefully - but, as far as I'm concerned, a second edition of his book is utterly pointless unless drastically rewritten because there is now nothing left of his thesis which, as I have already mentioned on more than one occasion, is really no more than elaborate balderdash.
First published: 23 March 2016 (and updated August 2016)