|A Ripperologist Article|
|This article originally appeared in Ripperologist No. 4, December 1995. Ripperologist is the most respected Ripper periodical on the market and has garnered our highest recommendation for serious students of the case. For more information, view our Ripperologist page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperologist for permission to reprint this article.|
by Andy Aliffe
"Number 13, Buckingham Gate, London SW1"
"But that's "
"The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions", said Barlow. "Excellent, my dear Watt".
"....I have been looking at their file on the Cleveland St/Duke of Clarence scandal .... I got talking to someone ... He assured me there were no names in the Cleveland Street file that were associated with the East End." Watt sat bolt upright. "Wait a minute! How do they know what names are or are not associated with the East End?"
" ....after a bit of arm twisting they let me see the files... Three files. But before I was allowed to look at them someone had been through them and several documents had been removed." "Removed" said Watt.
"....When I was on the way out, I said "There is nobody mentioned in those that interests me". He said "You should see some of the names in the papers we wouldn't let you see!"
"You know", said Watt, "you might be able to make me believe in conspiracies after all."
"....it's quite a thought isn't it? "....(we've).... been beating, our brains out trying to find who Jack the Ripper was and all this time somebody in the Director of Public Prosecution's Office, sitting on a file, has known the answer all along - except he isn't telling!"
So say Barlow and Watt in the closing paragraphs of the Jones and Lloyd book "The Ripper File".
All the dialogue spoken in both the TV series and book, by Barlow and Watt, was based on the actual conversations that researchers, Karen de Groot, Ian Sharp and Wendy Sturgess had with officials in the different institutions and authorities when compiling their background notes. It is certain that the conversation quoted above did take place, but was and is there a conspiracy theory?
This article is based on letters, notes and memos researched from the programme file for the production of the 1973 TV series "JACK THE RIPPER."
As far back as May 1973, Paul Bonner, the Producer of the Jack the Ripper series, had written to the records officer at the DPP's office requesting access to the Cleveland Street material, and in a written reply from the records officer was told: "To the best of my recollection and a check of our records there was no DPP file in existence in connection with the Whitechapel Murders by Jack the Ripper in 1888, although at the time the duties of the Director were combined with those of the Treasury Solicitor and it was not until 1908 that the two became separate offices."
It was arranged for Ian Sharp to see the VETTED FILES on Thursday 17th May.
In a note dated 8.8.73 and headed NOTES FOR ANSWERING QUERIES AFTER THE FINAL EPISODE OF "JACK THE RIPPER", Paul Bonner says this of the visit to the DPP's Office:
"In the search for that evidence, one of our researchers (Ian Sharp) visited the DPP's office to check on the files on the Cleveland Street raids which were carried out by Chief Inspector Abberline (the policeman who was also in charge of the Ripper investigation). The dialogue quoted by Barlow at the end of the programme is direct reporting of the dialogue between our researcher and the official at the DPP's office who dealt with the matter.
We felt it odd that even after 85 years the DPP's office was not prepared to make the matter completely clear. We consider it proper to make the point in the programme."
I suggest that a search through the Treasury Solictior's records might bring new material to light.
A similar event happened when the team approached Buckingham Palace and the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle for information on the Duke of Clarence.
In February 1973 Wendy Sturgess wrote to the librarian at Windsor Castle requesting confirmation of the movements of the Duke on certain dates and received a prompt reply.
It is BBC protocol when dealing with the Palace to pass all correspondence via the Royal Liaison office and in a memo to Paul Bonner from the Assistant Royal Liaison Officer the following is written:
"Further to your Research Assistant's memo of 12th February in connection with possible documents in the Royal Archive that might prove or disprove the Ripper's identity with Prince Albert Edward, Duke of Clarence, (we)...have today received a letter from Buckingham Palace to say this is a very old and totally unproved rumour and, needless to say, nothing exists in the Archive to support it. However the whereabouts of the Duke of Clarence on a number of dates in 1888 supplied by you has been checked and, in every case, His Royal Highness was not in London. The evidence is therefore completely negative."
By this time the team had made contact and were working with Joseph "HOBO" Sickert and in a note entitled "Facts which are incapable of being checked or possibly buried and ungettable" we find the following:-
"There is, however, something suspicious about Clarence's papers. Hobo mentioned some time ago that the Clarence papers were in the Royal Archive at Windsor, but the Royal Archivist stated that the papers had been destroyed by the Prince of Wales's private secretary. Last week Wendy and I went to see Nigel Moreland, editor of The Criminologist. He told us that under the highest possible authority short of the Queen, he had gone to the Royal Archive to see Clarence's papers. He was virtually stopped at the door and told that only the Queen could see the papers. He asked if there was anything in them (i.e. relating to the Ripper) to which the answer was "THERE IS and THERE ISN'T." Not the most committing reply, but the fact remains that THEY ARE THERE! The plot thickens. HOBO says he has spoken to the Queen who was rather offhand and told him to contact her private secretary One final point of interest on Clarence is that the title (Duke of Clarence and Avondale) has never been used again in the Royal family."
From the same headed note we find another interesting item, this time to do with the research into Sir William Gull:
"The efforts to drag out of Guy's hospital any information on Sir William Gull have been met with hostile reception. First Karen phoned the archivist who was extremely rude to her and assured her there was nothing on Gull at Guy's .... Hobo and I went to Guy's Hospital as members of the "Guild of St. Lukes".... to see the painting of Gull which had been taken from a photograph, but with one or two things added - the background which included two pillars, on one of which Gull's coat-of-arms was painted, what looked like a horseshoe ring, and a large stone on his formerly plain watch-chain. At this time we thought the additions to his dress fitted Hutchinson's intricate description - we were unable to find the picture; however we did stumble across another portrait (head and shoulders). The following day Hobo rang the archivist and told him about the painting which he said a doctor friend of his had shown him, and told him that it had been painted by Arthur Aker! Delighted with this information the archivist mentioned in the course of conversation that a number of people had been enquiring about Gull, but that HIS ORDERS had been not to comply with their queries. Why he didn't know, but those were his orders! I have since contacted a Professor Keith Simpson at Guy's who has obviously not been warned off. He told me Gull's material WAS in Guy's Medical Library and that Guy's Hospital reports for that period would also be there". Ian Sharp.
Who took the photograph of the Gull painting and added the details, and where is it now?
So we see again, doors opening and doors closing. People being given orders for the use of disinformation, people being warned off. People of the highest authority closing ranks. Inspector Watt may have been right when he said at the beginning "You might be able to make me believe in conspiracies after all."