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Melvin Harris

Mrs. Harrison terms herself an " investigative writer", but she failed to investigate James Maybrick's handwritten Will in any depth, and she failed to investigate the nature and status of MacDougall's third-hand and falsified 'transcript'. Indeed she depended on MacDougall's bogus text when writing her book. His text provided her with glib excuses and without it the book would never have been written. (See my detailed investigation)

She now states: "I have never said that the will is a forgery only that this might be the case." Really? Before meeting the Rendell team of investigators, her publisher, Robert Smith rang me. I then asked him how her book could avoid the damning evidence of the holograph Will. He stated that they were regarding it as a forgery and relying on barrister MacDougall's text as proof. I advised him to re-read MacDougall and gave him some vital guidance. But it was a sheer waste of time; his mind was made up. This was shown when he visited Chicago and met the Rendell team. Everything I had told him earlier was ignored and be informed the team that ".. there was very strong evidence that it (the Will) was written by Maybrick's brother, Michael.'

Rendell says this of Smith's claim " Smith never produced this evidence; in fact Charles Hamilton had, in his own collection, a three-page letter of Michael Maybrick which conclusively proved he did not write his brother's will.. a careful examination of Maybrick's will conclusively showed that the signature on the will was signed by the same person who signed the marriage certificate- James Maybrick-and that the text of the will was also written by Maybrick."

In the book itself, every reference to the Will is designed to throw doubts on its authenticity. But at no point does Mrs. Harrison raise any doubts about MacDougall's reliability. Why should she ? The way out of an awkward predicament had been found and the book could surge ahead. As publisher Smith's Introduction makes clear "...we believe, the 'will' is a fake."

After Warner Books pulled out, Smith provided extra text for Hyperion '5 hardback and went way over the top. He wrote:". .the 'will' today has the legally important words 'bequeath' and in his presence' mysteriously added." Any sensible person viewing the original Will can see at a glance that the idea of those additions to the text is inane. The word 'bequeath' and its attendant ampersand, takes up two and one tenth inches! Thus the whole line would have to be erased to permit this one word to be inserted. And the whole of the last section would have to be rewritten to fit 'in his presence' into the pattern of writing. But there are no erasures on this Will, and the evidence I have placed in front of you proves that these words were never missing from the Will taken to Grant on 29 July 1889. Smith and Harrison now know this, but they have not had the courtesy or courage to place a withdrawal in print. Instead, the old nonsense is still being run off by Smith ; two reprintings being seen in 1996!

Now Mrs. Harrison is sure to view that as personal abuse, but I reject that idea completely. I have always held that every writer has a responsibility to correct his, or her, errors whenever they are identified. Here the errors have been identified; but the responsible actions have not been taken.

To compound her errors Mrs. Harrison is now issuing statements that are in direct conflict with the facts on record. She needs to investigate her memory banks and her files, for she quotes from a letter that she claims was sent to me in January 1996. Not so; that letter was sent a year earlier, on January 16th 1995-and the date is important. She further claims that this letter followed my "...constant attempted character assassination of all those connected to the diary, however loosely.11 This is pure invention and reflects badly on her claimed 'reputation for fairness'

Her letter of 1995 was in response to a ten-page letter of mine which dealt with technical matters involved in ink-tests; with the Will and with the misuse of documents in her book. This contained no personal abuse whatsoever. Now it would have been quite easy for me to have included my examples of her misuse in my own book; but I chose not to and gave the lady a chance to clear up her mess as gracefully as possible, with the minimum of publicity. But, as with Smith, it was a waste of time. It's all there in print, to this very day.

The opening paragraph of my reply to her ( on 18 Jan 1995), confirms what that correspondence was all about. It reads:

"We do have a problem. I have put to you some points of great importance, but none of these has been faced up to. You speak of being "...entitled to my honest opinion and to write books supporting it." (the diary) This I don't dispute, but you are not entitled to use distorted material to make your story work. In the case of the Spicer episode I have given you the original newspaper text and I have shown that the version used in your book clashes; it's bogus and as a consequence all the attempts to fit it to Maybrick are absurd. But you will not face the truth and evade all mention of this in your reply. Is this really your idea of being honest?"

The irony of all this talk about "abuse" and "character assassination" is that I have never attacked anyone on the grounds of age, sex, colour, creed, nationality, morals or appearance; and I've never written a letter using personal abuse in my life. In truth the only character assassination on record was directed at me and from the Diary camp itself. This peaked after November 1994, as a direct result of the ink-test initiated by myself and surgeon Nick Warren. An attempt was then made to suggest that I had contaminated the samples used in that test; but Mrs. Harrison forgets to mention that.

In short, her claims are untenable. And I am quite prepared to publish my correspondence with Mrs. Harrison if she tries to deny the truth of the statements I am now making.

As for her statement that identifies me with "...a relatively small group of people seeking to prevent publication not only of my book but of other projects arising from it", this is yet another example of pathetic invention. These are the facts:-Mrs. Harrison’s contract set the delivery date of the manuscript as 28 February 1993. The bulk of her book was ready by 31 March 1993 and a copy of the text was sent to Liverpool on that day. So her book was completed and its distribution and Rights sales were planned over four months before I saw the Diary and gave my verdict. And my first published piece on the Diary did not appear until 1994, long after her book was launched on October 4 1993, and long after Robert Smith was able to write:-”This is clearly going to be a very lucrative project for the authors extending over quite a time-span, despite the devastating effects of Warner pulling out on our international customers."

These dates alone, show that I made no attempt to prevent publication of her book. What then prompts her to make up these fairy tales? The answer might be that she has developed an almost paranoid picture of my activities and this could account for her writing about "...onslaughts, often abusive.. spearheaded by Melvin Harris..." Since, on this issue, only two pieces of mine have ever appeared in print, this is easily refuted.

One piece, my extended analysis of the Will (written in 1995) has already appeared on the Internet. Now you can read my earlier 1994 appendices and, taking the two pieces together, can judge for yourselves. You will see in Appendix Nine (pp195-6) that Mrs. Harrison even invented a scenario to help undermine the Will. She has in practice acknowledged the truth of my words by dropping this distortion from her paperback, though she doesn't tell her readers why. Is it abusive to remind her of this?

Before reading this evidence note that Mrs. Harrison's 'challenge' to me to name the forgers of the Diary is sheer hogwash and an excuse for yet more evasions. (Now there's a chance to yell 'abuse') She already knows my answer. There are good legal and logical reasons why I choose to stay silent; I have ,in fact, taken legal advice on this score. But I am quite willing to present my papers to any neutral solicitor, and he, or she, will confirm that there are sound and honourable reasons for my silence. But this is a petty diversion. My case against the Diary rests on the text and the handwriting of that document and is independent of the identities of the forgers. Thus anyone can review this evidence, here and now, and see just where the jiggery-pokery lies. This is exactly in line with my case against the forged Abberline Diary used by Melvyn Fairclough in his book. There we are not sure of the identity of the forger, but it is a certainty that the document is faked; the text and handwriting betray it. And that's what really counts.



Fool's Gold

In1992 at a time when the craze for hoaxes seemed to have petered out, along came the biggest Ripper hoax of the twentieth century. First reports spoke of a confessional diary penned by Jack the Ripper, unearthed in Liv¬ erpool and brought to London by its finder. Later reports were a little different. A one-time scrap-metal merchant named Mike Barrett had been given this diary by a drinking companion Tony Devereux.

Mr. Devereux, alas, was now dead, so everything had to depend on Barrett's unsupported testimony. Despite this the rights were bought by the London publishing firm of Smith Gryphon and the trade began to learn of a promised 'scoop of scoops'. At that stage only the people called in by the publisher knew the 'true' name of the diary Ripper.

When I first heard of this document I made two forecasts. One, that it would be written in a journal or diary with a number of its front pages tom out. Secondly, that it would be written in a simple iron-gall ink. This type of ink is indistinguishable from those used in the 1880s, but is easily made and not difficult to buy. Indeed some thousands of packets of ink-powder, once used in schools, are still around, and often turn up in street markets and minor antique shops. When mixed, it is a Victorian-style ink.

I was able to make these forecasts since my experience had shown me that old journals, ledgers, diaries and scrapbooks are quite easy to find, but the majority of these have been used or part-used, so anyone needing some blank paper will have to make do with what is left.

At that point I warned Paul Begg, who was giving 'historical advice' on the diary, that there was no reliable way of dating such an ink once it had lain on the paper for eighteen months or so. This was the limit of any advice I could offer. I was not asked to look at the find, and the name of this new 'Ripper' was never mentioned.

Then the time came when someone put rumours and logic together and we learned that the diary was said to have been written by James Maybrick. Now, a great deal was known about James, mainly because his wife Florence was tried for his murder and convicted. Her neck was never stretched; a life sentence took the place of the original order to hang and for years people argued over the misconduct of the trial. This, of course, has nothing to do with Jack the Ripper, but the running debate prompted many newspaper articles and a number of books. And the man who faked the diary found it comparatively easy to know anything he wanted to about the Maybrick family in 1888 and 1889. After that year it didn't matter since James Maybrick died on 11 May 1889.

Investigating this diary was not easy. All the people who had been allowed to read the text were first obliged to sign a confidentiality agreement that effectively gagged them. If they had doubts or reservations they were not allowed to voice them. One-sidedly, though, statements seeming to endorse the diary as genuine were encouraged and published, helping to convince doubters who had never seen the original.

Before I saw the diary I pointed out publicly that although the publishers had released small snippets of the text, they had not displayed a single line of the handwriting found in the diary. This omission led to the conclusion that in all probability the journal was not in the known handwriting of James Maybrick. In the event, all my forecasts were proved accurate. The diary was written in a scrapbook with twenty of its front pages torn out, and the hoaxer had used a simple iron-gall ink which you or I can make up on a kitchen stove. The diary's handwriting in no way resembled that of James Maybrick.

In many ways the text is hilarious. It poses as a confession, meant for the outside world: a record of what really happened; but at intervals the diarist grows coy and writes about the clues he's left behind him. Yet he never says what they are. In my opinion the reason for this coyness is simple. Our penman is playing safe and relying on the intrigued believers to fill in the gaps for him. By being sparing with details the hoaxer avoids falling into traps. Yet he just wasn’t clever enough. By claiming to have written the original Ripper missives, and by referring to the two farthings alleged to have been found in Annie Chapman's pocket, he blundered. Those Ripper missives are hoaxes; no serious historian challenges this; and all the document examiners agree that the writing in the diary is by a different hand. As for the two farthings, no coins of any sort were found near the body of Annie Chapman, or in her pockets. The two farthings were nothing but journalistic inventions. Richard Whittington-Egan has most amusingly commented on this myth, saying:

By 1929, when Leonard Matters published the first book on the subject, the 'trumpery' articles had metamorphosed into 'two or three coppers and odds and ends'. In 1959, Donald McCormick added two farthings - 'Two brass rings, a few pennies and two farthings were neatly laid out in a row at the woman's feet.' It only remained for Robin O'Dell in 1965, to supply the gloss of 'two new farthings', and the legend was complete.

There were many of these legends at the time, including the report that three rings had been found at Annie Chapman's feet.

Over the years, these myths were repeated by so many journalists and authors that our diary-hoaxer would feel confident that he was dealing with facts: he fell into the trap and gave himself away.

But forget the internal absurdities of this diary. Even if its text had been flawless, its handwriting would still have failed the crucial test. Here we are fortunate since we can examine an authentic, lengthy example of Maybrick's writing in the form of his will of 25 April 1889. Comparison shows the diary is a fake.

In the light of that information the publishers' claim that the diary had been 'authenticated' is questionable. In one statement Robert Smith told Publishing News that '...we did not begin any rights discussions until we were satisfied as to its authenticity'. And to the Guardian on 24 March 1993, Robert Smith said: 'None of the tests we have had done have thrown the slightest doubt on the diary's authenticity'

This was the persistent public claim, but behind the scenes lay another story altogether. Evidence came to light showing that some of the gagged advisors held views that were in direct conflict with the publicity statements being used to boost the Smith Gryphon book based on the diary. Disquiet began to grow in those who were thinking of buying rights. In particular The Sunday Times launched its own private inquiries.

This paper had been about to buy the serialization rights when they were warned that they were being fooled. After its 'Hitler Diaries' fiasco the paper could not afford to be lumbered with yet another set of worthless scribblings. So, as can be imagined, their reappraisal of the diary and its publishers' claims was ruthless. And they were right to be so tough. Their searches brought the crucial Maybrick will to their eyes for the very first time. Smith Gryphon had not included this in their sales package, but once unearthed The Sunday Times recognized that this one document alone proved the diary to be a fake.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Warner Books who were due to publish an initial 200,000 copies of the book, began to have their own doubts. These were aroused after David Streitfeld of the Washington Post prepared an article on the diary and gave advance notice of its contents to Warner's President Larry Kirshbaum. The article appeared on 30 July 1993 under the heading 'Jack the Ripoff?', and it disclosed that Warner Books were to conduct its own thorough and independent investigation into the diary's validity.

True to their word the US publishers commissioned a thorough investigation led by Kenneth Rendell, one of the leading experts in historical documents. It had to be a rushed job, since publication day was looming fast, and many questions had to remain unanswered. But despite its improvised feel, the Rendell report did ask and answer some essential questions. Its verdict was: FAKE, and Warner Books canceled its contract.

In Britain The Sunday Times grew weary of being gagged and took action through the courts, as Maurice Chittenden explained in The Sunday Times on 19 September 1993:

The Sunday Times first established that the 'diary' of Jack the Ripper was a fake three months ago, after it was offered exclusive serialization rights for £75,000.

The newspaper told the publisher of the findings of its investigation and wanted to warn the public that there was a danger the Ripper's forged confessions could become the biggest international fraud in the book world since the 'discovery' of the Hitler diaries. The proposed print run of 250,000 copies and the worldwide sale of television and newspaper rights meant it was worth at least £4m.

However, the newspaper had signed confidentiality agreements in which it agreed not to disclose the contents of the diary to a third party. Experts who had examined the diary were made to sign similar statements. Such agreements are common in the publishing world because they allow newspapers and magazines to read forthcoming books with a view to serialization. In this case the publisher tried to use the agreement to gag the newspaper, preventing it from printing the findings of its investigation into the authenticity of the diary and from quoting experts.

This meant that while other papers began to speculate about the diary ('Is this man Jack the Ripper?' asked The Independent on Sunday on August 29), The Sunday Times, which knew the truth, had to stay silent. However, serious doubt was cast on the diary 11 days ago when Warner Books canceled plans to publish it in the United States.

Last week The Sunday Times won a High Court battle with Smith Gryphon under which the publisher released this paper from any obligation of confidence and agreed to pay it £6,500.

Robert Smith approached The Sunday Times in early April this year and claimed he had a 'sensational document'. At subsequent meetings he revealed he had acquired the rights to the Ripper diary and knew exactly who he was: James Maybrick. The Sunday Times was required to pay a non-returnable £5,000 for an option to take up the serial rights, and to sign a series of confidentiality agreements.

The newspaper then launched its investigation. It uncovered Maybrick's will, in which handwriting did not match that of the diary, and a scientific report prepared for Smith 12 months earlier that had cast suspicion on the manuscript. A panel of experts assembled by The Sunday Times concluded that the diary was a forgery.

Told of the findings Smith threatened to sue for damages if The Sunday Times breached its confidentiality agreement. However, it was the newspaper that issued a writ in the High Court on July 20 seeking to be released from any obligations of confidence on the grounds of fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation or negligent misrepresentation. In addition, on July 29 The Sunday Times reported the matter to the police; the papers have been sent to Scotland Yard.

On July 23 Smith Gryphon published a four-page supplement to The Bookseller proclaiming that the world's greatest murder mystery would be solved with the publication of the diary on October 7. In August The Sunday Times applied for a speedy trial on the grounds that it was in the public interest that the book, The Diary of Jack the Ripper: The Discovery, The Investigation, The Authentication, be exposed before going on sale. Mr. Justice Lindsay ruled that there was 'a real possibility that for a period in October, if nothing is done, the public or some of its members, maybe deceived.' He ordered a speedy trial.

Last week Smith Gryphon agreed to repay the £5,000, make a small contribution to legal costs and release the newspaper and others from the confidentiality agreements.

The separate investigation carried out for Warner Books by Kenneth Rendell, an expert in historical documents, has confirmed most of The Sunday Times findings. Rendell said last week: 'The victory in releasing the confidentiality agreements is the key to the whole thing.'


Fall of the Axe

Since the Rendell report had such a devastating effect on the publication plans of Smith Gryphon, it now counts as an historic document in the battle against this hoax. Unfortunately its full text is too long to reprint in full, but its essential conclusions can be found in the following extracts:

...A letter was sent on September 25, 1888 to 'The Boss, Central News Office, London.' This letter, genuinely written in 1888, was signed Jack the Ripper. It may or may not have been written by the murderer, but whether or not, the diary directly reflects the language found in it... The phrases that appear in the 1888 letter are clearly used repeatedly in the diary... (But) Sue Iremonger, a documents expert consulted by the English publisher in London, 'does not link the handwriting of the diary with that of the "Dear Boss" letter.' If she is correct, there can only be one conclusion: if the letter is written by Jack the Ripper, then the diary, which copies its language but does not match its handwriting, must be forged. If the 1888 letter is a hoax of the time, then the diary must still be a hoax since it copies its language but does not match its handwriting...

People who have not been involved in major literary forgeries are not aware of the resourcefulness of perpetrators of such hoaxes. In the present case many have stated that it is too elaborate to be a hoax; they are not aware that virtually everyone said no one could possibly forge nearly 60 Hitler diaries, nor could anyone create Howard Hughes' autobiography or Benito Mussolini's diaries, nor could a young man in Salt Lake City forge letters and manuscripts whose contents would shake the Mormon Church to its foundations. If an investigator assumes that something is too complex to be a fraud, then he or she is likely to be victimized. Forgers are not always motivated by money or fame - it can be the simple satisfaction of fooling experts. Knowing the psychology of forgers is almost as important as knowing how to analyse handwriting...

The original diary was brought to Chicago on August 20, 1993, by Robert Smith, the English publisher, for the examination of the handwriting, ink, and paper. I met him at the laboratory of Maureen Casey Owens, the former president of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, author of numerous papers on Forensic handwriting questions, and, for 25 years, the Chicago Police Department's expert in document examination. We were joined by Robert L. Kuranz, who had been a research ink chemist for more than 30 years, and Dr. Nickell.

My immediate reaction, and, I later learned, that of Mrs. Owens as well as Dr. Nickell, was that the diary was written much more recently than the later 1880s. I was also struck by the uniformity of the writing and ink - highly unusual in a diary - a uniformity that immediately reminded me of my first glimpse of the Hitler diaries.

I was also surprised that the diary was written in a scrapbook, not a normal diary book. Scrapbooks, much larger in format and containing very absorbent heavy paper, were used for mounting postcards, photographs, valentines, and other greetings cards, and I had not previously encountered one used as a diary. It was possible, but very unlikely.

We were all very suspicious of the fact that approximately 20 pages at the beginning of the book had been torn out. There are no logical explanations as to why the purported author, Maybrick, a man of means, would have done this. First of all, he would have bought a normal Victorian diary; but if for some reason he wanted a scrapbook, he would have bought a new one. He would be unlikely to take one he already had and tear out the contents. It was highly likely, on the other hand, that someone wanting to forge a diary, and not knowing the difference between a scrapbook and a diary would have bought a scrapbook at a flea market, torn out the pages already used, and had the remainder of the pages for their creation...

The English publisher also had brought with him photocopies of Maybrick's marriage certificate bearing an unquestioned genuine signature, as well as photocopies of his will, which he indicated was generally considered to be a forgery, probably Maybrick's brother...

We had not expected to find any elements that would date the ink as recent but could not rule out the possibility. (It is relatively easy today to obtain or make ink with elements that were used in Victorian England.)

Some of the ink/paper samples extracted by Bob Kuranz had meanwhile been sent to Rod McNeil for an ion migration test to determine how long the ink had been on the paper. We had some concern that the nature of the book, a scrapbook with relatively more absorbent paper, might make this analysis difficult. Both Maureen Owens and myself continued to work on the handwriting, and it was becoming increasingly evident that the examination of the handwriting would be conclusive in itself...

Our further examination of the writing in the diary confirmed what Dr. Nickell, Mrs. Owens, and myself suspected the first time we saw the diary: the writing is not consistent with letter formations of the late 1880s; there is a uniformity of ink and slant of writing in going from one entry to the next (supposedly written at different times) that is unnatural and very indicative of a forger writing multiple entries at one time. A lack of variation in layout also leads to the same conclusion.

Most important and surprising of all, a careful examination of the Maybrick will conclusively indicates that the signature on the will is signed by the same person who signed the marriage certificate - James Maybrick - and that the text of the will was also written by Maybrick. This was an unexpected development as I had been told that the evidence that it was written by Maybrick's brother Michael was very strong. (I was never shown this evidence.)

An analysis and comparison of the Maybrick will with the Jack the Ripper diary conclusively shows that they were written by two different people. Both examples were supposedly written at the same time; both are lengthy examples. There is sufficient evidence to reach a definitive conclusion. There is no other possibility - the writer of the Jack the Ripper diary was not James Maybrick. Even without considering the evidence of the 'Dear Boss' letter and numerous inconsistencies in the overall story, the historical facts in the diary so clearly identify the author as James Maybrick, that proof that he did not write the diary leaves only the conclusion that this is a hoax!

In the end the examiners were convinced that the diary was a recent product, probably only a few years old. This seems to clash with the results of the independent ion migration test which dated the ink at 1921, plus or minus twenty years. But this particular test has been developed by one man only, as such its value is open to question. But this is of small importance since the evidence of fakery is there for all to see, without the aid of microscopes or complex laboratory equipment.

Other puzzles also cease to be baffling with a modicum of research. The link between the name of Maybrick and the Whitechapel murders struck many as novel and without any ancestry. But the fact is that the two cases have been joined together for many years. For example, in Michael Harrison's hook, Clarence (1972) you find the argument that Mrs. Maybrick's conviction was yet another crime chargeable to the Ripper! This, according to Harrison, resulted from her misfortune ' be tried by a judge desperately grasping on to a disappearing sanity, his mind lost to him in the horror of contemplating what his own son was and had done'. That mad Judge was Sir James Stephen; his son was the poet J. K. Stephen, and the horror was generated by the Judge's discovery that his son was none other than the fiend of Whitechapel. All this is sheer nonsense, but such things act as a stimulus for our hoaxer. And there are a good number of suggestive passages in other books which were able to feed the fantasy of Maybrick as the Ripper. No genius was needed at any point.


Unseemly Bluff

We now know how this hoax could have been inspired; it only remains to add that the hoaxer could have drawn all his factual material from just a few books. In fact it's quite easy to demonstrate that the diary could have been concocted by drawing on three books at the most. So why were people impressed by its contents?

In the first place there was no exchange of accurate information among those consulted. Some of them believed that the writing had been proven to be as old as the 1880s. And there were claims that the handwriting matched that of the original 'Dear Boss' letter. Because these entries were so old (so the argument ran) some details recorded showed the writer to be the killer, since he knew things that were not publicly known until 1987. All these claims turned out to be sheer moonshine.

The Rendell report was certainly the greatest setback for the hoax, but even so the publishers still went ahead with their plans. Then, on Monday 4 October came the London book launch of The Diary of Jack the Ripper. The invitations read: 'the author and the experts will be on hand to answer detailed questions.'

As expected, I was not sent an invitation; my awkward, but perfectly legitimate questions, were unwelcome. But this had been anticipated; an invitation soon came my way, and the day dawned. I waited until the press had asked its questions, and waited again, until it became clear that no one was about to put the essential questions, then I uncoiled myself from my back seat and made two very basic requests. 'Where,' I asked, 'is the expert who will put his reputation on the line and state that this diary is an authentic document written by James Maybrick in 1888 and 1889? And where is there another expert also prepared to put his reputation on the line and state that James Maybrick's will is a forgery?' The silence was uncanny. Mr. Smith was left alone at the bridge of the Titanic. His experts had either deserted him or they had never existed.

The publisher mumbled something about the Maybrick will having been disputed by the lawyer Alexander MacDougall in 1891. At this point, I had to remind Mr. Smith of the one and only time he had spoken to me on the phone. He had then tried this line of denigrating the will by quoting MacDougall. His answers to me indicated that he had not read the book he was quoting from. But I had. I then drew his attention to the passages in that book which proved that MacDougall was not only inaccurate about this will, but also gave contradictory accounts of it. I reminded Mr. Smith that his reliance on the texts of Alexander MacDougall was absurd since there is on file at Somerset House a certified copy of the Maybrick will. This certified copy was made on 29 July 1889 by the firm of Layton, Steel and Springman, the Liverpool solicitors who handled the estate. The text of this solicitor's copy agrees in all essentials with the wording of the will in Maybrick's own hand dated and witnessed on 25 April 1889.

Here is proof beyond doubt that the so-called transcript of this will in MacDougall's book is flawed and worthless as evidence. This is not to say that MacDougall deliberately altered the text - his errors most likely arose at some stage of his copying or dictating for the book. But nothing can excuse the continual use by diary apologists of his discredited text, especially since I brought MacDougall's errors to Mr. Smith's notice in August 1993.

The book launch was memorable for two other oddities. There was no mention of the Rendell report in the book, so readers were to be kept in ignorance of those major objections. And over the subtitle to the book was stuck a white label which carried this message: 'Is It GENUINE? Read the evidence, then judge for yourself.' Since the subtitle read: 'The dis¬ covery, the investigation, the authentication', this represented something of a climb-down. Yet since the book excluded the essential objections to the diary, how could the average reader even begin to judge? It was bluff once more, but there was worse to come. Close examination of the book's narrative discloses a sorry state of affairs.

In my view - a view shared by many others - the book itself distorts history in an unacceptable fashion. The conclusions reached in order to get round the uncomfortable fact of the Maybrick will are not supported by historical evidence. On page 125, for example, the narrative states:

The will that has survived... poses more questions than it answers. Most important of all, we know from Florie's letter to her mother that in December 1888 Maybrick had torn up his will and written a new one. Maybrick knew that there was a will already in existence. So why does this blue will (of 25 April) begin: 'In case I die before having made a regular and proper will in legal form I wish this to be taken as my last will and testament...'?

Here we have a false claim that is then used to justify false reasoning. The letter mentioned was written on 3 December 1888. At no point in this letter does Florrie state that her husband James had written a new will. Let us emphasize this, since justice demands it. The letter says nothing to justify the interpretation being drawn by Mrs. Harrison, so as a matter of course all the arguments based on her initial premise are invalid. This is elementary.

Now this is not simply an opinion of mine, it is a bald statement of fact. I have submitted the texts to experienced editors and lawyers. Every person asked to examine the wording of the crucial letter agrees that the interpretation put on it by Mrs. Harrison is baseless. Florrie's letter actually reads:

In his fury he tore up his will this morning as he had made me the sole legatee and trustee for the children in it. Now he proposes to settle everything he can on the children alone, allowing me only the one third by law. I am sure it matters little to me as long as the children are provided for...

And there you have the text that proves my point. Nowhere in this letter is the statement that on 31 December 1888, James Maybrick tore up his will and then wrote a new will, as Mrs. Harrison alleges. The words of Florrie's letter are direct and not open to misunderstanding. She writes that he tore up an existing will and made it known that he proposed to write a new one; one that would be decidedly different. This is so simple that I am surprised that anyone could mistake its meaning.

What then prompts Shirley Harrison, author of the narrative, to tell us that the letter says ‘...Maybrick had torn up his will and written a new one'? To be charitable, it looks like a case of wishful thinking. Unfortunately this leaves her readers with the illusion that there 'was a will already in existence' on 25 April 1889.

But how on earth do we account for the following claim by Mrs. Harrison? She writes:

It is puzzling, too, that there are discrepancies between the wording of the will in Somerset House and the one seen and copied by MacDougall. For instance the words 'bequeath' and 'made out' are missing

in MacDougall's version, as is the phrase 'in his presence', all important phrases.

The truth is that there is no puzzle at all. She is relying on a book whose faults make it worthless. To prove this I include the faulty texts here. The certified copy of this will confirms at once that MacDougall is hopelessly wrong (see Appendix Ten). So Robert Smith's claim that '...the author gives you the facts and the evidence as objectively as possible...' is in my view not borne out by the contents of the book.

As for Mr. Smith himself, in his contribution to the diary he tries to dismiss the idea of a hoaxer by stating that such a hoaxer would have to have a comprehensive '...understanding of the motivations and unexpected behaviour of serial killers'; '.. be qualified in ink and paper chemistry'; be a crime historian who had acquired intimate knowledge, well beyond the accessible published sources of two famous Victorian cases.'.'; and have '..'a rare and precise knowledge of the physical and psychological effects of arsenic addictions.’

I find this almost beyond belief. He really seems to be quite out of touch with the mass of popular literature - the crime magazines, cheap pulp paperbacks, trashy novels - which were easily able to supply all the garish colour and sordid pieces that we find in this diary. In these times you don't have to be an expert on serial killers to know about them. Pick up some of the many 'True Crime' types of magazines and soon enough there are all the insights one could need. Finding out about arsenic and strychnine addictions is almost as easy. As for expertise in inks and paper, this is never called for. Stick with an authentic Victorian paper, use a simple ink (plenty of recipes around) and the game's afoot. Just three source books are all you need to provide the crime facts and their backgrounds.

Perhaps the most incredible part of Mr. Smith's sales-pitch is his claim that two special items in the diary '...argue its authenticity'. One of these items is the mention of an empty tin matchbox, found at the scene of Catherine Eddowes' murder. This, he says, was not known until 1987. So what? We are dealing with a recent hoax, just a few years old, not an ancient piece of penmanship. His second point is even more amazing:

Until 1987, when the inquest report on Mary Jane Kelly first came to light, no one knew that her heart had been removed by the Ripper; nor was it reported at the time of the murders. Yet, after the only reference to her name in the diary are the words: 'no heart, no heart.

We groan in disbelief! What on earth have his advisors been up to? Can they all have been asleep in their sentry-boxes? That the heart had been removed from the body was reported in the Star on 10 November 1888, in The Times and Pall Mall Gazette of the same day, and in the Pall Mall Budget for 15 November 1888. And I don't doubt that other papers ran the same basic report, which in The Times version read: 'The kidneys and heart had also been removed from the body and placed on the table...' Since then, these reports have been drawn on by many writers; so much for the Smith-myth.

And let us now dispose of any nonsensical bending of the words to make them apply to removing the heart from the room. The hoaxing diarist states, without qualification: 'Regret I did not take any of it away with me...'

After Warner Books canceled its contract, another American publisher, Hyperion, agreed to publish, but wisely they included the Rendell report in their edition. Quite fairly Robert Smith was allowed to comment on it, but his attempted rebuttal simply shows the emptiness of his case. He seized on the R. J. McNeil ion migration test as the weak point of the report. But if he had considered the significance of the placing of these test results right at the end of the report, then he might have realized that they were never considered of great importance. That the test was done at all was simply in the interests of completeness. The overwhelming verdict of all who have con¬ sidered this diary is that it is a modern fake, created after 1987. Incredibly, though, Mr. Smith still plugs away with his myth about the heart, saying:

Nor does Rendell comment on the clear reference in the diary to the Ripper removing the heart of Mary Jane Kelly. That knowledge was contained only in the 'closed' coroner's inquest records. They were never available to the press or public, and they disappeared in 1888 and were anonymously returned to Scotland Yard in 1987.

And once again we meet a repetition of the claims based on the MacDougall transcript of the will:

There are also many differences between the words in the 'will' as it appears in a transcript taken down by a lawyer, Alexander MacDougall, soon after Maybrick's death, and published in his book of 1891 on the Maybrick case, and the 'will' that exists in Somerset House today. For instance the 'will' today has the legally important words 'bequeath' and 'in his presence' mysteriously added. One hand, maybe two, have been at work here, but not, we suggest, James Maybrick's.

One wonders at Mr. Smith's capacity to deceive himself.

He now goes on record to state that MacDougall took this transcript soon after Maybrick's death, but the very transcript he is talking about proves this claim to be inaccurate. MacDougall actually gives the date of the document he was looking at: its date was 29 July 1889. In other words he saw the will only after it had been executed and after the certified copy had been made by the Liverpool solicitors. As I've already shown, that copy matches up with the copy written by Maybrick, so the continual use by Mr. Smith of this worthless transcript is to be deplored.

But Mr. Smith is lost once he accepts the Maybrick will as authentic, so he tries to wave aside the findings of disputed document examiners. He was warned by examiner Sue Iremonger that there was no possible chance of the diary and the will being written by the same person. Maureen Casey Owens and Dr. Joe Nickell say exactly the same thing, as does every other examiner who has been asked to look at the two documents. For solace Smith Gryphon turned to the dubious field of graphology.

Graphology is a now fashionable pseudo-science that has taken in a good many people. But so has palmistry, phrenology and astrology. Because it uses handwriting as the basis for its conclusions it is too often conflicted with the handwriting examination techniques used in criminal investigations. But it should be stressed that the two processes have nothing in common. Graphologists attempt to forecast character and ability from handwriting. And there lies the danger in taking their reports seriously.

A further danger lies in the fact that the graphologist can often be influenced by a client's needs. This is made clear from a report furnished by Mr. Reed Hayes of Hawaii. In the book he is described as an ‘eminent document examiner'. What is not stated is that he is a member of one of the warring factions within graphology, a section known as the International Graphoanalysis Society.

The objectionable technique of trying to match evidence so that it suits a character interpretation, is well illustrated by the following quote (not in the book) from his report of 21 September 1993 on the Maybrick will:

Have you noticed that both times Michael Maybrick's name appears on the will... that the word Michael is nearly disintegrated? This suggests to me that whoever wrote the will felt very anxious about Michael.. .I see several similarities that lead me to think maybe Michael wrote James' will. (I'm basing this not only on some similarities in the writing, but also on my analysis that Michael had such a guilt problem as we discussed, and the fact that the word Michael is so disjointed.)

In these few sentences Mr. Hayes reveals that he has discussed 'a guilt problem' with his client. This is not an objective approach by any standards. Here, it is an interchange of illusions. This, in my opinion, has nothing to do with reality.

But Reed Hayes was small fry compared with the Smith Gryphon star, Anna Koren from Israel. A member of the American Association of Graphologists, among other things, she specializes in 'character analysis'. Over a page of her analysis of the writing of the diary appears in the book. We learn many amazing things about the writer. 'His perception of sexuality and mating is distorted to the point of a tendency to sadism.' 'His feelings of inferiority, emotional repression, and lack of inner confidence may cause him to lose control every now and then and he may explode very violently.' 'The diary shows an unstable personality.' 'Tendencies to despotism, irascibility and brutality are clearly discerned.' 'He suffers from extreme changes of mood...' 'A tendency to hypochondria and a use of drugs or alcohol is evident.' A psychotic disease impedes his ability to distinguish between good or evil, forbidden or permissible and may lead to criminal activity.' 'He suffers from psychological disorders which produce illogical, obsessive, destructive, and aggressive behaviour.'

And there is much more along these lines. I am not alone in finding it incredible that anyone could take this seriously. It's all so obvious, but it has been dressed up to look like a wondrous revelation. This lady has just been reading a document which talks about gouging eyes out, throwing acid in faces, and knifing women; a vile document, resplendent with hate. Are we to believe that she is not influenced by the text? The truth is that anyone knowing the jargon could turn out a report on very similar lines. And they could do it without seeing a single line of the handwriting. The typescript on its own would provide them with everything they could need.

Reed Hayes and Anna Koren, then, seem to be the only 'experts' who bring any kind of succour to the Smith Gryphon camp. Yet what the book does not reveal is the fact that Anna Koren's reports reach no serious conclusions. Unrevealed to the book's readers is the truth that Anna Koren has in fact nothing positive to contribute. Here are some vital sentences from her report of 11 September 1993 as proof:

Unfortunately I have not managed to reach unequivocal conclusions with regard to the comparison of the letter 'Dear Boss', the letter of the 6th of October, the will of James Maybrick and the diaries signed by 'Jack the Ripper'. I have invested many many hours into examining these writings during the 9 months that have elapsed since I first saw the Diary in December 1992.. .1 have found both similarities and contradictions in the documents and it is impossible for me to reach a verdict.

Contrast those words of abdication with the considered opinions of disputed document examiners. Sue Iremonger's careful examination of the Maybrick will and Maybrick's marriage register signature led her to conclude that the will was signed by the same person who signed the marriage document. Further to that she found that the text of the will was written by Maybrick as well. These were firm conclusions without waffle or evasion. And Sue Iremonger's conclusions were independently confirmed by the later examination conducted by Maureen Casey Owens. The will was an authentic document penned by James Maybrick. In this particular case no amount of special pleading based on the reliability or otherwise of hand-writing analysis makes any difference.

Fortunately for the truth, James Maybrick's handwriting has some quite distinctive features which can be readily seen even by a layman. The 'bric' section in his signature shows an odd way of forming the alliance between the letters. This results in the letter 'r' being shaped with a small loop or hole at its base. This loop is present on the marriage document, on both signatures on the will and on the name Maybrick when it appears in the body of the will. A highly skilled forger could, of coarse, turn out something along these lines. But what would be the point? The will does no more than provide for the children using the brothers as the legatees in trust. This is quite along the lines made known to Florence back on 31 December 1888, and communicated by her to her mother.

The ridiculous idea of a conspiracy to forge the will is simply the result of an attempt to demolish the basic evidence which proves the diary to be a fake. Why then, asks the Smith Gryphon camp, did the faker fail to imitate Maybrick's handwriting in the diary? The answer to that is short and simple. Even if he had seen Maybrick's writing the diary-faker did not have the skill to imitate it. The chances are, though, that he never even knew of the existence of the will. Like most people he would know only about the availability of marriage, death and birth certificates. That section of the public which knows about the availability of wills is quite small indeed.

That this diary is a fake is now accepted by Martin Fido, Don Rumbelow, Martin Howells, Stewart Evans and many others with a strong interest in the Whitechapel murders. The detectives at Scotland Yard, who looked at the possible fraudulent aspects of the diary's promotion, also agree that the diary is a hoax and a recent one at that. Indeed it is becoming increasingly difficult to find anyone who actually believes in its ramblings. And that seems promising. But unfortunately every hoax contaminates the fields of honest research, even if it is exposed. Like the Clarence hoax this one will not die overnight. Its time-wasting stupidities will linger on to dog historians for years to come.

Related pages:
  Maybrick Diary
       Dissertations: 5th Int. Investigative Psychology Conf. 
       Dissertations: A Final Response to Mr. Harris 
       Dissertations: A Guide through the Labyrinth 
       Dissertations: A Nest of Forgers 
       Dissertations: An Article by Richard Scheib 
       Dissertations: An Article by Steven Fern 
       Dissertations: Bravo for Maybrick 
       Dissertations: Bristol University Surface Analysis of Maybrick Watch - 3... 
       Dissertations: Dear Diary 
       Dissertations: Maybrick Hoax: Donald McCormick's Legacy 
       Dissertations: Maybrick Hoax: More Futile Floundering 
       Dissertations: Maybrick Hoax: Some Extra Guidance 
       Dissertations: Maybrick Hoax: The Roots File 
       Dissertations: Maybrick Hoax: Yet More Unacceptable Ploys 
       Dissertations: Maybrick Watch - Scientific Analysis 
       Dissertations: Platt Diary Report 
       Dissertations: Reflections on the Ripperologist Interview 
       Dissertations: The Caution was Given 
       Dissertations: The Maybrick Diary Analysis 
       Dissertations: The Maybrick Diary Ink 
       Dissertations: The Maybrick Diary Paper 
       Dissertations: The Maybrick Hoax: A Fact File 
       Dissertations: The Maybrick Hoax: Evasions are Valueless 
       Dissertations: The Ripperologist Interview 
       Dissertations: Turgoose Report on the Maybrick Watch - 23 August 1993 
       Dissertations: Where was the Caution? 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: The Final Chapter 
       Ripper Media: The Diary of Jack the Ripper 
       Suspects: James Maybrick - Index 
       Suspects: Michael Barretts Confessions 
       Suspects: Michael Barretts Confessions - January 25 1995 
       Suspects: Michael Barretts Confessions - January 5 1995 
       Suspects: Photographs of the Maybrick Diary 
  Melvin Harris
       Authors: Melvin Harris (1930-2004) 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: The Bloody Truth 
       Ripper Media: The Ripper File 
       Ripper Media: The True Face of Jack the Ripper