Reply to MELVIN HARRIS from PAUL BEGG.
Mr. Harris tries to make out that a "paid henchman" is a right-hand man, little more than a paid assistant. It is in fact a little more than just that. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a "henchman" as: "The personal attendant, right-hand man', or chief gillie of a Highland chief; hence, generally, a trusty follower or attendant who stands by the side of his chief or leader, and supports him in every case of need."
My colleague and co-author Keith Skinner is a professional researcher who accepted a commission from Paul Feldman to assist in the research of the "Maybrick Diary". He has publicly stated his strong disagreement with many of Paul Feldman's ideas and theories. I therefore submit that Paul Feldman is an employer, not a "chief or leader", that Keith Skinner clearly does not support Paul Feldman "in every case of need" and that Keith therefore does not fit the definition of "henchman".
The Oxford English Dictionary also provides a more current definition of "henchman": "A stout political supporter or partisan; esp. in U.S. A mercenary adherent; a venal follower; one who holds himself at the bidding of another."
I sincerely hope that Mr Harris did not wish his readers to infer from his use of "henchman" that Keith is "a venal follower" of Paul Feldman's, but it is difficult to imagine that a writer of Mr. Harris's ability would have chosen the word without being fully aware of the meaning it might convey. Whether he did so or not, one can only wonder why Mr. Harris's chose such a word when words like "assistant", "employee", "researcher", or maybe even "friend" were available.
Turning to the matter of the Maybrick Will, it was known to the advisors in July 1992. Indeed, at that time a copy was supplied to me along with a photocopy of the "Maybrick Diary". As far as I recall, every advisor pointed out that the handwriting of the Will was distinctly different from the handwriting of the "Diary". Over time two theories to account for this were postulated, neither theory was postulated by the advisors. One stemmed from a description of the Will given by MacDougall which in several ways differed from the extant will (most notably MacDougall described the Will as having been written in a large, shaky hand, which the extant will is not), which led to the suggestion that the extant Will was not written by James Maybrick and is not representative of his handwriting. The second was that Maybrick was a scizophrenic whose handwriting would change according to his personality changes, a phenomenon noted elsewhere and for which there are documented examples. To both these hypotheses "cautioning voices" were in fact raised, as Mr. Harris could have found out by the simple expedient of asking the advisors. And if he doubts that our voices were raised, there are several people who can testify to the fact, including handwriting expert Sue Iremonger who was questioned by Keith and myself on the latter point.
Turning to Mr Harris's assertion that he knows the identity of the forgers and can name them, he states that he is prevented from doing so by legal reasons known to Ms. Harrison. I stand to be corrected, but I understand that the only legal reason Mr. Harris has given to Ms. Harrison is that the "Diary" is still under investigation by Scotland Yard. To the very best of my knowledge, it isn't. If this is the case, is Mr. Harris's tongue now freed?
What really is astonishing is that Mr. Harris describes the matter of his naming the forgers as "hogwash", "an excuse for yet more evasions" and "a petty diversion". But surely it isn't any of thiese things? The dispute between Paul Feldman/Shirley Harrison and Melvin Harris concerns whether the Journal is genuine or a forgery. If Mr Harris can indeed name the forgers then he could put an end to the controvery right now, once and for all, and without having to bother with all this endless diatribe about handwriting, texts, inks and so forth. I'm sorry, maybe it's me, but I honestly don't appreciate how asking Mr. Harris to end the debate so effectively can be dismissed as "hogwash" and a "petty diversion".