No announcement yet.

Questions for Keith Skinner

This is a sticky topic.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Questions for Keith Skinner

    I'm creating this thread in the Maybrick ghetto here on JtR Forums to be a starting point for asking Keith questions about the Maybrick artifacts.

    I'm going to kick off with something we discussed at the Liverpool Conference.

    Keith, you had the opportunity to talk a bit with Mike Barrett back in the day.

    When you first met him/spoke to him, how knowledgeable did he seem about the actual Maybrick case? Ditto the Whitechapel Murderer? I'm talking about early days.

    Any light you can shine on this question would be gratefully received.

  • #2
    Thank you Sir Bob. Memories and recollections of those early days become increasingly more important as we drift further and further away from them
    into oblivion. I became involved with the Diary in June 1992 but it wasn't until the early part of 1993, after Paul Feldman had come on board, that I started keeping dated notes of the flood of information and telephone calls that were daily coming my way. It was, I thought, absolutely essential to record who was telling me what and when and to clarify their source. A lot of the time I would record telephone conversations as the information was so dense and confusing that I needed time to absorb it. In answer to your question about my perception of Mike Barrett's knowledge around JTR and Maybrick, the following extract is from Paul Feldman's 1998 publication 'Jack The Ripper: The Final Chapter'. I had asked Paul Begg in July 1994 if he would kindly write down his impressions of Mike Barrett when he visited him in Liverpool at the beginning of 1993 with Paul Feldman and Martin Howells. Here's what Paul wrote to me on July 24th 1994.

    "Regarding why Mike Barrett didn't go to the library for Maybrick books. I am not sure to what extent Barrett actually researched either the Ripper or Maybrick. His knowledge of both the Ripper and Maybrick has always struck me as negligible and to the best of my knowledge he has never attempted to show off his learning, volunteer information, or otherwise attempt to influence the research. Further, when I visited him with Paul Feldman and Martin Howells, he claimed never to have heard of 'The Uncensored Facts' until he got it from the library on hearing that I was going to be paying a visit. I think he was also completely ignorant of 'The Ripper Legacy'. Without seeming to be big-headed, such ignorance of leading Ripper titles suggests to me that he had not done research. Finally, neither he nor his wife displayed any emotion except amazement when Paul Feldman showed them how JUWES could become JAMES. I think I'd have laughed out loud at that if I had forged the Journal. My overall feeling was that he had done very little and probably no research and that his statement to have undertaken a lot of work on the Journal was largely to secure for himself a claim to having identified Jack the Ripper as James Maybrick and thus more than mere ownership of the Journal."

    In April 1994 I interviewed Mike Barrett in Liverpool Central Library and taped our conversation. I will, at some near point in the future, ask James
    (Johnston) if he could kindly put up a link to this recording so people who may be interested can listen to Mike describing his research journey from the point he first took possession of the Diary - and judge for themselves.

    Hope this helps.

    Best Wishes


    • #3

      Thanks for the response....

      One non-Maybrick question I have is in regard to the transcription of the Home Files which you and Stewart Evans turned into the Ultimate Sourcebook.

      I consider the successful transcription into the Ultimate a great and underrated achievement. I consider myself tenacious but I do not think I would have been capable of handling the chore you gents undertook.

      Do you recall how long it took until completion and which file/files do you recall giving you the most trouble ?

      Thanks for your time.


      • #4
        Thank you Howard. Absolutely all of the credit for acquiring and transcribing these files must go to Stewart who painstakingly and diligently worked on this magnificent achievement, by himself, over a period of five years I believe it was. Stewart then very kindly invited me in on his project and Robert Smith
        secured a publisher for us. All I did was to contribute ideas for helping shape the book and include material from my files relating to the chapter on the
        Royal involvement. I consider the book a personal triumph for Stewart and feel privileged to have my name associated with it.

        Best Wishes


        • #5
          Thanks for the reply, Keith... much appreciated


          • #6
            I have a question for Keith:

            Apart from penning my favourite Ripperologist line (my signature), Ms. Gowers wrote an article in the Independent of 30 August of 1995 in which she states that:

            The most violent disputes ever to hit Ripperology were caused by the Maybrick diary, supposedly written by James Maybrick, who died in 1889, apparently poisoned by his wife. This confessional journal was produced in 1993 by a Liverpool man, Mike Barrett, who suggested it had been discovered under some floorboards.

            Has Mike Barrett ever claimed that it was found under floorboards or is this just a mistake on Ms Gowers part?



            • #7
              I have a second question for Keith:

              In Barretts affidavit of early January 1995, Mike states repeatedly that the Diary was concieved of and written in the period January and February of 1990. He states that he showed the diary to Devereaux in "1990" according to Mike and that this was the year he died (even though he seemed to have died in 1991).

              He rang Doreen in 1992.

              Are the dates in his affidavit just rubbish or was he drunk and what do you feel about the "quality" of his affidavits (this one and the one where he rants on and non about Feldman)?



              • #8
                Thank you Mr Poster for your two questions. Would it be possible for me to refer to you by your real name please?

                (This is actually the second time I've written this post. I spent a good hour
                composing it - then previewed it - decided I wanted to change two words
                before submitting - then lost it! So I'm working fast from memory...)

                As you probably know, Mike Barrett's sworn affidavit of January 5th 1995 was addressed by Shirley Harrison in the 1998 edition of her book? If you haven't read this - and it is permissible under JTR Forum rules - then I'll arrange to have the relevant pages posted.

                Would Mike Barrett have been allowed to make a sworn affidavit if the solicitor judged him to be under the effects of alcohol?

                Tony Devereux died in August 1991. From memory it was August 9th.

                The quality and tone of Mike's affidavit should perhaps be judged by the reasons he felt impelled to make it? This was why 'Ripper Diary, Inside Story'
                was written. We felt it important to provide an objective, accurate factual record of the chronology and sequence of events as they occurred so that people could put the evolving story into historical context and perspective.

                The Rebecca Gowers Independent newspaper article of August 30th 1995 I'll reserve commenting about too much until I've re-read my copy. If I had to hazard a guess though, it would be that Ms Gowers could be referring to Mike's early speculation the diary was discovered in Knowsley Buildings,
                Tithebarn Street, Liverpool, where James Maybrick had his offices. These were demolished in the 1960s and a new modern office block named Silk House Court was built on the site. I remember Paul Feldman becoming very excited when it was learned that Anne Graham had worked in this new office block.

                Best Wishes


                • #9
                  Hei Keith

                  Lars is my name.

                  Im not being a git but the only transcript of Mikes affidavit Ive ever seen had him rabbitting on about 1990 (ie. it all happened in 1990, the writing, the buying, the showing to Tony).

                  I have Shirleys book somewhere so I can check her transcipt if its in there but the other one thats available online ( and I just checked again has 1990 (my original recollection was from somewhere else if I recall...Shirleys book perhaps).

                  SO why is 1990 what he was focussed on? Does SHirely deal with this aspect in her book?

                  I appreciate you cannot make an affidavit when drunk.....but if you are so confused as to the actual dates and the affidavit has multiple examples of the wrong date (assuming teh transcipt to be accurate) .... then what confidence can be put in the affidavit?

                  Alternatively, if Mike was correct and it was all done in 1990....why did he wait til 1992 to decalre something he obviously rushed through in 1990 (Tonys death in 1991 being a little awkward for the theroy above).

                  Any opinions on the 1990 date? (your opinions...I can find out Shirleys when I get home if they are in her book).



                  • #10
                    Hi Keith

                    Now Im being a git and having just reread the affidavit of the 5th of January ...... what do you think of Mikes statement in it that he gave serious consideration to the ink, pens and paper in his forging attempt.

                    At any point in your experience with the man has he given any indication of having given serious consideration to the ink, pens and paper?

                    His accounts (in so far as I have read the ones available) of the technical aspects of his forgery have always been slightly odd at best (the sugar, the linseed oil, the Diamine that wasnt etc).

                    In Your chats with thim did he ever give any indication that he actually knew what he was talking about in this regard at all?



                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mr. Poster View Post
                      His accounts (in so far as I have read the ones available) of the technical aspects of his forgery have always been slightly odd at best (the sugar, the linseed oil, the Diamine that wasnt etc).

                      In Your chats with thim did he ever give any indication that he actually knew what he was talking about in this regard at all?

                      I hope Keith won't mind if I repeat something he said to me at Liverpool, and that is that Mike told him that the reason for the sugar was "to scramble the molecules"..... I will let Keith take it from there.....


                      • #12
                        Thank you Lars. Mike's sworn affidavits, (I think there are three), are now part of this story and - as such - are primary source documents. They cannot, should not and have not been ignored. No matter what I personally think about them, they stand as historical records. The question for me is - what drove Mike to make them? Like you, I note Mike mentions 1990 three times on the January 5th 1995 sworn affidavit. It's a point to consider.

                        The only lengthy placid conversation I had with Mike Barrett, which I taped, was on April 14th 1994 in Liverpool Central Library. 'Inside Story' refers to this on pp 86-87. There is no reference of course to ink, pens and paper as he was then insistent that the Diary had been given to him by Tony Devereux.

                        The "sugar" I do vividly recall and remember asking Mike about it when I interviewed him on stage in the packed upstairs room of a pub in Whitechapel on April 12th 1999. I wanted to know what effect sugar had on ink and it affected the chemical composition. Mike looked at me in astonishment at my ignorance and told me it was "simple". I replied that I didn't know and he said that it separated the molecules or something like that. The whole interview was recorded on video and we are hoping to create a link to this event at some point in the future.

                        Every Good Wish


                        • #13
                          Many thanks Keith.

                          Out of interest.....if a sworn affidavit contains an obvious untruth/mistake, is it still a valid legal document?

                          Its hard to understand how he got that year mixed up not once but three times and one instance involving an easily checked date wrt: the year of Devereauxs death.

                          In your less than placid discussions with him, did he ever elaborate upon his technically clever forgery techniques in any way?

                          How he managed to evade being tripped up by the analyses that would inevitably follow his production of the document must have been a sourcecof some pride to the man?



                          • #14
                            This is going to be a question overload.. I'm sure.

                            Hi Keith, this isn't a Maybrick question....

                            But do you by chance have either a copy of the Thames Magistrates Court proceedings for the Gertrude Smith (brothel keeping) appearance on December 7, 1888 or your notes of said proceeding? [ref. David Cohen]


                            • #15
                              Thank you Scott. I suspect the JTR Forum Overseers would prefer to restrict this thread to a dedicated Maybrick Diary Forum discussion - as indeed so would I. That said, however, I am more than happy to answer questions on
                              any other aspect of my interest in JTR and the research projects I have been involved with since publication of 'The Ripper Legacy' in 1987. Perhaps Sir
                              Robert could create another all general purpose thread if there is sufficient interest - although that does sound a bit arrogant requesting my own thread!

                              From memory, I know I did trawl the original Thames Magistrates Court ledgers at the London Metropolitan Archives, probably over 25 years ago.
                              I should still have my notes and remember paying particular interest to Gertrude Smith's appearance. Again, from memory, there was not too much
                              detail given, but you are welcome to what I transcribed. We may even have
                              included this in one of the editions of 'The Jack The Ripper A To Z'.

                              Every Good Wish