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The Leander Analysis

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  • The Leander Analysis

    Hi Fisherman.

    Since many posters have become bored and not a little irritated by the present topic, I thought it prudent to initiate a new thread in order to address a number of issues relating to the signature comparison conducted by Frank Leander. Trusting to the material I’ve been able to locate on other threads, Mr Leander’s findings are as follows:-
    I wish to strongly underline your wiew that comparing research into signatures must be done using the original material and I/we would not have the possibility to write a full expert’s opinion on the material supplied. Under the circumstances, however, I would like to express myself thusly:

    It cannot be ruled out that we are dealing with the same person - there is a number of matches of a common character (character of style, degree of writing skill, the spreading of the text, certain proportions), and, as far as can be judged from the copy there are also a number of matches when it comes to the shapes of single letters.

    Against these matches one must pose differences in certain liftings of the pen (?), the proportions of the tch-group and the perhaps most eyecatching differences in the shaping of some of the letters; G (the ground-shape), r and n at the end of the signature.

    The differences could be explained by H. being relatively young at the first writing occasion, the surrounding circumstances as available writing space, function of the pen and similar things. The signature at the top is unquestionably the one that differs most at any rate.

    In conclusion, you must see this as a spontaneous, personal comment from me and not as a full expert opinion, since such things cannot be done from a material like this!
    Subsequently, you again contacted Mr Leander who, according to one of your posts, viewed the relationship between the Hutchinson and Toppy signatures as being ‘a match at the lower end of the POSITIVE scale.’ On this basis, you proclaimed that Mr Leander had ‘nailed it’ – had ‘scientifically proved that Toppy and Hutch were the same man.’

    In reality, however, this was a far from accurate assertion.

    Since Forensics is the discipline chiefly concerned with the presentation of scientific evidence before the law courts, it is subject to the strictest of methodological protocols. As such, the information contained in Frank’s analysis falls way short of those exacting standards. At the very least, a scientific report would have contained a methodological explanation, a mathematical analysis and confirmation as to the probity of the specimens under scrutiny – which is why Frank was at pains to point out that ‘you must see this as a spontaneous, personal comment from me and not as a full expert opinion …’

    Equally, the specimens themselves originated from here on the Casebook site as part of a list posted by Sam purely for illustrational purposes. Uppermost on the list was one of the three signatures appended by Hutchinson to his police statement. The other two were absent. Worse still, not a single one of the Toppy signatures included the William that we know to have been an integral part of his regular signature. In scientific terms, such omissions constitute a case of sampling error and are sufficient to invalidate the entire analysis.

    Interestingly enough, Frank noted that ‘[t]he signature at the top is unquestionably the one that differs [the] most …’ In point of fact, this was the signature from Page Three of Hutchinson’s police statement. And despite the reality that it is the Hutchinson signature that most approximates the Toppy samples, it was still identified as that which least resembled the other specimens. And yet, for all of the sampling error and induced bias of which Frank was patently unaware, he was only able to conclude that ‘It cannot be ruled out that we are dealing with the same person’. However, as I previously explained on another thread, “cannot be ruled in; cannot be ruled out” is science-speak for there being insufficient evidence to make a determination one way or the other. In other words, the null hypothesis has been upheld. No significant effect has been detected.

    It might be argued that any such conclusion would be invalidated by the claim that Frank subsequently qualified his memo with the statement that the specimens were ‘a match at the lower end of the POSITIVE scale.’ But science doesn’t work like that, Fisherman. To begin with, there is the issue of the adulterated Toppy signatures coupled with the non-inclusion of the two Hutchinson signatures – which, as I have already indicated, amounts to a clear violation of accepted sampling protocols. Likewise, because Frank’s memo lacked anything in the way of methodological or mathematical information, there is an absence of context relating to the kind of scale or dimension he would have employed had he been formulating a scientific report. Consequently, ‘a match at the lower end of the positive scale’ might mean that the evidence was still insufficient to provide a positive result. Once again, therefore, as absurd as it may appear to the layperson, it remains perfectly possible that the null hypothesis would have been upheld even had a full scientific analysis been conducted.

    But it wasn’t. As Frank made abundantly clear, he did no more than pass on his impressions with reference to material that was inappropriate for standard scientific testing. This being the case, Frank’s conclusions carry little empirical gravitas and in no way warrant the claim that they had ‘scientifically proved that Toppy and Hutch were the same man.’

    Having trawled through the circularity and prolix that constitutes a significant proportion of the Toppy-related threads, my overwhelming impression is that you have consistently overstated the ‘evidence’ that appears to lend plausibility to the ‘Toppy was Hutchinson’ argument, whilst at the same time dismissing anything that fails to dovetail with your own beliefs. Indeed, one would be hard-pushed to find a better example of fundamental attribution error. At the same time, you have exhibited a tendency to be rude and even abusive to those posters whose opinions fail to accord with your own. Was it really necessary to brand Babybird a liar when all she did was quote your own words? Even when Ben reconsidered his position with regard to Frank, held up his hands and admitted that he had been in error, you embarked on a campaign of taunting and ridicule. As I have stated previously, Fisherman, it is more than possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

    Again, I have initiated this thread specifically to post the present response, not to engage in an ongoing war of words for which I have neither the time nor the inclination. I trust, therefore, that I have made my position perfectly clear.

    Regards.

    Garry Wroe.
    Last edited by Garry Wroe; 07-05-2009, 06:42 PM. Reason: need indents

  • #2
    Garry

    excellent appraisal and excellently expressed. Needless to say i concur with everything you have so articulately said. Thank you for bringing some much needed common sense and scientific acumen to the gladiatorial arena!
    babybird

    There is only one happiness in life—to love and be loved.

    George Sand

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks, Jen.

      Hopefully, we'll get some respite from the pit-bull type of debating style that has been a feature of the Toppy-related threads of late.

      Regards.

      Garry Wroe.

      Comment


      • #4
        My reaction to the above mirrors Jen's precisely, Garry.

        Excellent points thoroughly well made.

        All the best,
        Ben

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Garry Wroe View Post
          Equally, the specimens themselves originated from here on the Casebook site as part of a list posted by Sam purely for illustrational purposes. Uppermost on the list was one of the three signatures appended by Hutchinson to his police statement. The other two were absent.
          That was legitimate enough from my POV, Garry, in that much play was being made about the "differences" between 1888p1 and 1888p2. Frankly, apart from the elaborate "H", I see no significant differences in those signatures either. Indeed, my reason for providing the "utchinso" and "triplets" samples on these boards was to take the curse off things, and to get people to focus on the similarities at the cores of the signatures. I did this, because I was concerned that some people seemed keen to throw the baby of a potential match out with the bathwater of a couple of minor differences. After all, we're only talking about a handful of (allegedly significant) discrepant characters out of sixteen, over a span of 23 years.

          To show how insignificant these sorts of discrepancies might be, I even posted my own signatures, which showed far more variation over a similar period of time; and two pages of a tailor's order book from the 1880s, that showed more variations in the space of a couple of weeks. All seemingly to no avail, alas!
          Worse still, not a single one of the Toppy signatures included the William that we know to have been an integral part of his regular signature.
          Toppy omitted any "W" or "William" from all of his 1911 Census entries, so quite how integral these were to his regular signature is a moot point. Despite arguments to the contrary, I see no reason why it should be seen as axiomatic that the police would have insisted on Hutchinson signing his full name on his statement.
          Last edited by Sam Flynn; 07-05-2009, 11:16 PM.
          Kind regards, Sam Flynn

          "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

          Comment


          • #6
            People seemed keen to throw out the baby of a potential positive match with the bathwater of a couple of minor differences - we're only talking about a handful of (allegedly) discrepant characters out of sixteen, over a span of 23 years.
            But that's just your opinion, Gareth.

            What you may regard as a "couple" of "minor" differences, others may consider to be an appreciable number of major differences. They are the proverbial "bathwater" as far as I'm concerned. Similarly, I'd have to disagree that your signatures exhibited "far more variation" that the Hutch/Toppy samples.

            I've seen no evidence that full names were required (or even desirable(?)) for census entries, but as observed elsewhere, it was required protocal for police statements to include full names, or at the very least full initials.

            Best regards,
            Ben

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Ben View Post
              But that's just your opinion, Gareth.
              My objective opinion, yes, substantiated by the other examples I mentioned, Ben.
              I'd have to disagree that your signatures exhibited "far more variation" that the Hutch/Toppy samples
              Well, they did, simple as that. And I should know, too - they're MY signatures, after all.

              I'm not going to argue any further about this, because I've said these things often enough to out-Snark a Snark - not that they weren't true the first time.

              Back to Leander...
              Kind regards, Sam Flynn

              "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

              Comment


              • #8
                Hi Ben.

                Many thanks for your kind comments.

                Hi Sam.

                As ever, points taken. But please don’t think I was in any way apportioning blame to you for posting the various signatures. The point I was trying to make was that those signatures were inappropriate for the purpose of scientific analysis. And if you choose to disagree – fine. I would have done things differently, that’s all.

                Regards.

                Garry Wroe.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Garry Wroe View Post
                  As ever, points taken. But please don’t think I was in any way apportioning blame to you for posting the various signatures.
                  I didn't for one moment, Garry - no worries there
                  Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                  "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Well, they did, simple as that. And I should know, too - they're MY signatures, after all.
                    The signatures you provided did not appear to exhibit more variation than the Hutchinson/Toppy samples, Gareth. At least, not to me. Quite the reverse.

                    That's all I'm saying.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Garry, you write:

                      Originally posted by Garry Wroe View Post
                      The point I was trying to make was that those signatures were inappropriate for the purpose of scientific analysis. And if you choose to disagree – fine. I would have done things differently, that's all.
                      How would you have done things? There seems to be some confusion in this debate regarding what is good enough for analysis in terms of material - with some saying scanned and photocopied material is as good as the original, and some saying not.

                      Like you, I have neither the time or the inclination to pursue this debate - but I have to say I'm starting to want to ask 'What debate?'. As far as I can see, neither Leander, nor Iremonger has endorsed the view that the signatures are a definite match. If you read what they did say - as far as can be determined - it amounts to the same imo: Iremonger basically saying she didn't consider it likely, and Leander saying a match couldn't be ruled out. (I understand that there is doubt over what material they examined, but whether that counts for anything depends imo on whether it matters to their analysis).

                      Which, I take to mean, 'is not impossible, but is not probable'. So the idea that the two experts here are in opposition seems to be fallacious. How are they?

                      I think that tells us some things. It tells us that there are differences here that two experts have noted. If we take account of their views at all, we surely must take that on board? That means that the signatures, if alike, are not sufficiently alike in their view to warrant a proclamation of a definite match. There is doubt.

                      The solution, if it can be ascertained, has not therefore been definitively ascertained as yet. Posters on this, and similar threads, exclaiming that it has , either one way or the other, are barking up the wrong tree - because quite obviously, it hasn't.

                      Maybe that's as far as the debate can go. Maybe the answer to whether the signatures match or not, and by extension, whether the Dorset Street witness was Toppy, or not, is beyond recovery - the indefinite responses of two experts would seem to suggest so.

                      If so, maybe it's better to let sleeping dogs lie.

                      Jane x
                      Last edited by Jane Welland; 07-06-2009, 12:30 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hi Jane.

                        Briefly, the backdrop to the present debate is that, much to his credit, Fisherman approached the Swedish forensic document examiner, Frank Leander, with a request that he conduct a forensic comparison between a number of Hutchinson and Toppy signatures that Sam had posted on site. In what to my mind was an extraordinarily accommodating gesture, Frank agreed to offer an opinion, but cautioned that, because of the nature of the samples under consideration, a definitive scientific evaluation would not be possible. Once Frank’s response was posted on site, there emerged a dichotomy of extremes (plus an additional group at all points in between) involving those who believed that Frank had established a scientific link between Hutchinson and Toppy, and those who, for a variety of reasons, refused to accept the validity of Frank’s analysis. In time, as the ‘debate’ became increasingly more adversarial, Sam and I somehow got ourselves dragged in – largely because we share a scientific background, though not necessarily the same conclusions with regard to the ‘Hutchinson was Toppy’ issue. Hence I initiated the present thread in order to address the increasingly hysterical assertion that, by way of scientific analysis, Frank had proved Hutchinson and Toppy to be one and the same.

                        So, how would I have done things?

                        As Sam would doubtless concur, it would be unfair to criticise those who lack scientific training for making a layman’s mistakes. But in science, the purity of the raw data is all important. Since in this case an analysis of the original signatures would prove all but impossible, I would have provided Frank with the best available facsimiles of as many Hutchinson and Toppy signatures as could be located. Then, I would have accepted that Frank is the expert and resisted the temptation to embroider his conclusions with my own non-expert extrapolations. Testing such an analysis is one thing, but completely re-inventing it is something else entirely.

                        There is, of course, no reason why another analysis couldn’t be conducted using a more scientifically robust procedural approach. Yet this presupposes that, somewhere out there, is an expert either gullible or mad enough to even contemplate taking on such a thankless task. My own feeling is that we are probably going to have to await the emergence of a Toppy signature authored much closer in time to the Ripper’s operational timeframe. In such a case, the presence or absence of the name William would provide an invaluable insight into the mechanics of the Toppy signature relative to its equivalent in the Hutchinson police statement. But even then, I strongly suspect that this would only inspire another intellectual brawl amongst the polar opposites. There are some issues that seem destined to remain intractable. And I fear that the Hutchinson/Toppy debate is one of them.

                        Regards.

                        Garry Wroe.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks Garry

                          for elucidating. I think you are right - and since it seems improbable that another signature of Toppy will emerge from the public record, that may be the end of the line, unless further examples come to light via other routes - say, family archives, for example.

                          Again, thanks for your response

                          Jane x

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jane Welland View Post
                            for elucidating. I think you are right - and since it seems improbable that another signature of Toppy will emerge from the public record, that may be the end of the line, unless further examples come to light via other routes
                            We have more than a dozen already, Jane, at least of the "Hutchinson" bit, in that Toppy (as head of household) filled in the names of his wife and children, as well as his own (twice) on the 1911 Census return. Add those to the signatures appended to the marriage certificate and the police statement, and we have a sizeable sample indeed. Bigger, in fact, than any that Sue Iremonger had to work with.
                            Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                            "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hi Sam

                              Sorry, I probably didn't come across very clearly - I realise that the Census signatures are around. I was responding to Garry's comment regarding a signature closer in date to the 1888 witness signatures - and the likelihood that such would ever appear - it seems unlikely in the public record, since people didn't sign very many public records (although the term is something of an anachronism) in olden times.

                              I think it's quite impressive that we have what we do!

                              Jane x

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