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Vetting Hutchinson

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  • Hi Caz,

    Since when did the police ever need to keep the press 'sweet' by offering titbits of information they wouldn't have revealed by choice?
    Since the very earliest police-press encounters from very earliest criminal investigations, I wound strongly suspect.

    There is nothing remotely unusual about the police operating a selective policy - for whatever reason - over which press sources they choose to supply information to. We even have it on the authority of the 1888 police themselves that it occurred during the ripper investigation; Inspector Littlechild observed of Central News' Tom Bulling that, "No journalist of my time got such privileges from Scotland Yard as Bullen (sic). Mr James Munro when Assistant Commissioner, and afterwards Commissioner, relied on his integrity."

    The evidence strongly suggests that the Echo received similar "privileges", at least for a period.

    However much Hutchinson's discrediting may have impacted the overall investigation, it was certainly not a "sensational" development; as such, there was little to be gained by fabricating such a mundane detail. Bogus witnesses had already proved the bane of the investigation, and the exposure of yet another one was neither a newsflash nor a stick for the hostile press to beat the police with.

    Since I can see no obvious benefit to the police or the public in the revelation that Hutchinson's account had been considerably reduced in importance because he didn't give it to the inquest (as if the police didn't know that right from the start )...
    Whereas I see some obvious benefits to disclosing such a detail, especially if it was true, and no skin off their noses to make public (again, witnesses getting discredited was hardly a bombshell development). At the very least, it ensured the continuation of an amicable relationship between police and certain factions of the press, which, despite the repeated assertions of one or two Hutchisonia regulars, was something the former did seek to achieve.

    Conversely, I've yet to see a single credible motive for either the police or press fabricating the detail that Hutchinson's account suffered a "very reduced importance". We know for a fact that the Echo did communicate with the police directly on the 14th November, otherwise they would not have been able to publish information that was a) true, and b) only obtainable from the police*; and the police were not remotely likely to "(pretend) they were no longer taking Hutch's account seriously". All that would have achieved was a false impression that Astrakhan men were "safe", i.e. unrelated to the appearance of the real offender, which would have been a disastrous move if the police genuinely believed he dressed as Hutchinson described.

    No, in the absence of any logic-defeating subterfuge or fabrication (or any motive for either), the better explanation by far is that the Echo's unsensational matter-of-fact report concerning a peripheral case-related detail was correct.

    All the best,

    *See the many debates on this in the Hutchinson forum!
    Last edited by Ben; 04-10-2016, 02:59 AM.