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One Incontrovertible, Unequivocal, Undeniable Fact Which Refutes the Diary

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  • Author: Melvin Harris Source: Casebook Archives, Tuesday, 5 December, 2000 11:41 am


    In July 1992, Dr. David Baxendale examined the Diary handwriting line-by-line using a Zeiss binocular-microscope. At that time not the slightest trace of age-bronzing was found. Yet this phenomenon should have been present in an iron-based ink that was years old, certainly in one said to have been applied in 1888-9. Following that, in October 1992 Dr. Nicholas Eastaugh also saw no signs of age-bronzing.

    The next examination of the Diary pages took place in August 1993, and was conducted by Warner Books' commissioned examiners. The members of this team were free to express their independent views. Neither Kenneth Rendell, Dr. Joe Nickell, Maureen Casey Owens, or Robert Kuranz saw any signs of age-bronzing. And my own limited examination of the Diary pages, in October 1993, led to the same conclusion.


    • A quick reminder as to the purpose of Dr Baxendale's examination of the Diary and his subsequent report. It was not to conduct and provide a chemical analysis of the ink for The Word Team (who instructed him). It was this, as stated in the report itself:

      "The purpose of my examination was to establish whether this book is an authentic document from 1889".

      That's what he did. He concluded that it was not.


      • Why did I post the image of the 1995 Warren letter? Well I explained it at the time.

        When posting it (in #4492 of Incontrovertible thread), I made clear that it was being posted to show the colour of Diamine Ink and the absence of "bluish undertones".

        Here is what I said when I posted the image:

        "To my eyes - and I confirm that I have not used any effects on this image - the ink would best be described as dark grey (and not dissimilar to the ink in the Diary). It certainly seems to bear no relation to the example written by Robert Smith in 2012 and reproduced in his 2017 book. I'm not sure how one explains this discrepancy bearing in mind it is supposed to be exactly the same ink."

        That has clearly not been an amateurish exercise in futility. The only exercise in futility has involved the person who has tried to rubbish the image in every way possible, first rubbishing the quality (which is perfectly fine to see the colour) and then, in absolute desperation, attempting to suggest that Warren created a fake sample!! That is because she knows how damaging is the existence of this letter which not only looks the same colour as the colour of the Diary ink (something which is unlikely to have changed significantly from the day it was written) but also, according to Voller, exhibits similar characteristics of fading and bronzing.

        Shirley Harrison could have done her own test in 1995 but failed to do so, even managing to lose the bottle of ink which somehow miraculously turned up in 2011. The Warren test sample is the only reliable one we have done in pre-1992 Diamine ink.


        • The Great Misremember strikes again part 349.

          Did RJ recently suggest it was an it invention on the part of the Inside Story authors that Mike had ever asked for Alan Gray's help to prove his own forgery claims. Why don't we look at what RJ actually said?

          This is it:

          "One has to read between the lines, but from the context of these discussions, and the letter reprinted in Harrison's book (mentioned in a previous post) it certainly appears to me that Gray had some half-baked scheme to sell Mike's glorious confessions for profit (or at least was telling Mike this to motivate him) and Barrett was only *half-heartedly* playing along. [Warning: subjective opinion]. So, in this sense, one could understand why the Inside authors would suggest that Gray was helping Mike "prove that he had hoaxed the Diary." That is certainly ONE way of looking at this part of it, but to me, this is far too simplistic to be of any value."

          So RJ did not say what the Great Misremember swears she could remember him saying.

          This is why I refuse to accept anything the Great Misremember says from memory and always insist on a direct quote.

          As far as I concerned, Mike enlisting an private detective to help prove he forged the diary is another way of saying that he hired a private detective to defend him from the accusation that he was lying about the Diary being a modern forgery. People and companies hire lawyers and other professionals all the time to help defend themselves against allegations.


          • Someone seems to be misremembering again.

            Here is what I said in #26 in the Too Sensible and Competent thread:

            "Incidentally, going forward I will be placing some deliberate but random typographical errors into my posts for anyone bonkers enough to want to highlight them in bold as a substitute for the professional therapy which they would so badly need to attempt such a weird pastime. It's obviously mad but harmless so please do have fun with it!"

            Now, where in there do I say that the user known as Caz, or any other individual, has a mental illness? And where do I use the expression "gleefully rush". I never made any such claim and never used any such expression.

            What I said very clearly is that anyone who wants to highlight my typos in bold must badly need professional therapy to do something so bonkers and weird and that it would be mad but harmless fun.

            I do not take issues of mental health and mental illness lightly and would never tell people that I am "baiting someone who is mentally ill".

            I do not know why the poster known as Caz is so obsessed with the concept of mental illness but it doesn't seem in any way an appropriate topic for this forum and could easily be considered to be morally repugnant.

            And do I care if anyone thinks I'm "careless at best" or "thick at worst"? No I do not. Have I ever served up misinformation on this forum? No, I have not. At least not in connection with anything other than whether I have made a typo or not! The only person who would think so is someone with a complete sense of humour failure.


            • I have never been at ease with Keith Skinner's 'take' on the Alan Gray affair. I merely challenged Keith's suggestion that Barrett hired Gray to "prove the diary was a fake" and that 'that was that.'

              Here's what Keith wrote back in February, 2018:

              "Basically, Mike had initially employed Alan Gray to find the whereabouts of Anne and Caroline after they had left him. Alan became very interested in Mike's story and believed Mike's claim that he (Mike) had forged the Diary but was being prevented from telling the truth by people in London who were threatening him with violence. Alan was determined to help Mike prove his case and expose the truth of what was going on but became increasingly puzzled and frustrated by Mike's constant lying and prevarication to obtain the material evidence to prove he had created the diary. After 4 years of achieving nothing except an unpaid bill for over 3000, Alan Gray concluded that Mike Barrett did not write the diary but that it was probably the joint endeavour of Tony Devereux and Anne Graham."

              Maybe it's a British v. American usage thing, but when I state someone was "hired" to mow the lawn, then that's what I mean. He was initially hired to mow the lawn. If he later dumps my trash, I don't say "I hired him to dump my trash," when, in fact, I hired him to mow my lawn.

              Hair-splitting? I don't think so. Details are important. The impression given (not in the above statement, but in other ones made by Keith and especially by Caz) is that Mike specifically sought out a private eye to "prove" something that wasn't true. In reality, he hired Gray to find his wife, and, over time, this employment morphed into issues involving Mike's royalty cheques, etc.

              Curiously, Keith also implies that Mike and Gray were working tirelessly for "four years" (his phrase) to prove the Diary was a fake. I can see why Keith is arguing this, but wait. Like I say, isn't that simplistic? If we look over on the other thread, here we see Mike in all his glory in September 1995 giving an interview where he is stating the Diary is real! This is only nine months AFTER the affidavit that Gray and Barrett lodged in January 1995! What on earth would Mr. Gray have thought about that, and why (according to Keith) did he still spend another 3 years "proving the Diary was a fake" if his own client was going on the radio stating it was real?? This alone makes Keith's suggestion of this four year effort by Gray and Barrett to be an extremely simplistic view of what was going on behind the scenes, but perhaps Keith could explain this somehow(?)

              Like I say, the situation seems to be far more complicated, and at one point Barrett explicitly states that his confession was contingent on selling the story to a newspaper...which Gray couldn't make happen. In the Sept 1995 interview we can almost hear Barrett rubbing his palms together at the thought of a 2nd edition or a film deal. Why this remarkable change of heart? Who got to Mike? It's clearly all about finding where the next paycheck may come from.
              Last edited by rjpalmer; 05-24-2018, 11:53 AM.


              • Originally posted by caz View Post
                Hi Kattrup,

                What do you make of David's recent claim to be peppering his posts with deliberate typos in the hope that I will gleefully rush in to point them all out and support his claim that I suffer from a mental illness? Isn't that not only intellectually dishonest and rather puerile, but also morally repugnant?

                It may be a great way of not having to admit any mistakes he makes accidentally, now or in the future, on the subject of the diary, because he can simply tell people he was trying to bait someone he thinks is mentally ill - even though I shan't be taking the bait.

                But the downside is that anyone not aware of his funny little experiment will assume he's careless at best, thick at worst, or - when it comes to deliberately getting something like a date or year wrong - serving up misinformation, accidentally on purpose.

                It's a funny old world, if that kind of debating tactic is considered not only sane, but perfectly acceptable, or even praiseworthy.


                Hi Caz

                I see David has responded to this himself, so I have little to add. I don't think David Orsam has claimed you have a mental illness, nor do I think he'd "bait" someone he genuinely thought to be ill.

                He also has not claimed to insert misinformation or actual factual mistakes, but "typographical" errors, something which I believe he decided to do after you teased him several times with an apparent mistake it's/its. So I don't think you can ascribe to him the motives or behaviour you mention.

                I think that, as often seems to happen, you're not really reading David Orsam's posts, but responding to something you think he might have posted. It should perhaps be clear that David aims to be very precise and accurate.

                I think a lot of the constant posting back and forth could be avoided, if you'd read and respond to what he actually writes, rather than what you speculate he might mean, or what the implications might theoretically be of one possible scenario related to some rebuttal of his counter-counterargument.

                Just a personal observation

                (from someone who does read these threads)


                • Originally posted by Kattrup View Post
                  He also has not claimed to insert misinformation or actual factual mistakes, but "typographical" errors, something which I believe he decided to do after you teased him several times with an apparent mistake it's/its. So I don't think you can ascribe to him the motives or behaviour you mention.
                  Perhaps I should say that the reality is that I haven't actually inserted any deliberate typographical errors into my posts (the misinformation is in me suggesting I might have done!), but it kind of ruins the fun in picking out typos if they might just be deliberate.

                  As I've mentioned before, highlighting obvious typos in posts on an internet forum is not normal or productive behaviour that I would expect someone to be engaging in during a sensible debate.


                  • Originally posted by Kattrup View Post
                    I think that, as often seems to happen, you're not really reading David Orsam's posts, but responding to something you think he might have posted. It should perhaps be clear that David aims to be very precise and accurate.

                    I think a lot of the constant posting back and forth could be avoided, if you'd read and respond to what he actually writes, rather than what you speculate he might mean, or what the implications might theoretically be of one possible scenario related to some rebuttal of his counter-counterargument.
                    I wish this could be in the official forum guidelines to everyone for responding to my posts!


                    • Does it matter that Melvin Harris didn't have the original diary pages in front of him when comparing the 1995 test sample? Not at all. Just as none of us have Robert Smith's original 2012 test sample in front of us but this hasn't stopped anyone from commenting about it. We have enough to draw the conclusions we need to. This is not a scientific experiment. No doubt the memories of Harris and Voller were perfectly sufficient for them to express the opinions that they did. All I've been saying is that there is sufficient doubt about Voller's conclusions from his visual examination that the Diary is old and not written with Diamine ink.

                      As for Robert Smith's 2012 test sample, this was from an unlabelled bottle of ink which had gone missing for 16 years. We are dependent on Shirley Harrison for correctly identifying that the bottle and the contents were the same as she received in 1995. Has Shirley Harrison been known to make mistakes? Of course she has, so why can we be so confident she is not mistaken on this occasion?

                      I personally have no idea what bottles of ink were in Shirley Harrison's possession in the the 1990s. I haven't seen a statement from her on the subject.

                      It's pretty obvious that if both Smith's test sample and the anonymous letter were written with post-1992 Diamine ink it would explain why they look identical. I don't say that is definitely what has happened but it seems to me to be a possibility that needs to be considered.

                      It is said that Voller "presumably" labelled the bottle of Diamine he sent to Shirley in 1995. That is exactly why we should not be making assumptions. Smith tells us that both the bottles sent out by Voller were unlabelled.


                      • I've just been reading pages 252-255 of Inside Story and also reading a post in this thread today about the claim that Mike mentioned the Sphere book to Alan Gray in the first week of September 1994.

                        It seems to me that nothing said in the book or in this thread has actually countered what Melvin Harris was claiming in the extract I quoted.

                        The story is remarkably simple. I don't say it's true because I have no idea, but it is simple. It is that Mike mentioned to Gray a 'Sphere' book about poems when he spoke to him in early September 1994. At this point, so the story goes, Gray had no idea what Mike meant by this nor did he think it was important. Nor does the story state that Gray would have connected the Sphere book with the evidence which Mike had supposedly told him in August that he had lodged with his solicitors. So I fail to see why there is any inconsistency in Gray hearing about the Crashaw quote for the first time in November 1994 or being told at that time, for the first time, that the Sphere book was lodged at Mike's solicitors.

                        In a 2003 letter, supposedly written to "help us clear this matter up" (Inside Story p.253) Gray stated he was indifferent to the Sphere book during the November 1994 meeting "because at that time no person had ever mentioned that it could be of great importance..." (my bold).

                        So what Gray does not say, surprisingly, if he was trying to clear the matter up, is that Barrett had never mentioned the Sphere book to him before. He just says the book had never been mentioned as being of great importance.

                        He also says that he didn't keep a written record of his September meeting but Harris didn't say he did in the extract I posted (or the note from which it came) and it's pretty obvious that he hadn't otherwise he wouldn't have needed to rely on a statement by Gray.

                        I can't see why, after learning about the importance of the Sphere book in November, Gray could not have recalled that Mike had mentioned it to him in September.

                        The issue of whether Mike did or not lodge the book with his solicitors at any time is irrelevant. The issue of whether he ever owned a copy of it is irrelevant. The only issue is whether Mike mentioned the book to Gray in September.

                        Now, as I said in my post, I can't confirm the truth of any of what Harris said, and obviously there is no statement by Gray, nor any other evidence in support, but, equally, the point has not yet been refuted by any evidence.


                        • Let me add a few words about Voller's opinion re. bronzing.

                          Doesn't it seem just a bit odd, even illogical, for Voller to have concluded on the basis of some "very slight bronzing", which was "barely visible" and could only be seen by holding up the Diary to the light, that the Diary was therefore "genuinely old"? I mean, sure, ink experts know a lot about ink but how does he explain such a strange conclusion? How can he not be sure that this very slight bronzing hadn't happened in the three years since the Diary had emerged into the public gaze and into the light?

                          He doesn't really say in the transcript of the 20th October 1995 meeting other than that he has seen "a considerable number of documents like that where there has been very little bronzing". Does he mean by this documents 80-90 years old? He doesn't say.

                          Even weirder is that he says that "This bronzing effect is a chemical process which is not fully understood". But if it's not fully understood, how is Voller able to understand it?

                          One can understand his conclusion about fading. There was a lot of it and it was uneven so, okay, that must, he thinks, be something that could only have occurred naturally over a period of time. But such slight bronzing? Why does that scream "old"?

                          To my mind, what Voller was doing (and what he could surely only have been doing) was forming an opinion about the bronzing in the context of the fading. I suggest that, on its own, very slight barely visible bronzing could not possibly, under any circumstances, tell him that the Diary ink was genuinely old.

                          But in the context of the fading, Voller was saying "ah, we have fading which tells me that the Diary is "of some considerable age" and then he sees the slight bronzing and, because he would expect to see slight bronzing in an old document written with a nigrosine based ink, this simply confirms and corroborates in his mind the opinion he has already formed.

                          The problem, of course, is that if he's wrong about the fading - and there are now two known explanations as to how such fading could have occurred in a Diary written in 1992 - then his conclusion about bronzing cannot stand up.

                          Sure he might have seen old documents with slight bronzing but that doesn't mean that slight bronzing cannot occur in recently written documents and Voller never says it can't. On the contrary, he accepted in 2001 that Warren's 1995 sample was exhibiting similar bronzing characteristics to the Diary.

                          Voller's opinion in the October 1995 meeting can hardly be described as a considered opinion. An expert surely needs time to think and consider his or her words before being committed to them. I don't know why he wasn't asked to produce a written report but it's hardly fair to hold him to the first words that came out of his mouth and not reasonable to think they must be the final word on the subject.


                          • Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
                            The Great Misremember strikes again part 349.
                            Is that a great historical event I missed? A planted typographical error?


                            • Originally posted by Scott Nelson View Post
                              Is that a great historical event I missed? A planted typographical error?
                              No Scott, there has been no "planted typographical error" as I said very clearly in #4763, five posts above your own.


                              • two weeks and counting

                                Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
                                A week has now passed since I asked why Robert Smith hasn't produced a copy of the anonymous letter supposedly written in Diamine ink that he supposedly received in 1995. It's surprising not to have had any answer to this question and equally surprising that an image of the letter has not been posted on this forum. One of the members of this forum is "a close friend" of Smith's, and has been for nearly twenty years, so it should be such a simple matter to get in touch and for him to scan and send over an image of the letter.

                                At the same time, he could have explained (1) how he is so sure that the bottle of ink sent to him by Shirley Harrison in 2012 was the same bottle of pre-1992 formula Diamine ink she had received from Voller in 1995 and (2) why he thinks Voller has a doctorate.

                                The silence in respect of these questions is quite apparent.
                                It's very curious. We were told by the world's leading expert that she was going to be checking with her "close friend" Robert Smith as to why he believes Alec Voller to be a doctor and, if it turns out that he isn't, she was then going to eat humble pie and wipe all the egg off her face in a very public and humiliating way, admitting error for the first time ever!

                                Well we still wait for that but far more importantly we await news from this "close friend", who must surely be in contact, about the anonymous letter received by him in 1995.

                                Here's the weird thing. In attributing the letter to Warren, Smith says in his 2017 book, "I assume it was him, as he was the only person to receive the ink from Dr Voller apart from Harrison". For me, it's rather strange that he had to make this assumption. Why did he just not simply compare the handwriting of the anonymous letter to Nick Warren's handwriting?

                                I suppose the answer could be that he didn't have any of Nick Warren's handwriting. But that can't be the case. For Nick Warren wrote letters to Robert Smith on (at least) 10, 14 and 15 December 1994, as stated in a letter from Smith to Warren of 21 December 1994. Nick Warren's letters from this period, that I have seen, were invariably handwritten. So it's odd that Smith doesn't say that the reason he believes that the anonymous letter was written by Warren was because it was in his handwriting.

                                If, of course, it was in Nick Warren's handwriting, and Nick was a regular correspondent of Smith's, it can hardly be said to have been a genuine anonymous letter, as the handwriting would have been the equivalent of a signature. If it wasn't in Nick Warren's handwriting then there must be some doubt that it really did come from Nick Warren (and was written in Diamine ink).

                                It surely can't be too difficult for Smith's close friend to obtain a copy of this letter can it?

                                And then we need some information about the ink used by Smith in his 2012 test sample in order to confirm that it really was pre-1992 Diamine ink. It's perhaps one of those coincidences that pepper the story of the Diary that Shirley rang Smith "on or about" 2nd December 2011 to tell him that she had found the unlabelled bottle (two bottles in fact) which was exactly the same day on which Voller wrote to Smith to tell him about the bottles of ink he had produced to the pre-1992 formula. Which came first I can't help wondering: the telephone call or the letter from Voller? If he only wrote the letter on 2nd December then one assumes it was the telephone call which means that Shirley found the ink before Smith received that letter. So does that mean there was no connection between the letter and the finding of the bottles? Or was there? And why did it take six months for Shirley to then send one of those bottles to Smith? Why also, one might ask, did she not do anything with the ink in 1995 when she received it from Voller?