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  • NickB,

    The flower shop visit is exactly the sort of detail that is needed to make sense of how Hanratty first came into the frame. Your account may well be vindicated from the statements that Matthews was able to access. Which is why the report should be published. There’s not much need to redact names since most of those involved are now dead.

    For my part I remain sceptical. If, and that is a big if, the police following a routine burglary enquiry saw a florist shop’s name on a batch of flowers they could hardly have expected it to yield much information regarding the whereabouts of James Hanratty. They themselves seem to have acknowledged this by not pursuing the weak lead until the 1st of September. That’s four days to follow up a lead. I assume, and this has never been established so far as I am aware, that the police who visited the Hanratty family on 27th August were not part of the murder enquiry. Again, Matthews may have been able to confirm this.

    When the police- again I am making the assumption these were not officers connected with the A6 murder- eventually arrived at Swiss Cottage they might have had a faint chance of knowing where Hanratty was; he could have said something in casual conversation to shop assistant about his travel plans. The police, sensibly enough it seems to me, also visited other shops in the arcade in an attempt to trace Hanratty’s movements.

    What stands out about this police visit, whether routine or orchestrated by Ewer is that Ewer himself is, according to fellow shopkeepers, like a cat on hot bricks about the police appearance. That takes some explaining. As does his ridiculous story about the vision of Mrs. Gregsten which was plainly false, but given ( I accept the journalist’s account) for a reason that in my view was not to obtain financial reward. That Swiss Cottage visit rattled Ewer for some reason, therefore he supplied a smokescreen after the trial.

    Comment


    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9wfsED26Kg

      Not sure if I will get this url copy and paste right, anyhow, its a short documentary of British rail from 1959. At between 1 and 2 minutes in ,there is a 6 or 7 second segment of a train on the top of an embankment in Taplow heading east towards London, showing 3 people enjoying a drink at the side of the Old Station Inn. Couple of things of interest, on this view we are facing south towards Dorney from the A4 kerbside, now remembering back to Natalie seven being told that the cornfield could be clearly observed from the window of the pub, as we see, that would in fact not be possible. Although not as imposing as the 'The Dumb Bell ' on the opposite side of the road, I don't think the Old station Inn is particularly hidden away. Anyhow I thought this quick view gives a feel of how the place was in '61, this is '59 and I think Mike and Val were most likely frequenting the place even then.


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      • 1at Sep is when Ewer went into the photographer's shop. We do not know the date the police talked to Dorothy Morrell, she simply told Foot it was soon after Hanratty had bought the flowers.

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        • Natalie seven being told that the cornfield could be clearly observed from the window of the pub
          This piece of nonsense came from a highly-politicised stage play called 'Hanging Hanratty', which Natalie Severn saw, and reported the statement in the play that Janet Gregsten watched the abduction in the cornfield from the comfort of the lounge of The Old Station Inn. As I quickly advised, this is simply not possible, and was purely for the purpose of dramatics. I believe she accepted this. I rather miss her on these boards.....

          Graham
          Last edited by Graham; 12-04-2019, 10:30 AM.
          We are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture and hypothesis. - Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure Of Silver Blaze

          Comment


          • That Swiss Cottage visit rattled Ewer for some reason, therefore he supplied a smokescreen after the trial.
            I still haven't got my books back, so could someone please remind me if Ewer was ever interviewed by the police as part of their investigation?
            He had, of course, known Janet for years, and at one time she lived in the same house as Ewer and his wife; and there must have been a buzz between them as after Michael's death they lived together as partners for some years. I always wondered if the police viewed our Bill with some slight yet genuine suspicion, never mind all the conspiracy bullshit that was written about him and Alphon planning the murder together.

            Graham
            We are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture and hypothesis. - Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure Of Silver Blaze

            Comment


            • Ewer made a statement to police on Sept 11, 1961. Woffinden quotes part of it on p. 382. It seems to have merely been the police asking him what he knew about Gregsten and the state of his and Janet's marriage.

              In his letter to the Sunday Times in 1971 he says: "My first statement of any kind to the police was made after the trial. I believe it arose because of some articles that had been printed in the newspapers. The second was made some years later to a policeman called Chief Inspector Mooney." I'm not sure what either of those contained.

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              • 'She saw him at the cleaners' was a Ewer fantasy, as Foot acknowledged when he interviewed Janet and subsequently phoned Ewer - something he should have done before publishing his book. Ewer told the Sunday Times it was a farrago of nonsense, even though it is clear from the Sketch article that he was the source.

                In his statements to the Sunday Times, Ewer claimed to have worked closely with the police. But the newspaper pointed out some demonstrable inaccuracies in his statements - so it is difficult to know which parts to believe. I expect the police would have interviewed him as part of their enquiries. They certainly interviewed him after he successfully sued the Sunday Times for libel; this interview is at the National Archives but not available to the public for several years.

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                • Alfie - I think Ewer made a subsequent statement to the Sunday Times claiming closer police involvement.

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                  • Thanks for this, Alfie and NickB. 'She Saw Him At The Cleaners' was, IIRC, initially concocted by a couple of journalists with who Ewer was having a drink. I never quite understood how anyone could have genuinely believed this. I was aware that the police had spoken to Ewer at least once, but couldn't recall if any of these interviews had been under caution. It seems none were.

                    If I don't get my A6 (and other true crime) books back by the weekend, I think I may have to be cautioned....

                    Graham
                    We are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture and hypothesis. - Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure Of Silver Blaze

                    Comment


                    • Sunday Times 2-May-71:

                      'Mr Ewer said in his statement that his only contacts with the police had been his telephone report of seeing a man whom he thought answered the description of the murderer and later asking for permission to attend the trial. But in a further interview last Thursday Mr Ewer admitted that he had had much more frequent contacts with the police. It was, for example, a policeman who had told him that Hanratty had also been in the cleaners shop. Also he had spoken to police officers a number of times before the trial.'

                      Comment


                      • William Ewer must have been of interest to the police investigation since he knew a number of those involved. He clearly knew the victim, Michael Gregsten and must have been aware of, if not met, Valerie Storie. Through his business he also knew Louise Anderson who was a ‘fence’ for Hanratty’s ill gotten gains. In addition to that he seems to have been acquainted with Dixie France, who visited Ewer’s shop to offer his condolences after the crime. By his own account Ewer also alerted the police to a man resembling the photofit in Swiss Cottage area before any cartridge cases were found in the Vienna Hotel.

                        There is no evidence that Ewer knew Hanratty although given the latter’s movements in the shopping arcade it is considered likely he would at some point have entered Ewer’s shop, particularly as Ewer was known to Louise Anderson. There is no evidence that Ewer knew Alphon, merely speculation that their paths may have crossed at some obscure gathering of right wing moralists.

                        Ewer’s claim that it was he who phoned the police is surely somewhere inside the police records if true. It is difficult to see why he would have made this detail up.

                        As for the fantastic story concerning Mrs. Gregsten’s vision, clearly Ewer knew it was rubbish as did the journalist who wrote it down, but it did make for good copy. It also had the advantage of explaining why Ewer made the phone call alerting the police to Swiss Cottage. On reflection it was not very pleasant thing to attribute to the grieving wife and could be seen as rather heartless, portraying her as some kind of hysteric. We know that Ewer was actually very protective towards Mrs. Gregsten so would not have encouraged such a ludicrous tale without an underlying reason.

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                        • Yes, I recall that now, Nick. One of the points raised by Woffinded was that a criminal trial is in normal circumstances a public event, and one doesn't need 'permission' to attend. Why Ewer wrote that has always been a puzzle to me. Strikes me as being a wee bit of a fantasist.

                          Does anyone know when and where Ewer died? There is virtually no information about him outside the A6 literature.

                          Graham
                          We are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture and hypothesis. - Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure Of Silver Blaze

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Graham View Post
                            Does anyone know when and where Ewer died? There is virtually no information about him outside the A6 literature.
                            I've made a note that he died in March, 1990, aged 78 - not sure of the source now. That would make him aged 49 at the time of the trial and nearly 20 years older than Janet Gregsten.

                            Comment


                            • William Ewer may have been cited as a witness for the prosecution at the trial of James Hanratty. As such he would not have been able to sit in the court as a member of the public and hear evidence.

                              With some wisdom, the prosecution must have realised that Ewer’s usefulness was limited and the ‘spotting’ at Swiss Cottage a potential hand grenade. Therefore he would be given ‘permission’ to attend the public trial since he was not being called as a witness.

                              Comment


                              • Nick, I came across this earlier post from you just now concerning the head-scratcher that is Alphon's "deposit" on the room at the Vienna:

                                "There is an intriguing passage in the Appeal (section 166) where Mansfield suggests the mysteries of the Vienna Hotel can be explained by the police attempt to frame Alphon. It does appear that at the time of his second statement Nudds thought the police wanted him to finger Alphon, but I think it is more complicated than that. A good starting point is Florence Snell’s claim that ‘Durrant’ phoned her at 11am and made a direct booking for one night. She must have confused him with someone else. I think this for two reasons: 1. In his 27-Aug statement Alphon said that he went to the Broadway House Hotel first and was diverted to the Vienna Hotel. I think it unlikely he made this up. 2. I am not aware of Alphon booking anywhere for one night. His modus operandi was to keep his leaving date a moving target in case he wanted to slip out without paying. Juliana Galves' 13-Sep statement raises certain questions, all arising out of an assumption that Alphon did call at 11am. The most pertinent question was: Why does the diary say he paid a deposit? The police then put these questions to Nudds which he was able to use as a framework for his second statement. He claims that after the 11am phone call he wrote in the diary 'Mr Durrant, one night’ and then added ‘Deposit 1.7.6.’ when Alphon arrived. I notice in the statement there is no full stop after ‘night’. I suggest what happened is that when Alphon arrived (at 11.30pm) he was confronted by the Vienna Hotel policy of demanding payment up front. Not wanting to be specific about a leaving date, he arranged to pay for one night which could be regarded as a deposit. Nudds then made a single entry ‘Mr Durrant, one night Deposit 1.7.6.’ Or perhaps Mansfield is right, and the records were altered."

                                I think you're probably right in all respects but one. I think Alphon had already paid for a night while at the Broadway House Hotel, before travelling on to the Vienna.

                                Here's what Sgt Kilner in his statement of Sept 18, 1961, said that Alphon told him about his movements on Aug 22: "... about 8 pm went to the Broadway House Hotel in Dorset Square. They had no room there, but booked one for him at a hotel under the same ownership, the Vienna Hotel, in Sutherland Avenue, Maida Vale. Thereafter, he went again to his mother. He met her in the street on the corner of Gleneagle Rd. He had not gone to the house 'as I do not get on with my father.' He then returned to Victoria Station, where he had to pick up something from the left luggage office. He then went to the Vienna Hotel, arriving just after 11.00 pm."

                                And here's what Alphon himself told Malcolm Southan of the Sunday Times who published the interview on Sept 10, 1967: "‘Shortly after 8.30 he went from the Volunteer pub in Baker St to the Broadway House Hotel to book a room. He was booked for the night from there at the Vienna Hotel, and paid his 27/6."

                                So if Nudds had been told by the BHH that he'd already paid for one night, or was provided with proof of this by Alphon, but was then informed by his guest that he'd probably be staying longer, I can see that this also might explain the entry in the register.

                                Was it ever established that the 'deposit' entry was in Nudds' handwriting?
                                Last edited by Alfie; 12-04-2019, 04:56 PM.

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