Mike Barrett Interview - September 1995
Part 1 - 13 September 1995
Hello again. Bob Azurdia here. And just two weeks ago Stewart Evans and Paul Grainey (sic) appeared on this programme with startling new evidence about the identity of the legendary Jack the Ripper. Stewart and Paul maintained that the mass murderer who stalked the streets of Victorian London was actually an American herb doctor, a quack, who was at one time arrested on lesser charges than murder only to jump bail and abscond back to America. Their evidence is based on newly discovered letters written by the one-time head of the C.I.D. Chief Inspector John Littlechild, who named Francis Tumblety as the Ripper. Well, all this brings the total of so-called Ripper suspects into double figures though the evidence is impressive in this case and of course itís the latest available. It also dismisses the claims of the so-called Ripper diaries which were published two years ago and which purported to be the diaries of James Maybrick, himself the alleged victim of murder by his wife Florence in 1889 in Liverpool the year after the Ripper murders ceased. Stewart and Paul claimed that these diaries, which caused a sensation when they were published, have now been admitted to be a hoax by Michael Barrett a one-time scrap metal dealer who owns the diaries and claims that they were given to him by a man named Tony Devereux, who died shortly afterwards. Well, no sooner had the Evans/Grainey programme been broadcast than I received a letter from Mr Barrett in which he says categorically that the diaries are not a hoax and that he has not signed a sworn affidavit admitting that they were. He joins me now to put the record as straight as possible and to maintain the confusion I fancy as to just who really was Jack the Ripper and just who wrote the famous diaries. James Maybrick, possibly, alias Jack the Ripper, or maybe somebody else years later.
Bob Azurdia (BA): Mike Barrett, first, whatever the truth, whether or not the diaries are genuine, you personally believe yourself to be the Ripperís latest victim together with most of those who have been involved with them. Can you explain?
Mike Barrett (MB): (laughs) Ooh, well first of all I know itís only a half hour but if we had several hours I donít even think that would be sufficient - what happened to me - well, er, I was divorced due to the pressure - itís a very, very, long story indeed. But nevertheless, Iíll come directly to the Ripper book. I believe and sincerely believe that itís got an omen about it. I can go into that a great deal later. Because everybody thatís touched it, it seems something has happened to them. Er, for instance Iíll just give you a couple of examples. Er, Doreen Montgomery had a partner (inaudible) for years, she just recently died of cancer, the chap who had the watch was just literally run over two weeks ago.
BA: The chap who had the watch, this is the watch which was found in a shop in Wirrell?
MB: Thatís quite correct, yes, has died in a road accident - well a motorcycle accident in Spain.
BA: And where is this watch now?
MB: Er, actually I donít know, thatís with the Johnsons. Well, obviously Albert Johnson, probably with his brother. I donít know.
BA: Who found it originally, Albert Johnson?
MB: Iím presuming because I donít keep in contact with them.
BA: But you believe that that should be readily accessible?
MB: Yes. Iíve been attacked very viciously within the press, very viciously within the press.
BA: You have?
MB: Oh yes no question about that.
BA: Why have you been attacked?
MB: Well when somebody comes along and sincerely believes that the diary is actually genuine, I mean, it creates worldwide interest, obviously, erm, people want to know everything, thatís the other, you know, even my - even to my own private life. Now Iíve actually and itís well on record, itís in the paperback, Iíve actually had obscene phone calls, Iíve actually had phone calls in the middle of the night, Iíve actually had threats, Iíve actually had one death threat which has been logged with Walton Lane police station. That is factual. Right, this is to the extent of what the diary has caused.
BA: I donít want to dwell particularly on your private life but you mentioned yourself, in the very first thing that you said, were, that you have been divorced since all this came about? You really believe that came about as the result of the pressure?
MB: Yes, we were married for 19 years, we were married for 19 years, we got along quite amicably, you know, I mean, far from rich. My wife was working as a secretary. I was on invalidity with kidney failure. And we got along quite happily then Tony Devereux gives me this diary and then everything changed. Just everything literally went downhill from there onwards. I was, to be perfectly honest, to say a mad man possessed would be, I donít know, an understatement. Because the diary literally took over my life. I mean, It did take over my life.
BA: You had other problems I think as well didnít you?
MB: Erm, regards?
BA: Well for example didnít you -
MB: Oh the drink.
BA: hit the drink.
MB: I had a drink, oh yes I become an alcoholic. Oh thereís no question about that. In the end it just got - the pressure was so much and I do honestly mean the pressure was so much, constant harassment over the diary, I mean Iíve been interviewed literally all over the world Sixty Minutes in America, er. This was something youíve got to think of: an ordinary person was taken literally from a terraced house and thrown into the media spotlight.
BA: So you would like to put the clock back then?
MB: Oh Iíd definitely like put the clock back if had every - if I could turn the clock back no question about it.
BA: What about the financial aspect of it. Have you not made any money out of it?
MB: No, because weíve been fending it off legally. We had to fend off The Times for instance. The Times, now they come down, they come and interviewed me. And they asked an awful lot of questions and I categorically denied that the diary, you know, I wrote the diary. Because this is one of the suppositions that people have been made. And I think one of the reasons that they made these suppositions is that for a brief period of time about seven or eight years ago I was writing short stories and interviewing various celebrities. In actual fact Mr Azurdia, if you recollect Mr Azurdia youíve actually been into my house going back seven years ago.
MB: And the type of people I was interviewing such as Kenneth Williams, Stan Boardman, Mick Miller, erm some quite famous celebrities at the time, Bernard Manning etc., and I was working for, freelancing for a magazine called Celebrity magazine. Now because I had, shall we say, a moderate success within writing, people have automatically assumed and picked up on that fact and automatically assumed well if heís had a moderate success in writing and had moderate success in interviewing people, you know, two and two make five and this is the conclusion an awful lot of people jump to.
BA: Yes well the great difficulty with regard to your diary is there is simply no provenance other than your word?
MB: Yes agreed now this is the biggest problem. Now, no provenance for the diary. Regrettably, I had to make a stand. And everybody was badgering me for provenance over a period of two years, this was before I really went and hit the bottle. This is before - Iíve always had the occasional pint. Iíd be the first person to admit that. Iíve always had a pint all me life. Right, now having said that, over a period of two years I was badgered and badgered and badgered constantly to the point you couldnít even go out. You know, where people were saying: ďWhat about this diary Mike? What about this diary?Ē It was the diary seven days a week, twenty four hours a day, constantly. It intruded on my personal life. Now, even quite honestly the Daily Post went along and even intruded Carolineís school, thatís my daughter at the time, to find out where Caroline was in order to get to myself in order to find out where I lived. And that is factual. That is actually factual.
BA: Well was this because they simply didnít know where you lived or hadnít made any contact?
MB: I hadnít made no contact whatsoever.
BA: Are you suggesting that their behaviour was improper.
MB: To a degree. No, I canít suggest their behaviour is improper. I can understand it on a writerís point of view or a journalistís point of view, itís a big news story. So Iím not saying itís improper but what Iím saying is that when it begins to intrude in your personal life, when you start contacting the headmistress, Mrs Amelia (?) at the time, to find out where your daughter is and the reason they got onto that: Caroline, me daughter at the time, was featured in the Daily Post and in the Echo for playing The Last er, The Last Trumpet, sorry, The Last Post by the British Legion, being the first young child to play that. I happened to mention this to a person on the train coming back from London and one and one made two, they come to five and they Ė put it this way they found me through Caroline.
BA: It seems a reasonable way to find you.
MB: And thatís how they found me. Now I found that to a certain degree was an intrusion on my privacy.
BA: Well they wanted to find you and they wanted no doubt to ask you questions politely and properly and Iím sure they did, did they not?
MB: Oh yes, yes.
MB: I mean, Iím not suggesting anything was improper.
MB: Iím just saying that it just - this is where it all sort of begins, where your private life no longer becomes your private life.
BA: Alright but none the less you went on and had the book published.
BA: So to which extent you courted publicity?
MB: No, no, I donít think I actually did once the book was published.
BA: You must appreciate that when you publish a book of this sort.
MB: Yeah, I didnít, you used the word ďcourtĒ publicity, no, actually I didnít court publicity.
BA: You didnít seek it?
MB: No I didnít seek it. Because Doreen Montgomery, the first time I met her, Doreen Montgomeryís my agent, the first time I met her and she brought Shirley Harrison, I said well fine.
BA: Shirley Harrison is the woman who actually who wrote the book.
MB: Who wrote the diary and what have you and obviously I done a tremendous amount of the research with her, but she actually wrote the actual contents of the book, now Shirley Harrison Ė well, sorry we are diversifying. Going back to Doreen Montgomery, going back to the first time I met her I said, ďI donít really wish to be famous, I donít want to become famousĒ. Little did I know at that particular time I was actually producing what I call today Frankensteinís monster. Thatís what I call the diary today, the monster, because it just totally and utterly got completely out of control.
BA: Yes, well now, within the book itself there are many references to the tests which took place, the forensic tests which took place on the paper, on the ink, on the handwriting to indicate that it was at least 90 years old, possibly a little bit more, 100 years old.
MB: Thatís quite correct.
BA: Alright, now this is fully documented in the book and Shirley Harrison the author comments on all these things. Now, subsequently one hears that there is further evidence that the ink is much newer and contains an ingredient which wasnít available until about 1974.
MB: Right now, having said that, you have to appreciate Iím going back to Shirley Harrisonís research, my own research, Robert Smithís research and the various people that have been involved-
BA: Robert Smith being?
MB: The publisher, erm, and the various other people that have been involved within the diary, the research - weíve tried to act completely above board, weíve got some of the most eminent ink specialists within the world and to get their opinion and the ink has gone through micro test, this test, that test, and heaven knows and, in actual fact, if youíd like me to quote you some of the ink tests which is actually in the paperback.
BA: Indeed, yes, yes, thereís an extensive list of quotes from so-called experts, I donít use the word ďso-calledĒ in a critical sense.
MB: No, these were experts in their particular field. Now having said that, the new book that come out The Lodger, this was totally - a complete surprise to me, I didnít know anything about it. Nor was I informed about it. In actual fact, the first time I heard about The Lodger was literally last Monday, a week last Monday when it was advertised on a trailer on Radio Merseyside that the following Wednesday you were producing -
BA: Stewart Evans and Paul Gainey.
MB: Hence to say my curiosity -
BA: Thatís why youíre here.
MB: Yes, my curiosity was aroused and thatís why Iím here now. Now, in the book The Lodger it does say - now Iíve yet to see that research, Iíve yet to see what they have, those particular authors what they have, where their documents are. As far as we are concerned we have produced our documents within the book.
BA: Well within the book too they have reproduced the letter giving the name of this man Tumblety.
MB: The letter. Yes, remember weíre on the subject of the ink not the letter.
BA: Indeed, yes, but weíre not talking about the same thing at all now then. We were talking about the ink in your diaries and you are now turning the conversation to the documentation within the book of the Ripper.
MB: No, not the documentation, what I was saying is that I was surprised at the contents, in The Lodger it does state categorically regards the ink.
BA: Oh regarding your ink?
MB: Regarding the ink, yes. Now I have yet, this is the point Iím making, I have yet to go back and to find any document proof to that. Iím quite willing to have an open mind, very open mind, if I could see that document evidence.
BA: Right, let me ask you, is the diary of the Ripper a genuine diary?
MB: Now, that is a question that Iíve been asked a thousand, a million times, to the point where, as I say, I literally crack up in the end. I just give up and say ďOh to hell with itĒ. Sorry. I do apologise for that slip up with that one word. In the words of shall we say Rhett Butler, you know, er, ďDamn, damn it allĒ. Well thatís not the exact quote. But, having said that, I got to the point where I was badgered, badgered and badgered. And this question has constantly been asking, is the diary genuine? Iíve always maintained that the Diary in my belief is genuine. I sincerely believe it. The evidence is there. Thereís too much evidence. The evidence is overwhelming. However, I cannot and I still cannot to this very day, and I donít think until the day I die, and I donít think in two hundred three hundred years anyone ever will be able to prove provenance of the Diary. Unfortunately I cannot prove provenance of the diary. Yet, everybody wishes me to prove provenance. And I keep maintaining ďHow can I prove provenanceĒ?
BA: With great difficulty, with great difficulty, obviously.
MB: Well, in fact, itís impossible.
BA: Obviously, very, very difficult. Then why - why did you admit that it was a hoax?
MB: Ah, right, as I say, I had two years of constant - being attacked, you know, people, pressure, I mean, phone calls in the middle of the night. I mean, I know Iím repeating myself but this is all factual. Threats, everything. My own private life just completely and utterly disintegrated to the point where I didnít have a private life in the end, to the point where the diary literally got on top of me. And I went up and I got myself a bottle of scotch quote honestly and truly, right, and I drank the whole damn bottle of scotch and then after that bottle of scotch went, I went up and staggered up the next morning and drank another bottle of scotch. Two bottles of scotch within a period of 48 hours, I didnít know if I was coming, going, backwards or forwards, so much so and this is well recorded because itís in the paperback book. I ended up in an alcohol clinic. Now I regret that, it was a very stupid thing to do.
BA: Are you better now?
MB: Oh yes completely but having said that one has to remember people handle pressure in different types of forms. You know, my type of form to the way I handle pressure stress, I ended up taking to the bottle and believe me drinking two bottles of scotch within a period of 48 hours, considering Iím still on renal failure as well, is not a very sensible thing to do but I didnít know if I was coming or going and what statements Iíve made at the time I just donít remember.
BA: But didnít you volunteer the information to the Daily Post that it was a hoax and you signed it?
MB: When I was totally drunk.
BA: You were totally drunk?
MB: And the journalist, Mr Harold Brough, will confirm because it states in the paperback book that he come to the house and there was two bottles of scotch next to the settee that I was sitting in. In actual fact, itís written in the diary.
MB: So whatís the point of denying alcoholism when itís actually written in the paperback edition?
BA: Weíre not discussing your alcoholism as such which you admit to. Iím wondering why you found it necessary to volunteer information to Harold Brough to sayÖ
MB: Once again, I repeat I got to the point -
BA: Look this is a hoax, this is where I got the documentation, this is where I got the diary.
MB: Once again, I repeat I got to the point where I just wanted to destroy the diary.
BA: You wanted to get it off your back?
MB: I wanted to get it off my back. The diary was destroying my life.
BA: Even to the extent of now lying about it and signing -
MB: Yeah, yes, oh yes totally. Look, I was a happy easy going man.
MB: Very happy, very content, responsible for me daughter taking her to school and was really happy and content. Then this diary comes into my life and it changes my life completely. It puts my world in a complete Ė it puts me in another world I didnít know existed.
BA: So you feel, or you felt at the time that a denial at this stage would take the pressure off you?
MB: Yeah, I thought it would take all the pressure off me and to hell with it.
BA: Did it?
MB: No, it didnít. It had the opposite effect. It had the opposite effect.
BA: Did you not subsequently, though, sign a denial in a solicitorís office?
MB: Oh I signed a denial in a solicitorís office yes. When I was 100% sober because I said to him I wasnít even in control of me senses when I made that statement.
BA: Well why did you do that?
MB: Deny? I made a denial that I didnít write the diary, thatís what Iím saying.
BA: You wrote a denial that you didnít write the diary?
BA: But was it not also a denial that it was a genuine diary?
MB: Oh no, no it was a denial that I didnít write the diary. No, I always believed the diary was genuine. You know.
BA: Even though -
MB: I wrote a denial Ė this word is ďdenialĒ is confusing Ė but I wrote a denial that I wasnít in control of my senses at that particular time. You know.
BA: So that was a denial of the denial in other words?
MB: Yes a denial of the denial. Yes, in other words, I got fed up. I made a stupid statement when I was absolutely totally and utterly drunk. You know, and I thought right, when I sobered up I thought ďMy god that statement was a total lieĒ so I had to deny that statement.
BA: Because my understanding was -
MB: This is where all the misconceptions has happened.
BA: My understanding was that you made a sworn statement saying that you were not the perpetrator of the diary, in other words that you didnít write it yourself?
MB: Of course, yes, well I had made that statement because I didnít.
BA: But also that it was not genuine.
MB: Oh no, no, I made a statement saying I did not write the diary. I made a definite statement that I did not write the diary, you know, I have definitely not made a statement and categorically deny that one. And that is factual because itís lodged with me solicitors. That is factual. Thatís there to see that, you know, I didnít, under no circumstances [inaudible] my solicitors, Mr Richard Bark Jones, who has been more than helpful, in fact, I couldnít thank that man enough. Heís been very, very, supportive, you know, throughout the whole thing because he knows the type of pressure I actually have been under. He is the one person that does know the pressure Iíve been under.
BA: Did you not indicate at a certain time that you actually got the documents, the diary, from Outhwaite & Litherland, a well-known firm of antiquarians?
MB: That was the night I was totally drunk and that was the night that Harold Brough took me round in his car. And I think I had a bottle of scotch in me hand then. You can always check with Harold Brough.
BA: You remember that?
MB: I think I had a bottle of scotch.
BA: But I mean you remember pointing out and saying thatís where I got it?
MB: We were going all over Liverpool at the time [inaudible] the places went to. [Laughs.]
BA: And pointing out the Bluecoat school, saying ďThatís where I got the inkĒ?
MB: Yeah, since then Iíve been back to the Bluecoat school, and I volunteered, I went up there, you know, once Iíd got sobered up completely and I said: ďDo you remember me? Do you know me? Have you ever seen me?Ē These are the managers, the owners and the staff. And they all said: ďNo weíve never seen you, we donít know youĒ and what have you. And I said well thank you very much. Itís the only way I could prove that, you know, I was totally drunk at the time. But youíve got to understand why I did get drunk. I had had enough of this.
BA: I can well understand -
MB: I had well and truly had enough of this.
BA: I can well understand why you got drunk, yes. I canít, however, quite understand, because my approach to things is not the same as yoursÖ
MB: No, I know.
BA: And yours is not the same as other peoples. I canít understand why you found it necessary though to tell lies and elaborate lies, very elaborate, thatís where I got it from, thatís where I got the ink from and then actually go and sign away.
BA: Thatís how you found a release perhaps?
BA: Or a sort of release?
MB: It actually backfired on me completely.
BA: Alright, letís go back to the beginning if we may Mike. I am not questioning your personal integrity, Iím just trying to clarify because it seems right at the beginning there were -
MB: Now this is the whole point. I know youíre not, I appreciate that but there is an awful lot of people that have tried. And this is one of the things that really annoyed me, really become very frustrating, very annoying. And when you constantly have to defend yourself, day in day out, seven days a week. Now, for instance, in the paperback book, Shirley Harrison has wrote that I was, you know, in an alcoholic clinic. Now Iíve had to come to terms with that because itís written in the paperback book. Now, having said that, people automatically assume Michael Barrettís still an alcoholic. But Iím not drinking.
BA: Well you may not be drinking but you know as well as I do that once an alcoholic, you only need one more and youíre back again.
MB: Thereís different parts of schoolings in that particular thought. Thereís different parts of schoolings in that particular thought. I know because I have been into an alcohol clinic. So there are different schools of thought having said that. No, the point is, no, Iíve come back from the brink, shall we say, Iíve literally come back from the brink. I thought, you know, drink, I found a way out to forget all this aggravation, to forget all this onslaught. And I think that is a very appropriate - onslaught, directly towards me. Drink I found a way out. In the end I found out that drink was no solution. That was the whole point, there is no solution. So you might as well stand up and face the world and come out and say right once again I am an alcoholic and will probably be an alcoholic for the rest of my life in that case. You are labelled it but the point is youíre not drinking. Which is a heck of a big difference. That is a heck of a big difference. Why should you be an alcoholic if itís only for a short period of time? Why should you be labelled for the rest of your life with that title? Thatís my point.
BA: Youíve always maintained that you obtained these diaries from a man called Tony Devereux.
MB: Quite correct.
BA: What sort of a person was he?
MB: Tony, to describe him? Ah right now, Tony was a print worker (inaudible) who had retired what have you. He was what I would call an ordinary man in the street. The ordinary man in the street. You know, a chap to have a pint with. You know, we got on exceedingly well. A good conversationalist. Very good conversationalist.
BA: Quite a bit older than you I would have thought.
MB: Yes he was six-, not at the time, he was 57 I think when we met, he was about 61 when he died, so it was about a four year period. But donít quote me on that because Iím not exactly sure. I think he was about 61.
MB: Sorry, so what type of man? I donít know. He was just a nice man to talk to. He was a decent man.
BA: An honest man?
MB: I always found him an honest man.
BA: A con man?
MB: No, no, if youíre going to say: Did he have the capability of writing the diary? Donít worry, Iíve been asked that question a thousand times.
BA: Well youíre going to be asked again.
MB: Iím not trying to be Ė
BA: Did he have the capability?
MB: No, Iím not trying to be derogatory to Tony. Not in the slightest whatsoever. I donít think he had the personal capability. You know, he was what Iíd call an average working man that just went to work, you know, originally in the past, you know, before he retired.
BA: Because he died so soon that he couldnít be questioned?
MB: Yes, unfortunately he couldnít be questioned. I didnít question him quite, several times. I did pester him. Badger him in actual fact. I could say badger him.
BA: Why wouldnít he tell you were he got it?
MB: I donít know. I feel eventually he would have told me. I mean, nobody anticipates youíre going to die of a heart attack several weeks later. Less than a few weeks later. I mean, I didnít anticipate, I knew he was a sick man.
BA: He had no family?
MB: Oh yes, he had sisters um daughters and what have you, they were very good to him.
BA: And why did he give this to you then?
MB: Thatís a good point. I used to go down see him every day. I used to go and run round the betting shop. Oh he fractured his hip just for the record. This was the Christmas previous, you know, he fractured his hip. So - and I used to collect Caroline from school which is in Fountains Road and used to literally pass Tonyís house every day. Previous to that we always met in the Saddle pub and we always drank in the Saddle pub. Then he fractured his hip. Once he fractured his hip I was still going down to collect Caroline, hence I was still passing his house. It was literally past the school. I used to always call in, does he want to put a bet on? You know, his family racing background (?), you should be interested in that. Or he used to phone me up and say hey Mike will you go and get me something, you know, from the shop whatever the case may be. You know, it could have been sugar, it could have been milk. So I just popped in.
BA: Of course. The odd thing?
MB: The odd thing and everything. And while I was there, we had a chat and we had a talk and everything. And we were having the same chats or talks or any discussion as if we were in a pub. Meaning previously when we were in the Saddle pub.
BA: Exactly. Comfortable conversations?
MB: Comfortable conversations, so it was just a normal routine, only instead of being in the pub I was actually in Tonyís house.
BA: But you have the capability to have written a diary like this.
MB: People saying I had the capability.
BA: I mean you wrote short stories that youíve been telling us.
MB: Oh yes, thank you very much for the compliment. Yeah [I think Iím kind of pleased]. Well I look at it this way then if I had the capability to write the diary, right, first of all Iíd have to be an ink expert. Now, first of all youíre saying Iíd have to be a professional writer. Iíd have to be a very, very, good professional writer.
BA: Not necessarily but youíd have to have a good mind of a particular sort.
MB: Right, Iíd have to be a historian.
BA: Youíd have to know something about the 1880s and something about criminology of the time.
MB: Criminology at the time. So therefore Iíd have to be a historian a very, well, precise historian. Iíd have to know two murders completely. Maybrick and the Ripper, right.
BA: There are plenty of books though available to read up on these.
MB: Thatís a tremendous amount of knowledge. And yet again, having said that, go back to the Ripper books. Thereís so many contradictions within the Ripper books. So the forger is going to make a mistake. He could easily make one mistake from one Ripper book to another Ripper book. I mean, the Duke of Clarence thereís one, Stephen Knight, thereís another, Melvin Harris. Thereís so many different contradictions. I mean, I can go through the diary, the farthings, the pennies and everything. So easy to make a mistake yet the diary had it correct right the way through.
BA: Well perhaps it had it correct -
MB: Well that forger Ė
BA: In a way, you are extremely knowledgeable by the quotations youíve been - or the quotes youíve been giving to me in the last few moments even, the various aspects of history and you could very well have had all that information five years ago, six years ago, as opposed to now.
MB: Yes, but in order to do that Iíd have to be a metal expert as well. Now having said that Iíd have to be a metal expert.
BA: Well youíve been in scrap metal.
MB: Yes but I think being in the scrap metal game and being a real metal expert is two different things, particularly when the watch has actually gone through university and itís been passed within that time and it has actually been, er, proven.
BA: This is something different now this watch youíre referring to, Mike, because, er, the watch was a watch which was found in a shop I think in Liscard in Wallasey and it had on it faintly inscribed initials of all the alleged victims of the Ripper plus allegedly the initials of James Maybrick himself and this was discovered at much the same time as your book was being published.
MB: Well actually it come out of the blue, but it wasnít discovered much at the same time, we must have a correction there, it was discovered approximately 18 months later, right, at that time.
BA: So itís later than the publication?
MB: Later than the publication.
BA: Well it was referred to in the first edition, surely?
MB: Well it was referred to in the first edition, Iím not quite sure, yes, I know, but the first edition was over 12 months research previous to that, before the first edition.
BA: Well, it cropped up at approximately the same time as your book.
MB: I have always kept myself distanced from the watch which I come to, you know, later. But first of all the watch was brought by the Johnson brothers from Stewarts the jewellers.
MB: Now we went back, Shirley Harrison went back to trace the history and Susannah thatís Susannah Stewart told - they got all the appropriate documents, the receipts and everything else and the watchís history. Susannahís father had given them the watch, along with several other gold stocks and antiques jewellery from their shop in Lancaster.
BA: From Lancaster?
MB: From Lancaster when he retired and that was at least eight years previous before the watch was actually in the Wirrell shop.
BA: So Mr Stewart maintained that they had had it in their possession, the watch, for at least eight years.
MB: For at least eight years. She also goes on and says probably as much as 15 years ago previously.
BA: So the suggestion is that if you were in cahoots with them youíd have had to lay your trail 15 years in advance.
MB: Previous to that. Yes, right. Now Iíve always kept myself distant from the watch and I thought it was a very sensible thing to do. Because I always thought at the time I had the diary which I sincerely believed was genuine. I didnít know what was going to crop up. You know, I always anticipated something might crop up, somebody might be getting onto the bandwagon once they found out that the diary was published and everything else. When I heard about the watch totally out of the blue, in fact when me publisher heard about the watch, and when Shirley Harrison, everybody was very, very, alarmed, we were all, shall we say, on pins, so our immediate reaction was we must get the watch tested and we must trace the watchís history. Now we duly did trace the watchís history which we can go back, so thatís Ė
BA: Via the jewellers?
MB: Via the jewellers, via the receipts, everything else.
BA: And the claim is that it was Maybrickís watch?
MB: Watch, yes. Now, having said that, we went and we took the watch, well I didnít actually personally because, as I say, I kept myself distant from it, Shirley Harrison took the watch and she got it tested at the university by one of the top metal experts Ė
BA: In Manchester.
MB: In Manchester and he dated it approximately ten to ten years either way, so how do you go about that? Apparently with the brass and the corrosion and the scratches and the marks thatís inscribed over the brass itís impossible, you know, any new markings, any new scratchings, would have obviously showed up under the appropriate metal tests at that particular time, which they did not do.
BA: And the man who actually found the watch, you say, was actually killed only two weeks ago?
MB: Yes, approximately two to two and a half weeks ago. The Diary has been literally cursed. I mean, thereís so many - itís touched everybody thatís been involved on a professional side of the diary, itís touched our lives in so many different ways.