Jack the Ripper – some news

TheDaily Telegraph ran an interesting article on the Ripper yesterday.

 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8514000/Scotland-Yard-fights-to-keep-Jack-the-Ripper-files-secret.html

Scotland Yard is battling to keep 123-year-old files on Jack the Ripper secret.

Four thick ledgers compiled by Special Branch officers have been kept under lock and key since the Whitechapel murders in 1888.

Jack the Ripper murders reported by the Police News

Trevor Marriott, a Ripper investigator and former murder squad detective, has spent three years attempting to obtain uncensored versions of the documents.

But he has been repeatedly refused because the ledgers contain the identities of police informants – and the Metropolitan Police insist that revealing the information could compromise their attempts to gather information from “supergrasses” and other modern-day informants.

Last week, Mr Marriott took Scotland Yard to a tribunal in a last-ditch attempt to see the journals – containing 36,000 entries – which he believes contain evidence which could finally unmask the world’s most famous serial killer. ….

The ledgers provide details of the police’s dealings with thousands of informants from 1888 to 1912, including some who provided information during the original Ripper investigation. … According to Mr Marriott, the files contain the names of at least four new suspects, as well as other pieces of evidence.

… On uncovering references to the ledgers in 2008, Mr Marriott applied to see the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The Met refused and he appealed to the Information Commissioner who also decided the books should not be revealed. Now Mr Marriott has undergone the final appeal stage to the Information Tribunal, in which the case is heard by a panel of three judges.

The three-day hearing involved a detective inspector, identified only as ‘D’, speaking to the court from behind a screen because of his sensitive role running the force’s intelligence-gathering operation from informants. Detective Inspector ‘D’ told the tribunal that unveiling the files could deter informants from coming forward in future, and could even put off members of the public from phoning Crimestoppers or the antiterrorist hotline. Det Insp ‘D’ said the passage of time did not make publication of informants’ identities less sensitive because their descendants could be targeted by criminals with a grudge.

Another senior officer, Detective Superintendent Julian McKinney, told the tribunal that releasing names would make police officers less capable of preventing terrorist attacks and organised crime, and make informants vulnerable to attack.Det Supt McKinney said: “Regardless of the time, regardless of whether they are dead, they should never be disclosed. “They come to us only when they have the confidence in our system that their identity will not be disclosed.”

But Mr Marriott said a number of historical files have previously been released which contained details of informants. He argued there was no evidence to show descendants of informants who have been named had come to harm.

This is an interesting development. Looking back at my previous JtR post, I have tried to make clear under what enormous pressure the police were at the time to catch the killer and stop the murders. It would have been in their own best interest to let the public know as soon as they could that a) the danger posed by the Ripper was no more and that b) the credit for this belonged to them, that they had done a good job in protecting the public.  

And yet, no such announcement was ever made. The case was allowed to gradually fade from attention. There was no large-scale announcement that the Ripper was gone, people were safe now, police was not as goofy as they had been thought to be. They took the risk that panic would break out anew in the East End, caused by any murder similar enough to give the public the impression that the Ripper was back. And when  there were indeed a number of similar murders over the next two years, none were conclusively linked to the Ripper, and none were treated the same way by the police.

Perhaps the police really had no idea who the Ripper was and were simply trying to soft-pedal. On the other hand, we do have statements of several members of the police force that the police did indeed know who the Ripper was, giving different reasons just why there had not been an arrest and the killings had stopped.

The ledgers and the secrecy that still surrounds them support the theory that at least some of the police exactly knew who was behind the Ripper killings – and that there is a reason why this has to be kept quiet until today. In fact, the varying statements of police officials as to the identity of the Ripper could have been purposeful desinformation.

As one user on Casebook states: “As the article explains, the Special Branch Registers and Ledgers contain suspect names that pertain to these events. 4 more suspects. Special Branch themselves therefore were involved in this investigation. That means there was involvement on a political or national security level of some sort. That is what Special Branch, deal with. … Now that tells me that if the Whitechapel murders were subject to Special Branch involvement, there are things that we know nothing about. If Special Branch have listed suspects under THEIR watch, then political invovement exists. That is the nature of Special Branch activity.” http://forum.casebook.org/showpost.php?p=174744&postcount=164

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