Casement diaries show swings from seriousness to sex: Public gets chance to judge likelihood of forgery

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The Independent Online
The diaries of the Irish patriot Sir Roger Casement, containing explicit homosexual passages thought to have been forged by British intelligence to discredit him, are opened for public inspection today.

The diaries, found in a trunk in Casement's London flat, were copied by the British authorities and widely circulated in an early example of a 'dirty tricks' campaign.

Casement was sentenced to death for treason by the British in 1916. He had been caught after landing in Ireland from a German submarine.

When his rampant homosexuality became known, although irrelevant to the treason charge, public support evaporated and he was hanged.

Since 1959 the diaries have been open for inspection by historians approved by the Home Office. Last year Dr David Baxendale, a handwriting expert commissioned by the BBC, was allowed for the first time to examine the handwritten original documents. He said he was certain the passages were authentic.

Now the sceptical public can make its mind up about the authenticity of the books.

These extracts are from a handwritten diary for 1910. Casement, then 47, and British Consul-General at Rio de Janeiro, was directed by the Foreign Office to accompany a commission of inquiry which had been sent out from London to investigate charges of ill-treatment of the natives.

His report to the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, uncovered 'crimes of the most atrocious kind, including murder, violation and constant flogging.' In 1911 he was knighted for his services.

The diaries describe mundane detailed travel arrangements, with abbreviations, interspersed with sudden homosexual encounters and observations so incongruous as to lead many to suggest they must have been added by a later forger. In many cases, because he has used a private code, it is not quite clear what is going on.

August 1: At sea, not well at all, feel very low, lay down all day and read a bit.

August 8: Should arrive in Para and get on shore by 6pm. Will to Valda Peso and cafe's first, then on to cafe in Independencia and back to theatre about 10.30 and Valda Peso at 11. Camrino's first. Arr. Para at 2pm, alongside 3.30pm. Tea and at 5pm with Pogson to Paz cafe. Lovely moco. Then after dinner to Valda Peso, two types, also to gardens of Pracao Republica, two types, Baptista Campos one type. Then Senate Square and Caboclo (boy 16-17) seized hard. Young, stiff, thin, others offered later, on board at 12 midnight.

August 9th. Called Pickerell. Shall I see Joao, dear old soul] I'll get up early and go to Roy Barbora by 6.51am and wait till 7.30am and on all morning till 9. No sleep hardly. Up at 5am on shore at 6am. Lovely moco in train. To cemetry and lo] Joao coming along, blushed to roots of hair with joy. Handfast and talked, gave 10dollars said he thought it was me. To Marco, Lunched Pogson. Dined Barry. Left 11.10 Barry one type 11.30 too late. Rain and on board midnight . . .

August 10th: On shore at 6.35. Met Joao again at (illegible). He gave roses. Promised to call on him later and he said 'roses'. To stream in forest. Two Caboclo boys there at hut. Bathed and back 'Hilary' at 10.30. Very tired. Letters from home. Kate Parnell and others. Afternoon on shore a minute- too hot. Then after dinner to big square and all over place - including Baptista Campos - but none, altho' several possible types.

August 11th. Out to Ornstien's and on to forest stream and bathed. Huge Caboclo there, 40 years. Antonio and Francisco out at Charcoal. Policeman at station. At zoo and museum and breakfasted with Jimmy Hall and Mrs Hall at 143 Rua Barbosa. Very good breakfast indeed. Back on board. Barry H Pogson and Davis dined on board with me. Left at 10. With them to square and all over. No type - but at 12.30 darkie policeman 'em paisana' enormous - dollars 5.

August 12th. Very hot day. To call on Governor but owing to Pogson's folly failed to find him high or low . . .'

(Photograph omitted)