Letter: The policeman and the Ripper

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From Mr Paul Gainey and Mr Stewart Evans

Sir: As the authors of the book The Lodger - The Arrest and Escape of Jack the Ripper, mentioned in Rebecca Gower's review ("Ripping yarns (continued)", 12 August), we would like to clarify several points raised in the article.

The book is based on a recently found letter, written by Chief Inspector John Littlechild to the author and journalist George R. Sims. As head of the Secret Department (later to become Special Branch), Littlechild had access to all information relating to the Ripper investigation.

Writing 25 years after the murders, Littlechild reveals the identity of Dr Francis Tumblety, a man previously unknown to modern researchers. He was the prime, if not the only suspect, at the time of the murders.

Littlechild, one of the most highly ranked detectives at Scotland Yard at the time of the murders in 1888, stated that this man was "amongst the suspects" for the Whitechapel murders and to his mind "a very likely one".

Most Ripper researchers have found that there appears to have been some sort of police cover-up of the facts and many have used this to bolster ridiculous theories of a Royal or Masonic conspiracy.

What we indicate is far simpler, and much more likely: there was a police silence because their prime suspect had been arrested, then allowed to escape - he was arrested two days after the final murder and fled to America while released on bail. The police were already being heavily criticised at the time and had every reason to keep this disastrous sequence of events quiet.

This is the reason the identity of Tumblety as a suspect has never before been made public. He was the subject of a large dossier at Scotland Yard, hated women, especially prostitutes, and was a sexual offender. As a doctor he possessed the necessary anatomical knowledge, and had a macabre collection of female organs. Furthermore, the only reliable eye-witness report of the killer gives a description which fits Tumblety.

Many leading researchers and historians have already acknowledged the importance of Tumblety as a suspect, believing that he is the strongest ever found.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Gainey

Stewart Evans

Suffolk Constabulary

Ipswich, Suffolk

31 August