“Ripperology” is a popular pastime among amateur sleuths and armchair Sherlock Holmeses the world over. Now along comes actor, writer and director Bruce Robinson (The Killing Fields, Withnail and I) with an entirely new suspect:
For much of the past 15 years he has been absorbed in an extraordinary – and, frankly, improbable – quest. The identity of the man who was responsible for the horrific murders of five women in the East End of London over a nine-week period in 1888 remains one of the great mysteries in British criminal history. Robinson would dispute the use of the word ‘mystery’ – the word he prefers is ‘scandal’. But he is convinced he has solved it.
Next week sees the publication of They All Love Jack: Busting the Ripper. More than 800 pages in length, it is the fruit of intense, one might say obsessive, dedication. ‘I thought it would take me two years – a year to research and a year to write,’ Robinson sighs. ‘Had I known – truly known – then what I know now, I would never have started.’
On the night of September 30, 1888, two women, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, were murdered within hours of each other on the streets of Whitechapel. They were the third and fourth women to have been murdered, and horribly mutilated, in the course of four weeks. The case of Jack the Ripper was already a cause of public alarm. But Charles Warren had not yet bestirred himself to visit the scene of the crimes. On that night, however, he rushed to the East End in the early hours of the morning – his priority, it seems, not to examine the bodies, but to inspect some graffiti scrawled on a wall in Goulston Street, close to where a bloodied apron belonging to Catherine Eddowes had been found. The graffiti read: ‘The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing.’
Warren immediately ordered the words be washed off the wall. ‘It was a light-bulb moment,’ Robinson remembers. ‘We’ve got this rampaging maniac in the East End, but it suddenly occurred to me – what if they didn’t want to catch him? Is there any mileage there? Let’s go down that street.
‘Part of the whole ethic of Freemasonry is whatever it is, however it’s done, you protect the brotherhood – and that’s what happened. They weren’t protecting Jack the Ripper, they were protecting the system that Jack the Ripper was threatening. And to protect the system, they had to protect him. And the Ripper knew it.’
I don’t want to give the solution or the name of the alleged culprit away, so please do read the whole thing, It’s ingenious and, given the prevalence of Masons among the British ruling class, far from implausible.