DAY 4: Jack The Ripper: An Establishment Cover Up – Dalkey Book Fest

The contrast between AN Wilson and Bruce Robinson is apparent the moment they open their mouths. AN is very upper crust British, appearing a gentlemen who would be concerned with all things proper and appropriate.

Bruce Robinson on the other hand is the rock’n’nroll anthesis to AN’s restraint; a man who you imagine rather enjoys being able to give the middle finger to the establishment.

Yet here they are, on stage together, with AN doing the host and Bruce doing the telling to discuss a common interest – Jack the Ripper.

AN begins by saying “Bruce thinks he’s cracked it [the mystery] – is that right?” he asks.

“More or less” Bruce agrees.

“Shall we set the scene?” AN asks, gearing the audience up for what’s to come. 

Bruce begins the tale.

“We’re in late Victorian London. England is the greatest Imperial power on earth bare none.”

In London, there are “vast stretches of wealth and poverty” and “into this scenario comes this series of very very brutal murders of prostitutes. Women who were treated like trash all their lives.”

Women who worked as prostitutes because it was “the only way to get 4p for a doss house”.  

AN interjects to say “there were actually far more prostitutes in upright London than so called gay Paris” at the time.

But “upright London” was far more sinister. Bruce says that “In 1880s you could literally f*ck a child for a fiver. You could beat them up with wires in sound proof rooms for 5 quid.”

It’s was a gruesome time.

“This is the world of Jack the Ripper” and at the time, “people running the society were the indulgers in this stuff with the kids” Bruce says.

“Very often little girls were taken to doctors and had their vaginas surgically repaired to appear like virgins.  9,10,11 year old girls; these guys in their top hats wanted to screw virgins. This is the kind of scene were in” he adds.

The tale of Jack the Ripper begins “one night in the autumn of 1888. A woman was brutally murdered outside a place called Toynbee Hall.”

Phillip Toynbee and his wife had set up a “kind of university for poor people in London.”

“Lots of people from rich areas in London would come down and give lectures to the poor people of  the East End” Bruce explains. “Opera stars, writers, Robert Browning went down, lots of painters.”

Before we “get to the killings”, Bruce says he wants to tell the audience “how I got into this, it wasn’t pre-planned.”

“I was living in Los Angeles and I’d read Raymond Chandler’s book called ‘Raymond Chandler Speaking’ and he talked of two crimes. One of  the crimes was Herbert Wallace who may or may not have murdered his wife.”

This crime was “one of the great mysteries” and Bruce wanted to write about murder mystery

He “came back to London and started trying to research” this crime. He then “ran into true crime researcher I had worked with 30 years before when we were both actors I couldn’t believe he ran this outfit now researching for the BBC.”

Bruce continues on. “He talked to me over lunch about Jack the Ripper and this thing that had been discovered – The Diary of Jack the Ripper.”

The more his friend talked about Jack the Ripper and this recent discovery, Bruce said “the stock of Wallace is going down as Jack is coming up.”

After his friend said “no one is going to bust Jack the Ripper”, Bruce said “I  bet a fiver I can.”

So began a 15 year journey of researching the case. It was “a monster, a nightmare” Bruce says.

But one that resulted in a highly rich book, which he now begins to delve into. 

“So I started looking at the murders. Each one of these woman have a cut throat from lowers up to her throat, entrails taken out and thrown over her shoulder, all metal removed from her body and left around the body.”

It was “ritualised killing” Bruce says.

“He [Jack the Ripper] was repeating himself with these corpses. It’s a ritual.”

A ritual of what though, Bruce asked himself?

“Had all corpses been left in a crucifix position, I would’ve thought I’m looking for a Christian nut here. So I start researching and genuinely have no idea what this ritual was.”

He was looking and looking and “freemasonry pops up.”

“The penalties for betraying masons… are to have the throat cut across, guts ripped open, entrails thrown over left shoulder… and Masons are not allowed wear any metal again in a masonic lodge.”

“All these victims are adhering to patterns and I think christ almighty…  at least I’ve got a bit of traction” in regards to a theory to explore, Bruce says.

“So now I’m researching [freemasons] and it becomes clear that the whole of Victorian society was infused by freemasonry.”

It’s at this moment that I think it would’ve been brilliantly ironic to hold this discussion in the Mason Lodge in Dalkey Village.

Bruce wondered why the police, who were constantly telling the press and public that there weren’t any clues when there were. How Jack the Ripper was killing these women “was a clue in itself.”

“In the 20th century, we have FBI profilers who would be looking at this kind of detail. In the 19th century they didn’t have that. I had the advantage of reading everything, every single thing I could obtain about Jack the Ripper and I was able to put this picture together of masonically decorated bodies.”

The head of the Metropolitan police at the time of the murders was “a man called Charles Warren” and he did not care about these women.

“The only time he went to the East End was the night of double event as it’s known; the ripper hit two women that night.”

Having killed the second woman an hour and a half after the first, the ripper “walked back into the manor of met police and threw a piece of her bloodstained apron in  doorway and wrote ‘the jews are not the men to be blamed for nothing’.”

It is this message that drags Warren out of his bed.

The police “wanted to photograph this message as a piece of important evidence, along with the apron. He [Warren] rushes down in his carriage and refuses to allow this to be photographed as evidence.”

Theres an argument for 30 minutes between the metropolitan and city police over this and Warren overrides the city cops and forces them to wash the words away.

AN asks “So how do we know about it?”

Warren makes a statement to the Home Secretary about it and says there is so much anti semitism in London that the inclusion of this message and it’s coverage in the press would incite a riot.

“Nothing could have been further from the truth” Bruce says. “What isn’t in my book because I only found it out about three months ago is that jew is an ancient word in masonry.” 

In October 1888, “right in the middle of this” Bruce says, “secreted in basement of new police headquarters is discovered a woman cut in half; like in King Solomon’s judgement”, an important piece of masonry text.


The Head of the Metropolitan Police, Bruce says, was “one of worlds most important freemasons.” There was “no way on earth Charles Warren could not put what was happening together with freemasonry.” 

Bruce is quick to add “I have no downer on freemasonry any more than I have on buddhism or anything else… but clearly we are looking at a freemason taking a piss at the police.” 

Bruce moves on to reference a book that came out some years ago, claiming to having solved the mystery of the Jack the Ripper murders. This book “that Great Victoria’s grandson  was the ripper” was “complete b*llix” Bruce says.

“He [the author] got it from a source at Scotland Yard that said this is the way to go, look out for Duke of Clarence… I wanted to know where he got this idea from and honestly it took bloody months.”

It turned out the information had “originated from a man called Robert Stole who was a very senior freemason. What this Duke of Clarence b*llix was about was to inoculate the world from going after freemason. It was complete nonsense. But a pretty good way of trying to deflect attention” Bruce says. 

Bruce said he took “15 years to write this thing [his book]. I was looking at every possible candidate, researching the arse out of it to see if there was anything there.”

He hit upon something when he came across a man named James May Brick “who supposedly had written this thing that was published under the title of The Diary of Jack the Ripper.”

James was a cotton broker married to young American woman named Florence. In 1889, she was sent to prison for allegedly murdering him. She was sentenced to death but spent 15 years in prison waiting to be hanged.

“Did she actually kill him?” AN asks?

Bruce believes the answer is no. “He was murdered by Jack the Ripper.”

James May’s brother Michael was a famous singer. “The Tom Jones [of his day] if you like” Bruce says, admitting he doesn’t know any more modern singers to name as he doesn’t listen to them. As a side note, he (mistakenly) reveals that he thought Robbie Williams was dead; which AN corrects him on, much to the amusement of the audience.

Getting back to Michael May Brick, he was “extremely wealthy, homosexual… a very strange men.”

So Bruce’s attention switches from James to his brother Michael, as James was dead when the Ripper made his last killing.

Bruce then finds a connection. “Police in London were getting jeering letters from all over the country saying you’re a gang of bloody goats and idiots”. In the letters, the Ripper would say “I’m off to Birmingham,  I’m in Bradford next week.. signed Jack the Ripper.”

“Suddenly I got a click on it thinking what was Michael May Brick doing in the Autumn on 1888 – he was touring. He was performing all over the country.” The man who was “bigger than Gilbert and Sullivan” at the time.

“I was able to match these letters to his concert dates” Bruce reveals. 

AN admits that “I now understand why you have this bee in the bonnet because I’m convinced by this story.” 

“You’re suggesting that he was a pervert who happened to be a freemason” AN adds.

Bruce replies “He was taking the piss at the police cause all the police were freemasons.” More than that, there was a cover up of his identity.

“You’re not suggesting that [cover up] has anything to do with freemasons?”AN asks. 

Bruce confidently replies “As a matter of fact I am and as a matter of fact it does.”

They then go off on a tangent where Bruce says “Maggie Thatcher probably was freemason” and that “Theresa May is probably a grand master”, to which the audience laughs almost nervously.

Getting back to the topic at hand, Bruce teases the audience with some tantalizing information.


“I’m in possession of information that I wasn’t allowed to publish without breaking the law. Consequently I didn’t wanna get hassled, I’m getting enough hassle” for this book he says.

As he wasn’t allowed publish the information, he put it as “a footnote in the book. I suggested it” because the police refused to release the information.

But this information has now “come to light in the public domain.” The information is that “This so called diary [The Diary of Jack the Ripper] is a forgery of James May Bricks.

This is important, Bruce says because ” This man, -Jack the Ripper – Michael May Brick, murdered James his brother and framed James’ wife Florence for it… the diary is extreme important in this context.”

For readers who want the full story, they need to buy the book (which I did happily).

So what happened to Michael, AN asks?

“He vanished. They [the establishment] knew he was the ripper and told him to get out. At the height of his career, he vanished. He’s not even in Groves dictionary of music and musicians… these guys disappeared him.”

It’s a bold claim, but one that Bruce is confident of.

“He was a member of clubs in London that the head of police and the Prime Minister were members of… he vanished.”

There was nothing heard about him for 7 years; Michael May Brick was banished to the Isle of Wight, according to Bruce.

“He wanted to come back to England, but he was no longer part of that society that he had been at the top of.”

he was told to get out by the establishment by which he was a member. he died in 1913 in yorkshire.

The establishment, according to Bruce, let Michael away with his crimes because of his choice of victims.

“It suited them… [killing] a few whores in East End cause nobody’s gonna get too uptight about that”. If it were the “Chelsea wives or Kensington Hags going on slabs”, it would’ve been a different story. 

Michael died in Yorkshire in 1913. But, what happened in between the Jack the Ripper killings and his death? Does Bruce think he just stopped murdering people?


“At some point, serial killers can’t bear to be anonymous. They want to be known and slip up…serial killers believe they are walking gods and can’t believe nobody else isn’t amused by what they’re doing” Bruce says. 

“He was killing people all over England. He was a full blown psycho… he killed a lot of children” Bruce says, which he details in his book. 

One of the last murders of Jack the Ripper was Mary Jane Kelly. IN freemasonry in the Bible, the high priest hated women. He gave instructions of how to kill them. When the Ripper killed her, “he killed her he killed her to [these] instructions of what [the high priest said] you need to do to a whore… cut her tits off, burn them on fire…this exactly what he [the Ripper] did. Mary Jane Kelly was 24 years old.

Bruce believes that the prevalence of freemasons, from the police to the police doctors to the coroners, allowed these crimes to go unpunished.

It is a fascinating and enthralling hour. As I mentioned earlier in the blog, I bought his book and there’s really no better recommendation I can give than that. It is a must read for those with an interest in Jack the Ripper or true crime. For those of us who got to spend 60 minutes in Bruce Robinson’s company, more than one person left persuaded that he had indeed cracked something.