A descendent of the Victorian detective in charge of the Jack the Ripper murders investigation has rejected claims that the serial killer was hanged in Dundee.
Nevill Swanson, the great grandson of the late Scotland Yard officer Donald Sutherland Swanson, said the culprit was identified by his ancestor as being Aaron Kosminski – a Polish Jew who was committed to a London asylum where he subsequently died.
The Courier reported last week how former Dundee investigative journalist Michael Mulford believed he had proven “beyond reasonable doubt” that Jack the Ripper was William Bury – the wife killer who was hanged for strangling and mutilating his bride, Ellen Elliot, in Dundee in 1889.
Ahead of a ‘mock trial’ held in Kirriemuir this week, he received the endorsement of Mark Stewart QC, defence counsel and former senior advocate depute, who described Michael’s evidence as a “classic circumstantial case” and Len Murray – retired Justice of the Peace and former Solicitor to the Supreme Courts of Scotland – who said Michael had finally solved the case “not just beyond reasonable doubt but beyond all doubt”.
However, getting in touch with The Courier after reading our coverage, Mr Swanson, 81, of Worcester, said his great grandfather reached a different conclusion after investigating the Ripper murders in Whitechapel at first hand.
Mr Swanson, who is retired from a career in international sales and marketing, said: “My grandfather started out as a schoolmaster in Thurso but before he was 20 concluded there was no future in that career nor for him in that remote part of Britain.
“He therefore took the stagecoach and then railway to London.
“He got a clerical job in the city and then replied to an advert to join the police as a PC on the beat. “He rose through the ranks and eventually became Scotland Yard’s top detective.
“As such, with the police under fire for failing to solve the “Whitechapel Murders”, he was given the case to solve.
“To summarise, he solved it and identified the culprit but could not proceed through the refusal of an eye witness to testify against a fellow Jew.
“He therefore contrived to have Kosminski committed to an asylum where he eventually died.”
Mr Swanson said part of the code by which his great grandfather lived was to not disclose anything about his professional life. As a result he kept what he knew to himself.
“The family knew he had identified the killer but he would not divulge the identity,” said Mr Swanson.
“This knowledge came out many years later when my father revealed the so-called “Swanson Marginalia” which gave the name Kosminski.
“This was and is a disappointment to many as there is a thriving “Ripperology” industry!”
Others, however, have disputed the evidence.
*Mr Swanson said a biography called “Swanson – The Life & Times of a Victorian Detective” is to be published later this year.