In May 2011, Scotland Yard fought an extraordinary legal battle to withhold 123-year-old secret files which experts believed could finally provide the identity of Jack the Ripper.
Four thick ledgers apparently compiled by the Special Branch officers at the time have been kept under lock and key since the Whitechapel murders ended in 1891.
Retired crime squad detective and Ripper investigator, Trevor Marriott, spent three years trying to obtain uncensored versions of the documents.
Scotland Yard refused because the ledgers contain the identities of police informants – and the Metropolitan Police insist that revealing the information could compromise their attempts to gather information from “supergrasses” and other modern-day informants.
Mr Marriott took Scotland Yard to a tribunal in a last-ditch attempt to see the journals – containing 36,000 entries – which he believes contain evidence which could finally reveal the world’s most infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
The legal case, which cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds had even involved a senior Scotland Yard officer who gave evidence anonymously from behind a screen.
The secret police files provided details of the investigation, dealing with thousands of informants from 1888 to 1892.
When a sample of about 40 pages from the Scotland Yard ledgers was released at the tribunal, the names of informants and other key details had been blacked out. According to Trevor Marriott, the secret police files contain the names of at least four new suspects, as well as many other pieces of evidence.
“This could be the very last chance we get to solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper,” he said. “To have any possibility of getting near the truth about those horrific crimes we must see what these ledgers contain.”
In the end Scotland Yard won the right to keep its files closed to the public and so it may be some time, if ever, that we can get a look at what the Special Branch actually knew about the murders.
To this day no conclusive evidence points to the true identity of Jack the Ripper and the case remains one of the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries in the world. Among a long list of possible suspects are Queen Victoria’s grandson the Duke of Clarence, who died in an asylum in 1892, and the painter Walter Sickert. Other suspects include a homicidal Polish Jew named Kosminski and even a barrister named Montague Druitt .
Just what evidence or clues lie buried in those secret Scotland Yard files?
Will it finally reveal the name of the person we have been hunting for the last 126 years?
Time may reveal all