The Philadelphia Exercise
Professor Christopher Andrew is a renowned authority on the world of intelligence and was official historian for MI5. He is yet another Casement expert and has made his contribution in favour of authenticity of the Black Diaries. However, his contribution does not withstand scrutiny. In an essay Casement and British Intelligence published in Roger Casement in Irish and World History (Daly ed. RIA 2005) he writes: “One of the reports from Findlay … included the statement that Casement and Christensen had ‘unnatural relations’ …they began when he was a seaman aged only fifteen or sixteen and Casement was British consul in Brazil. According to Christensen, Casement followed him into a lavatory in a Montevideo hotel where they had sex. Christensen jumped ship and began an affair with Casement lasting for about a month.”
This appears to attribute to Findlay comments allegedly made to him by Christensen in 1914. However, Findlay did not make any such report concerning alleged events in Montevideo. The Montevideo story appeared in June 1916 after an interview with Christensen in Philadelphia was conducted on 23 May 1916. The interviewer was Chief Inspector Ward of Scotland Yard CID (see appendix) who stated in his long report that he had travelled from London to Philadelphia on instruction of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
This visit is first mentioned by Inglis in his 1973 study (page 352, 1974 paperback edition) where he states that “Christensen wrote to the Foreign Office from the United States suggesting they might like to have his testimony against the traitor.” However, this is false; Christensen did not write to the FO and Inglis gives no source.
The visit is also mentioned by Ó Síocháin in his 2008 study where his endnote reads “Acting Consul, Philadelphia to Nicolson, 10 May, 1916.” (Endnote 16, Chapter 18) This also is false; the Acting Consul in Philadelphia, Mr. Ford, did not write to the FO. Ó Síocháin, however, cites his source as PRO FO 95/776. There is no communication of that date from Philadelphia to Nicolson in the TNA file. There is a telegram from Consul General Bayley in NY of that date which informs Nicolson that the Acting Consul in Philadelphia has contacted him regarding Christensen. It is not clear if that contact between Ford and Bayley was in writing or by telephone.
After the interview with Christensen, a typed document of 13 numbered pages was prepared in Scotland Yard. (PRO DPP 1/46) This consists of a report (pages 1 to 7) dated 5th June 1916 followed by 6 pages (8 to 13) purporting to be a statement dated 23 May by Christensen in the Philadelphia office of the Acting British Consul. The summary report, ostensibly by Chief Inspector Ward, does not bear Ward’s signature. Therefore, his authorship is uncertain. The six pages numbered 8 to 13 bear the heading Philadelphia and the date 23rd May. This account is purportedly in Christensen’s first person voice but it too is unsigned. Both documents were typed on the same police typewriter in Scotland Yard at the same time. Therefore, the alleged first person typed statement is not an original account by Christensen but is the work of Inspector Ward and/or his colleagues. It is a police version of a narrative allegedly originating from Christensen some two weeks earlier. There is nothing to guarantee its authenticity, nothing to demonstrate that the typed words in the alleged statement were ever spoken or written by Christensen. But there is strong evidence to demonstrate that the statement attributed to Christensen is entirely invented, that it is an example of manufactured evidence. Ward describes the meeting as an interrogation which implies questions and answers but the alleged Christensen statement does not take the form of an interrogation; there are no questions and no answers. The entire document is hopelessly beset by errors and contradictions which expose this Philadelphia exercise to be as inept and false as the Findlay memo.
The timing cited in the police report and alleged statement, does not bear scrutiny. The Montevideo event reported by Professor Andrew allegedly occurred “about 10 or 11 years ago”, which would be in either 1905 or 1906. Casement was unemployed throughout 1905 and most of 1906 and was not in South America. He arrived in Brazil in mid-October, 1906 to begin work as consul in Santos. It is not credible that he immediately absented himself and spent a month in Montevideo, some 1,200 miles away, nor is there any evidence that he did so.
A second error of timing appears on page two of the statement attributed to Christensen. “In November 1914, by arrangement with him, he having obtained an American passport from a Mr. Landz … we sailed for Norway on the S.S. Oscar II.” The ship carrying Casement to Norway departed New York on 15th October, 1914. In November 1914, both Casement and Christensen were in Berlin. Casement carried the passport of a Mr. James Landy; the Christensen who travelled with Casement to Norway on that same ship certainly knew the date when he boarded the vessel and also knew the correct spelling of Casement’s alias. But the Christensen represented in the police statement did not know.
The spelling of several words further betrays the falsity of this endeavour. The names Bayley, Findlay, Devoy, Meyer, Nordenflycht, Landy and Christiania are all wrongly spelled in both Ward’s report and in the alleged statement. Christensen knew Findlay and Devoy personally and knew the correct spelling of their names. He equally well knew the correct spelling of Christiania, the capital city of his own country. But since the pages were typed in Scotland Yard on 5 June, Christensen was not present to make corrections; more precisely, Christensen never saw these pages far less signed them.
There is no mention of sex in the police typescript although the innuendo was attractive enough for Professor Andrew to state as a fact that Christensen had confirmed the alleged relationship was sexual. This is a clear echo of Findlay’s reports in 1914 and 1915 and indeed this ‘Philadelphia exercise’ was intended to recover something of Finlay’s false memo which planted the seeds of scandal.
Both report and alleged statement claim that Casement was in Montevideo to visit the German minister Baron Ferdinand von Nordenflycht (1850-1931). The source given is the alleged statement attributed to Christensen. Indeed, that statement opens with the Montevideo story. Casement did know the German diplomat but not in 1905 or 1906; they met only in August 1909 in the diplomatic community of Petropolis north of Rio de Janeiro and Casement became a frequent visitor to the Nordenflycht home. Roger Sawyer verifies the meeting in 1909; “A friendship which began at this period was with the German consul-general, Baron von Nordenflycht.” (Casement, The Flawed Hero p. 75. Routledge 1984.) However, if, as alleged, Casement travelled to Montevideo to visit von Nordenflycht in late 1906 or 1907, he travelled 1,200 miles from Rio in the wrong direction to visit a person who was not there and whom he did not know. This is because in 1906 and 1907 von Nordenflycht was working in New Orleans and did not arrive in Brazil until 1908 when he became consul-general. The Foreign Office of the Federal German Republic confirms that he was posted to Montevideo only in May 1911 by which time Casement had left Rio De Janeiro (March 1910), never to return. It follows that either Christensen was lying or Inspector Ward was lying but not both. In either case the Montevideo story is false.
The language and the grammatical structures used in the alleged and unsigned statement are those of an Englishman and not those of Christensen, a non-native speaker of US English with limited schooling. We are invited to believe that Christensen himself spoke Ward’s stilted formal English. There are no traces of Christensen’s US English in the text which is not a verbatim version of anything written or spoken by him. The text is the police version of an entirely imaginary first-person account attributed to Christensen, many elements of which derive directly from Findlay’s invented memo of October, 1914 and his subsequent botched attempts to corroborate.
Therefore the 23rd May date of the alleged statement is false since it was typed in London at the same time as the summary report dated 5th June. There are no original handwritten notes made by Ward in Philadelphia with the typescript; Ward relied on a remarkable memory. The spelling errors listed above are common to both report and the alleged statement. Although Christensen allegedly refused to disclose his address in Philadelphia, somehow the Acting Consul managed to arrange the meeting at short notice. Most noticeably, there is in Ward’s report no description of Christensen’s appearance although brief descriptions of others are given. Also of note is that Ward, a senior policeman, states that Christensen and Landz (Casement) sailed ‘from Norway’ ‘ about November 1914’ and further that he has verified the identity of the real Landz as a Real Estate agent in Nassau Street, NY. On a later page of his report he contradicts the false and imprecise November date of departure from NY and cites the correct date – October 15th only to give the wrong year, 1915. One further minor detail confirms that the first person statement allegedly by Christensen was not copy-typed by the police from any original written by Christensen; the archaic spelling ‘shews’ (for shows) is used in both the report and the alleged statement.
The police papers submitted to the DPP also claim that when leaving Montevideo, Casement gifted cash and jewels worth some $900 to Christensen. This alleged extraordinary generosity is unexplained and when scrutinized its absurdity is revealed. There is no evidence anywhere that Casement possessed jewelry during his life nor any evidence that he ever gifted jewelry to anyone. MI5’s investigation of his London bank account does not reveal the purchase of jewelry. Moreover, Casement had been unemployed for over 18 months before his posting to Santos in late 1906, therefore without income. $900 in 1906/7 is equivalent to some £21,500 today and amounted to almost one third of his annual consular salary. Though generous, Casement was never a wealthy man but the gift claim asks us to believe that he gave away a large part of his salary before he had received it and that he brought from England to Santos a cache of jewelry which he then brought with him to Montevideo only to give away. Such absurdity indicates that the police lost control of the story they were inventing.
The alleged statement is not signed – Christensen never saw the statement in Philadelphia because the statement did not exist on 23 May. Therefore the Montevideo story which opens the alleged statement rests entirely on the word of Ward if he was the sole author. That the Montevideo story is in prime position at the very start of the alleged statement indicates the importance given to it by the police. It is allegedly the first thing related by Christensen. And yet the words and sentences in the statement, allegedly spoken by Christensen in first person, are obviously not his; nor can they be considered a paraphrase reconstructed some two weeks later because there is no original version by Christensen. There is no evidence that Christensen related the Montevideo story in any form. There is incontrovertible evidence that the story was typed in Scotland Yard by the police. But since it is not signed by Ward we cannot be certain that he is the author of this first person narrative attributed to a named third person.
The errors in the police papers are common to both report and alleged statement. Here are some of them.
1 – Christensen wrongly aged 36.
2 – departure date given wrongly as “about November 1914”.
3 – departure date given wrongly as October 15, 1915.
4 – Departure from NY wrongly given as sailing from Norway.
5 – Von Nordenflycht spelled wrongly.
6 – Bayley spelled wrongly twice.
7 – Landy spelled wrongly as Landz throughout.
8 – Devoy spelled wrongly as De Voy throughout.
9 – Christiania spelled wrongly as Christiana throughout.
10 – Findlay spelled wrongly as Finlay and Findley throughout.
11 – Wrong address given for Landz.
12 – Meyer spelled wrongly as Myers.
13 – Brogan spelled wrongly as Brogden.
14 – $300 cited in report but cited as $200 in alleged statement.
It is well-nigh impossible to understand how a senior police officer with 29 years experience who had distinguished himself in detective work did not notice so many errors in a few pages, especially when decent literacy skills were a basic requirement in police service. The presence of so many errors suggests that the narrative was prepared by several officers rather than by one officer.
The following anomalies remain unexplained: two addresses are given for ‘Landz’ in NY and even when Ward claims to have verified this detail, he still uses the wrong spelling although the correct spelling of Casement’s alias was known in 1914; it is also unclear why Ward did not identify himself to Christensen at the interview as he attests; Christensen refused his address so It is unclear how he was contacted by the Acting Consul at short notice for the interview on 23 May.
By 5 June, Ward and his CID colleagues had completed the report and alleged statement and top copies were “handed to” Sir Charles Mathews, Director of Public Prosecutions. On 28 June a retyped copy of the report and alleged statement was sent from the CID to MI5 where it was read on 30 June by Frank Hall who commented as follows (KV 2-9-3); ‘…in view of Ward’s opinion & the old Findlay incident I doubt if he is … …[illegible] … His statement, if true, confirms our knowledge of the connection between the German-Irish- …[illegible]’ Thus Hall attested that the statement contained little or nothing that was not already known to MI5. It is exceedingly strange that Hall made no comment on the scandalous Montevideo story which, all things being equal, ought to have been news to him. This lack of comment requires explanation especially in view of Hall’s already recorded interest in such scandal about Casement. It cannot be excluded that on 30 June, 1916 the Montevideo story was not news to Hall.
10 or 11 years before May 1916 would cover 1905 to 1906. In that period Casement was present in South America less than three months having arrived at Santos from the UK in mid October of 1906. There is no evidence of a visit to Montevideo in 1906. TNA files FO 368/9/116 contain his frequent reports to the FO during the latter period of 1906 from Santos and these show that he was busy with normal consular duties concerning import-export, shipping and transport, coffee markets etc.
There is no evidence of a visit to Montevideo in the period January to end of June 1907 when Casement left Santos and returned to the UK. There is evidence of a two-week visit to Buenos Aires in March 1907 which he duly accounted for to the FO. Therefore there is no evidence whatsoever that Casement spent a month in Montevideo in either 1905, 1906 or 1907.
When these facts are added to the fact that Casement did not know von Nordenflycht in those years and to the fact that the German diplomat was located in the USA in those years, it becomes evident that the Montevideo story is a fabrication. It remains to determine who fabricated the story.
The prime suspect for the invention of the Montevideo story must be the Metropolitan Police because it is in their official papers that the story is reported. A potential secondary suspect is Christensen because the story is attributed to him in those police papers. While it is clear that the police had both opportunity and motive to invent the story, it is less clear that Christensen had both opportunity and motive. This is because there is no external verification for what happened or was said at the consulate in Philadelphia. There is only the police account, unsigned by Inspector Ward and compromised by multiple errors of spelling, dates and facts. If it is allowed that Christensen had opportunity, then it follows that a credible motive must be proposed. The present writer is unable to propose a credible motive which explains why Christensen might relate a self-incriminating and false story of a scandalous nature to three strangers (Consul Ford, Inspector Ward, PS. Brewer).
The attribution to Christensen is made by the prime suspect, the Metropolitan Police, and the attribution cannot be verified externally. Therefore, Christensen would be a secondary suspect only by virtue of the prime suspect’s attribution which rests entirely on the word of the prime suspect.
It is now necessary to distinguish between the falsity of the Montevideo story itself and the falsity of the attribution. It is clear that the attribution is effected by means of a lengthy first person narrative purportedly spoken by Christensen but prepared by the police and completed some twelve days after the interview in Philadelphia. Analysis of that narrative demonstrates that the sentences were not spoken by Christensen but were created in London probably but not certainly by Inspector Ward. The error made by the police was to use first person rather than third person; quite simply the author/s lacked the literary skills to create a convincing first person narrative in the voice of another person. If Ward was the author, he knew very well that the sentences in his narrative were not genuine first person sentences spoken by Christensen. Since those sentences are invented it follows that they are falsely attributed with the result that there is no evidence that Christensen said anything about Montevideo. Since both the story and the attribution in the police papers are false it follows that there are no grounds for considering Christensen to be a secondary suspect for the invention of the Montevideo story. The Metropolitan Police is the prime and only suspect.
One commentator on this episode has claimed that Christensen refused to sign the alleged statement. This is false. Christensen was not asked to sign any statement because no statement was presented to him at the interview and the report does not record any such presentation and refusal. The alleged statement was typed in Scotland Yard and was never seen by Christensen in Philadelphia. It is, therefore, not a statement and is evidentially worthless.
In order to locate the origin of the Montevideo story, the following must be considered. There is an unsigned and undated document in Casement’s handwriting in NLI among the Dr Charles Curry Papers (Ms. 17,023). This consists of two pages, the second containing only a few lines. Here is the complete text.
“When I first met Sir Roger Casement I am sure he never thought he would ever again meet the Norwegian sailor he had helped, as he has surely helped many others who were in similar trouble.
I had run away from my ship at a South American port, as many sailors do and after wandering around for a bit I got so hungry and tired that I did not know where to turn.
I could not go to the Norwegian Consul for I was a deserter and liable as such to punishment and I had no claim on any other Consulate.
But I wanted to get to work again and so I thought I would try the British Consulate, where there are always many sailors engaged and wanted. I had no discharge papers from my last ship and so they would not take me.”
From the narrative tone and verbal economy this appears to be the start of a projected press article to be published under Christensen’s name as his own account of events and Casement probably intended it to include details of the Findlay episode. There is, however, no evidence that it was ever completed or published and the pages, along with other papers, were entrusted to Dr. Charles Curry in Germany until they were deposited in NLI.
Since the proposed article remained unfinished in Germany, it remained unknown to British intelligence. Nonetheless, two essential aspects in those pages appeared in Ward’s report of June 1916: Christensen jumping ship in a South American port city and then meeting Casement. There is only one explanation of how these aspects re-appeared in the false Montevideo story. Christensen himself answered Ward’s question about how and when he had first encountered Casement. This would be a very reasonable opening question in such an interview and it is unthinkable that Ward did not ask. And Christensen’s ingenuous response corresponded to the basic content of the incomplete article. Thus in 1916 the police and then MI5 learned that Christensen had met Casement long before the already known meeting on Broadway in 1914. And from this hitherto unknown information the Montevideo story was fabricated. The police report omitted the original reference to the British consulate.
The un-named port could be Santos or Rio de Janeiro or Pará. Casement was in Santos from October 1906 to June 1907. He was in Pará March 1908 to November 1908 and in Rio from March 1909 to March 1910. All were busy ports. If the ten year period is correct, the encounter took place in Santos sometime between mid October 1906 and the end of June 1907. From the text of the incomplete article it can be understood that Casement helped Christensen in some practical way. As a consul Casement often helped people in difficulty and since his three postings in Brazil were in busy port cities, those in difficulty were frequently sailors. His correspondence from Santos complains of having to deal with sailors; “… an impossible task as the men get drunk and come ashore and desert in shoals and the place is a pandemonium.” (Letter to Mary Hutton, 24 October, 1906, NLI Ms. 8612.)
Christensen later recalled the earlier meeting because, though he was not a British subject, Casement, a stranger, had helped him. And exactly because “he has surely helped many others who were in similar trouble,” Casement had forgotten the encounter after so many years. Therefore the 1914 meeting in NY would be a coincidence for Christensen but not for Casement.
As an example of manufactured evidence, the Montevideo story did not strictly require the link to von Nordenflycht. The FO knew that the German diplomat had been based in Montevideo and that Casement was a friend from 1909 onwards. Ward (or his CID colleagues) took a risk in choosing Montevideo only because Nordenflycht had been posted there in the years just before the war.
Professor Andrew knows better than ordinary mortals that the raison d’être of secret services is secrecy and deception. It is unthinkable that he, an expert on intelligence, genuinely believes in the veracity of the alleged statement which is unsigned and without probative value. Perhaps he felt that pretending to believe it was a risk worth taking. After all, audacter calumniare, semper aliquid haerat. We must therefore thank him for revealing it and by so doing, unwittingly exposing police duplicity in yet one more example of manufactured evidence.
The Philadelphia exercise, although hopelessly incompetent and bungled, is nevertheless yet another clear example that both police and intelligence services were prepared to manufacture evidence in their frenzied determination to destroy Casement before the trial. However, the deeper significance of this manufactured evidence emerges only if we ask why the police fabricated the evidence when they allegedly held the diaries which made such elaborate fabrication utterly unnecessary. From this it follows that the need to fabricate reveals itself as evidence of the falsity of the diaries.
Alfred Ward was a highly-regarded detective having solved several high profile crimes and reaching the rank of Chief Detective Inspector. He joined the police at age 21 on 27 Dec 1887 (Warrant number 73106) and served for 29 years until he was killed in a Zeppelin raid on 25 Sept, 1916.
Ward travelled from Liverpool with PS. Brewer on the S.S. Cameronia of the Anchor-Cunard Line arriving in NY on 22 May. His passenger ID was 610144120113. It is a indication of the priority given to the prosecution of Casement that two police officers were sent on a dangerous two-week round trip across the Atlantic in wartime without even the certainty of meeting Christensen. That the S.S. Cameronia was sunk by a U-boat in April 1917 is evidence of the danger. In the event, Ward returned from Philadelphia with little of use to the DPP and most of it already known to MI5.