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Jack The Ripper Museum Public Relations Effort Backfires Online

30/09/2015 16:46 | Updated 30 September 2015

East London's Jack The Ripper Museum has had to embark upon a public relations effort to offset criticism of comments made by its own public relations manager.

Joshua Walker, a PR executive who counts the museum among his clients, became embroiled in a heated exchange on Twitter on Wednesday as he attempted to handle the news that the Class War Party's Fuck Parade movement intends to march on the attraction on Sunday.

The museum, which opened to widespread criticism in July, claims to be dedicated to the lives of the east end women involved in the murders, but instead bears the pseudonym of their Victorian killer and uses the image of a cloaked male in its publicity.

As Walker responded to those criticising the museum he appeared to many to be defending the crimes of Jack the Ripper, rather than the museum itself.

Walker wrote in response to a tweet: "The Jack the Ripper victims were never sexually abused. So the claim of sexual violence is wrong."

And he has since deleted a tweet, posted on Wednesday, which read: "Telling a story from the perspective of women - it's a tough job but someone has to do it."

But speaking to HuffPost UK, Walker has said that while he's not "remotely a historian or an intellectual in any capacity," he stands by his assertion that the Ripper's victims were not victims of sexual abuse "as nobody knows that they were."

Responding to his online critics, Walker said: "There are two issues there. What was being said in the article is that we are not glamourising sexual violence at all. Any one who says that has not been to the museum.

jack the ripper museum

A montage at a Jack the Ripper exhibition seen in 2008, which was curated by the owner of the new museum

"Secondly, I don’t think it’s fair to say it is sexual violence as we don’t know that it was. The facts have not been confirmed in these cases.

"I welcome anyone to come and see the museum and see for themselves."

Asked for his response to the perception that he appeared to be defending Jack the Ripper, Walker said: "No, absolutely not.

"We are the Jack the Ripper museum because fundamentally people know the story through that name. When it comes to Jack the Ripper nobody knows who it was, was it two people, or whether they were men or women.

jack the ripper museum

The museum's website has no imagery of the east end women or the victims of the Ripper

"We certainly don’t glorify or glamourise it in anyway, if anything it’s a kind of somber remembrance of the victims."

Walker hesitated when asked whether a "somber remembrance of the victims" should be named after the pseudonym of their killer, but he maintained that the museum aims to respectfully portray the lives of the women.

Jack the Ripper is the moniker given to the person thought to be behind a spate of horrific attacks in London in 1888. They took place in and around Whitechapel, in the impoverished east end of the city.

There are five victims generally accepted as having been killed by the Ripper. They are Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly.

A similar modus operandi was present in more than a dozen other murders across London in 1888-9.

Google diversity chief Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe owns the museum and had promised “the first women’s museum in the UK."

The Cable Street attraction has received attention after news of the change in focus from the women to the Ripper spread - even surprising those who helped design the attraction.

Reaction to Walker's PR efforts has been predictably negative online.

Class War's Fuck Parade is planning to target the museum on Sunday.

And cultural historian and expert on the Ripper Fern Riddell tweeted about her visit to the attraction on Wednesday. It's safe to say it's not great publicity...

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