The Jessica Harkness Legend .. updated
(1) We now know that any reliance placed on an individual’s background found on commercial hereditary sites is fraught with risk as the information available on these sites does not undergo any verification process. (refer petedavo comment below.)
(2) From memory, Jessie’s family did not, or could not, provide her birth details to the undertaker and the cemetery. (refer Byron Deveson comment below.)
Intelligence agencies worldwide disguise their agents with fictitious backgrounds commonly called legends. The same goes for individuals under witness protection programs, particularly in America where entire families are often relocated in order to protect the the husband or wife from any vengeful retaliation.
These legends are put together with careful attention to detail, particularly these days when the use of internet search engines by someone checking personal backgrounds can achieve in minutes what once took weeks.
Birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, bank accounts, credit records, voter registrations, job histories, property purchase or sale records – nothing is beyond falsification when the government responsible for the real records constructs false ones. And when someone checks, the telephone numbers linked to the legends are answered by the same people who created them.
When a legend needs crucial support, say in the case where circumstances are proving to be unmanageable and maintaining the status quo needs serious back-up, other methods are used to deflect this unwarranted attention, like producing someone to vouch for their fictitious background.
Alf Boxall appears to fit that bill.
When Boxall was interviewed by Stuart Littlemore for 60 Minutes, the name Jessica Harkness was not referred to by Littlemore at any stage, he only referred to her as ‘The Young Woman’.
And whatever was written under the inscription of the Rubaiyat said to be given him by Harkness and shown to Littlemore was hidden under a strip of tape. Either that or the space was being reserved for what had yet to be confirmed: the codename Jestyn, which to all appearances looks to have been added later on and with another pen (below).
And when asked by Littlemore if ‘she’ might have known if he was involved in Intelligence, Boxall, after a ten-second delay replied ‘only if someone else told her.’
It’s almost as if Alf Boxall didn’t know much at all about the woman Littlemore was referring to.
You could be forgiven for thinking that he had only been given the the basic information before having to deal with Littlemore, particularly when calling to mind Harkness’ detailed recollection of Boxall’s personal circumstances and wartime record when confronted by the police. She was on her game.
Alf Boxall wasn’t.
Was Jessica Harkness real or was she living in Australia under a legend?
We haven’t seen a copy of her birth certificate.
We don’t know where she was born.
We don’t know where she attended school.
We don’t know where she lived while she worked in Sydney.
Nobody in Sydney ever came forward to say they knew her.
Nobody who frequented the Clifton Gardnes Hotel ever came forward to say they knew her.
Nobody who lived in Victoria ever came forward to say they knew her.
And nobody in Glenelg ever came forward to say they knew or employed her.
Tom Musgrave’s wife (girlfriend?) – the woman Harkness said had introduced her to Boxall at the Clifton Gardens Hotel – has never been seen, let alone interviewed. Neither has he.
We haven’t seen a registered file copy of the certificate that evidenced her marriage to Prosper Thomson. A document that would have shown her place of birth and maiden name.
Given all this, and considering the inexplicable delays and failures of both the police investigation and coronial inquest, we can only assume that Jessica Harkness – or whoever she was – needed as much official protection as was possible.
Who was she?