According To A Report commissioned in 1980
Belgian Michel Lafosse, who has been calling himself "HRH Prince Michael James Alexander Stewart, 7th Count of Albany", was first exposed as a fraud in 1980 long before the publication of Laurence Gardner's book Bloodline of the Holy Grail in 1996.
A Private Report done by Jack S. MacDonald to test the claims of Michel Lafosse was commissioned in 1980 – by a group of the Scottish Patriots which included Wendy Wood (1892-1981), A. J. Stewart (Ada F. Kay), Nigel Tranter (1909-2000) and others. Being told fairy stories by his Grandmother is what seems to have inspired Michel Lafosse into becoming the future "Prince Michael of Albany".
Below is the Transcript of Jack S MacDonald's Report, with a link to the photocopies of his original Report.
MICHAEL JAMES STEWART OR MICHAEL ROGER LAFOSSE
The Claimant arrived in Scotland in August 1976. He approached several organisations and individuals, presenting papers which he alleged supported his contention that he was a direct descendant of Charles Edward Stewart.
The claim is based essentially on two sets of papers; the first set, it is maintained, is the result of secret researches in the archives of the Vatican State which are explained on letters and other documents and signed by Martino Giusti, Prefect. The other set of papers is from Belgium, the Claimant's birthplace. In addition, he says he has other papers in his Swiss bank.
This enquiry is founded only on the following documents which are in my possession:-
(All papers marked* are "originals" signed in ink)
From the Vatican State:
THE BELGIAN PAPERS
With regard to the birth certificate (photocopy 1), I wrote a letter to the department in Watermael-Boisfort, Brussels, responsible for its issue, enclosing a photostat copy. The pertinent paragraph of my letter was:
"Would you kindly let me know if this is a true copy of your records or not, and IF NOT please let me have a copy of the certificate to which No.549 refers".
In return I received an extract birth certificate No.549 (Photo.3)
There are several fundamental differences between the information given on the two documents, the most important concern the names of the Claimant and his mother.
On the certificate presented by the Claimant, the names appear as Prince Michael James Stewart, Comte dAlbanie, and his mother as Princess Renee Juliana Stewart. On the extract birth certificate from Brussels, they appear as Michel Roger Lafosse and Renee Julienne Dee.
In due course, and in the presence of witnesses A, B and myself, the Claimant was asked to justify the apparent differences in the documents, and in reply he maintained that there existed two birth certificates with the reference No. 549, one issued at birth without titles and one issued at age 18 with titles. The reason being that in Belgium one does not legally accede to titles until reaching majority. Furthermore, as his descent from the Stewarts was through his mother's side he would naturally be represented by his father's name, Lafosse, on the earlier birth certificate.
He was asked to note the inference in my letter to Belgium, which asked for a true copy of the certificate referring to 549 if the photocopy enclosed was not a true copy. As they had sent me a different document, it therefore implied that the certificate which the Claimant had presented was not a true copy. The Claimant considered that the Belgian authorities had made a mistake.
On 29 February 1980 I sent a follow-up letter to the same department (photo.14). The relevant passage in this was:
"...the document I received from you was for Michel Roger Lafosse. This person is now claiming the existence of two birth certificates bearing the number 549, one for Michel Roger
Lafosse and one for Michael James Stewart. Can you confirm the existence of two certificates, or is the one for Michael James Stewart a forgery?"
The communication received in reply (photo.15), was signed for the Mayor of Watermael-Boitsfort. "In reply to your favour received on 4 March 1980, this is to certify that, as you supposed, the birth certificate for Prince Michael James Stewart is a forgery."
The Claimant has stated both orally and in writing that, on 21 April 1976, in the church of St Lambert in Brussels, he went through a ceremony arranged by the Protestant and Catholic Churches attended by several European Royal Families. This ceremony he called his "Dynastic Entry".
In August 1979 witness A phoned the Claimant and asked him to produce certain papers. (Transcript of this conversation photo 16). The papers requested were:
As at May 20 1980 none of these documents have been produced by the Claimant.
On March 16 1980 I wrote to the Church of St Lambert, Brussels. (Photo 17). The relevant passage of the letter was:
"Mr Lafosse tells us that the Vatican and the Protestant churches together organised a ceremony for him in your church on April 21, 1976. This ceremony was called his "Dynastic Entry" and was attended by many important people including representatives of several European Royal Families. Would you please inform me if this event truly took place or not?..."
The reply to this was written and signed on the margin of my letter, beside the relevant paragraph: "Dear sir, Not in our Church!" There was also a card written and signed by the same hand. (Photo 18). "Excuse sir, but I have not the practice in English correspondence. The answer is right."
In June 1979 the Claimant received a document in the form of a two-page statement from L'Officier de l'Etat Civil de la Ville de Bruxelles (photo 4), purporting to show that his father was also in line of descent from the house of Stewart.
In April 1980 I wrote to the Officier de l'Etat Civil, enclosing photocopies of the document and received in reply, the letter as shown in photocopy 19. The following is a translated extract:
"Referring to your letter in which you ask me to confirm the authority of a document concerning Mr Michael Lafosse, I have the honour to advise you that this document is false."
"...being given these facts I am passing your letter, also the photocopy of the document to the king's prosecutor for possible proceedings."
THE VATICAN PAPERS
There are ten documents in my possession which are alleged by the Claimant to have been sent by the Vatican. Four of these are "originals" signed Martino Giusti in ink or biro.
These "originals" are produced on inferior quality plain paper without watermarks, the coat of arms of the Vatican is printed in black ink and there are no reference numbers. It must be stated at this point that Msgr Martino Giusti is indeed the Prefect in charge of the Archivio Segreto Vaticano.
Msgr Grady, the Vicar General of Edinburgh, in a conversation with witness C and myself, stated emphatically that these letters were forgeries for the following reasons:
Witness A wrote to the Archivio Segreto in 1979 and was replied to on heavy quality paper, strongly watermarked and with the coat of arms printed in blue ink. In my possession I have a copy of a letter sent by Msgr Giusti to Mr E H Stewart-Hill of New York (photo.21). On both these letters there is a reference number and the English is impeccable. On E Stewart-Hill's letter Msgr Giusti says:
"...I can state quite categorically that these letters were not sent from this office and that the signature they bear is not mine".
In July 1979 the Claimant gave into my possession two letters from Martino Giusti, one a photocopy and one an "original" signed in ink, also a two page report likewise signed in ink and depicting the basis for the Claimant's titles. (Photocopies 10, 11 and 12).
One of these letters was addressed to the Claimant's representative in Ireland at that time, and he is referred to as "Witness D".
These papers contain more grammatical errors and on the "originals", clearly discernible underneath the ink signatures, can be seen traces of pencil marks following the line of the ink. Here one must ask for what reason would someone write his name in pencil and then write it again in ink over the top?
There is an added significance to these papers as they make direct reference to the Pope's visit to Ireland, and express the Pontiff's wish to be met on Irish soil by the Claimant. It was on seeing this that I called on Msgr Grady, the Vicar General of Edinburgh who examined the papers and in the presence of witness C and myself, phoned a "high-ranking" representative of the Vatican State who was staying in London and explained the situation to him.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, witness D approached the Papal Nuncio with the letter containing the Pope's "expressed wish" to meet the Claimant. The Papal Nuncio's reaction was to inform witness D that the letter was a forgery.
Another point regarding the Vatican papers is worth mentioning. It concerns the signature of Martino Giusti on the letters (photo.5) and the second page of the statement (photo.6). If one signature is superimposed over the other with a light shining from the back, e.g. held against a window it will be seen that they fit each other precisely. Trials with friends with names of a similar length showed that, without tracing, it would require an extraordinary coincidence to achieve this result. In fact, none of my friends came anywhere near doing so.
The three certificates (a), (b) and (c) are crudely presented using, for the most part, a Gothic or Old English typeface, produced in a modern typefoundry and which is known under various names depending upon which company is responsible for producing it. The characters are uniformly precise although the alignment in "papal Dispensatio" on (a) and "Michael James Stewart" on (b) shows they have been "set" by an amateur. Compare the capital M for example in the word "Magnae" in (a) with the M's in "Most" in (b) and "Michael" in (c). They are exactly the same apart from the type-size. They do not show the slight variations which would be apparent if they had been produced by different typefounders.
We are therefore asked to believe that the Vatican in 1783 produced two certificates using type from the same typefounder as the Church of St Lamberts in Brussels (Protestant) used in 1956 for a baptism certificate.
Father Edwards, who is a historian of the Jesuits, with a special interest in the history of the House of Stewart and a Latin scholar, has stated that the Latin in (a) is not of the right period. We must also ask why is (b) written in English? In any case it would be expected that one-off documents concerning a Papal Dispensation or secret marriage of a royal couple would have been hand lettered.
The view has been expressed by some of the Claimant's supporters, that despite the fact of forged documents, his claim may still be genuine. In fairness to this point of view I will quote from a letter encapsulating their arguments.
"The young gentleman Michael James is disappointing, and his dishonesties and intrigues are indefensible. However, it may be that knowing that certain people are in the position to advance his claims and are unwilling to do so openly that he made it appear that those persons were, in fact, advancing his claims. There are those who will say that certain papers are forgeries; in the strictest sense this is probably true. However, if it is a case of a young man having incontestable truths at hand, truths that others will not vouchsafe with paper warrants, he may well feel obliged to issue his own paper warrants, making them appear as if they had come from some respected authority. Therefore the real question is, if the papers, wherever they emanated from, contain incontestable truths are they really forgeries?
"I am amazed that despite the enormity of the claim, and therefore the enormity of the fraud, nobody has seen fit to take legal action against the young gentleman. The Vatican, the Court of St James, the Lion Court of Scotland, and the Court of the House of Orange all seem to have a case if the young gentleman is a false claimant; yet none has seen fit to act against him, this despite the fact that he has been quite open in his activities."
There is some logic in this argument, however, we now know that the Belgian State (photo.19) have threatened legal action and in fact the police have already visited the Claimant's mother in this respect.* (see footnote). Also Martino Giusti has implied action by "higher authorities".
* Footnote. On 10 May 1980 the Claimant phoned me to ask if I had written to the Belgian State regarding his papers. On replying that I had, he became very angry and said that the police had been to see his mother and she was very upset. He told me I had no right to do such a thing and threatened me with court action. I replied that he had no right to distribute forged literature and surely he was aware that his documents would have to be verified. He reiterated his intention to prosecute and rang off. As yet there has been no solicitor's letter.
In October 1979 I discussed with the Claimant the concern which was felt by some of his friends regarding the validity of his documents. We agreed to send a letter written and signed by him to Marino Giusti which would be sent c/o my address and posted in my presence. (photo.23).
This was executed on November 2 1979, although I must admit to losing sight of the envelope during the walk from my house to the postbox.
When one remembers the high regard and even deferential terms with which Martino Giusti had allegedly written to the Claimant in the past it must be considered remarkable that to this letter Msgr Giusti did not reply at all.
The following January the Claimant, together with witness E and myself again discussed the dilemma. We made careful and specific arrangements to repeat the exercise. The Claimant was to write a covering note to be included with the original letter and phone me to collect them from him at his place of work. I was to seal the letters in a registered envelope and post the package personally.
Approximately two weeks later I phoned the Claimant to find out why he had not yet complied with the arrangement. He replied that he had already sent the letter.
This total disregard for an arrangement which was evolved as much to protect the Claimant's credibility as to instil confidence in his supporters raised more serious doubts as to his honesty. There was no question of a misunderstanding. He has supplied me with a certificate of posting (photo.20) which is genuine, but of course this only proves that an envelope was sent. There has been no reply from the Vatican to this letter either.
The Claimant would have us believe that this is the first time the Vatican have not replied to him, and it may be asked why another forged letter was not produced to fill the gap. In this context it should be remembered that anything other than a letter on official Vatican notepaper with watermark would not have been acceptable.
It must be agreed from available evidence that all the Claimant's documents used as a basis for this report are forgeries. Perhaps good enough to be accepted at face value, as did many of us at first, but not convincing when subjected to close scrutiny.
That he was aware of the forged birth certificate was indicated on the occasion when he made a deliberate attempt to explain the first denial of the Belgian State (photo.13) by the lie regarding the existence of two birth certificates.
With regard to direct responsibility, please refer to photocopy 22, which is a typed letter from the Claimant addressed to my family. It is dated 14 December 1978 immediately under the signature which is in biro. Observe the triangular flourish underneath the M in Michael and compare it to the one on the signature of Armand Deseager on page 2 of photocopy 18. This M can also be compared to the M in Martino Giusti's alleged signature on photocopy 9.
The most convincing point, however, concerns the highly individual method of inserting punctuation marks. Note the position of full stops and commas in the letter typed by the Claimant and compare this to the typing on the alleged Vatican letters or the Belgian papers. Also compare these to the two genuine letters from Martino Giusti to E Stewart-Hill of New York and myself (photos. 21/25) which place the punctuation marks normally.
Clearly the personal letter to my family, the Vatican papers and Belgian documents were all typed by the same person.
Finally I turn to the question of the claim of Michael Roger Lafosse to direct descent from Charles Edward Stewart, for although the Claimant's papers, both from the Belgian State and from the Vatican are seen to be and have been stated by both authorities to be false, there has as yet been no categorical denial from the Vatican (the alleged source of the information upon which the claim is based) that the claim itself is false.
On April 18 1980 I wrote to Msgr Giusti at the Archivio Segreto for clarification pn this point (photo.24). The following extract is pertinent:-
"...there still remains some ambiguity; for although we are of the opinion that the documents are forgeries, you do not state this categorically in your letters, neither do you deny the existence of any evidence in the Secret Archives which would support Mr Stewart's claim. The unfortunate result of this is that Mr Stewart and his supporters, as an excuse, claim that the Vatican are not at liberty to divulge information concerning this matter, except to Mr Stewart himself, and that the ambiguities in the letters from yourself are concerned with "political diplomacy". It is also pointed out that no action has been taken against Mr Stewart for the unauthorised use of
your letterhead and the forging of your signature if, in fact, this is the case.
The pertinent passage reads:
"For your clarification I wish to specify that Mr Stewart has managed to duplicate by photocopy the letterhead and stationery of this archive. He forged my signature, copying it from my letter of denial that I sent him in 1978 in response to his request as to whether there existed in the Vatican, documents testifying to his presumed princely titles.
"I add in closing and I think this will please you that I have already notified higher authorities of the behaviour of the aforementioned Mr Stewart."
1.The Claimant known as Michael James Stewart, also Michel Roger Lafosse is responsible for producing and distributing forged documents which purport to show his direct descent from Charles Edward Stewart. This is demonstrated by the letters from the Belgian State and the Vatican State declaring certain papers as false. That the Claimant is responsible for these forgeries is conclusively proved by the evidence regarding the unique punctuation system in all papers including a letter signed by him.
2.There is no foundation to his claim of direct descent from Charles Edward Stewart. This is conclusively proved by the receipt of a letter from Msgr Martino Giusti, Prefect of the Secret Archives of the Vatican (photocopy 25) which denies any evidence of such claims.
This report must therefore find that the Claimant is a forger and a fraud.