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Questioned Documents

The  Challenge

Questioned document analysis is needed when there is a need to prove the validity or otherwise of handwriting.  This often involves defining the authorship of a handwritten document/signature or identifying the author of anonymous letters or graffiti applied to notices, letters, posters and walls within the confines of a building or in a public place.

To ensure the greatest degree of accuracy in defining the authorship of a handwritten document/signature – it is always most helpful that a ‘known’ sample of the individual handwriting be made available for comparative purposes.

The Solution

For the past 15 years I have worked as an Expert Witness and Document Examiner in Courts of Law throughout the UK.   I achieve success in working with questioned documents through a set process that incorporates many years of experience.

The nature of my work means that clients aren’t geographically restricted because, in the majority of cases, questioned documents can be safely sent for analysis by either courier or mail, and then returned in the same way.

Examples

There are many types of questioned documents that I have been asked to analyse.  Just a few examples are given below.

1    Fraudulently signed documents  -  these could be cheques; wills; commercial contracts etc.

2    Identifying the author of anonymous letters.

3    Graffiti applied to notices, letters, posters and walls within the confines of a building or public place.

There are many types of questioned documents that I have been asked to analyse.  Client confidentiality dictates that no individuals or organisations can be referred to and I hope the following provides some anonymous insights into my expertise.

Fraudulently signed documents

These could be cheques, wills, commercial contracts, and many other types of documents where there is doubt about the validity of the signature(s).   Here are just a few examples of my work in this area:

(i)    Part of a family was suspicious about the validity of a signature on a home-created Will, of a relative who had recently died.  There had been friction in the family and the Will of the deceased significantly favoured someone who didn’t have a strong relationship with the deceased.  Through my expertise it was determined that the signature wasn’t genuine and had been forged by someone known to the family member under suspicion.

(ii)    I was involved in a case of unfair dismissal where the employee had apparently signed a contract and then had been sacked on the basis of breaking the rules of that contract.  My analysis proved that the company had failed to get a signature on the original contract, had sacked the staff member and then attempted to cover their trail.

Anonymous letters

Anonymous letters are usually written by someone closely associated to the recipient.   Sad, but true.   To give you two very different examples that both had a devasting effect on not only the recipient but their family and wider circle of friends:

  1. Two sisters who were very well adjusted and enjoyed each others company were suddenly put under considerable strain when one of them received an offensive birthday card, unsigned, but bearing the postmark of the other sister’s home town.   The handwriting was a mix of capital letters and printed script – an idiosyncrasy of the second sister.   This card caused considerable upset and heartache within the family and they eventually came to me to see if I could identify the handwriting.    I asked for samples of the handwriting of both sisters, their other siblings and immediate close friends.    It soon became apparent that both sisters had a very distinctive way of writing, and after carefully examining in detail all the handwriting samples of family and friends – it was most obvious that the sister who had received the card – had, indeed, written it herself.
  2. A gentleman came to me in great distress as he had received an anonymous letter at work – suggesting that his wife was having an affair with his ‘best friend’.    He had also been receiving telephone calls to the same effect.    The wife and he had discussed the matter and whilst he was reassured that this was not so – he needed to know who the author of the letter was.   He had his suspicions that it was a member of his immediate team of colleagues – and supplied me with the handwriting of three whom he thought were not happy with their position.   These proved to be unhelpful.   I then suggested that he obtained the handwriting of the most ‘friendly and co-operative’ member(s) of his team, much to his surprise and concern.   Upon examination I identified the author of the letter – and as is often the case – it was the individual who always volunteered to provide information and offer help and advice, even when it was without his area of interest or expertise.

Graffiti

There are many schools of thought on graffiti -  the first is that it is vandalism of the worst kind -  the second, that it is a method of relieving boredom and frustration by disadvantaged young people –   the third, a form of street art, think Banksy -   and the fourth and final thinking is that any form of written comment on an official notice in a public place or within the workplace is ‘graffiti’ and therefore grounds for dismissal if the culprit can be identified.  The same analytical process would be used in all cases of graffiti as when examining any questioned document.

Testimonials

‘Thank you for the time and care you took in providing an Opinion and Justification for presentation to the Court.   Also your consideration and advice which was invaluable.  You will be pleased to learn that Judgement was made in my favour’.

Mrs B  -  London

‘You will be delighted to hear that our Claim against X was proven – and they were made to make payment in full and interest and costs were awarded against them’

Mr. K  -  Wigan

‘I am writing on behalf of my daughter to tell you that the house and its contents are now safely proven to be her rightful ownership.   This has given her much relief and peace of mind and it is good to see her smile again and the children settled and happy.   My wife and I cannot thank you enough for your conscientious application to this case and the careful and detailed Opinion and concise explanations prepared for our solicitors.’

Mr & Mrs C  -  Bishops Stortford

The Process

Clients come to us from throughout the UK because distance is no barrier to gaining the best handwriting analysis expertise.

It is most useful to have access to the original documents wherever possible because these give an opportunity for the Examiner to assess most accurately the degree of pressure placed upon the writing instrument when completing or signing a document.   Regardless of physical location, all documents can be safely mailed to me through the Post Office’s ‘Special Delivery’ or by Courier, so that receipt is guaranteed.   All such documents are returned in the same manner.

The process applied to analysing questioned documents includes:

  • very careful measurements are made of all aspects of the handwriting – the overall size; the differential in size between the three zones of the handwriting [upper, middle and lower - there is only one letter in the alphabet which encompasses all three zones and that is the letter f]
  • Analysing the aesthetic quality of the handwriting and its placement upon the page
  • Measuring the spacing between both individual letters within a word and that between the words themselves
  • Identifying the form of connection between the letters within a word
  • Noting the sophistication of the deviation between the copybook taught and the handwriting today
  • Analysing alterations, crossing out, omitted letters, smudges, dotting, ambiguity in the shape and form of letters and words.

All the above, when combined, and taking into consideration all the differences and anomalies, enable the Examiner/Graphologist to form a judgement/‘Opinion’ as to the identity of the author of the document or signature.  In the case of graffiti, this would be the ‘artist’.

Fees

All document examination is undertaken for a set fee of £100 per hour.    An estimate of the time required to complete both the document examination and the preparation and completion of a written ‘Opinion’ and ‘Justification’ can be prepared if sufficient detailed information is available. At all stages I will notify you of any potential deviation away from the original costings quoted.

Any questions?

I hope that my expertise in analysing questioned documents shines out from this page.  I work for organisation and individuals throughout the UK as distance is no object due to the simplicity of the analysis process.

On specific occasions I can, and do, undertaken examination of documents on the premises of companies, solicitors and the police.

Please do contact me with any questions you may have and I will be happy to advise you without obligation to use my services.