Richard Piggott is exposed as forger of Times Phoenix Park letters
- February 10, 1889
Richard Pigott (1835 – 1 March 1889) was an Irish journalist, best known for his forging of evidence that Charles Stewart Parnell of the Irish National Land League had been sympathetic to the perpetrators of the Phoenix Park Murders. Parnell successfully sued for libel and Pigott shot himself.
Richard Pigott, was exposed as the forger of the Times Phoenix Park letter, a series of forged letters published in The Times of London in 1887, which implicated leading Irish nationalist politicians in a conspiracy to assassinate British officials in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
Pigott, who had a history of involvement in various political and journalistic activities, including spying and espionage, was hired to provide evidence against the Irish nationalist movement. He fabricated the letters and sold them to The Times, believing that they would discredit the Irish nationalist cause and its leaders.
However, Pigott’s deception was eventually uncovered when his handwriting was analyzed, and inconsistencies were found in his story. Under pressure, Pigott confessed to the forgery and fled to Spain to avoid prosecution.
The exposure of Pigott’s forgery had significant repercussions, as it undermined the credibility of The Times and raised questions about the motives behind the publication of the Phoenix Park letters. The incident also led to a public inquiry and damaged the reputation of those who had supported the letters’ authenticity.
The exposure of Richard Pigott as the forger of the Times Phoenix Park letters remains a notable episode in the history of journalism and political intrigue in 19th-century Ireland.