The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes – The Gloria Scott and Seeing Around Corners

Thomas Fox
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Today, we conclude our week of Sherlock Holmes-themed blog posts. We finished the review of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and moved on to The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Today we conclude with The Adventure of the Gloria Scott. In it we learn more about Holmes’ fateful meeting with Watson than in any other story. Leslie Klinger, in “The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes Volume 1”, said, “There are many gaps in Holmes account of those early years – most intriguingly, what college he attended. The clues in this tale and several others have fueled generations of speculations.”

In his university days, Holmes spent a month with his friend, Victor Trevor, at the Trevor estate in Norfolk. The evening before Holmes’ departure an old man suddenly appeared at the house causing the elder Mr. Trevor to rush for a shot of brandy before greeting him. Seven weeks after Holmes left he received a telegram from the younger Trevor begging him to come back to Norfolk. Once he got there, Victor told Holmes that his father was dying as a result of a stroke suffered after he received a letter. They found that he had died while Victor had been meeting Holmes at the station.

The letter read, “The supply of game for London is going steadily up. Head-keeper Hudson, we believe, has been now told to receive all orders for fly-paper and for preservation of your hen pheasant’s life.” It meant nothing to Victor, and it was quite a while before Holmes deduced anything. He eventually discovered the key, that being if one read every third word beginning with the first, there was an intelligible message: “The game is up. Hudson has told all. Fly for your life.” Holmes had deduced that the game was blackmail. On his deathbed, Mr. Trevor told about some papers in a cabinet, one was a written confession detailing a lurid tale of crime, punishment, transport to Australia, mutiny, redemption and the inevitable fall.

Interestingly, the case is referenced by Holmes in “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire” when Holmes consults an index of his past exploits for references to “vampires” and remarks on “the Voyage of the Gloria Scott” listed under “V”. It is also mentioned in passing in “The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual” as Holmes recounts to Watson his early cases when he first became a detective.

I find this to be one of the strangest in the entire Holmes oeuvre. Holmes seems to have lesser skills in the story which would certainly fit his initial work as a detective which apparently began while he was in university. He basically decodes the letter sent to Mr. Trevor and deduces it contains a blackmail threat. Also, Watson does not narrate this story and it is told in Holmes voice, which is rare throughout the genre.

It seemed like a good way to introduce some of the remarks of Brian Rabbitt, Acting Assistant Attorney General US Department of Justice, Criminal Division, after the departure of Brian Benczkowski the first week of July. The remarks were presented at the Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI) webinar, entitled ECI Best Practices Forum: A Q&A with the DOJ, where ECI Chief Executive Officer, Pat Harned, interviewed Rabbitt on the 2020 Update to Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs. It provided solid information for every compliance practitioner and one which they need to use in any best practices compliance program.

Rabbitt said the starting point was that the DOJ wanted to make clear that every policy will be evaluated on its own merits. But it is more than each compliance program standing on its own merits. It is compliance program evolution. While this is not a new concept it is the bane of those compliance defense seekers who believe that any company with a paper program should get a free get of jail card from any DOJ enforcement. The 2020 Update makes clear not only the absurdity of that position but the 2020 Update further demonstrates the DOJ will only give full compliance program credit to companies that engage in continuous improvement based upon continuous monitoring. That monitoring can take many forms, from data analytics to information through risk assessments and root cause analysis. Whatever strategy is used, a compliance professional must be able to, as Rabbitt phrased it, “see around the corners”.

The mandate of continual renewal and regular updates extends to all phases of a best practices compliance program. In the area of third-parties, companies must move beyond performing due diligence only at contract renewal. It has to be done on an ongoing basis. The reason is simple; if a third-party engages in unethical or illegal behavior during the pendency of a contractual relationship and the company does not find out about, it is the company which will pay the likely (FCPA) price.

Rabbitt ended his remarks by considering the interplay of the FCPA Resource Guide, 2nd edition to the 2020 Update to the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs. Rabbitt noted that the FCPA Resource Guide, 2nd edition, is a compendium of all things FCPA and it is an expression of both the DOJ and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs is a DOJ expression of what it believes to be some of the best practices in a compliance program. You can refer to the FCPA Resource Guide, 2nd edition, for all things FCPA but when it comes to compliance programs you should refer to the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs.

We end our Sherlock Holmes themed week by first giving a big shout out to Harned and her team at ECI for putting together this fabulous webinar. I also hope that you enjoyed reliving some of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes we considered this week.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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