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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 00:00 GMT
Jack the Ripper is 'worst Briton'
Poster for capture of Jack the Ripper
The identity of the serial killer was never established
Jack the Ripper has been voted the worst Briton of the last 1,000 years.

Almost 5,000 people were polled on who was the worst from a list of 10 Britons - one from each century - featured in BBC History Magazine's January issue.

The serial killer, who was never caught but is believed to have killed five prostitutes in Whitechapel, east London, in 1888, got 24% of the votes.

Thomas Becket, whose 12th Century conflict with Henry II over the Church divided England, was second with 11%.

BBC History Magazine editor Dave Musgrove said: "The public's choice of Jack the Ripper... as the worst Briton reflects the fact that the Victorian murderer remains an iconic figure today, and perhaps is seen by many as the forerunner of the serial killers that society has had to deal with since the Ripper's time."

The poll results, published in the February issue, are:

  • 24% - Jack the Ripper (19th Century)
  • 11% - Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury (12th Century)
  • 9% - Eadric Streona (11th Century)
  • 9% - King John (13th Century)
  • 9% - Sir Richard Rich, Lord Rich of Leighs (16th Century)
  • 9% - Titus Oates (17th Century)
  • 9% - Duke of Cumberland (18th Century)
  • 8% - Hugh Despenser, The Younger (14th Century)
  • 8% - Thomas Arundel (15th Century)
  • 4% - Oswald Mosley (20th Century)

The original nomination for Jack the Ripper, by Professor Clive Emsley of the Open University, said: "No-one can touch Jack the Ripper for sheer wickedness during 19th Century Britain.

"Firstly, because he preyed on the most pathetic and vulnerable women in London's East End. Secondly, for the sheer horror of his crimes.

"His victims were disembowelled, their intestines draped over their shoulders and their breasts cut off. This man was manifestly a savage brute."

Professor Emsley added: "The Ripper has become a villain - for all time - and his shadow extends to the present day."



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