Mosley, Becket, Jack the Ripper named on list of 10 worst Britons

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Britain's biggest cads, rogues and evil-doers from the past 1,000 years have been given special recognition by historians. Academics have put together a list of 10 rogues whose deeds and behaviour they feel sets them apart as the worst of the worst. Kings, politicians, archbishops and mass murderers all feature in the run-down, which sees one villain nominated for each of the past 10 centuries.

The vilest character of the 20th century was said to be Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists. Professor Joanna Bourke of Birkbeck College, London, said Mosley still had a "pernicious impact" on British society as an inspiration for far-right groups. "On his death in 1980 his son Nicholas concluded that his father was a man whose 'right hand dealt with grandiose ideas and glory' while his left hand 'let the rat out of the sewer'," she said.

Jack the Ripper got the vote as the 19th century's worst rogue, although his real identity is still unknown. He is believed to have murdered at least four prostitutes in Whitechapel, east London, in the second half of 1888. Others on the list, which was compiled for BBC History Magazine, included King John and two archbishops of Canterbury.

Marc Morris, writer and presenter of Castle on Channel 4, described King John, who died in 1216, as "one of the worst kings in English history. John committed some wicked deeds and was a deeply unpleasant person. He was untrusting, he would snigger at people while they talked and couldn't resist kicking a man when he was down."

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