Jack the Ripper, the mystery serial killer who terrorised London prostitutes in the late 19th century, was a Polish immigrant barber, according to a new book which analysed DNA samples from the time.

While the ripper's true identity has remained unknown for more than a century, suspects have over the years included members of the royal family and prime ministers.

However Russell Edwards, an independent investigator, says that DNA from a shawl recovered from the scene of one of the ripper's deeds matched relatives of both the victim and suspect, Aaron Kosminski. 

Edwards said it was beyond doubt that Kosminski was behind the at least five killings in 1888.

The shawl reportedly belonged to victim, Catherine Eddowes. It was said to have been kept by a police officer investigating the scene of Eddowe's murder and later passed to his descendants, until it was acquired by Edwards at auction in 2007.

He then enlisted the help of a molecular biologist Jari Louhelainen, of Liverpool John Moores University, to conduct DNA tests.

Working on the blood stains, he matched DNA on the shawl to that of Karen Miller, a direct descendant of Eddowes. 

Meanwhile stains on the material suggested the presence of bodily fluid, which Louhelained was able to match to a descendant of Kosminski, the AFP news agency reported.

Kosminski was identified as a suspect but there was never enough evidence to bring him to trial. He died in 1899 after contracting gangrene in his leg.

Edwards' book is released on Tuesday.

However, Some scientists, including Professor Alec Jeffreys, who invented the DNA fingerprinting, called for further verification.

The research has not been published a peer-reviewed scientific journal, meaning the claims cannot be independently verified or the methodology  scrutinised.

"No actual evidence has yet been provided," Jeffreys told the Independent newspaper.

Source: AFP