And finally… dud duke

A conman who impersonated the Duke of Marlborough and accrued bills of over £10,000 has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Alexander Wood managed to blag his way into top hotels in London by assuming different personae such as a senior member of British Airways staff and, in one instance, the Duke of Marlborough.

He booked himself into the Great North Hotel under the duke’s name – Jamie Spencer – in May and made an agreement to spend £100 per day on “incidentals” – meals, taxis and other things.

But staff smelled something fishy when the “duke” went over the limit and bought drinks for other guests.

When he was caught he pretended not to have identification on him and attempted to flee.

Mr Wood, an international violin soloist and child prodigy, from Essex, had established a successful business and had gotten used to a lavish lifestyle.

His defence barrister said he took to extreme measures to “live up to a status he didn’t really have”.

Chartered psychologist Clive Sims said people who assume an upper-class identity do so because “They just want to make money and have a good life without having to work for it”.

They build a web of lies which is sustained by “simple reinforcement”.

Mr Sims said: “You do something, it works, therefore you do it again. If you stop, you’ll be caught out in a lie and that would puncture the illusion.”

He added: “For someone to aim to obtain money and good by deception, they have to immerse themselves into the persona - it’s an actor’s mask.”

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