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Lord Lucan declared dead 42 years after he mysteriously disappeared

He vanished after the family’s nanny was found dead at his home.

Image: PA Photo

A BRITISH JUDGE has officially declared the infamous aristocrat Lord Lucan dead, nearly 42 years after the playboy disappeared following the murder of his children’s nanny in an unsolved mystery.

“I consider it is a straightforward matter. The court must make the declaration that is sought on this case,” judge Sarah Asplin told a court in London following an application by Lucan’s son George Bingham.

Death certificate

Lucan’s son, George Bingham, 48, launched the High Court bid to obtain a death certificate for his father last year, bringing to an end one chapter in a story still full of unanswered questions.

“I am very happy with the judgement of the court in this matter. It has been a very long time coming,” Bingham told reporters after the hearing.

“I got married this year. I’ve started a new branch in my career. It was a nice moment to say farewell to a very distant past and to move on at a very personal level,” he said.

“Our family has no idea how our own father met his own end. Whether he did so at his own hand or at the hand of others.”

“It’s a mystery and it may well remain that way forever.”

Mystery

Mystery has shrouded the whereabouts of Richard John Bingham, the seventh Earl of Lucan, since he vanished at the age of 39 after his children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett, was bludgeoned to death in 1974 at the London home of Lucan’s estranged wife.

The couple had been involved in a custody battle, during which Lord Lucan had begun spying on his wife.

On 7 November of that year, Rivett was killed in the basement of the family home. Lucan’s wife said that he had attacked both women. Lucan – who rang his mother to collect the children – borrowed a car and drove to a friend’s house.

He left a few hours later, and his car was later found abandoned. It had blood stains inside, and a lead pipe – similar to one found at the murder scene – was found in the boot. A warrant for Lucan’s arrest was issued.

An inquest into the murder raised the theory that Lucan may have mistaken the nanny for Lady Lucan, who said she fought with the attacker in the dark after she heard noises in the basement. She said she recognised the man’s voice as her husband’s, and that she had told him she could help him escape if he allowed her injuries to heal – she said that while he went to the bathroom, she escaped.

Lucan wrote two letters while at his friend’s house following the murder, during which he referred to “ghastly circumstances” and “interrupt[ing] a fight”.

The case sparked worldwide interest after his blood-soaked car was found abandoned near the coast, and since then there have been dozens of supposed sightings of him from southern Africa to New Zealand.

Bizarre conspiracy theories abound, with one of Lucan’s old gambling friends claiming last week that he took his own life and was then fed to a tiger in a zoo to avoid leaving proof of death and handing his estate over to his estranged wife Veronica.

Lord Lucan death ruling challenge George Bingham, the only son of missing peer Lord Lucan, arriving at the High Court in London with wife Anne-Sofie Foghsgaard Source: Nick Ansell

Public interest in the story has been fed by tales of the playboy lifestyle, an inveterate gambler, in London high society at the time and the fact that several of his wealthy friends have kept silent on the story.

Police issued a warrant for Lucan’s arrest a few days after the murder.

Bringing closure

Bingham, who is set to inherit the title of Lord Bingham, Earl of Lucan, began the legal process last October by posting a public notice in a local newspaper. He has said the death certificate would “bring closure”.

But Neil Berriman, the murdered nanny’s biological son, told AFP he was “shocked” to hear of Bingham’s application and initially lodged an objection, which he has since withdrawn.

“I thought about objecting straight away,” he said. “I think he was selfish saying he wanted closure but seemed to have forgotten about everybody else.

“Closure for us is when we can actually get closure for Sandra,” he added. “To find out whether Lord Lucan did commit the murder or if he got somebody else to do it.”

Bingham recently married Anne-Sofie Foghsgaard, the daughter of a wealthy Danish industrialist.

Berriman, who was put up for adoption at birth, only found out he was Rivett’s son when his adoptive mother died and left him a brown envelope, which he opened eight years ago.

“It was full of all-sorts of things, birthday cards and cuttings of the Lucan case, which was very bizarre,” he told AFP.

“I sat there and it gradually registered. It was horrendous, things haven’t been the same since.”

Referring to Bingham, the 48-year-old builder told reporters after the ruling: “It is fantastic and I’m very pleased for him.”

- © AFP, 2016 - Additional reporting Aoife Barry

Read: Police probe Irish link to mystery man found dead on the moors near Manchester>

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