Lord Lucan: Officially now dead after 42 years - but still ‘innocent until proved guilty’

George Bingham, the only son of missing peer Lord Lucan, speaks to the media outside the High Court in London
George Bingham, the only son of missing peer Lord Lucan, speaks to the media outside the High Court in London
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THE only son of missing peer Lord Lucan has spoken for the need to move on now he has been granted a death certificate 42 years after his father vanished.

Lord George Bingham - now the 8th Earl of Lucan - applied for a declaration under the Presumption Of Death Act, which came into effect in 2014, so he could inherit the title.

Neil Berriman, the son of Sandra Rivett who was found murdered at Lord Lucan's family home

Neil Berriman, the son of Sandra Rivett who was found murdered at Lord Lucan's family home

His father vanished after nanny Sandra Rivett was found murdered at the family home in London on November 7 1974.

At London’s High Court on Wednesday, Mrs Justice Asplin said that none of Lord Lucan’s family members or closest friends had seen or heard from him, or had any reason to believe he was still alive.

Agreeing that the evidence all pointed in one direction, she said she was satisfied that the missing peer had not been known to be alive for a period of at least seven years.

Afterwards, Lord Bingham said: “My own personal view, and it was one I took as an eight-year-old boy, is that he has unfortunately been dead since that time.

Lord Lucan

Lord Lucan

“In the circumstances I would think it possible that he saw his life at an end, regardless of guilt or otherwise.

“Being dragged through the courts and the media would have destroyed his personal life, his career and the chances of getting the custody of his children back.

“And that may well have pushed a man to end his own life, but I have no idea.”

He added that the title was his legal right and he would be adopting it immediately.

Lord Lucan’s disappearance continues to baffle detectives and historians.

The seventh Earl of Lucan disappeared after the body of Sandra Rivett, nanny to his three children, was found at the family home at 46 Lower Belgrave Street in central London on November 7 1974.

Here are some of the countless theories about what became of the aristocrat:

• Lady Lucan said at the time of the incident that her husband admitted committing the crime and had said it was a mistake. It has also been reported that she believes Lucan jumped to his death off a ferry leaving Newhaven, East Sussex.

• Lucan’s car was found abandoned and soaked in blood in Newhaven and an inquest jury declared the wealthy peer the killer a year later.

• The first reported sightings of Lucan occurred soon after the murder. In January 1975 he was supposedly spotted in Melbourne, Australia, and five months later he was apparently in Cherbourg and St Malo, France.

• He was apparently spotted in Cape Town, Mozambique and then Bulawayo. Police in Cape Town went so far as to check fingerprints on a beer glass, reputedly held by the peer.

• Scotland Yard asked Barbados police to investigate a report in 1978 that a British resident there was sending money to Lucan in South America.

• He has also been reportedly sighted on an ex-Nazi colony in Paraguay, at a sheep station in the Australian outback, backpacking on Mount Etna and working as a waiter in San Francisco, and one couple reported seeing him in a private hospital in Johannesburg in 1995.

• There were even claims that he fled to India and lived life as a hippy called “Jungly Barry”.

• In 1987, journalist Sally Moore published Lucan - Not Guilty, a book that claimed an intruder murdered the nanny and attacked Lady Lucan.

• He was officially declared dead by the High Court in 1999 but reported sightings of him continued to be made around the world.

• An ITV drama based on John Pearson’s book The Gamblers claimed Lucan’s high-rolling friends, who included Sir James Goldsmith and John Aspinall, spirited him out of the country after the murder.

• In 2007 the hunt for Lucan was focused on the small New Zealand township of Marton after claims that he may have been living in a car there.

• In 2012, Lucan’s brother Hugh Bingham said he was “sure” the missing peer fled to Africa following the nanny’s murder. But he then said he was unsure if his sibling was alive or dead.

• In Dead Lucky, former senior Scotland Yard detective Duncan MacLaughlin said that Lucan fled to Goa where he lived a hippy lifestyle as Barry Halpin until his death in 1996.

• Some say he was held to ransom by the IRA or shot himself and asked that his remains should be fed to the tigers at the zoo in Kent, which belonged to Mr Aspinall.