Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Richard Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan
Lord Lucan was a well-known figure in high society. His whereabouts have been unknown since November 7 1974, when his children's nanny, Sandra Rivett, was found murdered at his estranged wife's home in Belgravia, London. Lady Lucan, who was also attacked that night, said her husband was the killer. Lord Lucan claimed, to a family friend he visited later the same night, that he been walking past the house, had seen someone struggling with Lady Lucan and entered the house to help her. He said he calmed her down but had slipped on a pool of blood on the way into the house. Lady Lucan then left the house screaming "Murder!" He then panicked, he said, and left the scene. A car Lucan was borrowing at the time was later found abandoned containing some blood of two types in Newhaven.
At an inquest, the coroner's jury brought in a verdict of unlawful killing, naming Lord Lucan as the murderer. Many alleged sightings of him have been reported from all over the world since then, but the police investigation has drawn a total blank in its efforts to find the runaway earl. In 2000, John Aspinall, a casino owner, conservationist and good friend of Lord Lucan, gave an interview in which he said that Lucan had committed suicide by scuttling his powerboat that he kept at Newhaven. Aspinall said that he had no doubt that Lucan had killed the nanny, but that it was a mistake and Lucan had intended to kill his wife (a widely-held belief) and had killed himself out of shame for the botched job he had done, killing an innocent bystander.
In 1999 the High Court, on an application made by the Bingham family, declared Lucan officially dead. Whether he is actually dead or not remains a mystery. As no death certificate has been issued, his earldom cannot yet be inherited by his son.
Lucan and "Jungly Barry"
In September 2003 a book entitled Dead Lucky: Lord Lucan The Final Truth, written by a former Scotland Yard detective, claimed to have solved the mystery of Lucan's disappearance. The author claimed that Lucan fled to Goa, India, arriving there a year after the death of his children's nanny. The book includes photos taken there in 1991 of a man whose looks are similar to Lucan's, including his lack of ear lobes (it later turned out Lucan had normal earlobes). The man, who died in 1996, was known in Goa as Barry Halpin (or, according to the book, "Jungly Barry"). However these claims were almost immediately dismissed. BBC Radio 2 presenter Mike Harding said in a letter to The Guardian newspaper that he knew Barry Halpin from his days as a folk musician in Liverpool in the 1960s and that he had gone to India "as it was more spiritual than St. Helens". Lord Lucan's wife and son scorned the book's claims in separate statements. Given the extremely rapid debunking of the claims, The Sunday Telegraph, which serialised part of the book, was left with egg on its face in a manner reminiscent of The Sunday Times' publication of the bogus Hitler Diaries. The book was reprinted a year later in paperback entitled The Lucan Conspiracy (to much less press interest) with one additional final chapter.
The phrase "doing a Lord Lucan" now means to disappear or go missing. The phrase is generally applied in a humorous context.
- The Official Website of the Countess of Lucan - Setting the Record Straight
- The Lucan Review
- Jungly Barry website
- Sightings website
- Archive of Statements of Lady Lucan
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