JEROME REILLY THE Lord Lucan murder investigation has beenreopened almost 30 years after the aristocrat disappeared, British police confirmed yesterday.
But that doesn't mean residents of Castlebar, Co Mayo, will be rushing to pay ground rents to the absentee landlord of three decades.
Many have maintained that they will only pay the small ground rents up to a maximum ?20 a year - when the murderous aristocrat arrives in Castlebar in person to pick up the rent himself.
Detectives in Britain have begun examining evidence from police records and will use new techniques like DNA profiling to help solve the case.
The 7th Earl of Lucan vanished in November 1974, the day after the murdered body of Sandra Rivett, nanny to his three children, was found at the family home in London.
The Earl's car was found abandoned in the East Sussex port town of Newhaven, giving rise to the belief, shared by his wife Lady Veronica Lucan, that he drowned himself in the Channel.
But his body has never been found and over the years numerous people claimed sightings of the peer.
The Lucan name once struck fear in the hearts of the inhabitants of the west coast.
The missing Lord Lucan is a direct descendent of the "harsh and pitiless" Earl of Lucan whose decision to evict 6,000 tenants at the height of famine enraged even the House of Lords.
Lord Brougham said in February 1847: "The landlord in Mayo has thought it necessary to serve his tenants with notice to quit in the midst of one of the most severe winters that had ever been known and in the midst of the pestilence too which followed in the train of famine."
Lucan replied that anyone who knew anything about Ireland realised the organisation of the country had broken down and that he believed there was only one solution for Ireland - "a large part of the population must disappear". He said he did not intend to "breed paupers to pay priests".
As a result, hatred for the Lucan name has always run deep in Co Mayo and, after the seventh Earl disappeared, residents simply refused to pay ground rents which his estate still claimed in Castlebar.
Three years ago when Lord Lucan was officially declared dead, the lawyer for the Lucan estate in Mayo, Aidan Crowley, said at that time that although he had no instructions from Lucan's solicitors Coutts and Company, he believed the ground rent bills would have to be met.
Commenting on the new inquiry, a Scotland Yard spokesman said: "The investigation into the murder of Sandra Rivett and the disappearance of Lord Lucan remains open.
"As with any unsolved murder, the investigation is subject to review to examine any possible new lines of inquiry.
"There's still information coming into the police every year and each call is assessed and lines pursued whereappropriate."
Last year former senior Scotland Yard detective Duncan MacLaughlin claimed in his book Dead Lucky, that Lord Lucan had fled to India and lived out the rest of his life posing as a hippy known as "Jungly Barry".
MacLaughlin said photographs of an elderly man taken in 1991, and handed to him by a former drug dealer, displayed an unmistakable likeness to the Earl.
But friends of Jungly Barry - also known as Barry Haplin - who died in Goa in 1996, later insisted the man was not the missing Lord.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said the review was being carried out: "Just to ensure all the potential lines of inquiry have been followed and pursued, and to see if any new ones come up as a result of DNA techniques."
An image of how the aristocrat might look today has been created but there are no plans to release it.
The spokesman added that officers from the Metropolitan Police's Specialist Crime Directorate were responsible for reviewing unsolved cases and would be examining the Lucan inquiry.
The aristocrat was officially declared dead by the High Court in 1999 and it is not thought any of his three children will be DNA tested as part of the investigation.