Tuesday 23 January 2018

BBC shines new light on Lord Lucan's vanishing act

Ruth Lumley

Killer aristocrat's secret life in Africa

MISSING aristocrat Lord Lucan moved from the UK to Africa to start a new life following the murder of his children's nanny, according to two new witnesses.

A secretary working for Lucan's friend, John Aspinall, has told the BBC that she was involved in helping to set up his new life after Sandra Rivett was found dead at the home of his estranged wife, in Belgravia, London, in 1974.

The nanny's attacker turned on Lady Lucan, beating her severely before she managed to escape and raise the alarm at a nearby pub.

Lucan's car was later found abandoned and soaked in blood in Newhaven, East Sussex, and he was officially declared dead by the High Court in 1999.

The secretary, who has not been identified and uses the pseudonym Jill Findlay, said she arranged for the peer's children to fly to Africa where he could "view them from a distance".

She told the BBC that she was invited into meetings where the earl, born Richard John Bingham, was discussed by her boss and James Goldsmith, the multimillionaire businessman.

She said: "Instructions were to make arrangements for John Bingham, also known as Lord Lucan, to see his children and to do that I had to book his two eldest children on flights to Africa.

"I don't know the exact dates, it was between 1979 and 1981 and it was on two occasions I booked the flights."

Ms Findlay said that the children would have visited Kenya and Gabon but that she had "no idea of the enormity" of the search for Lucan.

She said she believed Lucan had died in Africa when his death was announced in a statement to the press by Mr Aspinall in 2000.

Following his disappearance, there were reported sightings of Lucan in Australia, Ireland and South Africa, though in 2000, Mr Aspinall claimed his friend had probably killed himself by deliberately sinking his boat in the English Channel.

Ms Findlay told the BBC she had a clear conscience because she had not helped Lucan to escape, and that she was prepared to give Scotland Yard a statement.

Former detective inspector Bob Polkinghorne, from Kent, worked on the Lucan inquiry as a cold case in the 1980s. He said: "Lady Lucan, I am quite convinced, didn't think he was dead. I think his gambling fraternity friends spirited him out the country."

He added that a reliable witness had confirmed Lucan was alive and in Africa in the early 1980s but that permission to pursue the lead had been refused by the Metropolitan Police.

He told the BBC: "I was then later told, a few days later, discontinue the inquiry. You haven't got approval to continue."

A Met Police spokesman said: "The inquiry into the death of Sandra Rivett is the subject of regular reviews. It has never been closed. Any significant new information will always be considered. We keep an open mind in relation to this case."

'Inside Out' is on BBC One tomorrow at 7.30pm

Sunday Independent

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