Wednesday, October 27, 1999 Published at 06:54 GMT 07:54 UK
Lord Lucan 'officially dead'
Lord Lucan: Worldwide sightings have been reported
Lord Lucan, who sparked a massive search after mysteriously disappearing in 1974, has finally been declared dead, according to reports.
The Times newspaper says the High Court has ruled that the British earl is dead, allowing the executors to finalise details relating to his estate.
Seven years ago his relatives secured a court order presuming he was dead so they could begin to wind up his estate.
But it was not fruitful according to the newspaper, which said the earl was a notorious gambler and had amassed huge debts, even selling the family silver to keep afloat.
His estate is listed as worth less than £15,000.
But Lady Lucan told The Times she was glad the probate had been granted.
Lord Lucan vanished in 1974, and despite reports that he had committed suicide, police files have not been closed on the death of nanny Sandra Rivett.
He has reportedly been sighted in Melbourne, the Netherlands, Dublin and Johannesburg, often simultaneously.
It is alleged that he tried to murder his wife, and mistook the nanny for Lady Lucan after a family row.
The ruling is not the same as a death certificate, which is yet to be granted, nor does it resolve the question of Lord Lucan's title.
Earlier this year his son, George Bingham, sought permission to take his father's place in the House of Lords, but was refused because there was no definitive proof that the earl was dead.