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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 August 2007, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
UK expat denies he is Lord Lucan
Roger Woodgate. Credit TVNZ
Roger Woodgate lives in a car with his pet possum, Redfern
A Briton living in New Zealand in an old car, with a pet possum, has denied he is missing aristocrat Lord Lucan.

Neighbours became convinced homeless Roger Woodgate was the vanished peer because of his "upper-class" English accent and "military bearing".

But he says he is a former photographer who happened to move to New Zealand in the same year Lord Lucan went missing.

The 7th Earl of Lucan disappeared in 1974 after the murder of his children's nanny in Belgravia, London.

Denial

Mr Woodgate lives in a battered Land Rover near the country town of Marton with a cat, a pet possum called Redfern and goat named Camilla.

Neighbour Margaret Harris said she became convinced he was Lord Lucan after seeing a picture of the peer in an old magazine.

She told TVNZ: "I spotted this piece and I thought 'oh my God, don't tell me that's who he is?'

Lord Lucan
Lord Lucan vanished after the murder of his children's nanny

"I'm sure that is who he is because he is trying to make out he's a very poor man; poor my foot."

Local journalists then found out about her belief and, believing they were on the verge of solving a 33-year-old mystery, rushed to interview Mr Woodgate.

He, however, quickly denied he was hiding a secret identity.

He was, he said, a former photographer who once worked for the Ministry of Defence and left the UK five months before Lord Lucan went missing.

'Bemused'

Mr Woodgate also pointed out he was five inches shorter than Lord Lucan and, at 62, is 10 years younger than the aristocrat would be now.

He said he was "bemused" by the affair and has spoken to local police about his identity.

He told me that I was not Lord Lucan. I said 'I know that'
Roger Woodgate

"I saw a cop in the gas station and I told him 'you going to arrest me?'. I was winding him up a bit.

"And he said 'no, no, no'. He thought it was funny."

One TV production company enlisted the help of retired Scotland Yard detective Sidney Ball, who is now living in New Zealand.

He paid Mr Woodgate a visit last week.

"He told me that I was not Lord Lucan. I said 'I know that'," Mr Woodgate said.

Blood-soaked car

Since vanishing there have been more than 70 alleged sightings of Lord Lucan in countries across the world including South Africa, Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands.

The peer, born Richard Bingham in 1934, has not been seen since the day after Sandra Rivett, nanny to his three children, was found murdered at the Earl's central London home in 1974.

His blood-soaked car was found abandoned in Newhaven, East Sussex.

He was officially declared dead by the High Court in 1999.

Casino owner and conservationist John Aspinall, who was one of the last people to see Lord Lucan alive, said in a 2000 interview that he probably committed suicide by scuttling his boat in the English Channel.


SEE ALSO
Lord Lucan claim dismissed
09 Sep 03 |  Merseyside
Lucan 'committed suicide'
13 Feb 00 |  UK News
Lord Lucan 'officially dead'
27 Oct 99 |  UK News
Lucan is dead, says son
08 Aug 98 |  UK News

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