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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 September, 2003, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Lord Lucan claim dismissed
Photograph of Barry Halpin
Duncan MacLaughlin claimed this man was actually Lord Lucan
A photograph of an elderly man - claimed to be that of Lord Lucan - is actually a banjo player from Merseyside, it has been revealed.

Former Scotland Yard detective Duncan MacLaughlin claimed in a broadsheet newspaper on Sunday that the missing Earl had died in Goa, India, in 1996.

He said the 1991 photograph of a dishevelled man with a long beard bore a resemblance to the 7th Earl of Lucan and claimed he had lived under the assumed name Barry Halpin, or Jungle Barry.

But a BBC Radio 2 presenter, Mike Harding, has poured cold water on the claim, saying that Barry Halpin, or Mountain Barry as he was known, was actually a well-known figure on the 1960s UK folk music scene.

Mr MacLaughlin's claim has also been dismissed by a "personal friend" of Mr Halpin in an email to BBC News Online, which details how the singer was originally from St Helens.

I laughed, I cried, I fell about the road chuckling: to think that anybody could mistake my old pal Barry Halpin for Lord Lucan?
Mike Harding
The claims appear to cast doubt on Mr MacLaughlin's book, "Dead Lucky, Lord Lucan: The Final Truth", in which he details his efforts to track down the missing earl.

The former detective said Mr Halpin arrived in Goa a year after Lord Lucan went missing, and says he was a well-spoken gambler who played backgammon, which the Earl also famously played.

But in a letter to the Guardian newspaper on Tuesday, Mr Harding wrote: "I laughed, I cried, I fell about the road chuckling: to think that anybody could mistake my old pal Barry Halpin for Lord Lucan?

"Otherwise known as Mountain Barry (not Jungle Barry) he was a musician, storyteller and Good-Time Charlie of the 1960s folk revival in Liverpool, Manchester and beyond, who went to live in India because it was cheap, sunny and more spiritual than St Helens."

Heavy drinker

Mr Harding said his ardent socialist friend was very different from the privileged aristocrat, but would have been highly amused to have been mistaken for him.

He added the former teacher, who played the banjo, had a reputation as a heavy drinker and moved to India after falling in love with the country while travelling there.

John Baynham, a friend of Mr Halpin, has also told BBC News Online the picture is not of Lord Lucan.

Mr Baynham, from Cumbria said: "I was a personal friend of Barry, who was in fact Barry Halpin of Carr Mill, St Helens.

"In 1968 he travelled to India with my brother and his friends Barry Parkinson and Ray Davis, in a Ford Thames minibus. Barry spent many years in Goa where he eventually died."

Lord Lucan 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 also found abandoned in Newhaven.

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:
Lucan 'committed suicide'
13 Feb 00  |  UK News
Lord Lucan 'officially dead'
27 Oct 99  |  UK News
Lucan's son barred from Lords
31 Jul 99  |  Politics
Lucan is dead, says son
08 Aug 98  |  UK News


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