Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 17:18 UK
The legend of Lucan

By Chris Bennett
BBC Sussex

Lord Lucan
Richard John Bingham, the 7th Lord Lucan

Thirty five years after he disappeared, there are still dozens of theories about what really happened to Richard John Bingham.

From 'Mountain Barry' to London's ultra-rich, the story is populated with rich characters and exotic locations.

The Lucan story began in November 1974 with the murder of nanny Sandra Rivett, beaten to death in the basement of Lucan's London home.

It's just after that when fact becomes harder to separate from fiction.

The 7th Earl of Lucan vanished in 1974 after the murder of his children's nanny at the family's London home.

Preview: Lord Lucan's Plastic Surgeon

Now new evidence obtained by the BBC's Inside Out South East programme opens up the compelling possibility that Lucan might have had plastic surgery after the murder.

In the film 'Lord Lucan's Plastic Surgeon', reporter Glenn Campbell followed a trail which began with medical files showing that Lucan had once had such surgery in the years before Sandra Rivett died.

He also found a witness who claims she saw Lucan in Uckfield on the night after police said he had officially disappeared.

The last confirmed sightings of him were in Sussex - at the home of friends in Uckfield.

His Ford Corsair was later found in Newhaven, although some doubt that he drove it there.

The aristocratic Lucan moved in high society circles and he was a professional gambler.

His favourite casino was the Clermont Club in Mayfair which was owned by the millionaire John Aspinall.

John Aspinall

John Aspinall
John Aspinall: ' I would have done for him what he asked'

Writing in 2000 in the Observer the respected columnist Lynne Barber said she believed that John Aspinall had given away a connection to the Lucan disappearance.

She wrote that Aspinall, speaking of the events of November 1974, had described himself as 'more of a friend of his after that than I was '.

To Lynne Barber, it appeared that Aspinall had effectively implied said that he knew of Lucan beyond the date of his apparent disappearance.

She wrote: ' I have always believed that John Aspinall unwittingly admitted to me that he'd seen Lord Lucan after the murder'.

The BBC's Inside Out South East programme has also reported that in 1994, John Aspinall said, "I would have done for him (Lucan) what he asked" and that if Lucan had requested asylum, "he would had got it".

John Aspinall died in 2000, so he can't be questioned any more.

Barry Halpin
Photograph of Barry Halpin
Barry Halpin - Duncan MacLaughlin claimed this man was actually Lord Lucan

In 2003 the former detective Duncan McLaughlin claimed that Lord Lucan had lived in Goa for 22 years under the assumed name Barry Halpin, or Jungle Barry.

But a BBC Radio 2 presenter, Mike Harding, later said that Barry Halpin, or 'Mountain Barry' was actually a 1960s Merseyside musician and ardent socialist "who went to live in India because it was cheap, sunny and more spiritual than St Helens."

Barry Halpin died in Goa, India, in 1996.

Roger Woodgate

In 2007 it seemed to some that yet another answer had finally been found.

Roger Woodgate
Roger Woodgate - 'ten years younger and five inches shorter'

Journalists flocked to interview Roger Woodgate, an English expat who lived in an battered Land Rover near the New Zealand town of Marton.

A neighbour claimed he could be the missing peer, but Mr Woodgate denied it.

The 62-year-old said he was ten years younger than Lucan and five inches shorter.

Windhoek, capital of Nambia.
Windhoek, capital of Nambia. One detective claims that Lucan had connections there.

Most recently, the Namibian reported that a Welsh private investigator was offering half a million Namibian dollars to anyone who could give him evidence about Lucan's time in the country.

The paper said that detective Ian Crosby believed that the peer flew to Mozambique and then moved to South Africa.

Where now?

If Lord Lucan is still alive, then he would now be 75 years old. His wife, Lady Veronica Lucan, is among a number of people who believe he drowned himself in the English Channel. He was officially declared dead by the High Court in 1999.

On the website of Lord Lucan's alma mater, Eton, there is a brief mention of the 'old boy' whose name still excites interest across the world.

You can find it in the section Famous Old Etonians/Other Old Etonians and it reads: 'Lucan, Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of (1934-?): Missing'

At New Scotland Yard, where the last review of the case took place five years ago, the Metropolitan Police say the Lucan story is not yet over.

"If a murder is unsolved it remains open" said a spokesman.

Phone call claim in Lucan mystery
07 Mar 05 |  England
Lord Lucan mystery 'solved'
07 Sep 03 |  UK
Lord Lucan 'officially dead'
27 Oct 99 |  UK
Lucan 'committed suicide'
13 Feb 00 |  UK



Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific