Richard Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan
|The Right Honourable|
The Earl of Lucan
|Born||Richard John Bingham|
18 December 1934(1934-12-18) (age 75 if still living)
|Died||Possibly deceased some time after 8 November 1974. Probate was granted in 1999.|
|Occupation||Coldstream Guards officer|
|Known for||Murder of Sandra Rivett, subsequent disappearance|
|Title||Lord Lucan, 7th Earl of Lucan|
|Spouse||Lady Lucan (née Veronica Mary Duncan)|
|Parents||George Bingham, 6th Earl of Lucan, Kaitilin Elizabeth Anne (née Dawson)|
- For other holders of the title, see Earl of Lucan
Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan (born 18 December 1934), popularly known as Lord Lucan, as Lord Bingham before 1964, and sometimes colloquially called "Lucky" Lucan, was a British peer, who disappeared in the early hours of 8 November 1974, following the murder of Sandra Rivett, his children's nanny, the previous evening. There has been no verified sighting of him since then.
On 19 June 1975, an inquest jury named Lucan as the murderer of Sandra Rivett, the last time that an inquest was allowed to name the person they suspected of committing such a crime. He was presumed deceased in chambers on 11 December 1992 and declared legally dead in October 1999.
Bingham was the eldest son of George Charles Patrick Bingham, 6th Earl of Lucan and his wife, Kaitlin Elizabeth Anne Dawson. Unusually for a hereditary peer, his father supported the Labour Party in the House of Lords. He had two sisters and one brother. He was educated at Eton College and served as lieutenant in the prestigious Coldstream Guards. A compulsive gambler through his adult life, Bingham accrued significant debts.
On 28 November 1963 Bingham married Veronica Mary Duncan, the daughter of Major Charles Moorhouse Duncan, MC. They had three children: Frances (born 24 October 1964), George Charles (born 21 September 1967), and Camilla (born 30 June 1970).
In early 1973, Lucan and his wife separated; the three children lived with their mother in London's wealthy Belgravia neighbourhood. In September 1974, Lady Lucan engaged Sandra Eleanor Rivett (born 16 September 1945) as a nanny for the children.
At 9.45pm on Thursday, 7 November 1974, Lady Lucan burst into the Plumber's Arms, the pub nearest to her house, appealing for help. She had blood flowing from several wounds on her head and reportedly said: "Help me, help me, help me, he's in the house, he's murdered my nanny."
The police were summoned, and arrived at the Lucans' home 15 minutes later, forcing open the front door. They found a bloodstained towel in one bedroom and a large pool of blood with a man's footprints on the floor of the basement. They searched the basement and discovered broken crockery and walls splashed with blood. They found a canvas mailbag inside which was the body of Sandra Rivett, who had suffered head wounds. They also found a bloodstained length of lead pipe wrapped in surgical plaster. The bulb had been removed from the basement stairs light fitting and was resting on a chair.
Lady Lucan's statement
The Countess of Lucan gave a statement from the hospital in which she named her husband as the attacker. According to her account, whilst she was watching Mastermind on television, Sandra Rivett had put her head round the door and asked Lady Lucan if she would like a cup of tea. This was unusual, but Rivett went downstairs to the kitchen at around 8.55pm to make some tea. The 9o'clock news came on soon after this and, after about a quarter of an hour had passed, Lady Lucan began to wonder what had happened to the tea. Lady Lucan went to look for the nanny. The basement was dark and, when she called Mrs Rivett's name, a man emerged from the cloakroom and hit her with a heavy object. She screamed, and when he told her to "Shut up", she recognised her husband's voice. The attacker shoved three gloved fingers down her throat to silence her. She managed to calm him and he stopped his attack; they both collapsed on to the stairs. Lady Lucan asked him where Mrs Rivett was and Lucan, after some prevarication, said that she was dead. They went upstairs to the second floor bedroom where Frances was still watching television. He sent her to bed and switched off the television. Then Lucan went into the bathroom to get a cloth to clean up his wife's face. Upon hearing the taps running, Lady Lucan seized her opportunity to flee from the house and ran to the Plumber's Arms pub in Lower Belgrave Street.
Lady Lucan's statement differs from that of her 10-year-old daughter, Frances, who had been watching television with her mother. Her statement was taken by a WDC in Cornwall several days after the event. Roy Ranson described Frances's statement as "always slightly muddled" and didn't know how much reliance he could place on it.
Lucan phone calls
At around 10pm, Lucan's friend Madeleine Florman, who lived nearby in Chester Square, was wakened by someone ringing her doorbell. She ignored it, blaming local youths, and 20 minutes later received a phone call from an agitated Lucan, who soon hung up. Police later found bloodstains on her doorstep.
A few minutes after he called Mrs Florman, Lucan called his mother and told her that he had been passing his wife's house by when he noticed a fight going on inside. He said that Lady Lucan had been injured and there was a lot of blood. "There was something terrible in the basement," he said. "I couldn't bring myself to look." He asked her to go to 46 Lower Belgrave Street to look after his children, then hung up.
Lucan drove 42 miles to the house of Ian and Susan Maxwell-Scott, his friends in Uckfield, Sussex. He drove a Ford Corsair he had borrowed from Michael Stoop, a gambling friend, while his own Mercedes was being repaired. He found Susan Maxwell-Scott home alone. He related an expanded version of the story that he had told his mother, claiming that after seeing the fight he had entered the house and gone to the basement, where he had slipped on a pool of blood. The assailant had already fled. He also said Lady Lucan had cried out that the man had killed Mrs Rivett and had accused Lucan of hiring the man to kill her.
Lucan used Susan Maxwell-Scott's phone to call his mother, who told him his children were safe at her flat and asked him if he wanted to talk to the policeman who was with her. He replied that he would call the police in the morning.
Before leaving, Lucan tried to ring his brother-in-law, William (Bill) Shand Kydd, but could not reach him. He wrote two letters to him, which he gave to Susan Maxwell-Scott to post, then left at 1.15am. Lucan was never seen again.
In September 2004 Mrs Maxwell Scott living in London, gave her final interview about her husband's close friend John Lucan to a private Investigator Ian Crosby. Mr Crosby had been visiting her regularly for several years. Crosby's book The Lucan Emails reveals more details of their relationship. It also includes details and location of an encounter Crosby had one month later with Lucan in Namibia.
The following Monday, 11 November 1974, the Ford Corsair was found abandoned in the south coast at Newhaven. There were bloodstains in the front seat, and in the boot a length of lead pipe wrapped in surgical plaster was found matching the one in the Lucan basement.
It was not until five days after the murder that a warrant was issued for Lucan's arrest. The story as it appeared in the newspapers focused on Lucan's disappearance and did not mention the possibility that he might have been the killer.
Lucan's relatives and friends were united in the belief that he was innocent and acted more quickly than the police. The day after the murder, John Aspinall organised a lunch for Lucan's friends where they discussed how they could help Lucan when he reappeared. The police were later to accuse the Clermont Set (as they were named by the media) of obstructing their investigation.
Susan Maxwell-Scott did not immediately report Lucan's late night visit to her. When her husband, Ian, returned to Uckfield on Friday evening, she told him what had occurred. On Saturday morning, he rang Bill Shand Kydd and told him that Lucan had written two letters to him, addressed to his London house in Cambridge Square. Mr Shand Kydd then rang his London home and was told that two letters with Uckfield postmarks had been delivered that morning. He immediately drove to London and, after reading them, gave the letters to the police.
In June 1975, the official inquest into Sandra Rivett's death was held. Bill Shand Kydd read out the two letters he had received from Lucan. In the first, Lucan repeated his story of interrupting a fight in the house and said that his wife would blame him, adding that she had demonstrated her hatred of him in the past and would do anything to see him accused. The second letter dealt with a planned auction of some of the family silver, and Lucan asked that the proceeds be used to clear his bank overdrafts.
The Queen's Counsel, acting for Lucan's mother, spoke of Lady Lucan's alleged hatred of her husband, but forensic evidence supported Lady Lucan's account. The blood found in the basement had been mainly Group B (Sandra Rivett's group), while that found on the basement stairs was mainly Group A (Lady Lucan's group), and both types had been found on the lead pipe. There was no evidence of another assailant.
On 19 June 1975, the inquest jury took just half an hour to reach their verdict, naming Lucan as the murderer of Sandra Rivett. He was the last person ever to be declared a murderer by an inquest jury, shortly before the procedure was outlawed by the Criminal Law Act 1977.
In October 2004, the Metropolitan Police Force reviewed the case to examine the existing police evidence using modern DNA profiling. Police also prepared a computer-generated image of how Lucan might have looked if he were still alive (he would have been 69 years old) using "age progression" software.
The review, codenamed Operation Habberton, was led by Detective Superintendent Lewis Benjamin of Scotland Yard. Benjamin said that he believed Lucan was helped by friends to escape from Britain and began a secret life abroad. However, the DNA testing failed to provide any conclusive evidence.
Investigator Ian Crosby was visited by policemen conducting the review. The police were particularly interested in the relationship he had built with key people, such as Lady Lucan, Lord Lucan's son, Mrs Susan Maxwell-Scott and Mrs Rivett's son Stephen Hensby.
Legal case against Lucan
In an article published in ES Magazine in November 2009, reporter Keith Dovkants claims that had Lucan ever been captured it would be quite likely that a trial jury would have found him "not guilty" of Sandra Rivett's murder.
He based this conclusion on claims made by Detective Chief Inspector David Gerring, who, with Detective Chief Superintendent Roy Ranson, had led the original investigation, and lawyer James Harbridge. The argument is that inconsistencies in the evidence would have enabled a good defence barrister to produce enough reasonable doubt to get Lucan acquitted. These include the claim that:
- Although the basement light bulb had been removed, it was still not dark enough for Lucan to mistake Mrs Rivett for his wife; however Lady Lucan said in evidence at the inquest that "it was dark" which is why she thought that Mrs Rivett couldn't be there;
- The doorman at the Clermont Club claims to have seen Lucan outside the club at 8.45pm, but Lucan's 10-year-old daughter, Frances, claims that it was before then that Mrs Rivett went to the basement and was attacked;
- There are also inconsistencies in the timing given by Frances and her mother: Lady Lucan testified to have gone looking for Rivett at 9.15pm, but Frances claims that the time was 8.55pm and that she saw her parents together at 9.05pm (after Mrs Rivett's murder). Frances based some of her estimates on the timing of Top Of The Pops, television programmes she had been watching, but significantly not on her estimate of going downstairs to her mother's room which she gave as 8.40pm.
- Frances also claims to have seen no bloodstains on her father's clothing, whereas expert witnesses state that whoever smashed Mrs Rivett's skull in would have been covered in blood.
Although Lady Lucan, convinced of her husband's guilt, described Frances as "not a very bright 10-year-old", DCI Gerring believed that her evidence would have been invaluable to a defence lawyer and that it may have been enough to clear Lucan, even though DCI Gerring himself was certain of his guilt. The defence could also use the same argument that Lucan gave Mrs Maxwell-Scott for going on the run: that his wife's hostility would be enough to have him accused of the murder.
The official version of events as assembled by the police was that Lucan had acted alone. He had intended to murder his wife, and in the darkened basement had mistaken Sandra Rivett for Lady Lucan (they were the same height and of similar build although different hair colour).
Others[who?] have chosen to believe Lord Lucan's story, that he interrupted an attack by someone else. As he was the only person with a known motive to kill Lady Lucan, and no-one has offered any reason for Rivett to be a target, it has been suggested[by whom?] that the attacker was a burglar. However, while a burglar could have killed Rivett, there seems no reason for him to wait 20 minutes to then attack Lady Lucan. This theory also fails to explain why a length of lead pipe matching the murder weapon was found in the car driven by Lord Lucan.
In his book, Trail of Havoc, author Patrick Marnham suggested that Lucan hired a hitman. He noted that the Lucans' daughter Frances put the events of the night 20 minutes earlier than her mother, using the beginning and end times of certain TV programmes as reference points. If Frances's timetable was accurate, Lucan would not have had time to return to the house from the Clermont where he was seen earlier that evening. However, a professional killer would be unlikely to use a lead pipe as a weapon, which led Marnham to suggest the killer hired by Lucan was unable to perform the murder and sent a last-minute replacement who bungled it. Mr Marnham further claims Lucan had planned to dispose of the body and, arriving to find that the wrong woman had been killed, attacked his wife.
Since his disappearance, many alleged sightings of Lucan have been reported from all over the world, but police have drawn a blank in their efforts to find the runaway aristocrat. In December 1974, police in Australia arrested a man they believed was Lucan but who was in fact the British MP John Stonehouse, who had faked his suicide a month earlier.
John Aspinall's comments
During a 1990 interview, John Aspinall said, "I'm more of a friend of his after that than I was — though I haven't seen him — because if he wanted me to do something, I'd do it for him," which the interviewer interpreted as a slip of the tongue suggesting that Aspinall had had some contact with Lucan even after the murder.
Shortly before his death in 2000, Aspinall gave an interview in which he re-stated his opinion that Lucan had committed suicide by scuttling a boat that he kept at Newhaven. Aspinall said he had no doubt that Lucan had mistakenly killed the nanny, having intended to kill his wife, and had then killed himself out of shame.
In September 2003, a book titled Dead Lucky: Lord Lucan, The Final Truth, written by Duncan MacLaughlin, a former Scotland Yard detective, claimed to have solved the mystery of Lucan's disappearance. The author claimed that Lucan fled to Goa, India, arriving there a year after Rivett's death. The book includes photos taken there in 1991 of a man who bears a resemblance to Lucan. The man, who died in 1996, was known in Goa as Barry Halpin (or, according to the book, "Jungle Barry").
However, these claims were almost immediately dismissed. BBC Radio 2 presenter Mike Harding said in a letter to The Guardian newspaper that he knew Barry Halpin from his days as a folk musician in Liverpool in the 1960s, and that he had gone to India "as it was more spiritual than St. Helens".
Given the extremely rapid debunking of the claims, The Sunday Telegraph, which serialised part of the book, was embarrassed in a manner reminiscent of The Sunday Times' publication of the bogus Hitler Diaries. The book was reprinted a year later in paperback entitled The Lucan Conspiracy (to much less press interest) with one additional final chapter, and displaying the tagline: How the Establishment Conned the World into Believing Lord Lucan Was Barry Halpin.
New Zealand sighting
In August 2007, the Auckland-based New Zealand Herald reported that former Scotland Yard detective Sidney Ball was following up claims that Lord Lucan was living in an old Land Rover outside the township of Marton, apparently with a pet possum, cat and a goat. Mr Ball says neighbours of the man, Roger Woodgate, were convinced he was Lord Lucan but said he couldn't discuss the case further until his investigation was complete. The man is said to have an upper-class English accent and may be receiving income from property interests in the UK. Roger Woodgate denies being Lord Lucan, insisting he was a photographer working for the Ministry of Defence who had left the UK five months before Lord Lucan vanished. Mr Woodgate also claims to be 10 years younger than Lord Lucan and is five inches shorter.
The 7th Earl of Lucan was presumed deceased in December 1992 in Chambers. The trustees of the 7th Earl of Lucan's Settled Estates were then granted an order known as "the 1992 Order" which enabled them to administer the 7th Earl's estate on the footing that the 7th Earl was dead and were further granted leave to apply to the Family Division to swear death. This enabled Lucan's son, George Bingham, Lord Bingham, to become the beneficiary of the Lucan Settled Estates. There is nothing to prevent Lord Bingham from styling himself the 8th Earl of Lucan, although he could not become a member of the House of Lords. In August 1998, Lord Lucan's son gave an interview to a national newspaper in which he said that five years ago he had obtained an order from a Chancery Court which does everything in law that can be done to treat a man as dead - so from that moment forward, given no disputed claim, he had succeeded to the title and also said that it was his intention to use it. He further stated that the Metropolitan Police had given a statement which testified to their belief that the 7th Earl is not alive and that none of the sightings in the past 24 years has been given any credence.
The Countess of Lucan (Lady Lucan) has publicly stated since 1987 that she believes her husband to be dead, and sometimes uses the prefix 'dowager' to indicate this.
In popular culture
Lord Lucan's disappearance has become a part of popular culture.
- The film Bloodlines: Legacy of a Lord is loosely based on the life and disappearance of Lord Lucan.
- The Trial of Lord Lucan (1994) was a fictional dramatisation of how a trial might have proceeded had Lucan been arrested soon after Rivett's murder, starring Julian Wadham as Lucan and Lynsey Baxter as his wife. It was one of a number of fictional TV court cases which had included the trial of Richard III, the court-martial of George Washington and an inquest into the death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
- An early story in Psycops, a comic strip published in The Sun in the 1990s, had the detectives in Australia trying to track down Lucan on behalf of a cable TV crew.
- Dame Muriel Spark's novel Aiding and Abetting (2001) is a fictionalized tale of Lucan's clandestine life years after the murder.
- Lucan was depicted as a bartender in the Spitting Image song "I've Never Met a Nice South African". The Lucan puppet was used in many episodes in various roles.
- The band Black Box Recorder wrote a song called "Lord Lucan is Missing".
- Lucan has become a by word for something unlikely to happen such as when Andy Parsons said that if William Hague won in 2001 "the results will be counted by lord Lucan" or someone who rarely, if one member of a group is regularly absent other members may say to each other " let me know if you see him or Lord Lucan"
- ^ a b c d e The Peerage Retrieved on 17 January 2007.
- ^ a b c ES Magazine article by Keith Dovkants, published in November 2009
- ^ Countess of Lucan: setting the record straight
- ^ a b Lord Lucan 'officially dead' BBC, 1999-10-27
- ^ Nick Fraser "You can take the boy out of Eton...", The Guardian, 23 November 2005. Retrieved on 17 January 2007.
- ^ Kirby, Terry (7 December 2005) "Eton's old boy network." The Independent. Retrieved on 17 January 2007.
- ^ Michael Stoop obituary
- ^ Countess of Lucan, page 1
- ^ 1975: Missing earl guilty of murder — BBC News On This Day, 19 June
- ^ "Lord Lucan case reopened". The Age. 18 October 2004. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/10/17/1097951556095.html?from=storylhs.
- ^ "Thirty years later and the Lucan theories just keep on coming". The Independent. 6 November 2004. http://www.independent.ie/unsorted/features/thirty-years-later-and-the-lucan-theories-just-keep-on-coming-141953.html?service=Print.
- ^ Alderson, Andrew; Richard Eden (7 November 2004). "Lord Lucan could still be alive, says the detective leading a new hunt for him". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1476056/Lord-Lucan-could-still-be-alive-says-the-detective-leading-a-new-hunt-for-him.html.
- ^ a b c "Lord Lucan claim dismissed". BBC. 2003-09-09. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/merseyside/3092324.stm. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
- ^ a b "UK expat denies he is Lord Lucan" BBC News. Retrieved on 9 August 2007.
- ^ Lord Lucan's last secret goes to the grave among gorillas
- ^ "Lucan 'committed suicide'". BBC. 2000-02-13. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/641300.stm. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
- ^ MacLaughlin, Duncan; William Hall (September 2003). Dead Lucky: Lord Lucan, The Final Truth. John Blake Publishing. ISBN 978-1844540105.
- ^ MacLaughlin, Duncan; William Hall (September 2004). The Lucan Conspiracy. John Blake Publishing. ISBN 978-1844540655.
- ^ "Bloodlines: Legacy of a Lord." (1997)
- ^ The Trial of Lord Lucan at the British Film Institute site
- Lord Lucan: The Final Verdict by Roy Ranson
- Lucan, Not Guilty by Sally Moore
- Lord Lucan: What Really Happened by James Ruddick
- Dead Lucky by Duncan MacLaughlin
- The Lucan Mystery by Norman Lucas
- Troops of Midian by Richard Wilmott
- Trail of Havoc by Patrick Marnham
- Lord Lucan The lucan emails by Ian Crosby ISBN 978-0-9565337-0-8
- Lord Lucan: My Story by William Coles, ISBN 1906558116
- Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark, ISBN 0-14-100990-X
- Get Lucky by Dickon Whitfield ISBN 0-7522-0745-8
- Maxwell Lives by Jim Paterson ISBN 0-9530953-0-4
- Nobody's Fault by Nancy Holmes ISBN 0-553-05732-4
- The Butterfly Man by Heather Rose ISBN 0-7022-3535-0
- The Day Lucky's Luck Ran Out by Allan Prior, in London After Midnight, edited by Peter Haining ISBN 0-7607-0345-0
- extensive story about Lord Lucan on the crime library
- "A Murder for Mayfair", Time, 25 November 1974
- "A Downstairs Murder", Time, 30 June 1975
- The Countess of Lucan's website
- The Official Website of Lord Lucan
- Channel 4 links for Lucan
- Lord Lucan My Story
- The BBC's Inside Out offers new evidence in October 2009 on the case of Lord Lucan
- Lord Lucan The lucan emails. For thirty five years Investigator Ian Crosby has followed this story. He was the last person to discuss the Lucan case with Susan Maxwell Scott. Just weeks before her death She told him " they never went to Portugal." In October 2004 he encountered Lord Lucan in Namibia. But why had Lucan's children also been visiting Namibia?
|Peerage of Ireland|
|Earl of Lucan|
1964 – unknown year
|Status of title uncerta|
|NAME||Lucan, Richard Bingham, 7th Earl Of|
|DATE OF BIRTH||18 December 1934|
|PLACE OF BIRTH|
|DATE OF DEATH||8 November 1974|
|PLACE OF DEATH|