Lord Lucan, the British aristocrat whose disappearance has fascinated the public for almost 40 years, may have lived a secret life in west Africa, according to new testimonies.
A woman who worked as an assistant to John Aspinall, the multi-millionaire zoo and casino owner and a close friend of Lucan, claims that shortly after he vanished in November 1974 she arranged for his children to fly out to Africa. Jill Findlay, whose name has been changed to protect her anonymity, said Lucan was alive and living in Gabon during the 70s and 80s.
Findlay, who broke her silence after an illness prompted her to look back on her life, describes how Aspinall and billionaire businessman Sir James Goldsmith instructed her to secretly send Lucan's two eldest children to Africa on second passports in 1979 and 1980.
She claims that during his time on the run, Lucan was funded by Aspinall and his close group of wealthy friends.
"Instructions were to make arrangements for John Bingham, also known as Lord Lucan, to see his children, and to do that I had to book his two eldest children on flights to Africa," Findlay said. "It was in Gabon, from what I understand, that their father would observe them and see them, which is what he wanted to do.
Just see how they were growing up and look at them from a distance," said Findlay, who said she was willing to give a statement to Scotland Yard concerning her information.
Robert Polkinghorne of the London Metropolitan Police tells the BBC Inside Out programme tomorrow that a credible witness described seeing Lucan with one of his close friends while on holiday in Africa in the early 1980s. Polkinghorne tells of two very credible sightings of Lucan but he was refused funding for further investigations.
Who: The Right Honourable Richard
John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan.
Nicknamed: "Lucky Lucan''.
What happened: Lucan was a keen gambler and a member of a high society set. He vanished after his children's nanny, Sandra Rivett, was found dead in his estranged wife's London home. Later that night Lucan, then 39, fled to friends in Sussex and shortly afterwards he disappeared. His car was found abandoned at Newhaven, East Sussex.
The mystery: There have been more than 70 "sightings'' as far afield as India, Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands. One of the most outlandish described Lucan living in a Land Rover in NZ with a pet possum called Redfern and a goat called Camilla. Other people, including his wife, Veronica, are convinced that he drowned himself in the English Channel.
Officially: Lucan was found guilty in his absence of the murder of Sandra Rivett by a coroner's jury in 1975. He was officially declared dead in 1999.
- OBSERVERBy Mark Townsend