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   Inside Out - South East: Monday March 7, 2005

LORD LUCAN MURDER MYSTERY

Lucan's London residence
Dead or alive? The mystery of Lord Lucan rages on.

It was the mystery that gripped a nation. In November 1974 Lord Lucan disappeared from his home in London under suspicious circumstances. Lucan was never to be seen again.

Inside Out sheds new light on one of Britain's greatest unsolved mysteries in an exclusive investigation of the case.

"I'd like him to be found as time's rolling on now - we've come to that point of no return."
Derek Wilkinson, former Sussex Police detective.

Lord Lucan is a name that still generates fascination and speculation, even though it's over 30 years since the Earl's mysterious disappearance.

Despite numerous investigations and alleged sightings, the trail on Lord Lucan's whereabouts has gone cold - until now.

Inside Out has exclusive evidence of mystery phone calls to the Police that could provide new clues to the Lucan case.

We retrace the story of Lord Lucan's last hours with the help of eye witnesses and forensic experts.

Murder mystery

Our mystery starts in a mews house in Belgravia, London at 9.45pm on Thursday November 7, 1974.

"Murder, murder, I think my neck has been broken - he tried to
kill me."
Lady Lucan, 1974

The Lucan's nanny, 29-year-old Sandra Rivett, lay dead in the basement of the family house, having been battered to death with a blunt instrument.

Nearby a bloodstained Lady Lucan burst into the Plumber's Arms pub crying out for help.

She claimed that her estranged husband had murdered the nanny and had tried to kill her.

Lord Lucan was suspected of murder and attempting to bludgeon his own wife to death. He fled Belgravia a wanted man.

Behind him, Lucan left a scene of blood and mayhem. He then disappeared with barely a trace.

On the trail of Lucan

What we do know is before vanishing off the face of the earth, Lord Lucan drove 45 miles south to seek refuge with friends in Uckfield, East Sussex.

Bowlign green
Grants Hill House - last sighting of Lucan. Is his body here?

Peter and Susan Maxwell-Scott were loyal members of Lord Lucan's inner circle, people he could trust with his life.

They lived in Grants Hill House, a large manor house set in acres of gardens, with a swimming pool and several tennis courts.

After being let into the house, Lucan was never seen again - he simply vanished into thin air.

But Inside Out has discovered a fresh angle on the story and what might have happened in the grounds of Grants Hill House on that fateful night on November 7, 1974.

Mystery caller

Lucan's last days?

November 7, 2005

6.30pm - Lucan at his flat in Elizabeth Street.

8.30pm - Sandra Rivett puts children to bed at 46, Lower Belgrade Street.

8.45pm and 9pm - two reported sightings of Lucan at his club.

9.15pm - Lady Lucan claims she was attacked at this time.

9.45pm - Lady Lucan bursts into the Plumber's Arms crying out that her husband has murdered the family nanny.

10pm - Madeleine Floorman, a friend of the Lucans, is waken by her doorbell ringing, but she does not answer it. She was later disturbed by a phone call from a man sounding like Lucan. He sounded distressed. Later spots of blood were found at her doorstep.

Approx 10.30pm - Lucan calls his mother telling her that there had been a catastrophe at the family house.

Approx 11.30pm - Lucan arrives at the Maxwell-Scott's house in Uckfield. He looks dischevelled and his flannels look as if they had been sponged down.

12.15 - Lucan rings his mother from Uckfield.

1am - Susan Maxwell-Scott claims Lucan left her house.

Next day - two letters written by Lucan posted to close friends.

Three days later - Lucan's Ford Corsair found abandoned in Newhaven.

Sources: BBC News and Lord Lucan.com

Seven years ago in May 1998 Sussex police received several anonymous phone calls - all were from the same man who repeated the same story.

The mystery caller claims that he was in the grounds of Grants Hill House on the night of the murder.

He claims that he witnessed three men walking from the house to the bottom of the grounds.

Taken by surprise the caller says he retreated into the undergrowth from where he witnessed two gun shots.

Moments later he heard the sound of a splash.

Two men, not three, returned to the house. That was his story.

Inside Out spoke with two police sources who have confirmed the mystery caller existed, although they refused to appear on camera.

In January 2005, Inside Out applied, under the Freedom of Information Act, to see Sussex Police's files on the case.

Their response was that all the information relating to the calls in 1998 had either been destroyed or passed on up to the Metropolitan Police.

So we called Scotland Yard and this is what they had to say:

"The Metropolitan Police are aware of this allegation but do not consider it to be a strong line of inquiry.

The Lucan case is currently under review and will be for some months to come".

Both Sussex and the Metropolitan Police refused to talk any further, so we decided to do some detective work of our own.

Dead and buried?

The witness who claims to have seen Lucan being murdered claimed that the body was pushed into a cess pit in the grounds of Grants Hill House.

Inside Out decided to check if there was indeed a cess pit on the site of the now-demolished house, using old building plans.

A cess pit did exist although it's very hard to know if Lucan's body lies at the bottom of it.

Lucy Sideburn is a forensic archaeologist and a specialist in the recovery of human remains.

Technology has leapt forward in the last 10 years with advances in underground x-rays and sounding equipment.

Lucy finds some evidence of ground disturbance, but it's quite subtle.

But to be sure of any body, she'd have to come back and do a much more detailed analysis.

Lucy Sideburn
Lucy Sideburn found evidence of some ground disturbance

"We'd need to do it accurately with grids and take regular, spaced out readings to get the full picture, but there does seem to be something there."

"To do it properly, it would probably take two or three days," says Lucy.

"We'd need to pinpoint the location and, then, if it wasn't too large, we could start hand-digging it.

"We'd need to find the outskirts of it and start taking it down systematically to see if there's anything inside."

However the Police are in a difficult position, because the mystery caller and eyewitness refused to meet with them at the time of the calls.

Unless fresh information comes in, then the only digging round here will be the gardener.

"If it is suspected that there's something there, chances are that we'd be called in to help the police in a search.

"Without any definite evidence, it probably wouldn't get that far," says Lucy.

But she believes that it is possible that Lucan could be under the ground at Uckfield, "I would say bodies generally turn up close to where they were last seen".

Escape to freedom?

On the night Lucan vanished, Derek Wilkinson was a Sussex police detective on duty at the Port of Newhaven. He has never spoken before.

After Sussex police found Lucan's Ford Corsair abandoned in Newhaven, dozens of officers scoured surrounding countryside and checked ferry passenger lists for any trace of Lucan.

"I remember there were only three passengers in the foot hall. There was a man and a woman who appeared to be husband and wife.

"And there was a man with a long coat and a trilby hat. This man produced a French ID card.

Lucan's car
Lucan's car was mysteriously dumped in Newhaven

"I'm quite aware from the photos that Lord Lucan wasn't the man that passed me on the foot hall," recalls Wilkinson.

Derek Wilkinson has his own theory about Lucan's car being dumped at Newhaven.

"I feel that someone else brought the car down and left it here.

"I think it was a red herring."

Dave is not the only detective who thought the car was a decoy. Detective Inspector Roy Ransom, who was in charge of the hunt for Lucan, had this to say to the BBC in 1993:

"I don't know who put the car at Newhaven. I don't think it was Lucan, no I don't."

Eye-witness?

Roy Blackmore was one of the two Sussex police officers who visited Grants Hill House on the night Lucan vanished.

This is the first time he has ever spoken about the murder publicly.

Roy Blackmore
'Anything's possible' says former Police officer Roy Blackmore

Six hours after the Maxwell-Scotts claimed that Lucan left Grants Hill, Roy saw something very puzzling.

It was a car bearing a striking resemblance to Lucan's Corsair.

"We saw that vehicle go through at Uckfield, because there was no by-pass at the time.

"We saw that car go through - I think it was a Corsair going towards Newhaven."

But was Lord Lucan the man in the car?

Roy and his Police colleague later returned to Grants Hill House to interview the Maxwell-Scotts, but they stuck by their story.

The police officers did not search the grounds of the house, meaning that any fresh clues to Lucan's disappearance were not uncovered.

"Lucky" Lucan?

So did Lucan escape or is his body at the bottom of the garden in Uckfield?

The 39-year-old Lucan was a professional gambler and member of the aristocracy.

He mixed in rich and powerful circles. His favourite casino was the Clermont Club in Mayfair which was owned by the millionaire John Aspinall.

Aspinall was close to Lucan, although Countess Lucan counters this view on her website, saying that "John Aspinall was not one of the late Lord Lucan's best friends".

John Aspinall
Aspinall - did he help Lucan to escape?

However, speaking in 1994, John Aspinall said, "I would have done for him what he asked".

Aspinall also said that if Lucan had requested asylum, "he would had got it".

It was rumoured that Lucan told Aspinall earlier in 1974 that he wanted to get rid of Lady Lucan to get custody of his children.

In another bizarre twist, it turns out that John Aspinall had connections with Uckfield - he grew up only 200 metres from Grants Hill House.

So could he have been there on the night of November 7, 1974?

Whether he was or not, Aspinall may have taken the secret to his grave. He died of cancer in 2000.

Final chapter?

So what did happen to Lucan after he vanished into thin air and was the mystery caller a hoaxer?
 
And what happened to the mystery caller? It is now seven years since his last phone call.

Just in case the mystery caller is reading this, we have left out one vital piece of information.
Newhaven in 1970s
Red herring or escape route? Did Lucan escape from Newhaven?
 
That way, we'll know if we are talking to the man who witnessed the death of Lord Lucan or if we're being wound up.

One thing only is certain - the mystery of Lord Lucan will continue to rage until new evidence or the mystery caller comes forward.

The final chapter has not yet closed on a remarkable story.

Contact us with more information about the Lord Lucan case by email at insideout@bbc.co.uk.

Read more background to the Lucan murder mystery.

See also ...

Inside Out: South East
Lucan - the mystery unravelled
Burglary

On the rest of Inside Out
Unsolved murders
Miscarriage of justice

On bbc.co.uk
Lucan murder case reopened
Lord Lucan claim dismissed
Lucan officially dead
Lucan's son banned from Lords
BBC - On this day 1974

On the rest of the web
Lord Lucan.com
Countess of Lucan
Metropolitan Police
Telegraph - Police relaunch inquiry

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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