Witnesses reveal Lord Lucan's 'secret life in Africa'

By Glenn Campbell
BBC Inside Out, South East

  • Published

Evidence that missing aristocrat Lord Lucan was smuggled out of the UK to a secret life abroad has come from two new witnesses.

An ex-detective said there was a credible sighting of Lucan in Africa.

And a woman who worked for Lucan's friend John Aspinall told the BBC she arranged for his children to fly to Africa where the peer could view them "from a distance".

Lucan disappeared in 1974 after the murder of his children's nanny.

Sandra Rivett was found dead at Lucan's home in Belgravia, London.

The peer's blood-soaked car was later found abandoned in Newhaven, East Sussex.

The Metropolitan Police said any "significant" new information about her death would "be fully considered".

'Flights to Africa'

Lucan, born Richard John Bingham in 1934, was officially declared dead by the High Court in 1999.

In an interview in 2000, Aspinall said Lucan probably committed suicide by scuttling his boat in the English Channel.

Since Lucan's disappearance there have been more than 70 alleged sightings of him in countries across the world including South Africa, Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Mr Aspinall's secretary, who asked not to be identified and assumed the name Jill Findlay, said she was invited into meetings where the missing aristocrat was discussed by her boss and Sir James Goldsmith, the multi-millionaire businessman.

"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," she said.

"I don't know the exact dates, it was between 1979 and 1981 and it was on two occasions I booked the flights."

She said the children would have visited Kenya and Gabon and Lucan would have been able to see them from a distance but he would not meet them or speak to them.

Clear conscience

Ms Findlay said she had "no idea of the enormity" of the search under way for Lucan who was then the most wanted man in Britain.

She also said Mr Aspinall told her to expect him to announce Lucan's death to the press, a statement which came in 2000 and which she took as a signal that he had died in Africa.

It took Ms Findlay a further 12 years to break her silence.

She said events began to piece themselves together as she reflected on her life during a recent illness and she wanted to talk to the BBC to pass on information to whoever may find it of interest.

Ms Findlay said her conscience was clear because she had not helped Lucan escape. She said she was prepared to give Scotland Yard a statement.

Mr Aspinall died in June 2000, three years after the death of Sir James Goldsmith.

'Investigation stopped'

Bob Polkinghorne, a former detective inspector who worked on the Lucan inquiry when it was being dealt with as a cold case during the 1980s, also said: "The word was he was in Africa.

"Lady Lucan, I am quite convinced, didn't think he was dead."

He said a further confirmation that Lucan was alive came from a reliable witness who saw one of Lucan's close acquaintances in the early 1980s as he holidayed in Africa.

Mr Polkinghorne said: "He was surprised to see this acquaintance standing on a bridge.

"After two to three minutes, he was joined by another man who he is adamant was Lord Lucan."

The former detective, who now lives in Kent, said permission to pursue this lead was refused by the Metropolitan Police.

He said: "I was then later told, a few days later, discontinue the inquiry. You haven't got approval to continue."

And he added: "I think his [Lucan's] gambling fraternity friends spirited him out the country."

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: "The inquiry into the death of Sandra Rivett is the subject of regular review, as is the case with any unsolved murder. It has never been closed.

"Any significant new information will be considered and we keep an open mind in connection with this case and anyone with information should contact the Met Police."

Inside Out is broadcast on BBC One South East, South and London on Monday, 20 February at 19:30 GMT. It is also available nationwide on the BBC iPlayer for seven days thereafter.

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