British peer Lord Lucan declared dead 42 years after he disappeared

George Bingham Moves To Inherit Father Lord Lucan's Title

LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Lord Lucan, a British aristocrat who vanished without trace 42 years ago after the murder of his children's nanny, was officially declared dead by London's High Court on Wednesday, allowing his son to inherit the title.

The dapper, mustachioed peer disappeared hours after his Sandra Rivett was found bludgeoned to death in his house in central London in 1974. A car he was using was later found at Newhaven on the English coast with a length of lead piping.

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The fate of Richard Lucan, a gambler and socialite known as "Lucky," has intrigued Britons ever since and there have been reported sightings across the world, including in Australia, India, the Netherlands and South Africa.

The High Court declared him dead in 1999 but the law at the time did not allow his son, George Bingham, to inherit his title. On Wednesday, Bingham used new legislation to successfully apply for a death certificate to be issued.

See more of Lord Lucan:

British peer Lord Lucan declared dead 42 years after he disappeared
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British peer Lord Lucan declared dead 42 years after he disappeared
Undated file photo of Lord Lucan. The son of the peer who disappeared in mysterious circumstances almost 41 years ago has applied to have his father declared "presumed dead".
28th November 1963: Lord Lucan, aristocrat and alleged murderer, on his wedding day. (Photo by Douglas Miller/Keystone/Getty Images)
28th November 1963: John Richard Bingham, Earl of Lucan, and Veronica Duncan after their marriage. (Photo by Douglas Miller/Keystone/Getty Images)
15th November 1974: Veronica Lucan, Countess of Lucan, wife of the missing Earl, Lord Lucan who disappeared following the murder of their nanny. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
Veronica Lucan, the Dowager Countess of Lucan. Her husband Lord Lucan vanished from their home in 1974, leaving the murdered body of their nanny in the basement. (Photo by John Downing/Getty Images)
14th November 1974: Police and dogs searching for the missing Lord Lucan at Newhaven in Sussex. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
20th May 1975: Police using a Wallis autogiro to search for the missing Lord Lucan. (Photo by Angela Deane-Drummond/Evening Standard/Getty Images)
20th May 1975: Wing Commander Wallis landing his Wallis autogiro during the Police search for the missing Lord Lucan. (Photo by Angela Deane-Drummond/Evening Standard/Getty Images)
23rd May 1975: An infrared camera is adjusted for mounting on an autogyro piloted by Wing Commander Kenneth Wallis, to take photographs up to 2,000 feet above the Sussex Downs for seeking further clues to the disappearance of Lord Lucan who has been sought in connection with his children's nurse, murdered in November 1974. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
17th June 1975: Susan Maxwell-Scott, who gave evidence at the inquest into the death of Sandra Rivett, the nanny who worked for Lord Lucan. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
17th July 1975: The Dowager Countess of Lucan and William Shand-Kydd brother in-law to Lord Lucan's wife, leaving for the court inquest on Sandra Rivell. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
13th September 1985: The back door of the home owned by British peer, Lord Lucan before his disappearance in Belgravia, Central London. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - UNDATED: An undated handout image, made available March 5, 2009 of the interior of Lord and Lady Lucan's family home on Lower Belgrave Street, London featuring a writing desk which is to be sold in the forthcoming sale of Fine English Furniture and Works of Art at Bonhams auction house in London. lady Lucan has instructed Bonhams to auction the Victorian desk which was used by Lord Lucan in his family home on Lower Belgrave Street, London and is expected to fetch up to £7,000. (Photo by Lucan Family/Bonhams via Getty Images)
George Bingham, the only son of missing peer Lord Lucan, speaks to the media outside the High Court in London, where he was granted a death certificate by a High Court judge.
Neil Berriman, the son of Sandra Rivett who was found murdered at Lord Lucan's family home, arrives at the High Court in London, where George Bingham, the only son of the missing peer, is applying for a death certificate so he can inherit the title as 8th Earl.

"My own personal view, and it was one I took I think as an eight-year-old boy, is he's unfortunately been dead since that time," Bingham, now Earl of Lucan, said outside court.

"In the circumstances I think it's quite possible he saw his life at an end, regardless of guilt or otherwise. Being dragged through the courts and through the media would have destroyed his personal life, his career and the chances of getting custody of his children back.

"That may well have pushed a man to end his own life but I have no idea."

One of numerous theories about what became of Lucan, who would now be 81, was that he shot himself and was then fed to tigers at the zoo of his friend John Aspinall. Aspinall himself said in 2000 that Lucan had weighted himself down with a stone and drowned himself in the English Channel.

Rivett's son Neil Berriman told reporters he bore no ill feeling towards Bingham but hoped the mystery would be explained with the help of new evidence in the next year.

"There is no getting away from the fact that whatever happened that night, Lucan is guilty of something in my eyes," he said, without giving details of the evidence he referred to.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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