Richard John Bingham, the seventh Earl of Lucan, used to be known as "Lucky" Lord Lucan due to his love of gambling and apparent success at the gaming tables. However by 1974 his luck had started to turn against him, and he had run up large debts and became embroiled in a custody battle with his wife Veronica. This much is known.

On the night of November 7, 1974 Lucan became more than just another aristocrat fallen upon hard times. Someone attacked the couple's nanny, Sandra Rivett, with a length of lead pipe, bludgeoning her to death. When Lady Lucan went to investigate the noises she too was attacked and seriously injured, but she managed to escape and fled to friends where she announced that her husband had mistakenly killed the nanny in the dark basement, thinking her to be his wife.

The police were called immediately and went round to get Lucan's side of the story, but he had disappeared. Later that day there was a confirmed sighting of him in Uckfield on Britain's south coast and a car he had borrowed from a friend was found nearby, along with notes proclaiming his innocence.

That was the last time anybody definitely saw Lord Lucan.

When he vanished he was penniless and had no passport, and his friends and family have persistently claimed that they believe he committed suicide. But no body has ever been found, and Lucan had been a very respected member of the British aristocracy.

The police file has never been closed on the case and there is still a warrant out for his arrest. Conspiracy theorists maintain that Lucan used his extensive connections with the rich and powerful élite of British society to evade the police and to set himself up with a new identity. Rumours abounded, and persist to this day, that the Earl is alive and well and living in South Africa. Or Argentina. Or Brazil. Or ... well, you name it, it's probably been suggested.

On October 27, 2000 Lucan's family obtained a High Court ruling that the Earl could be presumed to be dead, allowing them to wind up his affairs and his estate, said to be worth less than £15,000 -- he had literally been selling the family silver to pay off his gambling debts. It also allowed his son, George Bingham, to officially take the title "Lord of Lucan" and to sit in the House of Lords. It doesn't equate to a death certificate however, and despite being officially presumed dead, the case is still open and he is still wanted by the police for questioning over his nanny's murder. Scotland Yard report that they receive about 50 reports a year from all over the world from members of the public who claim to have seen Lucan, Britain's most famous fugitive.

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