In November 1974 Lord Lucan, the Seventh Earl of Lucan, disappeared without a trace and, although sightings have been reported from various parts of the world, he has never been found.
Lord Lucan’s estranged wife, Lady Lucan, claimed that Lord Lucan had murdered Sandra Rivett, who was her children’s nanny. She also said that he had tried to kill her. At 9.45pm on 7th November 1974, Lady Lucan had run into a pub named the Plumber’s Arms in Belgravia, London, crying out for help. She was blood-stained and said that she had just escaped being killed after having been attacked, but that the nanny had been murdered. The police were called and went to Lady Lucan’s house in Eaton Row where they forced open the front door. They found a pool of blood on the floor of the breakfast room and the walls were also splashed with blood. The body of Sandra Rivett was found in a sack. There was a blood-stained piece of lead piping, which was bent out of shape, in the hallway. There was no sign of Lord Lucan.
At just after 10.00pm someone rang the doorbell of the home of Mrs Madeleine Florman, who was a friend of Lord Lucan. She had been sleeping at the time and ignored it. Shortly afterwards she had a telephone call from Lord Lucan, but he was incoherent and quickly hung up. Bloodstains were later found by the police on Mrs Florman’s doorstep.
Lord Lucan telephoned his mother that night, at approximately 10.30pm, to say that something terrible had happened at the house in Eaton Row and asked her to go and collect the children, who were in the house. She went to the house and found it full of police. She explained to the police that the Lucans were separated and that Lord Lucan lived in a flat in the neighbourhood.
A close friend of Lord Lucan’s, Susan Maxwell-Scott, claimed that Lord Lucan had visited her before he vanished. She lived in Uckfield, Sussex with her husband, Ian, who was away that night. Lord Lucan arrived at their home at about 11.30pm, driving a Ford Corsair, a car he had borrowed from a friend. She said that Lord Lucan had told her that he had been walking past the house in Eaton Row when he had seen Lady Lucan being attacked by someone. He explained that he had let himself in, gone down the stairs and then slipped in the blood on the floor. According to Susan Maxwell-Scott’s account, Lord Lucan said that the attacker had fled and that he had gone to get some towels to clean things up. However, when Lady Lucan rushed out, screaming, Lord Lucan panicked, having realised that things looked bad for him, and decided to get away. Mrs Maxwell-Scott tried to persuade Lord Lucan to stay with her, but, saying that he had to “get back”, he drove away and that was the last confirmed sight anyone ever had of him.
The police searched the flat where Lord Lucan lived. He was not there, but they found various personal effects, including his passport, driving licence and wallet. His Mercedes car, which had a flat battery, was parked outside. The Ford Corsair was found three days after the night of the murder. It had been abandoned in Newhaven. There were bloodstains in the car and also a piece of bandaged lead piping. Although this was not stained, it was similar to the length of pipe found in the Eaton Row house.
Lord Lucan wrote two letters to Bill Shand Kydd, who was married to Lady Lucan’s sister. The letters were posted the day after the murder and the envelopes had smears of blood on them. The first letter contained Lord Lucan’s version of events: in it he said that he had interrupted an attack, but that he thought his wife would accuse him of being the attacker. The second letter had to do with a proposed auction of some family silver: Lord Lucan needed the proceeds from this to clear some debts.
There have been many rumours and theories about what really happened. Amongst these was a rumour that suggested that John Aspinall, who was a millionaire and the owner of the Clermont Club in Mayfair, had helped Lord Lucan to escape to the south of France. The Sussex police also received a call from an unknown person, who claimed to have witnessed the murder of Lord Lucan. There have been alleged sightings of Lord Lucan from many parts of the world, including South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. The police even arrested a man they thought was Lord Lucan in Australia, but it turned out that the man was the British MP John Stonehouse, who had faked his own death a month before.
Books have been written about the scandal, there has been much speculation and many theories. There are even websites dedicated to Lord Lucan where some of the wilder ideas and claims can be found. However, despite all this, the mystery of Lord Lucan’s whereabouts is still unsolved.