Lord Lucan inquiry reopened in DNA 'breakthrough'

DETECTIVES have reopened the Lord Lucan case almost 30 years to the day since the aristocrat was named at a coroner's inquest as the killer of his children's nanny, The Scotsman has learned.

A spokeswoman for Scotland Yard confirmed the review was ongoing, but would not say why it is being conducted now.

Last year, on the 30th anniversary of the killing of Sandra Rivett, 29, and the attempted murder of Lucan's wife, Veronica, police said they would revise evidence for DNA. That, according to a criminologist and an expert on the affair, would be the likeliest reason for a breakthrough.

Patrick Marnham, the author of Trail of Havoc: In The Steps Of Lord Lucan, said: "Police never released details of all the evidence. DNA would be the most likely route to take the inquiry forward. It might not definitively prove him to be the killer, but it would shoot down alternative theories."

Roger Leng, the criminologist, and reader in law at Warwick University, added: "Murder inquiries never close, and cases are being cleared by DNA, the most obvious route to a breakthrough in this case."

Scotland Yard would not comment on the nature of the review. The spokeswoman said: "I am not able to say why the case is being reviewed now, but it is under review. That is all I can say."

Lord Lucan, who would be 71 if he was alive, disappeared in the early hours of 8 November, 1974, a few hours after the murder of Ms Rivett and the attack on Lady Lucan in the family home at 46 Lower Belgrave Street, London.

His disappearance created one of the most enduring mysteries in British criminal history: What happened to "Lucky"?

Theories are divided between suicide and three decades on the run.

Seven months after the incident - on 19 June, 1975 - an inquest jury of three women and six men concluded after four days that Lucan killed the nanny with a lead pipe and attempted to murder his wife.

It is thought Lucan believed he was attacking Lady Veronica, from whom he was estranged, but, in the dark basement where Ms Rivett was making tea, he mistook her for his wife.

Following the coroner's determination a warrant was issued, committing Lucan for trial at the Old Bailey.

He was the last man to be named as a murderer by a coroner. English law was later changed to end the "injustice" of an individual being named as a killer in his absence.

On 11 December, 1992, trustees of his estate succeeded in having Lucan presumed dead and seven years later, in 1999, probate was secured by grant from the High Court of Justice.

It read: "Be it known that the Right Honourable Richard John Bingham, seventh Earl of Lucan, of 72A Elizabeth Street, London SW1, died on or since the 8th day of November 1974."

Although he is legally dead, many believe the alleged killer is alive. And while no unsolved homicide ever closes, there has been no meaningful investigation for years.

Lucan's son, Lord George Bingham, 37, who slept through the incident, would welcome a new investigation.

He does not believe his father was the killer and claims police got it wrong.

Lord Bingham has said: "I suspect the original investigation into this matter fell far short of what the general public would expect. I think on that basis alone the case merits further investigation."

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