In November 1974 Richard Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan commonly known as Lord Lucan, vanished after his children’s nanny Sandra Rivett, was found bludgeoned to death, and his ex-wife was severely beaten with a lead pipe.
Lord Lucan’s car was later found abandoned and bloodstained in Newhaven, East Sussex. An inquest found that Lord Lucan killed Sandra after mistaking her for his wife.
Following school Lord Lucan was a second lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards, before becoming a merchant banker. Although a reasonably successful gambler as a young man he was less so when he left banking to become a professional gambler and was Bankrupt when he disappeared.
A report to creditors in August 1975 stated his unsecured debts at £45,000 and liabilities of £1,326. His assets were estimated at £22,632. In order to discharge his debts, the family silver was sold and the balance was repaid from proceeds from the Lucan family trust.
Custody of the children was transferred to Veronica’s sister and brother-in-law following her diagnosis with mental illness; she hadn’t spoken to her children in more than 35 years and had never met her grandchildren.
The Presumption of Death Act 2013 was passed allowing an application to the High Court to declare that a person is presumed dead. Death is taken to occur on
(a) the last day that they could have been alive (if the court is satisfied that they are dead), or
(b) the day seven years after the date they were last seen (if death is presumed by the elapse of time).
As the 7th Earl of Lucan was last seen alive in 1974 (notwithstanding numerous alleged sightings since that time) the Court issued a death certificate enabling his son George to assume the family title as the 8th Earl of Lucan
Veronica, who formally became the Dowager Countess after the death certificate was issued for her husband, died from an overdose following an incorrect self-diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Veronica left her entire estate of £576,626 to the homeless charity Shelter. Leaving her estranged children George, 8th Earl of Lucan, his sisters, Lady Camilla Bloch, QC, and Lady Frances Bingham out of her Will on account of having
”the lack of good manners and reverence shown to me as their parent, I do not wish any of my three children to benefit from my death any more than they have to”
It was reported that George applauded his mother’s decision to provide a legacy to” a fantastic and worthwhile charity” adding that the property in which she lived was made available to her rent-free for the latter part of her life under an arrangement ”put in place by my sisters and I” with the family trust and was not part of her personal estate.