The son of fugitive peer and murder suspect Lord Lucan has revealed how gossip and rumours about his father’s whereabouts almost drove him to a nervous breakdown.

Lord Lucan went missing following the death of the family nanny Sandra Rivett and was declared dead by the High Court in 1999. An inquest jury named him as the killer in 1975.

There have been numerous “sightings” of the nobleman, with most reported in Africa.

george bingham

George Bingham has revealed rumours about his father's disappearance nearly drove him to a nervous breakdown

George Bingham, who insists his father drowned himself on the night of the murder, told The Mirror: “I felt like I couldn’t cope. It’s one thing not knowing if you father is alive or dead, but quite another to rise each day to hear others claiming they have seem him.

“It was fundamentally close to a collapse of the mind. So back in 1999 I cleared out everything relating to my father I could get my hands on – papers, books and photographs – and burnt the lot.”

Bingham’s comments come ahead of a BBC documentary which is set to make astonishing, as yet unreported claims about Lord Lucan.

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Branding the programme “an extraordinary waste of licence payers money”, Bingham has already dismissed it as “very low-grade speculation, wholly unsupported journalism.”

He added: “Any person can get a grainy, slightly out-of-focus Polaroid from the late 70s, of a man with a moustache and say, ‘That’s Lord Lucan’. I can’t prove they’re wrong.”

Describing his conviction his father drowned himself in the English Channel, Bingham concedes that if he had indeed fled the country, Austria or Germany were more likely destinations than Africa.

He explained: “I’ve never thought Dad was still alive. But if he were, the last place he’d be is in a 99% black African country, hanging out in a three-piece suit. It would make it very easy to find him."

lord lucan

Lord Lucan's son claims he believes his father drowned himself in the English Channel

Bingham himself was subjected to the glare of publicity after reports of his own four month holiday in Namibia emerged.

He stayed at a safari lodge for the duration, claiming to be allergic to the sun and emerging only at midnight to roam for hours in the darkness, it is claimed.

Irene Trossbach, who owns the Hohewarte Guest Farm described Bingham, who visited in 2001, as “the strangest guest we ever had”.

She told The Mirror: “George never came out of his room during the day, but he would go off, alone, on his moonlit walks. I have no idea where he went. It was all very odd.

“He said he had a sun allergy. As I said to my husband, ‘Namibia is a funny place to come to if you’re allergic to the sun’.”

Although there is no proof Bingham was in contact with his father, his extended hiatus breathed fresh air into the theories his father began a new life on the African continent.

This year also saw the press carry reports of an apparent sighting of the fugitive peer in a Botswana bar - 12 YEARS AGO.

Speaking exclusively to The Sun, two Brits claim to have met the infamous aristocrat while drinking in the Cresta Botsalo Hotel.

Lawrie Prebble, 71, said: "There had been talk for weeks that Lucan was around - he had links to Botswana. The instant he walked in I said to myself, 'That's him.'

sandra rivett

Lord Lucan went missing following the death of the family nanny Sandra Rivett (pictured)

"He was with about six people and had a very noticeable military bearing.

"His accent was so upper-class English that it cut the air and turned everyone's heads when he spoke."

Prebble was with friend Ian Meyrick and claim they kept quiet about their pub sighting for all these years because they feared no one would believe them.

Meyrick added: "I joined Lawrie at the bar and he said, 'That's him! That's Lucan! You just walked straight past him.'

Prebble and Meyrick came forward after a watch apparently once owned by the missing Lord was discovered in South Africa.

The silver timepiece is inscribed with a message which reads "Presented to Lord 'Lucky' Lucan, the old fossil, by his friends at the Clermont club, Mayfair, 18 December 1967.

It was apparently bought as part of a £5,000 deal by Staffordshire antiques dealer Cedrick Lincoln- from a contact who claims he got it in a South African pawn shop.

While there is no concrete proof the watch belonged to Lord Lucan, there are photos of the peer wearing a similar timepiece.

Lincoln told The Sun: "It was complete coincidence that I bought the watch just as the story about Lord Lucan living in Africa emerged.

"When I saw a picture of him wearing the watch I was just gobsmacked.

"The dealer said its history was that it had been pawned in Africa then found its way back here.

"I'm convinced it's Lucan's watch and the history pins him to living in Africa all these years."

Lincoln now hopes to have DNA tests carried out on the watch.

He added: "I have a feel for this kind of thing and I don't believe the inscription was made at a later date on an old watch. I believe this was presented to him and he wore it."

A recent BBC investigation interviewed a former personal assistant to Lord Lucan's friend John Aspinall, who claimed the peer was living in African during the 1980s.

Jill Findlay also claims Lucan, who would be 77 if he was still alive, was visited by his children at least twice.

Bingham dismisses the reports, saying: "I have no doubt she booked the tickets to Gabon, no doubt John Aspinall told her they were for us.

"But they were not. We never went, we never saw John Aspinall in all the years of our childhood after Daddy disappeared.

"He was clearly trying to liven up a rainy day in the miserable 80s with a little practical joke."

Loading Slideshow...
  • 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, the Dowager Countess of Lucan, wife of the missing Earl, Lord Lucan who disappeared following the murder of their nanny. She is returning to her home in Lower Belgrave Street, London after a High Court appearance to discuss the future of her 3 children. (Photo by Frank Barratt/Keystone/Getty Images)

  • Sandra Rivett, who was allegedly murdered by Lord Lucan (Tophams/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images)

  • Lord Lucan. Infamous for the murder of Sandra Rivett in November 1974, he disappeared without trace before arrest or trial. (Tophams/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images)

  • Lord and Lady Lucan - 1964 Lucan is infamous for the murder of Sandra Rivett in November 1974, he disappeared without trace before arrest or trial. (Topham/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images)

  • Lord George Bingham, heir to Lord Lucan dated 14.02.95 : Lord Lucan's son was today (Sunday) warned he faced a protracted struggle lasting several years in his apparent attempt to assume the title of his missing father. To become the Eighth Earl of Lucan, Lord Bingham would seek to obtain a writ in the Royal Courts of Justice declaring that his father was dead, on the basis that he had not been seen alive for at least seven years.(NEIL MUNNS/PA Archive/Press Association Images)

  • Lord George Bingham, heir to Lord Lucan dated 14.02.95 : Lord Lucan's son was today (Sunday) warned he faced a protracted struggle lasting several years in his apparent attempt to assume the title of his missing father. To become the Eighth Earl of Lucan, Lord Bingham would seek to obtain a writ in the Royal Courts of Justice declaring that his father was dead, on the basis that he had not been seen alive for at least seven years.(NEIL MUNNS/PA Archive/Press Association Images)

  • 72A Elizabeth Street in London, home of Lord Lucan (Tophams/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images)

  • Miss Susan Mayor, who runs the costume department at Christie's, with Lord Lucan's coronet and robes which come up for auction on May 27th. They are expected to fetch between 2-300 and the money will go towards paying the missing peer's creditors (PA Archive/Press Association Images)

  • Mr Roger Rivett, husband of Sandra Rivett whom Lord Lucan was accused of murdering (his children's nursemaid) (Tophams/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images)

  • Lord Lucan's gambling friend Mr Ian Maxwell-Scott in Uckfield, where at the Magistrates Court he was given three weeks to pay off a rates debt - or face jail (Lord Lucan's gambling friend Mr Ian Maxwell-Scott in Uckfield, where at the Magistrates Court he was given three weeks to pay off a rates debt - or face jail)

  • Leaving a public house in Westminster today,Mrs Susan Maxwell-Scott and her husband Ian. Mrs Maxwell-Scott was the last person to see Lord Lucan after the murder of his children's nanny in Belgravia last November. She is due to give evidence at the resumed inquest on Mrs Sandra Rivett, at the Westminster Coroner's court. The Maxwell-Scott's home is only 16 miles from where Lord Lucan's car was found at Newhaven. he has not been seen since. (PA Archive/Press Association Images)

  • Company director Mr William Shand Kydd who gave evidence at the Westminster inquest on any Mrs Sandra Rivett, 29, who was found battered to death at the Belgravia home of Lord Lucan's estranged wife (Tophams/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association 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)

  • 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)

  • 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)