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Lord Lucan's Widow Gives Her Exclusive Take On The Greatest Mystery Of The 20th Century

02/06/2017 16:30 BST | Updated 02/06/2017 16:30 BST
Douglas Miller via Getty Images

She is a woman who is today defined by a single event that happened 43 years ago - and now, and for the first time, the Dowager Countess of Lucan is having her say about the greatest British mystery of the 20th Century.

It can only be hoped that this poor wretch of a woman has found some small solace in making a documentary about the grisly 1974 murder that came to shatter so many lives. The murder has utterly blighted her life and as if that wasn't hellish enough, the Countess has become estranged from all three of her children.

Although the Countess doesn't have much new to add about her murderer husband the 7th Earl of Lucan, it will be extraordinary enough just to see and hear this woman in the flesh.

I can't wait. But then, like a lot of journalists, I have long been fascinated by the Lord Lucan scandal.

For almost every news reporter, the Lord Lucan mystery is considered to be the Great White Whale of Scoops. We all know the answer's out there, but not one single person has come even close to cracking this most impenetrable of mysteries.

Eight years back, I hit on solving the mystery in my own peculiar novelistic fashion and wrote the Earl's memoirs - Lord Lucan: My Story. Since then I have unwittingly become Britain's leading Lord Lucan expert as well as the BBC's unofficial Lucan commentator.

In the last decade, almost every member of Lucan's family, from his brother to his children, has had their say about what happened to the fugitive Earl.

The only person who has never spoken - until now - has been his estranged wife Veronica.

These friends and family have periodically taken a swipe at writers like me - "vultures" - for feeding on Lucan's carcase, as if they expect us lowly chattering classes to turn a blind eye to this most incredible story.

But one of the things that intrigues me about the countess' documentary is that she, like the rest of Lucan's family and friends, repeats the claim that the Earl killed himself. Killed himself years ago after realising that he'd botched his wife's murder and had instead ended up bludgeoning the nanny, Sandra Rivett, to death.

And as of last summer, that is now also the official story - the 7th Earl is dead, and his 49-year-old son George is the 8th Earl, everything all neatly tied up, end of the show, nothing to see here folks, nothing at all.

Would that it were so simple. Would that the Lucan case could be sewn up and consigned to the history books.

Except... except there is no evidence whatsoever that Lucky Lord is dead. The only evidence that he's dead is that the old rogue hasn't been seen in four decades. That's it.

Well that may be legally it. But for the rest of us rubber-necking gawkers, the Lord Lucan mystery is very far from over.

It is a mystery that endlessly entices - why else would ITV be paying the dowager Countess over £50,000 for her musings, to be screened on Monday, June 5.

There is some speculation about Lucan's role in Sandra Rivett's murder [Answer - he was up to his neck in it and was almost certainly the killer], but what it is that makes this story so endlessly absorbing is the mystery of what happened next.

Did Lucan get away - and if so, where the hell did he end up?

And as it happens, there are a few compelling pieces of evidence which indicate that the Earl might just have got away with it.

When he murdered Sandra Rivett, Lucan had two very rich friends, Jimmy Goldsmith and John Aspinall. The pair - both long since dead - were two of the most unscrupulous charlatans of their day. They had the low-life contacts to spirit Lucan out of the UK, and they also had the money to set him up in a new world with a new life.

Occasionally over the years, old retainers have been interviewed. One tells of seeing Lucan being spirited out of England on a private plane; others describe how Lucan would watch his children from afar when they were on safari; and only quite recently Lucan's old wristwatch recently turned up at a South African pawnbrokers.

It's not much, not much at all, but all of the actual evidence points in the same direction - Lucan may even yet be alive today. He'd only be 82.

So it may be case closed in the law courts, but the only thing that is ever going to satisfy the cravings of the British public is an actual verifiable body - and maybe, perhaps, hidden underneath his bed there will be found a locked trunk with the Earl's hand-written memoirs inside. Maybe.