Perched on the middle bar stool she was showing too much leg for her age. She was telling a strapping young Afrikaner bartender.
'Six of us in the newsroom called the wives of six of his old classmates a year to the day he disappeared. The idea of asking the wives only occurred to us an hour before the calls were made. So it was quiet chilling when they all said they believed he planned to dump Veronica down an old mineshaft. When it went wrong he threw himself down the shaft.'
'I wouldn't take too much notice of the wives of old Etonian's.' Said the tall distinguished gent stood beside her. 'Johnny Lucan was a chronic gambler. An incurable optimist. Optimists don't commit suicide.'
'But you do go along with homicide?' Asked the wife failing to keep her face straight. Everybody laughed. 'I've often wondered if he really is still alive.' The wife wondered out loud as she climbed onto a bar stool.
'I think he would have been outed by now if he were.' Said the old girl in the miniskirt, who, we learned, was Jane Helms a retired BBC reporter. The tall gent was her new boyfriend, Reg Gloucester, a retired policeman who she met via the internet. I ordered two pints of Guinness. 'I was just saying as you came in,' said the bartender, 'friends of mine working in Mozambique reckon he lives on his family's game reserve.'
'That's where I would look.' Said Reg. 'Whether he disappeared or turned-up face-down in the Thames. The press would still label him a spineless coward who couldn't face the music.'
'So you think he opted to be a live coward rather than a dead one?' Asked the wife.
'That's how I see it young lady.' He answered with a charming smile. It wasn't the smile, it was the "young lady" bit that made her new false-eye-lashes flutter.
'Don't some of his mates say he never killed the nanny?' Asked the bartender.
'They do.' Said Reg. 'But all that nonsense in Susan Maxwell's letters about him being blameless belongs on the compost heap.'
'Hang on.' Said Jane. 'Are you saying she wrote the letters? Not him?'
'I'm sure she did. Why else would he go there? And I'm not the only old copper who believes he wrote what she dictated. As a trained barrister and the daughter of an eminent QC she had more than enough arrogance to believe Lucan could get away with murder. All he had to do was stay out of police custody while a couple of top QC's concocted his defence. You have to remember Lucan had spent years telling doctors he feared his poor little wife was going round the twist. So-much-so even her own sister had taken his side! When he went into hiding everything was going his way until the coroners court named him as Sandra Rivett's murderer. Had the verdict been "person or persons unknown." Lucan would have returned to face trial defended by the Establishment's best legal brains. With an Establishment judge, like Hutton, his acquittal was a forgone conclusion.'
'I would still like to think he was man enough to shoot himself.' Said the wife. 'Although I hadn't heard about the mine shaft before. Maybe he just took a leap into the dark.' The wife gave a manic grin as she fired an imaginary gun at her temple. 'Bang!' She said.
Reg laughed as he told her.' You've been reading too much Barbara Cartland.'
'You can laugh.' Said Jane. 'But that's perfectly plausible. I had no problem obtaining current maps of the coalfields showing all the derelict pits and disused ventilation shafts. Who's to say he hadn't done the same?'
'Plausible.' Reg agreed. 'But in his case seeking-out such maps and finding the perfect secluded mineshaft would not go unnoticed. Don't you think? Most murderers stick to what they know and Lucan was an amateur sailor. I would say he had a fast boat fuelled-up and a dump-site in mind.'
'That sounds a bit naive to me.' I said. 'The sea has a habit of giving-up its dead.'
'Not if you use enough weight.' Said Reg. 'And. As a sailor he would know the old ammo dumps where divers and trawlers never go.'
'Either way he gets rid of the poor girl.' Said Jane. 'Begs the question of accomplices. A week after the murder I interviewed some of the Clermont club gang. It was like talking to schoolboys after someone had broken a window. Not one of them expressed any sympathy for the dead nanny or for their playmate's battered wife. I came away thinking they would have enjoyed taking part in a murder had they been asked.'
'And I would say they were asked.' Stated the wife.
'Maybe. But I don't think so.' Said Reg. 'I think he saw his rich pals as his ace-in-the-hole and that's how it worked out.'
'So he planned to kill her and get rid of the body without involving another soul?' Asked the wife. Blinking incredulity over her pint of Guinness.
'Yes I would say so. He had the kind of pals who lend out their cars and boats without asking questions. If it all went the way he planned. Sandra, the nanny, returning from her night out would have reported Veronica missing. Only Lucan would know Veronica was actually dead as mutton. Trussed-up in a U S Mail sack in the boot of a borrowed car, probably in a nearby lock-up garage. There was no need to involve anyone else, until it all went wrong.'
'That's another part of the jigsaw that never gets explained in the media.' Said Jane.
'How do you mean?' I asked.
'Well, we pulled-out the files of hundreds of domestic murders looking for a similar case of mistaken identity and guess what? The only way a man could fail to sense his own wife's presence and proceed to smash the skull of a larger woman to pulp. Is for that man to be stoned out of his own skull. Probably on heroin.'
Reg nodded agreement saying. 'Heroin was part of his problem. But just imagine. Just put yourself in his position. Looking at the body. The wrong body!'
'Wow,' said the bartender, 'I wouldn't give that spot to a Leopard. I would have freaked-out and done the three-minute-mile.'
Reg increased the laughter by saying. 'I think I would have freaked-out and had a coronary.'
'What exactly did he do?' Asked the bartender who didn't know the full story.
'Well first of all,' Jane began, 'you have to know Lucan was deeply in debt. He was drinking heavy. Really heavy. It was said afterwards he was going downhill on a bobsleigh. A court order had given Veronica custody of their three children. At that stage he actually told one his banking pals, Greville Howard, the only way out of debt was to kill the wife and sell their house in Belgravia! He had moved out of the family home but he had kept a key. So. On the night of the murder, a Thursday, he knew it was Sandra's night out. He knew the kids were in bed by nine o'clock and he knew Veronica came down to make herself a light supper in the basement kitchen around nine o'clock. So. He lets himself in shortly before nine. To be certain he would not be seen waiting below he removes the stairway light bulb. Then he waits in the dark with his skull crushing lead cosh. He hears her coming downstairs. He hears her click-on the light switch. Obviously the light doesn't come on because he's removed the bulb but there is still enough light from the landing above. So she just carries-on coming down to the basement. At the bottom of the stairs Murphy's Law took over. Psyched-up to the point of frenzy he battered her to death before he noticed it was the nanny! By changing her night-out the poor girl had ended her life. God knows what went through Lucan's sick mind but he soon got over the shock because he bagged the body in the mail sack he had intended for his wife.'
'Gruesome,' commented the bartender hanging-on to her every word, 'then what?'
'Gruesome is hardly the word. The sick bastard then went upstairs to the ground floor cloakroom and hid behind the door waiting for his wife to come looking for the nanny and tried to kill her as originally planned! Fortunately for her his first blows failed to knock her out. Veronica, an eight-stone slip of a girl, fought like a wounded tiger until the pair sank to the floor exhausted, smeared and splattered with her blood. In spite of terrible head wounds she realised he'd killed the nanny and the only chance of saving her own life was talking him into some kind of deal. She told him she could fix it so the nanny would not be missed, but they both needed to get cleaned-up. When he went into the bathroom to fetch a towel she summoned up the strength to run for her life. One minute later, looking like a butcher's apron, she staggered into the local pub, the Plumbers Arms, a short dash from her own front door.'
'And when Lucan saw she had gone.' Reg cut in. 'His only thought was the fastest way out the country.'
'And that's when you think he turned to his idle rich pals?' Asked the wife.
'Precisely.' Reg answered.
'So where did he go from there?' Asked the bartender.
'No one knows for certain.' Jane continued. 'Some believe he drove over to his mother's flat a few mile away in St. John's Wood. He must have left the house about ten-to-ten; that's the time the police and ambulance were called to the battered Veronica bleeding in the pub. Police entered the house and found Sandra's body shortly after ten. Lucan's mother arrived at the house around eleven. She told the police she had not seen him; but he rang her to say he had seen something horrible happening in the house and she must go and get her grandchildren. I'll be interested to know what Reg thinks about mummy's involvement.' Jane sipped her scotch-on-the-rocks.
'Why don't you finish the story.' Reg suggested. 'Then I'll add what I know.'
'OK.' Jane continued. 'The police at the house were glad to see grandma had arrived to remove the kids from the scene. Although they suspected she knew more than she was saying. The police accompanied her back to St. John's Wood. About a quarter-past-midnight Lucan rang her. She told him the police were with her and asked if he wanted to talk to them. He said no; but he would go to the police in the morning. As you know the police are still waiting for him to drop in for a chat. Unbelievably, it was three days later before the police were told the phone-call to St. Johns Wood was made from the Maxwell-Scotts, two of his playmates who lived in Sussex, forty-odd-mile from the crime scene. Susan Maxwell-Scott had the nerve to tell the police she did not report his arrival shortly after the murder because she never watched TV news or listened to the news on the radio! She also said her husband was in London at the time and neither he nor she had any idea there was a nationwide manhunt for their bosom pal until they saw his face in a newspaper on the Saturday! If you believe her, and nobody with the police or the BBC ever did, Lucan only stayed in Sussex long enough to write a few letters to his well connected brother-in-law, Bill Shand-Kydd. He then told her he was going back to London but he left the letters with her to post to London? One of these weasel-worded letters contained the fairy-tale that has Lucan walking past the house; when though the basement window he sees a man trying to murder his wife. He rushes in to save her. The man runs off. The wife then accuses him of hiring a hit-man and runs out of the house. So he decides to run away! His mother had earlier told the police at the crime scene, he told her, he was driving, not walking, past the house. A statement she would later deny. Nobody in the newsroom was willing to believe he would have driven straight-out of London covered in the blood of two healthy women. However. The police had no other evidence to contradict the Maxwell version. So. How he arrived in Sussex? What time he arrived? How long he stayed and where he went next? Only his little playmates know. The emerging stink of an Establishment cover-up attracted the media from far and wide. CBS TV arrived within days to film their version of events entitled "The Foxhunting Fugitive Earl" whose cock & bull alibi had everything bar the one-armed-man. Australian TV made a similar gory reconstruction entitled "Have You Seen This Bloody Earl?" The Aussie coverage did at least lead to the arrest of one criminal. But that was John Stonehouse, a Lord Archer type politician who had done a runner with a suitcase full of other peoples money. All the major TV networks and national newspapers offered huge rewards for anyone who could bring Lucan to trial. So. If he is still alive. The question is. Who is protecting him?' Rattling the ice cubes in her tumbler she said. 'Now Reginald replenish our glasses and regale us with what secrets you gleaned from the files of New Scotland Yard.'
'Oh I don't know about that,' Reg laughed, 'but I can order the drinks. Another Guinness? Or will you two join Jane and me on the scotch?'
We switched to Bells. 'Were you really at Scotland Yard?' Asked the wife.
'Yes, as a young copper, I was there but I wasn't on the Lucan murder squad. I'm afraid all I can regale you with is the canteen gossip from West End Central.'
'Oh come on,' chided Jane, 'you must have been the youngest man in the CID.'
Reg just smiled. Working her new false-eye-lashes like Bambi the wife said. 'I'll bet you've got a jolly good idea what happened to him.'
'Yes I have,' Reg admitted, 'but let me answer Jane's question about the first call he allegedly made to his mother. I believe Lucan's first call after the murder would have been to a senior member of the Clermont club gang. If he wasn't actually at his mother's flat or in one of her neighbour's flat's he would have then called her to tell her to go and get the kids. Five or so minutes after that first call, I believe, the Clermont contact rang back to say two trusted pals are on the way. One to drive the borrowed car out of London the other to drive him to a safe house.' Addressing Jane he asked. 'How do's that square with your theory?'
'Who drove him to the safe house?' Jane asked in answer.
'Very hard to say. Too many prime suspects. First of all; the media learned the world champion racing driver Graham Hill dined with Lucan at the Clermont shortly before the murder. This led to the "Biggles Theory." In which Hill drives Lucan to Sussex to concoct the alibi letters and from there to a private plane laid on by the billionaire Sir James Goldsmith. Hill pilot's the plane to a private estate in Portugal. Where Lucan stayed until cruising to Mozambique onboard a luxury yacht the following summer. One officer following this line of inquiry said it would take the truth drug to get the Clermont gang to come clean.'
'I'll go along with that.' Commented Jane doing a fair impression of Miss Marples. 'So. Assuming he isn't quietly decomposing down some disused mineshaft. Tell us, Detective Inspector, how do you, Detective Inspector, think the seventh Earl of Lucan got his sorry arse out of the country.'
When he stopped laughing Reg said. 'Before I do that. Let me ask you if you heard of a vice squad officer who stumbled across evidence suggesting Lucan was not to be arrested.'
'What!?' Exclaimed the wife.
'In short,' Reg added, 'had he walked into a police station to give himself up there would be no record kept. MI5 would takeover and he would be spirited aboard.'
I noticed Jane was nodding but saying nothing.
'What are you talking about?' Asked the wide-eyed wife.
'An arrest would not be in the Queen's interest.' Reg replied.
'What's the bloody Queen got to do with anything?' I asked in disbelief.
'That,' smiled Reg,' is exactly what I asked myself all those years ago.'
'Well! What's the answer?' The wife demanded.
'Skeletons in the Establishment cupboard my dear.' Reg answered. 'The Lucan's and the royals took part in the century-long rape of Africa. Apparently there are documents in the Lucan archives proving the Queen's grandfather ordered genocide in pursuit of illegal African land deals. What we see with crass Camilla and the brown-nosed servant's Burrell and Fawsett is a harmless pantomime of sex and shoplifting. Who really fathered Andrew and Edward? Likewise pales into trivial pursuit compared to crown organized genocide purely for the royals financial gain. The so-called "Bulawayo Papers" would topple the crown.'
Shaking my head I asked Jane. 'Are you hearing what I'm hearing?'
'I'm afraid so.' She answered; turning to Reg she asked. 'I think we are talking about the same officer who was fired for taking bribes from porn kings?'
'That was the official explanation for his dismissal.' Reg answered.
Jane could see the wife and I were losing the plot. 'The same officer,' she explained, 'was tapping telephones of suspected paedophiles. The morning after the murder he recorded an MI5 officer calling two of the Clermont gang to arrange a meeting to discuss the incident in Belgravia. I think Reg is saying MI5 got him out.'
'Not quite.' said Reg. 'He would never put himself entirely in their hands. But only MI5 directed by the Queen could furnish him with the necessary documents that have protected him to this very day.'
'I still don't get it.' I said to Reg. 'If he had that kind power over the Queen why didn't he ask her to buy the archives? Surely that would clear his debts.'
'I'll answer that.' Said Jane. 'The Queen would have gladly given him a fortune for the Lucan Archives. She would then make sure his pals cut him dead. Anyone who even spoke to him or his family would have been blackballed from everything; from exclusive clubs to good schools. From Ascot to Harvey Nik's. The Lucan's would have nowhere to play. For all intents and purposes they would cease to exist.'
'That's about the head and tail of it.' Said Reg.
'So.' Said the wife. 'There's every chance he will turn up in top hat and tails at the wedding.'
'Wedding?' Queried Reg.
'Charlie and Camilla.' Replied the wicked wife.
JIm Hutchinson 2003.
Looking For Lucan.
Chief Superintendent Roy Ranson, isbn 1 85685 069 2.
Page's 147-156 destroy Lucan's
alibi forensically and logically.
Chief Inspector David Gerring, isbn 0 7090 5559 5.
Page's 185-188 illustrate how Lucan could now secure a
not guilty verdict - despite the evidence - frightening. Even more so post Hutton.
Pulp Fiction from Amazon.com.
Dead Lucky: Lord Lucan -The Final Truth
by Duncan Maclaughlin.
Nothing to do with the above.
Lucan: Not Guilty by Sally Falk Moore.
Out of Print--Limited Availability. Don't even bother looking.
The Trail of Havoc: In the Steps of Lord Lucan
by Patrick Marnham. Almost as bad as the Sally Falk Moore comic.
Forthcoming fiction from Lucan's son:
Provisional title; Fungus The IRA Man.
In his up-coming book George Lucan blames it all on the IRA!? Like his daddy and daddy's puerile playmates George can't handle the truth. George and his sisters abandoned their battered mother. The following from
Lady Lucan's website.