Lord Lucan shot himself, then fed to tiger, reveals gambling mate

Lord Lucan with his then future wife, Veronica Duncan, October 14, 1963 © Wikipedia
Lord “Lucky” Lucan was like a character from a novel. Once asked to screen test for the role of James Bond, the high stakes-gambling, Aston Martin-driving member of the UK’s upper parliament is the subject of a fascinating 42-year mystery.

“The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling - a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension-- becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it.”
- Opening line of Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Lord Lucan's fate is unknown, a death certificate was never issued, and even his Wikipedia page doesn’t list his presumed date of death, but now a new revelation from one of his exclusive gambling club buddies suggests he may have shot himself and ended up as a tasty meal for tigers at a private zoo in Canterbury.

The colorful claims come four decades after he disappeared following what is thought to be the accidental murder of his children’s nanny.

The Casino Royale in this story was called the Clermont Club.

Founded by John Asperill, who also owned the zoo that features prominently in this new chapter, Lord Lucan, Philippe Marcq, and Stephen Raphael were all regulars.

In a interview with the Daily Mail, Marcq says Raphael, now deceased, once told him that Lucan was advised by friends to shoot himself at Aspinall’s zoo, and then his body was fed to a tiger.

John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan, vanished in 1974 after Sandra Rivett, nanny to his three children, was found bludgeoned to death at the family home in London.

On the same night, Lucan is suspected of beating his wife before she escaped and raised the alarm.

He is then believed to have driven 42 miles to a friend’s house before leaving the next day, and was never seen again.

His car was found blood-soaked at Newhaven, East Sussex.

Marcq said he believes Raphael’s claims “100 percent” and waited until now so as not to betray his fellow club member's trust.

Lucan is believed to have attempted to kill his wife Veronica two years after she filed for divorce and successfully won custody of their children.

When he arrived at their home, he attacked the Sandra Rivett in a case of mistaken identity, before his wife arrived.

When Lucan went to Aspinall’s private zoo and met friends from the Clermont Club, Marcq claims he was told: “What you have done makes absolutely sure she will be in control of your children for years to come - you are a murderer and you are going to be in a cell for the next 30 years.”

He was then advised his best option was to vanish without a trace as without proof of death probate could not be granted on his estate for at least seven years. By then, his children would be old enough to manage their own affairs.

After saying he was not cut out for a life on the run, Lucan was allegedly handed a pistol which he took into a room and shot himself.

The body was then fed to a tiger named Zorra, Marcq claims.

Police had reportedly already investigated Aspinall’s zoo after Lady Osborne, the grandmother of current Tory Chancellor George Osborne, told them: "The last I heard of [Lucan], he was being fed to the tigers at my son’s zoo."

Aspinall is said to have told police: "My tigers are only fed the choicest cuts - do you really think they’re going to eat stringy old Lucky?"

Lucan lived a privileged life, studying at Eton before becoming a banker.

He soon left his job to become a full time professional gambler under the allure of the Clermont Club.

He even tried to dabble in a bit of acting when he screen tested for a part in the Michael Caine film “Woman Times Seven”.

After being rejected, he turned down an offer to test for the role of James Bond.

Lucan’s disappearance prompted speculation that he had started a new life under a new identity in Africa or India.

Mystery sightings were even reported in Ireland and Australia.

In 2012, a former detective claimed he had received a credible report that Lucan was sighted in Africa. A secretary working for John Aspinall also told the BBC that she arranged flights for Lucan’s children to visit him in Africa under Aspinall’s instruction.

ITV dramatised the events around his disappearance in a two-part TV series in 2013.

He was even reported to be living a simple life in New Zealand in 2007, one of the more bizarre theories on his whereabouts.

More recently James Wilson, another member of the Clermont Club, told The Telegraph last year that he believed Lucan took a boat out into Newhaven harbour, where his car was found, weighed himself down, and jumped over the side.

Divers searched the harbor after his disappearance, but failed to find a body.

Lord Lucan's son George is currently bidding to inherit his title.

A procedural hearing “in a few days’ time”, according to the Daily Mail, will determine whether a death certificate should finally be issued for Lord Lucan, so his son can inherit his title under the Presumption of Death Act 2013 and become the 8th Earl.