There is enough forensic evidence lying around to construct any number of theories, from either point of view. Was it, or was it not, Lord Lucan who murdered the nanny Sandra Rivett? In the 13 years since she was found in the US mailbag at 46 Lower Belgrave Street in London there has been no new evidence. Patrick Marnham's only novelty is the evidence from Taki, the Spectator gossip-columnist, to the effect that he knew Lucky Lucan had a powerboat and had made dummy runs with an eight-stone sack to the coast. That fits with Lucan's remarks to Greville Howard some weeks before the murder that he planned to drop his wife's body into the Solent. As for the Lucan 'set', once so besieged and worried for its survival, this has long since been amalgamated into the Thatcher revolution. It's a pity that neither of these books has a history of the store of rumour that grew up around the affair - the brutal witch-hunting stories that passed as truth, and are secure in the popular culture. They told us something of our rather nasty ways of dealing with the unexplained or inexplicable. It was indeed that line of venom which led me to ask about Lucan's wife Veronica. These inquiries led in turn to a fierce reaction from the Lucan supporters, and to the hounding of Dominick Elwes. 'They simply hadn't realised what an unsympathetic appearance they gave to the rest of the world,' writes Marnham.
LRB 12 November 1987 | PDF Download