Has Lord Lucan finally been found? In a series of astonishing claims, an investigative journalist is alleging that the fugitive peer has spent more than thirty years hiding in plain sight, after fleeing to Africa in 1974, following the murder of his children’s nanny. “Incredible though it might seem, I have evidence that the man we all know as Nelson Mandela is, in reality, Lord Lucan,” freelance reporter Gary Dreck told a stunned press conference yesterday. “The fact is that the when Mandela was supposedly released from Robben Island in 1990, it was actually Lord Lucan in black face who emerged from the prison!” He believes that the secrecy surrounding former South African president Mandela’s recent hospital treatment is proof of his bizarre allegations. “They had to keep him away from the press – the boot polish is beginning to come off, revealing his true colour,” the thirty two year old claimed. “Let’s be honest, since he’s been released from prison, Nelson Mandela has always looked like a white man blacked up, hasn’t he? Just compare pictures of him in the 1960s with post 1990 pictures and it is clear that he’s several shades lighter!” Despite accusations of racism, Dreck is adamant that a substitution took place prior to Mandela’s release, and that the end of apartheid and the first black majority government in South Africa were presided over by a blacked up, upper class, murderer. “The South African government of the time thought it was the perfect solution to the growing calls for an end to apartheid,” he explains. “By releasing this fake Mandela, they hoped to appease the black majority, whilst still maintaining control of the process of political change. If Lucan did anything too radical, they threatened to reveal his true identity and have him extradited to Britain to stand trial for murder!”

Much of Dreck’s theory is based upon the testimony of ‘Miss X’, who claims to be a former Personal Assistant to the late zoo owner and gambler John Aspinall, who was also a close friend of Lord Lucan. According to her, with Aspinall’s help, Lucan had fled to Africa in 1974, where he effectively ‘went native’. “He needed to blend in, so he blacked up so as not to draw attention to himself. After all, in those early days of post-Imperialism there was quite a backlash against wealthy posh white men with English accents,” explains Miss X. “At first he did it crudely, using boot polish applied only to his face and hands, but he was soon forced to adopt a more sophisticated disguise.” This change was prompted by his desire to his children. “That was my main role in the affair, to make travel arrangements for his young children to travel to Africa, ostensibly for a holiday on a ranch owned by Mr Aspinall,” she says. “The idea was that Lucan could observe them, from a distance, whilst they were there. Obviously, he couldn’t meet them openly, or risk being seen by them, as they might, once back in England, inadvertently reveal his whereabouts to the police. So he came up with the idea of ‘going native’ completely.” In order to observe his children safely, without fear of recognition, the fugitive peer opted to black up from head to foot, wear a grass skirt, don an afro wig and stick a bone through his nose. “It was a brilliant disguise – his children never suspected that the proud Masai warrior they saw entertaining other guests at the ranch with his wild tribal dancing was really their father,” says the former PA. “There was one difficult moment though, when the children got close enough to hear that, rather than chanting in Masai dialect as he danced, Lord Lucan was actually shouting ‘Umbongo, Umbongo, they drink it in the Congo’. But luckily they were too young to recognise the difference.”

Not surprisingly, colleagues and supporters of the former South African president have expressed outrage at Dreck’s theory. “This is just more white imperialist idiocy,” says Professor Jacob Zumbala, who served as a minister under Mandela. “Obviously, it is impossible for some of these imperialists to believe that the black man could possibly engineer the peaceful transition from white dictatorship to multicultural democracy. So instead they devise this fantasy in which that role is ascribed to another white man. Even a fugitive white murderer is superior to a black man, it seems!” Dreck seems confused by such reactions. “I really don’t know what their problem is – regardless of who he really is, this Mandela got them what they wanted didn’t he?” he asks. “I mean, it’s obvious that Lucan did the dirty on the South African government, relying on the fact that he’d already been declared legally dead in the UK and that the authorities here would find it too embarrassing to admit he was still alive if the South Africans tried to expose him! Besides, isn’t it fitting that a reprehensible upper class bastard like Lucan should find some kind of redemption by being forced to masquerade as a black man and achieve black emancipation in South Africa?”

One of the detectives who led the search for Lucan has no doubt as to the veracity of Dreck’s claims. “We suspected he was in Africa but, despite an intensive search, we could never find him. Now we know why, we were looking for a white man!” Former Detective Chief Superintendent Harry Linge told us, sitting on the park bench that is currently his home. “That boot polish trick was a stroke of genius – only a toff like Lucan would have thought of that. No wonder he was always one step ahead of us!” Linge denies that his incompetence had anything to do with Scotland Yard’s failure to apprehend Lucan. “Listen, it wasn’t my fault that I was always up against upper class master criminals – their public school and Oxbridge educations gave them an unfair advantage,” he wheezes, between swigs from his bottle of methylated spirits. “Not only that, but they had the high-level connections to block our investigations.” Linge believes that, in view of the new revelations, that Scotland Yard should be asking the South African police to arrest Nelson Mandela, with a view to extraditing him to the UK. “It should be simple enough to find out if he’s really Lord Lucan or not – just see if the black rubs off,” he opines, as he rearranges the newspapers he uses for bedding. “If it does, then they can send him back here for a bloody good kicking – it would be the first time our boys were able to beat the crap out of a ‘black’ man without being accused of racism!”

But some questions remain unanswered by Dreck and Miss X. Just why did Lord Lucan murder his nanny and what happened to the real nelson Mandela? With regard to the former question, Miss X dismisses press speculation that he had killed the nanny either as a result of a wager with Aspinall, or simply because she had forgotten to put sugar in his tea, believing the answer to be far simpler. “Because he could, obviously”, she declares. “She was a member of the lower orders, for goodness sake, those were days when you could still get away with murdering one of them on a whim if you were the right sort of person.” As for the fate of the genuine Mandela, Dreck believes there are two possible explanations. “Either he died in prison, forcing a substitution,” he says, “or he simply decided that he was tired of the revolutionary business. Indeed, I’ve heard that, as Lucan was being released in the full glare of the press, Mandela was sneaking out of the back door, heading for a quiet retirement in Florida!”