Lord Lucan, a British aristocrat wanted in connection with murder of his children's nanny, has actually been living a secret life in Africa, according to the former secretary of his friend John Aspinall. The secretary, who did not wish to be identified and used the name Jill Findlay, was quoted in a BBC report.

The secretary said she was twice instructed to make arrangements to allow Lord Lucan to see his children. To do so, she would arrange for the children to fly to Africa, where the peer could view them "from a distance", the BBC reported.

"Instructions were to make arrangements for John Bingham, also known as Lord Lucan, to see his children and to do that I had to book his two eldest children on flights to Africa," the BBC quoted Aspinall's secretary as saying.

"I don't know the exact dates, it was between 1979 and 1981 and it was on two occasions I booked the flights," she added.

It was also revealed that Lord Lucan would never speak to the children or allow them to be aware of his presence. The secretary added it had been assumed the peer died in Africa, after her former employer told her to expect an announcement in the press, which happened in 2000.

Meanwhile, Bob Polkinghorne, a former detective inspector who worked on the Lucan case during the 1980s, said he came to know from a reliable witness, who saw one of Lord Lucan's close acquaintances, he was alive in Africa.

The nanny, Sandra Rivett, was found murdered in Lord Lucan's family house in Belgravia in 1974.

Much sought after by law enforcement authorities since then, Lord Lucan has been reported as sighted across the world, on more than 70 occasions, including Ireland, the Netherlands, Australia and South Africa.

He was officially declared dead in 1999.

The claims are to be broadcast on the BBC's Inside Out South East programme on Monday.