The son of the peer Lord Lucan, who vanished nearly 41 years ago after being suspected of committing murder, has applied to the High Court to have his father declared "presumed dead". Lucan disappeared from his family home in London in 1974 following the death of family nanny Sandra Rivett.

An inquest later ruled that Lucan had probably murdered Rivett, although a trial has never been held. In the ensuing decades, there has been massive speculation over the peer's fate, making Lucan has been the most high-profile missing person in the UK.

Rivett, the nanny to the seventh Earl of Lucan's three children, was discovered brutally murdered at the Lucan family home in London's Lower Belgrave Street on 7 November 1974. Lucan's car was later found abandoned and soaked in blood in Newhaven, East Sussex. The following year an inquest jury ruled that Lucan had murdered her.

Lucan's son, George Bingham, told London's West End Extra newspaper that the High Court application would provide the family with "closure". Bingham, who was a child when his father vanished, told the newspaper he was applying to the High Court under the Presumption of Death Act, which came into effect last year.

Lucan was officially declared dead by the High Court in 1999, but this was not a sufficiently robust legal ruling to allow Bingham to take his father's title, when he applied to do so later that year. His application was dismissed by the Lord Chancellor because he was "not satisfied" by his case.

Of his latest legal initiative, Bingham said the 1999 declaration had not proved death "for all purposes" and that the new law allowed for a "more complete process". The Presumption of Death Act appeared after campaigning which included efforts by relatives of high-profile missing individuals including chef Claudia Lawrence, who vanished in York in 2009, and Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards, who disappeared in 1995.

Sightings of Lord Lucan have been reported all over the world, including Australia, Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand. Some of the most publicised reports assert that he lived in Goa, India where he posed as a hippy called "Jungly Barry".