Mystery surrounds the identity of a security consultant who posed as a peer of the realm throughout his adult life.
The bogus aristocrat lived for 23 years as Christopher Edward, Earl of Buckingham1, marrying under this false name and fathering two children. He even promised his oldest son that one day he would inherit a peerage.
But the impostor's cover was blown after checks by the Passport Agency revealed he had stolen the identity of Christopher Edward Buckingham, an infant who died aged just eight months, in 1963. The ruse was copied from one employed by the assassin in Frederick Forsyth's novel The Day of the Jackal. Unlike that character "Buckingham" maintained an unremarkable life working as an IT security consultant for a Swiss insurance firm since 2001, The Times reports.
Buckingham's passport was revoked in 2003. He was arrested in January after checks by an alert immigration official in Calais showed he was traveling under fraudulent documentation. Buckingham was allowed to travel back to the UK but was arrested by police as soon as he docked in Dover.
"Buckingham" was charged with making a false passport application and pleaded guilty to the offence at a hearing a Canterbury Crown Court last month. He has steadfastly refused to reveal his true identity despite the added risk of a jail term this might bring. He told his former wife that his parents died in a plane crash in Egypt in 1982, shortly before the pair met in Germany. The couple divorced in 1997.
DNA and fingerprint checks on Buckingham have drawn a blank. Strict privacy laws in Switzerland have hampered checks in the country, where Buckingham is believed to have a safety deposit box. Buckingham owns a house in Northampton and is not short of a bob or two but little else is known about him, least of all his true identity.
Police hoping to uncover Buckingham's true identity have released a picture of him, taken in the '80s, to the media in the hopes that someone might come forward to identify him. ®
1 The title of Earl of Buckingham has been extinct since 1687 after the death of the second Duke who "had a reputation for debauchery and killed his mistress’s husband in a duel", The Times reports.
And, yes, we know a Duke, a Baron and a Lord are not neccessarily the same thing. But in the Vulture Central style book, alliteration comes before aristo.