A phoney English Lord who stole a dead baby's identity to lead a fantasy life has been jailed for 21 months for passport fraud. 'Christopher Edward Buckingham' was sent to prison by a judge yesterday without revealing his true identity, after living 23 years under the assumed name.
The self-styled Earl of Buckingham married under this false name and fathered two children, whose nationality has now been called into question. He told his former wife Jody that his parents died in a plane crash in Egypt in 1982. The couple divorced in 1997.
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 the 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 Zurich-based Swiss insurance firm since 2001.
Buckingham's passport was revoked in 2003. He was arrested in January after routine checks by an alert immigration official in Calais showed he was travelling under fraudulent documentation. He was shipped back to the UK and charged with making a false passport application. He pleaded guilty to the offence at a hearing a Canterbury Crown Court last month.
Sentencing him on Tuesday, Judge Adele Williams said: "Someone does not assume a false identity unless there is a very good reason... You have shown a lack of remorse and have actively obstructed in revealing your true identity," he added
Detective Constable David Sprigg, the Kent Police officer who investigated the case, told The Daily Telegraph: "I think that he has got some dark secret that he is hiding and he doesn’t want us to know what it is." The mother of the real Christopher Buckingham, Audrey Wing, said the trial had brought back the agony of her baby son's untimely death during a caravan holiday in 1963.
Despite police appeals, Buckingham's true identity remains a mystery. 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 but little else is known about him, least of all his true identity. ®