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30/11/2004UK police to join French hunt for missing lord
LONDON, Nov 30 (AFP) - British detectives are to fly to the south of France to help track down an English aristocrat who mysteriously disappeared on the French Riviera over three weeks ago, police said on Tuesday.
Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the 10th earl of Shaftesbury, aged 66, has been missing since the afternoon of November 6 when he was seen checking out of the Noga Hilton hotel in the seaside resort of Cannes.
Sussex Police said that officers would be travelling to Nice sometime around December 13 for meetings with their French counterparts.
"This remains a French-led investigation and the possibility that the Earl of Shaftesbury has been murdered cannot be ruled out," said Detective Chief Superintendent Graham Cox.
"We will assist the French authorities in any way we can with specific lines of inquiry when required," he said.
Police in southern France opened an official investigation on November 22.
Lord Shaftesbury divided his time between Britain and the French Riviera where he was known to frequent hostess bars and other night spots. On the day before he vanished he visited his estranged third wife, a nightclub hostess, in a flat in Cannes.
According to newspaper reports, police have been looking into a possible link with a criminal inquiry launched earlier this year when Lord Shaftesbury claimed to have been assaulted and robbed by a gang.
The case has generated much interest in Britain, where his family have told newspapers that they are extremely worried about his fate. He had been expected to return to Britain on November 10.
Lord Shaftesbury, who was educated a Eton and Oxford and speaks fluent French, inherited his title from his grandfather when he was 22 years old, along with the family seat at Wimborne, southwest England, and its 9,000-acre (3,600-hectare) estate.
Subject: French News
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