Bunhill: Undercover man who went out in the cold

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The Independent Online
JACK LUNDIN is missing. Since 22 April, in fact, and the Kensington police would like to know where he is.

From the business community, however, there will be not a few sighs of relief at the disappearance of the 55-year-old journalist, whose investigative instincts frequently went unappreciated by the high and mighty. Lundin's skill at uncovering business irregularities was instrumental in Ladbroke losing all its casinos in the early 1980s and in precipitating the collapse of Brent Walker.

His disappearance was reported by Brian Sewell, the art critic, in whose flat he is a lodger, and the police have launched an investigation. Lundin had apparently left a letter with his solicitor with instructions on winding up his affairs should he not return. The police, many of whom know the journalist well from his various investigations, have found his passport missing and a substantial amount of money withdrawn weeks ago from his bank account.

An acquaintance says Lundin had mentioned he was thinking of investigating a religious cult but did not know which cult he meant.

One of the more colourful characters in journalism, the Rhodesian-born Lundin claimed to have carried out amputations without anaesthetic on battle casualties in the Biafran war in West Africa in the 1960s. Needless to say, he had no medical training.

As a journalist, he always said that when he interviewed people he had microphones attached to not one but two small tape recorders hidden about his person - one microphone was concealed in a large Second World War watch on his wrist, the other in the heel of his shoe.

Once, when offered a job at a magazine, he refused to accept until he had ascertained that the telephones were not bugged.

As unpredictable and obsessive as many investigative reporters, Lundin moved from job to job, rarely staying anywhere for long. At the Observer, for example, he was hired as roving investigator - a job many journalists would kill for. But his relations with the paper grew increasingly strained until, according to former colleagues, the crunch came one day when he arrived at work to find that his desk had, for no particular reason, been moved two feet to the right. Seeing this as an assault on his position, Lundin resigned on the spot.

Given the enemies he has made with his investigations, there is a natural concern that his body may perhaps now be embedded in the concrete foundations of the Jubilee Line extension or floating down the lower reaches of the Thames towards the North Sea. But while a number of businessmen may have good reason to wish Lundin would fall under a bus or something worse, he has gone missing before - sometimes for months at a time.

Although at least one policeman claims that Lundin would have informed him if he was going undercover, journalists who know him are more sceptical. 'Jack was always disappearing without telling anybody,' said one. 'He'll be back.'

(Photograph omitted)

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