Mystery of missing Earl's hotel stay

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The mystery surrounding the Earl who vanished two weeks ago in the French Riviera intensified yesterday when it emerged that he was booked in for a night in a four-star hotel a day after his last reported sighting.

The mystery surrounding the Earl who vanished two weeks ago in the French Riviera intensified yesterday when it emerged that he was booked in for a night in a four-star hotel a day after his last reported sighting.

Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the 10th Earl of Shaftesbury, went missing shortly after arriving in Nice in the south of France at the beginning of November. He was last seen by his third wife, Jamila Ben M'Barek, from whom he is estranged, on 5 November in Cannes. It has been reported that the Earl, 66, was seeking a reconciliation with his wife.

But yesterday, it emerged that he spent one night at the hotel Noga Hilton in Cannes the following day. A receptionist at the hotel said there was a record of the Earl staying that night. She said British police contacted the hotel to ask for a copy of the bill.

But no one at the hotel had any recollection of the 6ft 1in Earl, who is described as thin with grey hair and blue eyes, and who lives in a luxury sea-front home in Hove, Sussex.

It is understood that the Earl - who was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford - has a chequered love-life and is a colourful character on the social scene of Cannes.

He is being linked with 29-year-old French lingerie model Nathalie Lions, who he was reportedly dating several months before he married his now estranged wife in November 2002. His second marriage, to Lady Christina Shaftesbury, the mother of his two sons, Anthony and Nicholas, ended in divorce in 2000. Lady Shaftesbury lives at the family seat in Winborne, Dorset. Yesterday she said she was "very, very worried and concerned" over the disappearance.

The Earl's sister, Lady Frances Ashley-Cooper, who has a home at Tavel near Avignon, notified French police about her brother's disappearance. She said it was completely out of character for him not to be in contact with his family.

"We are all deeply worried and want him back safe and sound," she said.

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