A Manic Street Preachers spokesperson has confirmed that missing guitarist Richey Edwards has been officially declared "presumed dead".

The Welsh musician disappeared on February 1st 1995, aged 27.

Though numerous supposed sightings have been reported across the globe since Edwards' disappearance, many believe he took his own life, as his car was found abandoned near the Severn Bridge.

Terri Hall, the Manics spokesperson, said Edwards' parents Graham and Sherry have now granted a court order that declares the talented lyricist to be presumed dead.

She said the matter was "hugely emotional" for the band, who will not be offering any further comment on the decision.

While a missing person can be legally declared dead after seven years, Edwards' family had previously declined this option, in the hope that he was still alive.

But the family's lawyer David Ellis said the decision reflected "an acceptance that his affairs have got to be sorted".

It was "not the same as an acceptance that he is dead," he told Walesonline.co.uk.

The court order grants Edwards' family control of his estate, thought to be worth around £450,000, though this will be reduced to £377,548 once death duties are paid.

Manics bassist Nicky Wire confirmed earlier this month that the band are to release a new album featuring Edwards' lyrics.

Journal For Plague Lovers, set for a spring 2009 release, will use only Edwards' words, he explained.

"We've had these lyrics for 14 years and we all felt compelled that this was the right time to do it," Nicky Wire told NME.com.

"It's a follow-up to [1994 album] The Holy Bible in a lot of ways.

"There's a small amount of editing involved, because some of them are prose and they needed to be made into lyrics, but they're all Richey's."

24/11/2008 10:42:51