Michael Barrymore is to be questioned about a sex murder that occurred at his home
The development came yesterday as a man aged 50 was arrested in Cheshire on suspicion of indecent assault and murder, after police acted on “significant new information” following a Channel 4 documentary in February last year. He was released on bail until April 12. Stuart, a butcher, was found at Barrymore’s mansion in Roydon, Essex early on March 31 2001. Det Supt Lucy Morris said yesterday: “This information has led to us making an arrest and over the coming days we will be contacting all those who were present at the party at the time as well as others who may have information.
“Someone or some people at that party know what happened.
“We have never given up on finding out exactly what happened to Stuart, and we will not stop in our pursuit of justice.
“Nine people were at that party – we know that not everyone was responsible for what happened, but someone was.”
In a renewed appeal for information, she added: “Now is the time to come forward.”
Crimestoppers and Essex Police offered a £20,000 reward after the documentary aired.
Barrymore: The Body in the Pool featured the 999 call made from the star’s house for the first time. A man is heard saying: “A fella has drowned in the pool. We have got them out.
“There’s a party going on and someone has just gone out and found him. I think the geezer’s dead, mate.”
The man was found dying in the swimming pool
Barrymore, the former Strike It Lucky host, has always denied any wrongdoing.
He said at the time of the programme: “I have had nothing to do with this whatsoever and yet I keep getting bashed and bullied.”
Stuart died after suffering horrific internal injuries. He was found in the pool wearing only boxer shorts.
He had been invited to the house after meeting Barrymore and his companions at the Millennium nightclub in Harlow. Exactly what happened at the party is a mystery.
Tests found significant amounts of alcohol, ecstasy and cocaine in Stuart’s blood. He also had severe “sexual injuries” from being raped.
Stuart was pulled from the pool but died in hospital. Pathologists said the most likely cause of death was drowning. Jonathan Kenney, Barrymore’s former partner and an ex-drag queen, and dustman Justin Merritt were arrested at the time. They were later released without charge.
Barrymore was not at the house when police arrived but was interviewed later. He was cautioned for possessing cannabis and letting his premises be used for drug taking.
Stuart was found to have drugs and alcohol in his system
All three denied any knowledge of or involvement in Stuart’s death.
At an inquest in 2002, Barrymore said he did not jump in and try to save Stuart as he could not swim – a claim disputed by others who knew the star.
The coroner later recorded an open verdict. In June 2007, Barrymore was arrested along with Mr Kenney, then 37, and Mr Merritt, then 32. No charges were brought and all three men denied any part in Stuart’s murder.
Barrymore, whose real surname is Parker, successfully sued Essex Police for wrongful arrest and was awarded nominal damages following a ruling at the Court of Appeal.
In his judgement on the case in December 2018, senior judge Sir Brian Leveson said: “In the early hours of 31 March 2001, Michael Parker (a celebrity entertainer who is better known by his stage name, Michael Barrymore) returned to his home with eight guests.
“What was clearly an alcohol and drug-fuelled gathering ensued.
Barrymore successfully sued Essex Police for wrongful arrest
“Approximately three hours later, one of his guests, Mr Stuart Lubbock, was found unconscious and not breathing in the swimming pool, dressed only in his boxer shorts. He was taken to hospital but, at 8.23am, pronounced dead.”
Items, including the swimming pool thermometer, went missing from the scene.
Barrymore’s television career collapsed in the wake of the allegations, although he enjoyed a brief return to the spotlight during a stint on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006.
In 2009, the police watchdog published the findings of a review of the investigation into Stuart’s death.
It concluded that officers missed crucial evidence and did not ensure vital forensic tests were completed until six years later.
A spokesman for Barrymore said yesterday that it would be inappropriate to comment after the arrest.
Officers were said to have missed crucial evidence
MARCH 31: Stuart Lubbock found dead.
OCTOBER: Barrymore cautioned for drugs offences.
2002 SEPTEMBER: Inquest into death records open verdict. ITV drops the star.
2003 SEPTEMBER: Barrymore “comeback” shelved after one-man show in London panned.
DECEMBER: Amid reports he has received £1.4m tax bill, he moves to New Zealand with partner Shaun.
2004 MAY: Barrymore files for voluntary bankruptcy.
2006 JANUARY: Barrymore a Celebrity Big Brother housemate. Runner-up, but no career revival.
FEBRUARY: Mr Lubbock’s family blocked from launching a private prosecution against the celeb.
2007 MARCH: IPCC launches inquiry into original investigation.
JUNE: Barrymore and two other men arrested on suspicion of seriously sexually assaulting and murdering Mr Lubbock. Released without charge.
2009 FEBRUARY: IPCC say officers missed crucial evidence.
2010 MARCH: Police launch a fresh appeal for information.
2011 DECEMBER: Barrymore admits cocaine possession and is fined £780.
2020 FEBRUARY: TV probe into death prompts star to issue a fresh denial of any wrongdoing.
2021 MARCH: Terry Lubbock hints at fresh evidence emerging; Essex Police announces man arrested.