A man arrested in March on suspicion of the indecent assault and murder of Stuart Lubbock at the Essex mansion of entertainer Michael Barrymore in 2001 has been released without charge.
The 50-year-old suspect, who has not been named, was arrested in Cheshire on March 17 after ‘significant new information’ came in following the offer of a £40,000 reward when the Channel 4 documentary Barrymore: Body In The Pool was released last year.
Mr Lubbock, 31, had been attending a party at Barrymore’s luxury home with eight other people on March 31, 2001 when he was found floating in the swimming pool. A post-mortem examination showed he had suffered severe internal injuries which suggested he had been sexually assaulted.
Alcohol, ecstasy and cocaine were found in his bloodstream. The coroner recorded an open verdict.
Mr Lubbock’s death shocked Britain and ended Barrymore’s TV career overnight. The star, who made millions as one of the UK’s top TV personalities of the 1980s and 1990s, has always denied playing any part in his suspected murder.
In the latest development in the case, Essex Police said there was insufficient evidence for a ‘realistic chance of a successful prosecution’ so the man had been released without further action. The force’s senior investigating officer DCI Stephen Jennings said the news was a ‘huge personal disappointment’ to all of the detectives involved in the case.
‘We have explored all possible lines of enquiry and sometimes, regrettably, the evidence is not yet there to issue charges. I know that this may be of little comfort to Stuart’s father and his family,’ he said. ‘At every stage, it is the Lubbock family and our search for justice for them that dominates our thoughts and our actions. We have tried our best. We will continue to try our best.
A man arrested in March on suspicion of the indecent assault and murder of Stuart Lubbock (pictured) at the Essex mansion of entertainer Michael Barrymore in 2001 has been released without charge
Mr Lubbock’s death shocked Britain and ended Barrymore’s TV career overnight. The star, who made millions as one of the UK’s top TV personalities of the 1980s and 1990s, has always denied playing any part in his suspected murder
Mr Lubbock had been attending a party at Barrymore’s luxury home in Roydon with eight other people on March 31, 2001
Police believe Mr Lubbock was sexually assaulted and murdered with his body possibly moved from a jacuzzi to make it look like he had accidentally drowned
‘For the last 20 years, as we have continually stated, two things have remained consistent. One is the commitment of Essex Police to deliver justice for Stuart and his father Terry.
‘The second is that we believe of those present on the night Stuart died, someone at the house was responsible and someone knows what happened.’
He added the force has ‘never given up on this case’ and all they want is to ‘deliver justice for Mr Lubbock and his family’.
Mr Lubbock’s father Terry is seriously ill. A friend, Harry Cichy, said Terry, who has campaigned for justice for his son for years, wanted police to review the decision, telling PA Media: ‘I’ve spoken to Terry, and he wants the police to review the decision.’
Barrymore has been reduced to playing Strike It Lucky live with fans on Instagram and was last seen on TV during a stint on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006. A planned appearance on Dancing on Ice last year never happened after he broke his wrist and he was never invited back.
Last year’s Channel 4 documentary about the case prompted Barrymore to issue a fresh denial of any wrongdoing, saying: ‘I have had nothing to do with this whatsoever and yet I keep getting bashed and bullied by the media.’
Earlier this year, Mr Lubbock (right on Sunday) has said he wanted a coroner to oversee a new inquest into the death of his son (left) and welcomes the arrest as he fights for justice
Barrymore (pictured walking his dog with a friend in West London) was one of Britain’s best known stars
Stuart was found floating in Mr Barrymore’s swimming pool but nobody has been brought to justice for causing his death, two decades ago this month.
Detectives believe that Mr Lubbuck may also have been abused by a pool thermometer and outhouse handle that went missing after his suspected murder.
The initial investigation was deeply flawed after officers failed to secure the crime scene and assumed Stuart had drowned. Mr Lubbock may have been fatally injured in the jacuzzi and then dumped in the pool to make it look like an accident, it has been claimed previously.
Barrymore was married to agent Cheryl Barrymore for 21 years but revealed he was gay in August 1995 and split from his wife a year later.
He was arrested on suspicion of rape and serious sexual assault in 2007, along with two other people. No charges were brought due to lack of evidence. Barrymore later launched a high court case for £2.4million damages for wrongful arrest. He received a nominal sum after Essex Police won an appeal.
The other seven guests present on the night that Mr Lubbock died
Kenney, 50, from Blackpool in Lancashire, was Barrymore’s boyfriend at the time of Mr Lubbock’s death.
He was formerly a drag queen but more recently had been working as a driving test examiner.
Kenney, along with Barrymore, invited the other seven guests over to the house after they partied together at the Millennium nightclub in Harlow, Essex.
He was one of three people arrested on suspicion of murder by Essex Police in 2007 before he was later released without charge.
Former dustman Justin, 46, was unemployed when he went back to Barrymore’s house along with his sister Kylie.
Reports from the time claimed Justin was an ‘unofficial minder’ to the TV star during that night.
He had walked up to Barrymore outside the nightclub earlier and said: ‘I’ll look after you. I’ll be your security to get you home.’
Mr Merritt claimed to have shared a Jacuzzi with Mr Lubbock and last saw him alive ‘bombing’ in the pool and in high spirits.
He, along with Barrymore and Kenney, were arrested on suspicion of murder before ultimately being released.
Kylie was Justin’s sister and had been present with him in the nightclub when Justin had offered to be Barrymore’s minder on the night.
The siblings, along with Barrymore and Mr Lubbock shared a taxi back to the house.
Miss Merritt would later claim that she had then seen Mr Lubbock ‘larking about’ by himself in the swimming pool.
On another occasion, she said she saw Barrymore with two men in a small room near his bedroom door.
She would also claim that Barrymore had produced cocaine on the night and had tried to rub the drug into My Lubbock’s gums, something he denied.
Ms Merritt infamously took a lie detector test for the News of the World, which suggested she was not being truthful when questioned about what happened that day.
Mr Futers, 41, was a chef who lived near Barrymore in Roydon, Essex.
He would tell a court how the TV star offered him ‘white powder’ shortly after he arrived at the house for the party.
Later he would add that he believed the drug to be cocaine.
Mr Futers had met Barrymore on several previous occasions to have a drink and ‘play cards’.
He had been at the nightclub with Barrymore that night and had agreed to go back to his house for an ‘impromptu’ gathering.
Mr Shaw had been invited to the party due to his friendship with Barrymore’s neighbour Mr Futers.
During court testimony, he recounted how he spotted Mr Lubbock in the pool and jumped in to help him.
He said he tried to pull him up from the bottom of the pool but found him to heavy, returning for breath before going back and successfully lifting him out.
Mr Shaw then left the home with Mr Futers as he thought ‘what happened was a bit scary’, and was joined by Barrymore.
They all went back to Mr Shaw’s house, where they spoke about what had occurred while Barrymore made phone calls to his ‘PR man’.
Claire Jones and Kelly Campbell
Ms Jones, a 17-year-old cashier at the time, and her friend Kelly Campbell, both now 37, had only met Barrymore hours early at the nightclub when they were invited back for the party.
She would later tell police how she saw Barrymore rummaging through drawers and changing his clothes before police arrived.
Ms Jones also told police that when Barrymore left the house he had a ‘bundle of material’ under his arm.
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