Part 1: Michael Barrymore v Essex Police : Michael Barrymore was wrongfully arrested for rape and murder on ‘slim’ and ‘false’ evidence, court told.
· Barrymore, who had been wrongly dubbed a ‘killer’ after Stuart Lubbock died in his swimming pool in 2001, was about to relaunch his career after a successful stint in Celebrity Big Brother.
· But his come-back was stalled by Essex Police, according to his lawyers, who arrested him on ‘bad character’ evidence containing false statements.
Comedian Michael Barrymore is suing Essex Police for wrongfully trying to pin a murder and a rape charge on him.
Essex Police have admitted that his arrest six years after the death of Stuart Lubbock was unlawful.
But lawyers representing the force claim the bad decision was only the result of a technicality – and have claimed that the damages due to Barrymore should only have a nominal value.
The court heard that the re-opening of the police investigation into Mr. Lubbock’s death cost Mr. Barrymore an opportunity to relaunch his career, which was already in the ascendant.
Following the incident at his Essex property in 2001, Barrymore was repeatedly dogged by false stories and rumours in the press.
The wrongful arrest received ‘massive international publicity,’ Mr Justice Stuart-Smith was told, which had a ‘devastating effect’ on Barrymore’s career.
The now defunct News of the World, who later paid him damages for phone hacking, said that a spell in jail might improve his memory.
Mr. Barrymore’s counsel, Hugh Tomlinson QC, criticised the decision to arrest his client.
In a court document, Mr. Tomlinson stated: ‘Over the years there have been two investigations and a number of reviews, external and internal.
‘The second of these resulted in the arrest on the Claimant on 14th June 2007 for the suspected rape and murder of Mr. Lubbock.
‘This arrest was made without any proper evidential foundation.
‘However, the fact that it happened and the worldwide publicity it received, destroyed the Claimant’s career.’
Barrymore appeared in Court 13 of the Royal Courts of Justice under his real name Michael Ciaran Parker.
The former Bermondsey boy, who rose to TV fame in the 1990s with his trademark mixture of playful chiding and slapstick, was smartly dressed in a blue suit and a burgundy tie.
Mr. Lubbock’s father Terry Lubbock – who has criticised Barrymore in the past – was also in the oak-panneled chamber, sitting three rows behind Mr. Barrymore.
He told a reporter that ‘he just wanted to be there.’
Later, Mr. Barrymore and Mr. Lubbock embraced outside court.
Mr. Lubbock was found dead in the swimming pool at Mr. Barrymore’s Essex property on 31st March 2001.
The court heard that a pathologist found that Mr. Lubbock had not consumed large quantities of cocaine, as earlier thought.
The levels were on the ‘lower end of the scale,’ according to Barrymore’s lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson QC.
Mr Tomlinson told the court that his client ‘has great sympathy for the family’ of Mr. Lubbock.
However, Barrymore did not ‘assault or murder Mr. Lubbock,’ he stressed.
On the night in question, Barrymore had met Lubbock at the Millennium Nightclub in Harlow, Essex, before travelling to Barrymore’s house seven miles away in Roydon at 2.47am.
Two other guests arrived at 20 mins later. At 2.45am two more guests arrived to join the gathering.
‘A certain amount of partying took place,’ said Mr. Tomlinson said.
Mr. Lubbock was consuming a strong drink called After Shock –which led him to be three times over the limit.
He also had taken ecstasy.
The court was told that Barrymore had spent most of the time with a pal called Mr. James Futers and another man.
Mr. Lubbock went to the jacuzzi and Barrymore retracted the pool cover.
Mr. Lubbock swam in the pool and threw a baseball cap at another guest.
Mr. Lubbock’s body was discovered three hours into party, at 5.45 am.
Part of Mr. Barrymore’s case is that the police investigation that followed the death was botched.
An aerial photo was presented to the court, which showed a pool thermometer on the ground next to the pool.
This device later disappeared.
It was described as the ‘mysterious missing pool thermometer’ by Mr. Tomlinson.
Mr Tomlinson said: ‘He was taken out of the pool and attempts were made to revive him at the side of the pool.’
Mr. Barrymore left the scene before the police arrived and went to flat of Simon Shaw, a friend who’d been at the party.
Barrymore’s lawyers said that this was not in itself suspicious and that Barrymore’s assistant Mike Browne told the police where he was shortly after 7.03 am.
He was later interviewed by police at Shaw’s property.
At 7.49 am, the police took a statement from Mr Barrymore.
‘The death was not initially regarded as suspicious,’ Mr Tomlinson said.
Lawyer’s for Essex Police described their own initial investigation as ‘sub-optimal.’
Barrymore’s lawyer said this was said with ‘characteristic understatement.’
The police did not secure the scene.
‘All kinds of people were there until the crime scene was later secured,’ Mr. Tomlinson said.
An autopsy later found anal injuries to Mr. Lubbock and the death was treated as suspicious.
Mr Barrymore was arrested in connection with supplying drugs and later accepted a caution.
But he was not suspected of killing Mr Lubbock, at this point.
Two of his pals were arrested for murder but not charged.
A letter from the Crown Prosecution Service dated 5 th March 2002 said there was no evidence against any suspect and recommended no further action.
The police probe had been closed some time earlier.
Depite this, Mr. Lubbock’s family launched a ‘very public’ investigation to find out how he died.