Police investigating the death of Stuart Lubbock during a party at the home of Michael Barrymore 20 years ago have today arrested a suspect on suspicion of his murder and indecent assault.
Essex Police said the man, 50, who has not been named, had been arrested in Cheshire and remains in custody where he continues to be questioned over the death of Stuart, 31.
Mr Lubbock had been attending a party at now 68-year-old Barrymore’s luxury home in the Essex village of Roydon with eight other people on March 31, 2001.
A post-mortem examination showed Mr Lubbock, who was a butcher, had suffered appalling internal injuries that revealed he was violently raped.
He was found floating in Mr Barrymore’s swimming pool but nobody has been brought to justice for causing his death.
Detectives have arrested a man over the death of Stuart Lubbock (pictured), who died at the home of entertainer Michael Barrymore 20 years ago
The 68-year-old former television presenter (pictured walking in West London last week) – who became a household name for shows such as Strike It Lucky – has always denied involvement in the death
Mr Lubbock, 31, had been attending a party at Barrymore’s luxury home in the Essex village of Roydon with eight other people on March 31, 2001
Alcohol, ecstasy and cocaine were found in his bloodstream.
Barrymore was criticised for leaving his home soon after Mr Lubbock was found floating in the outside pool of his £2million home.
The former television presenter – who became a household name for shows such as Strike It Lucky – has always denied involvement in the death.
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 arrest comes just days after Stuart’s father Terry Lubbock, 76, said he had hopes that a witness with information might soon come forward to help the investigation.
The arrest comes just days after Stuart’s father Terry Lubbock (pictured), 76, said he had hopes that a witness with information might soon come forward
Earlier this year, Mr Lubbock said he wanted a coroner to oversee a new inquest into Stuart’s death
Barrymore, was arrested as part of the investigation in 2007 before being released without charge, later launched a high court case for £2.4million damages for wrongful arrest. He received a nominal sum after Essex Police won an appeal
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
The timeline of events following Stuart Lubbock’s death
March 31, 2001: Mr Lubbock, 31, of Harlow, Essex, is found dead at Barrymore’s home in nearby Roydon following a party. The entertainer is questioned by police.
April 2001: A post-mortem examination concludes the cause of death was drowning. Pathologists tell a hearing in Epping that traces of cocaine, ecstasy and alcohol were found in Mr Lubbock’s system.
June 2001: Barrymore is quizzed a number of times during the course of the criminal investigation and spends a night in police custody in June after being arrested on drugs allegations arising from the inquiry.
October 2001: Barrymore accepts an official caution for drugs offences and allowing his home to be used for smoking cannabis. No further charges are brought.
September 2002: An inquest in Epping records an open verdict on Mr Lubbock’s death. Medical experts tell the hearing that he had suffered severe internal injuries, suggesting he may have been the victim of a serious sexual assault. Alcohol, cocaine and Ecstasy were also found in his system.
Barrymore gives evidence, but refuses to answer questions over allegations that he gave Mr Lubbock cocaine just hours before his body was found.
January 2006 : Barrymore makes a high-profile return to the UK in January 2006 to take part in Celebrity Big Brother.
December 2006: Essex Police begin a new inquiry into Mr Lubbock’s death. Detectives say their decision to reinvestigate follows a review of the initial inquiry.
June 14, 2007: Barrymore, his ex-partner Jonathan Kenney and Justin Merritt are arrested on suspicion of serious sexual assault and murder. They are all released on bail days later.
September 10, 2007: Barrymore answers bail and police are granted a further 12 hours to question him. Barrymore and the two other men are later released without charge.
February 2009: Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiry upholds six of 36 complaints and allegations made by Mr Lubbock’s father. The IPCC finds two pieces of evidence – a pool thermometer and a door handle – went missing after Mr Lubbock’s death. IPCC Commissioner David Petch says there were ‘failings in some aspects of the investigation.’
July 2015: Barrymore sues Essex police over his wrongful arrest, issuing a writ against them in the High Court.
August 2017: High Court judge said Mr Barrymore was entitled to ‘recover more than nominal damages’. Barrymore valued his compensation claim at £2.4 million.
November 2018: Essex Police launch Court of Appeal challenge, arguing that he should only receive ‘nominal damages’
December 2018: Essex Police win their Court of Appeal challenge and judges rule he should only receive ‘nominal damages
February 2020: A Channel 4 documentary about Mr Lubbock’s death prompts 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.’
March 2021: A man, 50, is arrested on suspicion of murder and indecent assault by Essex Police. The man has not been named.
Terry Lubbock, who has terminal cancer, said some people who were at the party must be living under ‘terrible’ pressure.
He also said he wanted a coroner to oversee a new inquest into his son’s death.
A coroner recorded an open verdict after an inquest in 2002 and, three years ago, the then-attorney general, Jeremy Wright, refused to give Mr Lubbock the go-ahead to make an application to the High Court for a second inquest.
But Mr Lubbock, who lives in Harlow, said in January that he thought information must have emerged which justified a fresh inquiry by a coroner.
Speaking following news of an arrest today, Mr Lubbock said: ‘There is just so much going on in my head. I can’t get my head around it.
‘Of course I’m happy. Of course this is good news. But it’s been 20 years. This has nearly killed me.’
Meanwhile, Harry Clichy, a friend of the Lubbock family, said: ‘I’m pleased. Of course this is progress.
‘We can only hope it leads to justice for Stuart after all these years.’
Last year, Barrymore said he wanted another investigation into Mr Lubbock’s death by a new police force. The investigation has so far been carried out by Essex Police.
The entertainer also told Good Morning Britain he is going through ‘pain and agony’ due to the incident – which effectively ended his mainstream television career.
He also criticised Channel 4 over a programme aired last year called ‘Barrymore: The Body In The Pool’, which he described as ‘vile and vicious’.
In an interview with Good Morning Britain in March last year, Barrymore spoke about the others at the party that night, saying: ‘I’ve never seen them since that day … I haven’t got a number (for them), nothing.’
‘I don’t know any of them. The wall of silence is because they don’t know (what happened). I do believe that.’
Asked if he had anything fresh to offer the police, he said: ‘I honestly wish I did’, adding that he had been ‘through 20 years of Hell’. I haven’t got another another (story). I’ve only got the one story,’ he said.
He said Mr Lubbock’s father Terry’s torment ‘comes before me and everybody’ but added: ‘I can’t live my life. I can’t get on with my life.’
Responding to the criticism, a spokesperson for Channel Four said at the time that Barrymore had been ‘given a fair opportunity to respond to significant allegations and his position was fairly reflected in the documentary’.
Bosses behind the programme said it aimed to piece together the perspectives of the Lubbock family, as well as those of the detectives, forensic pathologists and eyewitnesses to explore what happened that night at Barrymore’s Essex bungalow, and the events that followed.
Among the footage used was a recording of the original 999 call made after Mr Lubbock was discovered in the pool.
Speaking about the airing of the documentary in February last year, Terry Lubbock said: ‘This documentary is about the questions around what happened to my son, Stuart Lubbock. Finally.
‘The story has become so distorted and confused over the years. So much has been said and written.
‘It’s time to put all the facts together in one place.’
Speaking about the release at the time, Channel 4 commissioning editor Alisa Pomeroy said: ‘This film is a reflective piece that tells the story of an unexplained tragedy that unfolded in the glare of an unforgiving media.
‘It sheds light on the complex relationship between celebrity, the criminal justice system and an all-powerful tabloid press in the early Noughties, but, most of all, it’s the deeply moving story of the Lubbock family’s continuing quest for answers and justice, nearly 20 years on.’
The other seven guests present on the night that Mr Lubbock died
Kenney, 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 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 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 tied 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 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.