Following a night out at the Millennium nightclub in Essex, TV presenter and entertainer Michael Barrymore had a party at his home and one of the nine guests was Stuart Lubbock. The following morning, Lubbock’s body was found in Barrymore’s pool. What happened that evening is the focus of the new Channel 4 documentary Barrymore: The Body in the Pool. No criminal charges were pressed in the case and Barrymore has always denied having any involvement and knowledge of what happened to Lubbock.
In the early hours of March 31, 2001, 31-year-old Stuart Lubbock was pronounced dead at the Essex home of television presenter and entertainer, Michael Barrymore.
At 05:48am, an ambulance was called after Lubbock’s body was found in the outside pool.
Guests at the party performed CPR as did the emergency services. At 08:23am, Lubbock was pronounced dead.
At the time, the tabloid press reported there had been a “gay sexual orgy” at Barrymore’s home, something which Barrymore has always denied.
Speaking on the Tonight with Trevor McDonald programme, Barrymore said: “There was no sex in that house that night.
“There was no orgy, that I was aware of. At all. It’s totally fabricated. To this day I don’t know what happened to him.”
He explained: “They agreed to go to the jacuzzi, give it a go. Went down to the corner end of the house, I gave them some shorts. They changed, I changed into a pair of shorts.
“Walked out to the pool, towards the jacuzzi. Everybody was back in the house by then and then I looked down at which is effectively the deep end and Stuart [Lubbock] was there.
“I just freaked out. I ran back in and got Jonathan who I know is a lifesaver and um Simon and
James jumped in and pulled his body out.”
The first post mortem carried out by Michael Health on March 31, concluded that there was no third party involved in the death of Lubbock and determined the cause of death to be drowning.
The coroner ordered a second post-mortem to be carried out.
Dr Calder, a well-recognised expert on drowning, was involved in the second post mortem.
The first three pathologists to examine Lubbock and both Milroy and Calder noticed there were severe injuries to Lubbock’s anus, which suggested a sexual assault had taken place.
Coroner’s Inquest, September 2002
In September 2002, an inquest was held to determine how Stuart Lubbock had died.
The inquest into Lubbock’s death revealed there had been drug use and alcohol consumed at the party.
Lubbock was found to have had MDMA and cocaine in his bloodstream.
Two witnesses at the inquest claimed to have seen Barrymore forcibly rubbing cocaine in Lubbock’s gums, which he denied.
Barrymore was also questioned as to why he did not jump in the pool when he discovered the body, to which replied: “I cannot swim, but Simon Shaw and James Futters jumped in.”
However, Barrymore’s ex-wife Cheryl confirmed to police he could swim.
At the inquest, it was revealed that Barrymore had fled his home before the emergency services arrived, which he admitted was not the right thing to do.
During the inquest, Essex police appointed a fourth forensic pathologist to review how Lubbock died.
When Michael Barrymore was asked how Lubbock’s anal injuries might have been sustained at the inquest, he said he did not know,
Barrymore remains adamant they could not have happened at his home.
The coroner’s inquest recorded an open verdict, which means the death is suspicious but can not specify the cause.
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The injuries 2002-2003
In late 2002, Barrymore alleged the injuries inflicted on Lubbock’s body could have occurred while his body was lying unguarded in the mortuary.
Lubbock had been produced dead at 8:23am on March 31, 2001 at the Princess Alexandra Hospital but a post mortem was not carried out until 4pm.
Speaking publicly to GMTV’s Fiona Phillips, Barrymore said: “In the last few days my solicitors managed to locate one of the nurses who worked on Stuart and he quite clearly states without any shadow of a doubt that when Stuart Lubbock arrived at the A&E department, there were absolutely no injuries whatsoever to his body. He did not receive any injuries at my house. At all.”
Essex police then launched an investigation into public claims that Lubbock’s anal injuries were inflicted at hospital.
In December 2003, Essex Police’s investigation into Barrymore’s claims reached its conclusion.
Detectives were satisfied that the injuries Lubbock sustained had occurred before he died.
On June 14, 2007, Essex Police arrested Barrymore and two other men – Jonathan Kenney and Justin Merritt – on suspicion of murder and serious sexual assault in the Lubbock case.
On September 12, 2007, Barrymore, Kenney and Merrit were released from police questioning and were no longer facing any charges as there was insufficient evidence. They had always denied any involvement in Lubbock’s death.
July 2015 – today
In July 2015, Barrymore took steps to sue Essex police for £2.4 million over his wrongful arrest in 2007.
In August 2017, Lord Leveson at the Royal Courts of Justice in London ruled Michael Barrymore would be entitled to “more than nominal” damages against Essex Police.
On July 1, 2019, Essex police released a statement announcing the claim for damages had been discontinued and no payment had been made to Barrymore.
Speaking in Barrymore: The Body in the Pool, DCI Stephen Jennings admitted the first police on the scene “did not do their job properly”
He also added items from the scene, including a handle from a cupboard and pool thermometer, had also gone missing from the crime scene.
The investigation into the death of Stuart Lubbock remains open today.
Barrymore, Kenney and Merrit have always maintained their innocence.
Barrymore maintains that the anal injuries inflicted on Lubbock did not happen at this home.
Barrymore: The Body in the Pool airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.