Michael Barrymore’s ex-agent is quizzed by police over pool death

Michael Barrymore’s friend and ex-agent has been spoken to by police investigating the murder of Stuart Lubbock whose ex-wife is praying he finally gets justice after his rape and murder in 2001.

Mike Browne said Essex Police detectives visited his home on Wednesday – shortly after a man, 50, was held in Cheshire in connection with Stuart’s death.

He told the Mirror: ‘They just really wanted to clarify if I was aware of anything coming to light over the last 20 years. Of course, my honest answer was believe me, if anything had done, you would have been made aware of it’.

Mr Browne had been called to Mr Barrymore’s mansion in Roydon, Essex, at just after 6am as paramedics battled to save Mr Lubbock, 31, who was found unconsciousness floating in the swimming pool. Barrymore fled as police arrived. He later apologised, saying he ‘panicked’.

Today Stuart Lubbock’s ex-wife Sue Homan, 47, spoke of her hope that police are closing in on his killer. The couple were married young but the relationship broke down before he died, leaving them both heartbroken.

She told The Sun: ‘The police say he was raped and murdered with the killer still at large. You cannot move on with your life until you know the truth. However, finally there is light at the end of the tunnel. We’re hopeful of getting justice for Stuart.’

Essex Police Superintendent Lucy Morris said that the suspect, who has not been named, was held in Cheshire after new evidence came in following the offer of a £40,000 reward when the Channel 4 documentary Barrymore: Body In The Pool was released last year. The man was released on bail this evening, pending further enquiries.

Mr Barrymore, 68, has yet to be spoken to by police but is ‘fully committed’ to uncovering the truth about the death of Stuart at his mansion in 2001, after ‘significant new information’ led to the arrest of the suspect, 50.

Michael Barrymore, 68, (pictured walking his dog with a friend in West London last week) was one of Britain’s best known stars and has always denied involvement in the death as a 50-year-old man was arrested in connection with Stuart Lubbock’s murder

Stuart Lubbock’s ex-wife Sue Homan, 47,  (pictured together on their wedding day) spoke of her hope that police are closing in on his killer and said: ‘Finally there is light at the end of the tunnel. We’re hopeful of getting justice for Stuart.’

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

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


March 31: 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.

October: Barrymore accepts an official caution for drugs offences and allowing his home to be used for smoking cannabis. No further charges are brought.


September: An inquest in Epping, Essex, 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. ITV also announces that it has ‘no plans’ to commission any further shows from the star.


September: Barrymore abandons a comeback attempt after the first three nights of his one-man show in London receive bad reviews.

December: Amid reports that he has received a £1.4 million tax bill, he leaves the UK to live in New Zealand with his long-term partner Shaun Davis.


May: Barrymore announces that he has filed for voluntary bankruptcy in the UK because of the ‘unexpected’ tax demand.


January: Barrymore returns to screens in the UK as a Celebrity Big Brother housemate.

He remains in the house for three weeks and is runner-up in the final poll, leading to speculation that his showbusiness career will be revived.

After emerging from the house, Barrymore holds a tearful two-hour meeting with Mr Lubbock’s father Terry in a London hotel.

Mr Lubbock reportedly tells the entertainer he does not hold him ‘responsible’ for what happened. Barrymore is said to have responded: ‘It haunts me every day.’

February: Mr Lubbock’s family is blocked from launching a private prosecution against the celebrity.

A district judge in Southend, Essex, rules there is insufficient evidence for a hearing on six offences – four related to the misuse of drugs, one alleging drunk and disorderly behaviour and one alleging assault.

April: Police announce that they are reviewing Mr Lubbock’s death as part of ‘routine’ procedure.

December: Essex Police begin a new inquiry into Mr Lubbock’s death.


March: Police issue a new appeal for information on the sixth anniversary of Mr Lubbock’s death.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) also launches an inquiry into the original police investigation surrounding Mr Lubbock’s death.

June: Barrymore and two other men are arrested and questioned on suspicion of seriously sexually assaulting and murdering Mr Lubbock.

They are later released without charge.


February: The IPCC publishes the findings of a review of the police investigation into Mr Lubbock’s death, including that officers missed crucial evidence and did not ensure vital forensic tests were completed until six years later.


March: Police launch a fresh appeal for information over the death.


December: Barrymore admits cocaine possession and is fined £780.


December: Barrymore lodges an appeal for £2.5 million damages after suing police who arrested him over Mr Lubbock’s death.


August: A High Court judge rules Barrymore is entitled to ‘more than nominal’ damages against Essex Police over the wrongful arrest which he said destroyed his career.


December: The Court of Appeal says Barrymore ‘is entitled to nominal damages only’, following an appeal by the police.


February: 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: Terry Lubbock hints at the possibility of fresh evidence emerging, telling PA: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if someone cracks soon under all this pressure and decides to get it off their chest once and for all.’

On March 17, Essex Police announces a 50-year-old man has been arrested in Cheshire in connection with Mr Lubbock’s murder and indecent assault. 

Police say they will speak to Mr Barrymore ‘in the coming days’ after the arrest of the man over Mr Lubbock’s death during a party at the star’s mansion in Essex 20 years ago.

Following the news of the arrest, a source told MailOnline: ‘Michael has not been contacted by the police but he will be forthcoming if asked and will be more than happy to help as he always has. He is fully committed to the truth being uncovered on what happened to Stuart on that tragic night 20 years ago.’

Mr Lubbock was found floating in the swimming pool during a party at 68-year-old Barrymore’s luxury home in the Essex village of Roydon attended by eight other people including the Strike it Lucky host, who will all now be contacted, Supt Morris said.

She added: ‘Nine people were at that party. We know that not everyone was responsible for what happened but someone was. Now is the time to come forward, if you haven’t done so already, to set this matter to rest by providing us with any information you have.’

People present at the party, aside from Stuart and Michael Barrymore, included the star’s boyfriend at the time, Jonathan Kenney, former dustman Justin Merritt and his sister Kylie, chef James Futers, Barrymore’s neighbour Simon Shaw as well as friends Claire Jones and Kelly Campbell, two teenagers who met the star in a club on the night of the party.

A spokesman for Mr Barrymore has told MailOnline it would be inappropriate to comment following the arrest.

Stuart Lubbock’s death shocked Britain and ended Michael 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.

He 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, 68, 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.’

A post-mortem examination showed Mr Lubbock, who was a butcher, had suffered appalling internal injuries that revealed he was violently raped. Alcohol, ecstasy and cocaine were found in his bloodstream.

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

Speaking following news of an arrest , Mr Lubbock’s father Terry, 76, who suffering with prostate cancer, 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.’

He added: ‘I don’t know anything about the man arrested but the police let me know it had happened. It’s coming up to the 20th anniversary of my son Stuart’s death but the pain of losing him is still very strong. I’ve always said I will continue to fight for justice until my last breath and that’s what I’m doing still. I’m extremely ill with cancer, I’ve only got weeks to live but I won’t give up on Stuart until I die.’

He told The Daily Mail: ‘I’m glad something has happened before I die.

‘But look what it’s done to me. The fight for justice has put me in a care home and I’ve got cancer in my body. I’ve only got a few weeks left.’

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.’

Stuart’s death in 2001 ended Mr Barrymore’s TV career at a time when he was one of Britain’s most famous and highest paid stars. Within three years of the murder he was declared bankrupt and has barely worked again since, but has always denied having anything to do with Stuart’s death.

An Essex Police spokesman said: ‘The man, who was arrested in Cheshire, remains in custody where he continues to be questioned.

‘Stuart was found unconscious in the swimming pool of a property in Roydon on March 31 2001. Despite attempts to save him he later died in hospital.

‘The 31-year-old had been attending a party at the house with eight other people. A post-mortem examination found Stuart had suffered horrific anal injuries which are believed to be the result of a serious sexual assault prior to his death’.

Michael Barrymore was criticised for leaving his home soon after Mr Lubbock was found floating in the outside pool of his £2million home, which was sold for just £1.4million last year.

The former television presenter, who lives in West London and became a household name for shows such as Strike It Lucky, has always denied involvement in the death.

He 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.

Barrymore 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.

Last year a Channel 4 documentary examined the events of the night Stuart died including claims Mr Barrymore was drunk and told a taxi driver who drove him to the party at his home: ‘I could do with a f*** right now.’

The TV star has always denied any wrongdoing and claims he has been ‘bashed and bullied’ ever since that fateful night – but Essex Police insist Stuart was raped and murdered.

The show went into gruesome detail about the father-of-two’s injuries and revealed his family’s near 20 years of grief.

The team behind Barrymore: Body In The Pool’s were given access to Stuart’s post-mortem photographs – but they were deemed too awful for TV, even after the watershed.

After the documentary Barrymore, 68, posted a video on Twitter in which he protested his innocence and offered his ‘heartfelt sympathies’ to Mr Lubbock’s family.

He said: ‘I have had nothing to do with this whatsoever and yet I keep getting bashed and bullied by the media.

‘My heartfelt sympathies are with the Lubbock family and I truly hope they find peace.’

He also said that Channel 4 bosses ‘refused’ to show him the documentary – called Barrymore: The Body in the Pool – or tell him what is in it.

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, 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

Mr Lubbock’s father Terry, 75, accused Barrymore of ‘crocodile tears’. He said: ‘It’s a joke, isn’t it? I’m not buying it.’

Last year Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Jennings, who is now in charge of the case, revealed that two items possibly used in the brutal assault on Mr Lubbock – a pool thermometer and outhouse handle – went missing.

New information leading to the arrest came to light following a Channel 4 documentary and police appeal with an increased reward, Essex Police said.

Detective Superintendent Lucy Morris told reporters: ‘The man who was arrested in Cheshire continues to be questioned by our detectives

‘Following the arrest, we immediately notified the Lubbock family.

‘This arrest is almost 20 years to the day since Stuart was found unconscious in a swimming pool following a party at a home in Roydon. He later died in hospital.

‘The arrest comes after significant new information came to light following our renewed appeal for information and offer of an enhanced reward, which coincided with a major TV documentary broadcast in February 2020.

‘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.’

Detective Superintendent Lucy Morris said: ‘As we stated last February – and have continually stated over the last 20 years – we believe someone or some people at that party know what happened.

‘It is important to restate the fact that Essex Police have never given up on this case and that the force is motivated by the desire to deliver justice for Mr Lubbock and his family.

‘Stuart’s rape and murder has been an extremely lengthy and complex investigation which has spanned over 20 years and remains ongoing.

‘We have never given up on finding out exactly what happened to Stuart and we will not stop in our pursuit of justice for him and for his family and friends.’

She added: ‘Nine people were at that party. We know that not everyone was responsible for what happened but someone was. Now is the time to come forward, if you haven’t done so already, to set this matter to rest by providing us with any information you have.’

The crime scene was not properly secured after his death as officers at first assumed the factory worker had drowned.

Mr Jennings has also said it was likely at least two people were involved in the crime.

The policeman said at the time: ‘I believe that he [Mr Lubbock] was raped and murdered that night.

‘One or more of those party-goers are responsible for that serious sexual assault.’

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.

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.

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.’

Jonathan Kenney

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.

Justin Merritt

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 Merritt 

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.

James Futers

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.

Simon Shaw

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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