10/02/2006

No prosecution for Barrymore

Television personality Michael Barrymore will not face a private prosecution over the death of a man at his home five years ago.

At Southend Magistrates' Court today, a district judge blocked the private prosecution, relating to the death of Stuart Lubbock, ruling that there was insufficient evidence.

Mr Lubbock, 31, was found dead in the swimming pool at the star's former home in Roydon, near Harlow, in March 2001.

An open verdict was recorded at an inquest into Mr Lubbock's death in September 2002. Mr Barrymore was cautioned for drugs offences.

Solicitor Tony Bennett, acting on behalf of Mr Lubbock's family, had attempted to launch a private prosecution against Mr Barrymore while he was a contestant in Channel 4's 'Celebrity Big Brother' show. The prosecution involved alleged drug offences and assault.

Mr Bennett had attempted to serve the papers relating to the prosecution to Mr Barrymore while he was still in the Big Brother house, but Channel 4 executives refused.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Lubbock's father, Terry, said he was "disappointed" but would continue "seeking justice". He said: "The next thing is to get Michael Barrymore to say how the injuries Stuart suffered occurred."

Mr Bennett said: "I'm not sure what other legal avenues are open now unless some of the people that were in Mr Barrymore's house the night Mr Lubbock died come forward and give evidence about what went on. Then the case could be re-opened."

However, a spokeswoman for Essex Police stressed that the case remained open. She said: "We are in regular contact with the Lubbock family and if we receive any new information or evidence, we would pursue that."

A statement issued by Mr Barrymore said that Mr Bennett was "absolutely right" to seek the truth as to how Mr Lubbock received the injuries. He said: "I remain totally committed, as I always have, to continue pursuing the truth about Stuart Lubbock's death on that tragic evening.

"I would very much welcome working alongside Terry Lubbock to uncover the truth.

"Allegations about drugs on that night are a complete irrelevance as to how Stuart Lubbock suffered those injuries."

(KMcA)


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