The father of a man who drowned in suspicious circumstances at the home of a well-known gay entertainer has received an apology from police for their bungled investigation.
Terry Lubbock’s 31-year-old son Stuart was found dead in TV star Michael Barrymore’s swimming pool after a house party in March 2001.
Three months later Barrymore and two other men were arrested and bailed in connection with the incident.
But a year after Mr Lubbock’s death, police decided no charges were to be brought against Barrymore or the other men.
Senior officers visited Terry Lubbock’s home yesterday to apologise for the bungled investigation.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission upheld six of Mr Lubbock’s complaints against the Essex Police investigation.
IPCC Commissioner David Petch said:
“There are absolutely no grounds to support allegations that officers acted corruptly. The view that the entire investigation was incompetent is not borne out by the bulk of the evidence.
“But undoubtedly there were failings in some aspects of the investigation. The security around the scene in the first few hours should have been more rigorous.
“As a consequence there are lingering fears that, because the integrity of the scene was not properly preserved, important evidence may have been lost.
“Potential witnesses should have been removed from the house and grounds at the earliest opportunity. Yet some people were allowed to stay and tidy up in the house.
“Forensic examinations of some items found at the scene were not carried out as promptly as they should have been – although this was remedied.
“In our view the decision in December 2001 to suspend the investigation was premature – at that time some key forensic work had not been completed and some enquiries were still outstanding.
“We will probably never know whether the missing thermometer and door handle were evidentially important, but not securing these items was a failure and leaves questions unanswered.
“All of these shortcomings must be frustrating and distressing for Mr Lubbock, who has worked tirelessly to find out what happened to his son.”
“It was not a catalogue of errors,” said Mr Lubbock.
“There were not that many errors.
“But the errors that were made were quite significant.
“If they had done the job properly in the first place we would have had people in court charged. I am sure of that.
“And that is what I am still pursuing. I want justice to be done and I will not rest until it is. The perpetrators of my son’s murder are still out there.”
Mr Lubbock has previously said:
“There were at least eight people present on the night he died and somebody knows why he died and what happened to him.
“All I want to know is the truth about what happened to my son and why he died and I would urge someone to have the courage to come forward and tell the truth.”
Mr Barrymore was arrested in June 2007 after audio recordings he made in preparation for a possible biography were seized by police from the home of agent Tony Cowell.
In the conversations with Mr Cowell, Barrymore discussed the events of the night Mr Lubbock died.
However, it was decided in that no charges would be brought against him.
In 2006 Mr Lubbock accused the TV entertainer of a PR stunt to revive his celebrity status, saying he felt exploited after meeting the star and allegedly forgiving him over his son’s death.
He said he had only met Mr Barrymore to get answers about the incident but feels he was the object of a charm offensive.
The grief-stricken father says he felt like he was being dissuaded from pursuing a private prosecution against Mr Barrymore.
He claims his son was raped before he died.
Today he called on Mr Barrymore to tell police everything he knows about what happened.
“I would like him to clear his conscience and say ‘I want to resume my life,’ and try to put right some of this mess,” he said.
“Because he has made one hell of a mess and it is all his own fault. It isn’t me that has brought him down. He’s done it to himself.”
The former Strike It Lucky presenter insists it was a tragic accident where Lubbock drowned in his pool.
Mr Lubbock’s suspicious death ruined the career of Mr Barrymore, who came out as a gay man in 1995.