An unnamed TV comedian who had a relationship with an 18-year-old fashion student before he killed himself has attempted to contact the boy’s family to explain.

Last month, an inquest heard that Ben Cowburn killed himself months after he was reportedly groomed by the comedian, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

According to Mail Online, Steve and Sharon Cowburn were dismayed that the comedian used libel lawyers Carter-Ruck to approach them, and have refused to respond.

Sharon Cowburn told the newspaper: “The letter from this man’s lawyer asks whether we would accept a letter giving his personal explanation.

“It’s a sounding-out letter offered in a cautious manner. We would welcome an explanation and are considering this approach. But we are not used to dealing with media lawyers.

“It makes things even harder for us. We are still grieving for Ben. The police never questioned this man and we think they now should, perhaps before any letter is sent. There remain many unanswered questions.”

Ben Cowburn committed suicide of a drug overdose in December 2010, after telling friends and family he was being taken advantage of by the television comedian, leaving him “belittled and humiliated” in the days before his death.

His inquest heard that the comedian showered the teenager with gifts before taking him to drink and drug-fuelled parties.

The inquest also heard of how Mr Cowburn was persuaded to strip in front of a group of men, and of how the comedian occasionally crept into his bed for sex.

Steve Cowburn added: “What I don’t want is for Mr X to send us a letter full of platitudes – we took him to a few parties, he had a good time, it was all fine – that kind of thing.

“I’ve emailed the investigating officer to ask why he never interviewed Mr X, given he’d seen words like sexual abuse, cocaine and rape used by witnesses.”

Tory MP Priti Patel recently called for the comedian, who has not been questioned, cautioned, or arrested by the police, to be named.