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Last updated: 1:53 PM

From Press Association


I'm innocent, says freed Barrymore

Press Association
Saturday June 16, 2007 4:38 AM

Entertainer Michael Barrymore has categorically denied any involvement in the death of a butcher found dead in his swimming pool six years ago.

He and two other men were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of seriously sexually assaulting and murdering 31-year-old Stuart Lubbock, whose body was found at Barrymore's home in Roydon, Essex, in March 2001.

The TV presenter, 55, who lives in London, was released on police bail without charge pending further inquiry after being held by detectives for nearly 36 hours.

He was driven out of the back of a police station at South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, and made no comment to waiting journalists but his lawyer, Henri Brandman, stressed his innocence.

Mr Brandman said: "Michael has not been charged with any offence. He is fully co-operating with the police in their enquiries. He categorically denies the allegations that have been made."

Mr Lubbock, from Harlow, Essex, had been one of a number of guests at a party the night before his body was discovered at Barrymore's house in 2001. Post-mortem results showed he had suffered severe internal injuries which suggested sexual assault. Ecstasy, cocaine and alcohol were found in his bloodstream.

A lengthy investigation was conducted but no-one was charged with any offence in relation to Mr Lubbock's death. Barrymore later accepted a police caution for drugs offences.

Essex police then reopened the inquiry in December 2006 after a review of the first investigation.

Detectives questioned Barrymore and the two other men - named by sources as Justin Merritt 32, from Harlow and Jonathan Kenny, 37, of Blackpool, Lancashire - on Thursday and Friday.

Police sources said Merritt has also been released on police bail without charge pending further enquiries. Kenny is understood to be in hospital after becoming ill during questioning.

© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2007, All Rights Reserved.

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