By James Simons-
Michael Barrymore may be up for over £2.5m damages, after a judge quashed an appeal by Essex Police against Michael Barrymore’s claim to “more than nominal” damages over his wrongful arrest.
Mr Barrymore was arrested in 2007 over the death of Stuart Lubbock found in the swimming pool of the presenter’s Roydon home after a 2001 party. The British comedian says the arrest ruined his career and is asking for huge damages in compensation. At the High Court on Wednesday , Mr Justice Stuart-Smith ruled in favour of the comedian to uphold the ruling Mr Barrymore was entitled to substantial compensation.
The basis of the ruling is that Barrymore’s arrest was unlawful, but a judge had earlier said that a police officer had information that would have rendered the arrest lawful. The problem , according to the judge is that the officer in question was not present. That argument appears extremely weak because the legality of an arrest cannot depend on who executes that arrest. The fact the arresting officer did not have reasonable grounds to suspect Barrymore’s guilt carries little weight if another officer had reasonable grounds to suspect his guilt.
Hugh Tomlinson QC said at an earlier hearing in the year that Mr Barrymore was never charged with any offence, and the Crown Prosecution Service made it “crystal clear” that there was no basis for any charges. However, the issue in relation to whether an arrest is reasonable is whether there are ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect guilt.
Tomlison QC at the time said: “This arrest was made without any proper evidential foundation.
“However, the fact that it had happened, and the worldwide publicity it received, destroyed the claimant’s career.”
Mr Lubbock’s body was found in the pool following a party where drugs and alcohol were consumed. Barrymore insisted the injuries were not sustained in his home, but was believed to be withholding crucial information about what may have transpired that fateful night.
A post-mortem examination later revealed that he had suffered serious anal injuries.
In 2002, an open verdict was recorded at the inquest into his death, and Mr Barrymore later lost the lucrative contract he has held with ITV. Barrymore was one of the funniest and most loved comedians in the UK.