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Sunday, 15 September, 2002, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
BBC defends Barrymore book deal
Michael Barrymore leaves the inquest on Thursday
The BBC is due to publish a book by Barrymore next month
The BBC has defended its decision to go ahead with the publication of an autobiography by TV entertainer Michael Barrymore in October.

The book includes a chapter on the death of Stuart Lubbock at an impromptu party held at Mr Barrymore's house on 31 March 2001.

An inquest recorded an open verdict on Mr Lubbock's death on Friday, in a court hearing which provoked a tabloid frenzy after Mr Barrymore refused to answer questions on drug taking at the party.


No-one would wish to cause any more distress [but] the decision to include [Mr Lubbock's death] in the book hasn't been taken lightly by him or the publisher

BBC spokesman
A BBC spokesman said nothing would be disclosed in the book that had not already been revealed to the police or coroner's court, but that the account should be "warts and all".

Meanwhile, tabloid editors have defended their coverage of the inquest after criticism of chequebook journalism and misrepresentation from Barrymore's lawyer.

The book, for which it is understood Mr Barrymore will be paid 500,000, was commissioned in September 2000 and will be called Running Away From Myself.

It has been billed as a frank account of the 50-year-old's meteoric rise as host of TV shows Strike It Lucky and My Kind of Music and his more recent turbulent personal life.

'Distress'

The publishers - BBC Worldwide, an independent arm of the association - are understood to have reconsidered releasing the book after the death of Mr Lubbock.

But a BBC spokesman said they had decided to go ahead and include details about the death already made known to authorities.

"This [book] has been public knowledge since September 2000 when BBC Worldwide acquired the rights to the biography," the spokesman said.

Michael Mansfield QC
Mansfield: 'Tabloids don't care'
"It's part of a set of celebrity biographies.

"Ultimately, [Mr Barrymore] is still a popular public entertainer.

"As a figure, there will be a big call from himself for his story. He's been through a lot in the last 12 months.

"No-one would wish to cause any more distress [but] the decision to include [Mr Lubbock's death] in the book hasn't been taken lightly by him or the publisher.

"If he's going to tell his story, it's got to be warts and all," the spokesman said.

He added that no licence fee funds were used to acquire the book.

'Matter of taste'

"BBC Worldwide is a commercial subsidiary of the BBC but it operates separately and at arm's length from the corporation. Licence fee income is never used to fund commercial activities," he said.

Tabloid newspaper editors have responded to criticism from Mr Barrymore's lawyer over their conduct during the inquest into the death of Mr Lubbock.

Michael Mansfield QC accused sections of the press of misreporting the evidence presented at the hearing.


Maybe Mr Mansfield doesn't like the headlines but I think in the end the millions of people who read tabloid newspapers will draw their own conclusions

Bob Satchwell, Society of Editors
And he said the practice of cheque-book journalism ran the risk of prejudicing statements given by witnesses.

"Something has to change," he said.

"I've been in the job for 30 years and it's worse now than it's ever been, because the tabloids have vast sums of money and resources, and I think they don't really care."

But Bob Satchwell, from the Society of Editors, defended the way the case had been reported.

"My reading of the papers and watching television and listening to the radio is that all of the facts that have come out are similar," he said.

"Maybe Mr Mansfield doesn't like the headlines - that's perhaps a matter of taste rather than anything else - but I think in the end the millions of people who read tabloid newspapers will draw their own conclusions."

See also:

13 Sep 02 | England
13 Sep 02 | Entertainment
13 Sep 02 | England
12 Sep 02 | England
12 Sep 02 | England
14 Sep 02 | England
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