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EDITIONS
Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 19:19 GMT 20:19 UK
Barrymore silent on drug questions
Michael Barrymore leaves the inquest on Thursday
Michael Barrymore gave lengthy evidence
Television entertainer Michael Barrymore has refused to answer questions about drug taking at an inquest into the death of a man found floating in his swimming pool.

On Thursday the hearing was also told the 50-year-old star allegedly rubbed his finger in cocaine and put it on Stuart Lubbock's gums at his house in Roydon, Essex, in the early hours of 31 March last year.

Mr Lubbock, 31, was later found face down in the pool.


There the nightmare began

Michael Barrymore
on seeing Mr Lubbock in the pool
Post-mortem examinations showed he had a combination of alcohol and drugs, including cocaine, in his system.

When he was asked by Essex and Thurrock coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray about the drug allegation, Mr Barrymore stated: "I'm not prepared to answer that question."

Mrs Beasley-Murray then asked: "Did you see him [Stuart Lubbock] at any other time while he was in your house take drugs?"

Mr Barrymore replied: "I'm not prepared to answer that question."

The coroner accepted the star was allowed to take advantage of "rule 22" and not answer potentially incriminating questions.

Cocaine

Pressed on whether he was aware that police had found evidence of cocaine in his house, Mr Barrymore replied: "I am not prepared to answer that question."

He denied rubbing cocaine into Mr Lubbock's gums.

Questioned by his own lawyer, Michael Mansfield QC, the star denied giving ecstasy to the victim.

Justin Merritt
Justin Merritt made drugs allegations

But asked about injuries suffered by Mr Lubbock, Mr Barrymore said: "It couldn't have happened at that house. Absolutely no way."

Looking tired, and speaking mostly in a low, monotonous voice, the presenter frequently asked for complicated questions to be repeated and clarified.

Explaining why he had allowed "an impromptu party" to go on at his house after he had been to a nightclub, Mr Barrymore said: "I wasn't feeling that great. Not long been out of a divorce, my mum wasn't well.

"[I wanted to] carry on the mood. By that time I had had a fair bit to drink."

The victim looked "happy" the last time Mr Barrymore saw him, the star maintained.

'No screams'

"Stuart was enjoying himself. He was walking towards the jacuzzi, where there was other people. The next time I saw him he was in the pool."

He added: "From there the nightmare began."

But he attempted to play down the picture of the scene painted by the press.

Stuart Lubbock
Mr Lubbock had taken ecstasy

"No screams were coming - as the press reported it - from the house of horror - as the press reported it."

Outside the hearing his solicitor, David Corker, said the entertainer had prepared a statement about what he viewed as the "misleading" headlines and misreporting of the expert pathology evidence on Tuesday.

At Mr Barrymore's request he had written to the Attorney General about the reporting of the inquest.

After highlighting three examples of what he considered to be inaccurate articles, Mr Corker said: "Misreporting doesn't help anyone and doesn't help get to the truth of this inquest."

Earlier, Kylie Merritt, who was at the party, said Mr Barrymore offered guests cocaine.

Newspaper deal

She wept as she told the inquest she saw Mr Barrymore put cocaine on his finger and rub it on Mr Lubbock's gums against his will.

Mr Mansfield said witness Justin Merritt had not revealed to police that Mr Barrymore had rubbed cocaine on Mr Lubbock's gums.

Mr Merritt said he had remembered the full details of the episode some time after police interviews, but admitted he had later agreed a 30,000 deal with The News of the World.

The inquest heard that although Mr Merritt had not mentioned the incident to police in his statements, he had told them he saw Mr Barrymore "wiggling" his finger in Mr Lubbock's mouth.

The hearing was adjourned until Friday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sangita Myska
"When asked if he had forced Mr Lubbock to take drugs, he said no"
The BBC's Nick Thatcher
"Barrymore insists he had not met Mr Lubbock before that evening"

Click here to go to Essex
See also:

12 Sep 02 | England
11 Sep 02 | England
10 Sep 02 | England
09 Sep 02 | England
20 Nov 01 | Entertainment
30 Oct 01 | Entertainment
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