The entertainer Michael Barrymore is to get “more than nominal damages” after claiming his wrongful arrest by police destroyed his career.
The 65-year-old was detained 10 years ago on suspicion of the rape and murder of Stuart Lubbock in Essex.
Mr Barrymore, who was not present for the High Court decision, values his claim at more than £2.4m.
Essex Police said there were still “unanswered” questions over Mr Lubbock’s death.
A figure for the damages to be paid to Mr Barrymore – whose real name is Michael Parker – is yet to be set.
- Stuart Lubbock’s body was found in the swimming pool after a party at Mr Barrymore’s home in Roydon, Essex, in 2001
- Drugs and alcohol had been consumed at the party
- A post-mortem examination later revealed Mr Lubbock had suffered serious internal injuries, indicating a sexual assualt
- In 2002, an open verdict was recorded at the inquest into his death
Mr Barrymore was arrested in 2007 in connection with the 31-year-old’s death.
Mr Justice Stuart-Smith, sitting in London on Friday, ruled against the force, which had argued Mr Barrymore should only receive a nominal payout.
The judge did not decide on the sum to be awarded, as his ruling dealt only with the preliminary issue of the level of damages to be awarded to Mr Barrymore.
The case centred on whether Essex Police had reasonable grounds to lawfully arrest Mr Barrymore.
While Mr Justice Stuart-Smith found there was “information available to the police that could have provided an arresting officer with reasonable grounds for a lawful arrest” the one officer with sufficient information to carry it out was not there at the time the entertainer was arrested.
That officer was stuck in traffic at the time, Essex Police said.
As a result, said Mr Justice Stuart-Smith, the arrest was unlawful and Mr Barrymore was therefore “entitled to recover more than nominal damages”.
During a previous hearing, a lawyer for Mr Barrymore told how the arrest had affected his client.
Hugh Tomlinson QC said Mr Barrymore, the former host of My Kind Of People and Strike it Lucky, was never charged with any offence and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) later made it “crystal clear” there was no basis for any charges.
He said Mr Barrymore remained convinced that Mr Lubbock’s injuries were not caused at his home but he did not know what happened.
He added: “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.”
In a statement issued after the High Court hearing, Essex Police said: “Today’s judgement must not overshadow the questions which are still unanswered for Mr Lubbock’s family and friends.
“Sixteen years on they still need to know what happened to Stuart on that night, how he was injured, and who is responsible for his death.
“A small number of people know the answers to those questions and over the years loyalties change and somebody may want to help us at this time.”