TELEVISION star Michael Barrymore is facing a police investigation into claims he lied to a coroner about the death of a man in his swimming pool.
Caroline Beasley-Murray, who presided over the inquest into the death of Stuart Lubbock, is examining allegations the entertainer perjured himself while giving evidence.
The presenter’s former wife Cheryl Barrymore has claimed the star could swim despite him telling the hearing into the death of 31-year-old Lubbock he could not.
She also alleges the entertainer had rubbed cocaine on the gums of other people as well as himself.
During the inquest Barrymore refused to answer questions about drug-taking allegations. He also denied rubbing cocaine into Lubbock’s gums or giving him Ecstasy.
At the conclusion of the inquest last week coroner Beasley-Murray recorded an open verdict and said what happened to Lubbock before he was found in the star’s swimming pool remained a mystery.
Lubbock, a meat factory worker from Harlow, Essex, died after going to a party at the house of the 50-year-old Strike It Lucky host in March last year.
Post-mortem examinations revealed he had alcohol and drugs, including Ecstasy and cocaine, in his system. He also suffered serious internal injuries that may have been caused by a sexual assault.
A close friend of Cheryl Barrymore yesterday told a national newspaper her friend had contacted lawyers representing the Lubbock family to tell them her claims.
"She could not stand by and do nothing after hearing Michael’s evidence, which she considered misleading.
"She said he had lied over swimming and she felt sorry for the Lubbock family. She wanted to help them if she could," the friend said.
An Essex Police spokesman said Beasley-Murray was looking at the allegations.
" She will consider the matter and will decide whether there’s anything she wishes to refer to the police for further inquiry," he said.
He also confirmed that Barrymore’s ex-wife had contacted Lubbock’s lawyers.
The Lubbock family is now considering bringing a civil action against Barrymore in connection with Lubbock’s death.
Barrymore had told the inquest he did not jump into his pool when he saw Lubbock floating in it because he could not swim.
But his former wife said Barrymore had been taught to swim by her mother and had frequently used the pool.
Barrymore was repeatedly quizzed at the inquest over claims he had smeared cocaine over Lubbock’s gums.
He denied that allegation and used a coroner’s court rule which protects witnesses from incriminating themselves in response to subsequent questions on what drugs had been available at the party.
Cheryl Barrymore reportedly told lawyers she herself had unwittingly been drugged by her former husband on two occasions during their 20-year marriage.
Lubbock had been among a group of men and women invited to Barrymore’s home after meeting the comedian at a club a short distance from the entertainer’s home in Roydon, Essex.
Police called to the house found cannabis and issued Barrymore with a caution for possession of the drug.
Barrymore’s barrister Michael Mansfield QC said yesterday he could not comment on reports his client had "lied" to the inquest held in Epping .
But he went on to attack the way the media had handled the hearing. He said: "I have been practising for 30 years and I have to say the situation has got completely out of hand in which witnesses approach the press or are approached by the press and in this particular instance one, at least one, was paid the sum of 30,000 prior to the inquest hearing itself, but it’s happening in other cases.
"It’s not only the payment of witnesses which runs the risk of tainting justice but also the way the proceedings are reported.
"Once again there has been inaccuracy and there has been gross unfairness in relation to the evidence that was given.
"That impedes the coroner, who conducted it fairly, it impedes the witnesses because they’re reading what in fact has not been said according to the headlines," he told Radio 4’s Today programme.
The scandal means Barrymore could have difficulties securing further television work.
An ITV spokesman said his situation would be monitored, but he will not be seen for months to come.
"We will review the situation in due course but it’s clearly inappropriate for us to comment any further at this stage," he said.