Officers investigating the indecent assault and murder of a man at the home of entertainer Michael Barrymore 20 years ago have arrested a 50-year-old man in Cheshire after “significant new information came to light”, Essex Police Detective Superintendent Lucy Morris said.
Stuart Lubbock, 31, was discovered in the TV presenter’s pool on 31 March 2001 after a party at his then home in Roydon, Essex.
Despite attempts to save him, Mr Lubbock later died in hospital.
Essex Police said on Wednesday morning that the man detained, who has not been named, was taken into custody for questioning.
The force said he was arrested “in connection with the indecent assault and murder of Stuart Lubbock”.
Mr Lubbock’s father Terry, 76, said: “There is just so much going on in my head. I can’t get my head around it. Of course I’m happy. Of course this is good news. But it’s been 20 years. This has nearly killed me.”
Harry Clichy, a friend of the Lubbock family, added: “I’m pleased. Of course this is progress. We can only hope it leads to justice for Stuart after all these years.”
Barrymore, now 68, was arrested over the death in 2007 and never charged.
He then sued Essex Police, claiming a wrongful arrest cost him about £2.5m in lost earnings, but Court of Appeal judges determined he should get nominal damages.
His former partner Jonathan Kenny and fellow party guest Justin Merritt were also arrested in 2007 on suspicion of sexual assault and murder, and were later released without charge.
In 2009, the police watchdog published the findings of a review of the investigation into Mr Lubbock’s death, concluding that officers missed crucial evidence and did not ensure vital forensic tests were completed until six years later.
Butcher Mr Lubbock was at the get-together with eight other people.
A post-mortem examination showed he had suffered severe internal injuries which suggested he had been sexually assaulted.
Alcohol, ecstasy and cocaine were found in his bloodstream.
Barrymore was criticised for leaving his home soon after Mr Lubbock was found floating in his outdoor pool.
The entertainer also said he could not jump in and try to save Mr Lubbock because he could not swim, a claim disputed by others who knew the star.
He also came under fire for failing to answer questions at Mr Lubbock’s inquest in 2002.
The coroner recorded an open verdict.
Barrymore – who became a household name for shows such as Strike It Lucky – has always denied involvement in the death.
His television career collapsed in the wake of the allegations, although he enjoyed a brief return to the spotlight during a stint on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006.
He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, last year saying: “I have had nothing to do with this whatsoever and yet I keep getting bashed and bullied by the media.”