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Michael Barrymore was one of the best-known TV presenters in the UK when the body of Stuart Lubbock was found in his swimming pool on 31 March, 2001.
Six years later, he was arrested in connection with the death of Stuart at his then-home in Roydon, Essex following a party, and later released without charge.
But by then, ITV had terminated Michael's lucrative contract, and the presenter, now 71, had lost the TV career he loved. He then emigrated to New Zealand to live with his partner, Shaun Davis.
Now Michael has hit back at his former employer for its "terrible" treatment of him. He told the Daily Star: “It’s strange that companies don’t employ innocent people. Maybe you have to be guilty to get a job in TV, I don’t know. From my experience they don’t employ innocent people.
“It’s unfair, of course. It’s terrible. You’re supposed to support people. You’re supposed to support the people that work for you. You’re supposed to be caring.”
He continued: “The amount of confidence you need to work the way I did at my peak was phenomenal and that took years to build up.
"When everything went my confidence was completely smashed. It has taken me 22 years to get that back.”
Yesterday he told the publication how he felt "back to my best after 20 years of misery", in his first interview in years. He said he was "probably the fittest I've been" as well as "the happiest I've ever been".
Michael was best known for presenting shows for ITV including Strike It Lucky, My Kind Of People, My Kind Of Music and Kids Say The Funniest Things from the 1980s through to 2001.
He made several small TV comebacks, including on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006 and as a guest presenter on Channel 4's The Friday Night Project in 2006, but continued to experience negative publicity.
In 2014, he told the Jeremy Kyle show he'd tried to end his life, saying: "I've been taken off to the hospital a couple of times. Too many pills, just chuck a load in my mouth. I think that was a cry for help."
And in 2019 he was interviewed by Piers Morgan for his Life Stories series. Recalling the events of 2001, he said: “That family deserves proper answers. No parent should have to bury their young.
“I had nothing to do with Stuart. I am innocent. I am not 99.9% innocent. I am 100% innocent.”
The same year, it was announced he'd appear on 2020's Dancing On Ice, but was later forced to quit after breaking his wrist in a fall.
At the time, Michael said he was “absolutely devastated”.
In 2020, he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain he was going through “pain and agony” following a Channel 4’s programme Barrymore: The Body In The Pool, calling it “vile and vicious”.
Asked on the show if he had anything fresh to offer the police, he said: “I honestly wish I did”, adding that he had been “through 20 years of Hell”.
He continued: “I’ve got nothing to hide. I’ve never had anything to hide. I’ve got every right to go out and be employed.
“I’ve got every right to go out and to be employed and work in the business I’ve worked in without … being kicked in the teeth just because I’m back on the telly.”
He said Mr Lubbock’s father Terry’s torment “comes before me and everybody” but added: “I can’t live my life. I can’t get on with my life.”
He went on: “How many times am I supposed to be kicked? How many times am I supposed to take it?” but added: “I’m not looking for sympathy.”
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