Fallen television personality Michael Barrymore has spoken of how he reached rock bottom and came close to killing himself after being branded a murderer after a man was found dead in his swimming pool.
The comedian said he felt he had been slowly murdered by the tabloid press and said that although it was too late to take action against the articles written about him, he is bringing cases for phone hacking.
"[The press] killed Michael Barrymore. My [real] name is Michael Parker, but Michael Barrymore is dead," he told The Independent.
Barrymore was an incredibly popular TV star in the 1990s
"Although I have been a couple of times to the jumping-off point, I didn't kill myself. If I had, it would have completed the story."
Ecstasy and cocaine were found in Stuart Lubbock's blood after he was found dead in the grounds of Barrymore's Essex mansion in March 2001.
But more scandalous were internal injuries suggesting the 31-year-old was the victim of a sexual assault before his death.
Barrymore said: "I never shy away from the fact that I'm an alcoholic and that I have had my problems, but I've never murdered anybody.
"I've never got up in the morning and thought I'll harm someone. I've just had an extraordinary sequence of events that have been on public display, that I've had no control over.
"It was just a party that went disastrously wrong, with a tragic ending. I've basically been framed for a murder - one that didn't take place."
Although the police seemed satisfied the entertainer had not been directly involved in Lubbock's death, the investigation, and an inquest which recorded an open verdict in 2002, destroyed his popularity.
Barrymore, whose life had already taken a downward spiral in the mid-90s after he announced he was gay and split from Cheryl, his manager and wife of 19 years, told the paper he thinks Rupert Murdoch's News International formed a "conspiracy" against him to destroy his career on Sky's rival channel, ITV.
He said: "What always amazes me is that you can sit down and plot the destruction of a human being and not think you're murdering them slowly, because effectively they tried to.
"They had their hands on my throat and... were trying to choke me."
The former Strike It Lucky star's career was already floundering amid tales of drug and alcohol abuse and in December last year he appeared in court where he admitted possessing cocaine.
The court heard he was addressing his issues by seeing a drugs worker, attending Alcoholics Anonymous and was receiving cognitive behavioural therapy.
Barrymore, who took part in Celebrity Big Brother in 2006, added: "I'm never not going to be an alcoholic and an addict, but I haven't got myself well to be in the corner living in pity.
"I'm just pleased that I've survived and that I have got a peaceful enough place to be able to deal with everything. It's got to the point where I can now sit in the ordinariness of a day.
"I don't have to be Michael Barrymore - he's dead. I don't have to do what I've been doing since I was eight, which is making people laugh to deflect things. It's the first time I've ever got to know me and I was 60 in May."
If you've been affected by the issues in this article, please call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.
Suggested For You
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more