Yates hits out at `scurrilous' reports linking Hutchence death to sex game

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The Independent Online
A post-mortem examination will be carried out today on the body of Michael Hutchence. Although shocked by the apparent suicide, his lover Paula Yates is outraged by suggestions that he died during sexual experimentation, reports Ian Burrell.

"I condemn the scurrilous and grossly irresponsible speculation and fiction trailed as fact in some tabloids today that `kinky sex' led to Michael's tragic death," said Paula Yates in a statement yesterday. "There is no evidence whatsoever to support this."

The television presenter arrived this morning in Sydney, where Mr Hutchence was found hanging by a belt from the door in his hotel room.

Because there was no suicide note, and because Mr Hutchence had recently told friends that he had "never been happier in my life", several tabloids concluded yesterday that he must have died from "kinky sex", or, specifically, the practice of auto-erotic asphyxia. But Ms Yates's statement, which was read for her by her lawyer, Anthony Burton, was supported by police sources in Sydney.

Detectives investigating the death at the Ritz-Carlton hotel found anti- depressant tablets, prescribed by a doctor, scattered on the floor, along with empty bottles of alcohol.

Asked about the possibility that the death may have been related to a sex game, one of the investigating team said: "We have prepared a brief for the coroner, setting out the facts and telling the story, and from the information we have, that would be wrong. There is nothing to suggest that."

Police were waiting to speak to Ms Yates, who is with her 16-month-old daughter by Hutchence, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily. The INXS singer was reported to be upset by a telephone conservation he had with Ms Yates on Friday when they reportedly talked about a High Court hearing concerning legal disputes ongoing from the break up of her marriage to rock star Bob Geldof, from whom she is divorced. Hutchence and Ms Yates had apparently been planning to move to Australia.

The results of a post-mortem examination on Mr Hutchence's body are expected today and an inquest will be held in the next few months.

Ms Yates was due to marry the INXS singer in January on the South Seas island of Bora Bora.

Yesterday, outside the Sydney hotel, fans in INXS T-shirts left flowers, burning candles and written tributes. "Michael, you touched everyone with your vitality," read one. "You will always be missed by many people. Rest in peace, you beautiful man."

The singer flew to Sydney on Wednesday to begin the Australian stage of a world tour to celebrate the group's 20th anniversary. Last month he described himself in an interview as "the luckiest man alive".

But Mr Hutchence was known to be dogged by self-doubt about the band's future and by his complicated relationship with Ms Yates. He was said to be "torn apart" when told Ms Yates was unable to fly out to meet him this weekend.

Detectives were yesterdaydue to question Mr Hutchence's former girlfriend, Kym Wilson, an Australian actress, and her boyfriend, who were with the star at his hotel on the evening before his death.

Earlier, Mr Hutchence had a meal with his father, Kell, a Sydney businessman, at a restaurant in the city.