Ex-EastEnder actress headless body recovered in London East canal

    Gemma: Friends and family members anxious to know fate of actress

    The headless body of a woman  discovered in an East London canal is assumed by the Police to be that of an EastEnders actress who was declared missing a week ago.

    Police hunting for missing Gemma McCluskie  pulled out  the body for proper examination while intensifying their search for more lead.

    A 35-year old man, understood to her brother, Tony McCluskie, has been arrested.

    Miss McCluskie, 29, who played Kerry Skinner in the television soap opera, has been missing for a week.

    Mr McCluskie’s Facebook profile picture was last night set to a ‘missing’ poster of his sister with the words: “Has anyone seen or heard from Gemma McCluskie. She has been missing since Thursday 1st March. Someone must know something. The smallest detail could be important.”

    It urged those with information to contact him or his brother Danny, 33.

    The limbless female body was discovered shortly before 3pm on Tuesday afternoon after police were called to Regent’s Canal near Broadway Market, east London.

    The body was recovered by divers from the Metropolitan Police’s Marine Support Unit, who made further searches of the canal. Flowers were laid at the scene.

    A murder investigation has been launched by the Homicide and Serious Crime Command. A post-mortem was due to take place yesterday.

    Mr McCluskie had earlier told reporters that his sister’s disappearance was “completely” out of character and she had never been missing before.

    He said: “She is a bubbly, outgoing, strong and independent woman.”

    He said he last saw his sister at home in Bethnal Green, east London, last Thursday afternoon.

    He said she was wearing a mustard coloured top, blue leggings, dark brown Ugg boots and large sunglasses. She is also believed to have had her small Louis Vuitton handbag with her.

    Her younger brother, Danny, said: “We are all going out of our mind with worry.

    “Her phone has been switched off since Thursday afternoon. We’ve not heard from her.”

    A police spokesman said: “At this early stage officers believe they know the identity of the victim but must await further forensic tests before formal identification can take place.

    “Police were initially contacted by a member of the public who had noticed something suspicious floating in the water.

    “A 35-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the inquiry. He remains in custody at an east London police station.”

    The discovery came after police expressed “extreme concern” for Miss McCluskie’s welfare.

    This week hundreds of locals turned out to help search for Miss McCluskie, who is single and appeared in thirty episodes of the BBC serial drama in 2001 as the niece of Ethel Skinner.

    Fellow actresses Natalie Cassidy and Brooke Kinsella issued appeals for help on Twitter.

    Miss Kinsella, whose brother Ben was murdered in 2008, wrote: “Gemma McCluskie has been MISSING from Bethnal Green since Thursday please get in touch if you have seen her”.


    Matthew Holehouse

    By , and Mark Hughes, Telegraph

    6:05PM GMT 07 Mar 2012