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Thursday, December 18, 2008 

Callous, mercenary and unfeeling scum.

At long last, Colin Stagg has finally received what he always wanted: an apology from the Metropolitan police for their twisted and cowardly pursuit of him. Convinced that he was the killer of Rachel Nickell, mainly because he fitted the psychological profile drawn up by Paul Britton, they took advantage of a vulnerable, lonely sexually inadequate man and attempted, through what Mr Justice Ognall described as "positive and deceptive conduct of the grossest kind" to get him to incriminate himself. Despite their complete failure to get him to do that, with Stagg in actuality denying repeatedly that he had killed Nickell to "Lizzie James", the Met's undercover officer, he was still charged with murder and held on remand for 13 months.

This is not just a story about a miscarriage of justice, of police incompetence and arrogance, although that is there in abundance, it's also a damning indictment of the vast majority of the press in this country. Through open collusion in some cases with the police, they too decided that Colin Stagg was Rachel Nickell's killer, despite the complete lack of evidence. Instead they focused on the fact Stagg was "weird", that he had a couple of books on the occult, that one of his rooms was painted black, that he had "paper knives". They salivated at how he had been found guilty of indecent exposure, despite the fact it had happened at a known part of Wimbledon Common where nudists sunbathed as the result of a misunderstanding, meaning they had an excuse to call him a "pervert", that catch-all term which instantly damns anyone in the tabloid press to instant penury. Most of all, they believed the police themselves, so certain were they of Stagg's guilt, the back-scratching which at the time went on as one journalist freely admitted, resulting in the sort of witch-hunt more associated these days with when social services fail to save the life of a child.

Right up until Robert Napper was charged with Nickell's murder, with him today pleading guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, they hounded Stagg with a vehemence which ought to shock us, but which doesn't because we're so used to the denizens of the tabloid press demonising and smearing individuals even before they have been convicted of any crime. The Daily Mail was one of the biggest culprits, year after year featuring the familiar hatchet job articles about how Stagg had evaded justice through a technicality, on how he couldn't be tried again if new evidence emerged because of the double jeopardy rules, since changed by New Labour, featuring the demands of Nickell's grieving relatives, and then the serialisation of the open profiteering by Keith Pedder, the officer in charge of the original investigation, who wrote at least two books about how Stagg had got away with murder. The People republished the letters which Stagg exchanged with Lizzie James, sexually explicit as Stagg hoped to appeal to the officer who was the first to suggest pain and humiliation, upping the ante each time. As the BBC special Innocent: The Colin Stagg Story just made clear, James' claims got ever more ridiculous, including that she had been groomed by a Satanic-type group that eventually resulted in group sex and the sacrifice of a woman and child, but Stagg, desperate to lose his virginity, kept going along with it, a woman for the first time showing interest in him. That epitome of tabloid television, the Cook Report, was similarly determined that Stagg was guilty, ignoring a lie detector test that he took that showed he was telling the truth, instead demanding he take a "truth drug" as well. When he refused, it obviously proved that he was the murderer after all.

Let's not pretend though that Stagg was the only victim of the media frenzy which has continued to this day. What had started as the media helping to find the person responsible for a horrifically violent and shocking crime became instead a story that sells newspapers: the continuing tragedy of the beautiful murdered part-time model, further sentimentalised through the son that had clinged to her, even putting a piece of paper on her almost severed head, apparently as a makeshift plaster. Whereas in some cases the victim and the media join forces, in this instance it instead appears that the contact between Nickell's relatives and gutter press was always grudging. In a statement read to the court, Nickell's father Andrew gives some insight into what they went through:

The next loss is your anonymity. Your life is trampled on by the media. You are gawked at in supermarkets. You are avoided by so-called friends who think some bad luck will rub off on them.

...

You become ever more wary of strangers. You reveal nothing because they might be media or have contacts with the media. Copies of your phone bills are obtained and friends abroad ring up to try to discover where your grandson lives.

...

Every day Rachel's name is mentioned, her photograph published or her home videos shown, everything comes flooding back.

In a further statement outside the court, although also thanking the media for their continued interest, Andrew Nickell also requested that after today the media stop republishing her photograph or using the wearingly familiar home videos, one that seems unlikely to be granted.

As also alluded to in the court statement, Rachel's partner also became deeply disillusioned with the persistent media attention, taking their son and going to live in France partially as a result. Writing in 1996, he described the media in the following terms:

Callous, mercenary and unfeeling scum ... you've got people on your doorstep every day, people following you around in cars taking pictures of you, people peeping over fences and Rachel's face appearing in the paper every day with any tenuous link ... it's one of those stories that's become part of British culture."

Almost unbelievably, despite knowing full well that Andre Hanscombe left the country to try to get his son away from the consistent media attention, the Sun recently published a photograph of Alex obtained while he was walking his dog. His feelings and those of his relatives have always played second fiddle to the story itself, and the media's own profit from it.

How then has the media itself so far responded to today's events? Has it, like the Metropolitan police, got down on its knees and begged forgiveness from Colin Stagg for helping to ruin his life, making him unemployable, vilified, insulted, attacked, spat on? Of course not; doing that might hint towards their own fallibility, and besides, it might set a precedent. Only when ordered to by the courts or forced to by the Press Complaints Commission do the tabloids say they got it wrong. No, instead they've now got a new story: the Met's incompetence and their failure to catch Napper before he killed again. This is a story they've known about for years, and one which a truly investigative media might have pieced together themselves. Indeed, they almost did. The Daily Mail, chief amongst Stagg's tormentors, even splashed the day after Napper was convicted of the murders of Samantha Bissett and her daughter Jazmine with the headline "DID HE KILL RACHEL TOO?" Yes, as it turns out, but they instead turned their attention back to Stagg and their belief that he was the guilty party. It was left to Paul Foot in Private Eye, who always believed Stagg's innocence, to link more clearly Napper to Nickell. In fairness, both Pedder and Britton dismissed the similarities, Britton writing in his book "The Jigsaw Man" that it "was a completely different scenario", despite the extreme violence in each case and the child being present, even if Nickell's son was not killed as Bissett's daughter was. Britton, like the media, seems completely remorseless about how his profile destroyed Stagg and also resulted in the real killer escaping justice for almost two decades.

Amidst all the screams about the "SEVEN blunders that let Rachel Nickell madman kill and kill again", the real story here is of the media's abject failure both to hold the police to account themselves and also to investigate the other possibilities. By coincidence, two other miscarriages of justice were also resolved today. Suzanne Holdsworth, found guilty at her first trial of the murder of a two-year-old boy in her care, was cleared, partially as a result of an investigation by John Sweeney for Newsnight, the second miscarriage of justice he has been involved in resolving, while Barri White, convicted at his first trial of the murder of his girlfriend Rachel Manning, was also cleared of any involvement in her death. His case was featured on the BBC programme Rough Justice, as well as appearing in the back pages of Private Eye. In both of these cases it was the media so loathed by the gutter press that helped to prove their innocence. The really sad thing is that they might be the last of their kind: Rough Justice has been cancelled while Newsnight's resources are being continually slashed. The so-called popular media, the one which is supposed to give the people what they want, which in Paul Dacre's words will cease to exist if it cannot report on scandal, cannot or refuses to report on the real scandals. Wedded to churnalism and journalism which is cheap, fast and easy to produce, they claim to be the voice of the people while repeatedly failing them. If the tabloids and those who produce them have any conscience, they too tomorrow will apologise to Colin Stagg. Instead they'll already be on to the next nearest scapegoat.

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Littlejohn is today claiming that he always knew Stagg was innocent, words fail etc

Just seen the Mail website about Stagg.
Awful paper , awful article, the witchunters continue.
Stagg needs an apology on the Front page of this paper from the Editor and Owners

Colin was clearly innocent, but the way that the establishment went after him, via their whores the police, suggests to me that somone was invovled in this murder who needed to be protected.

Personally I have my doubts about the reclusive boyfriend.

In both the Dutroux case and the Madelaine McCann case, clearly elites were protected. Our masters are into all manner of weirdness, including Satanism of course, and cases like this highlight that.

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