Stagg hunt

I watched a programme last night about Colin Stagg, the guy who was wrongly charged with the murder of Rachel Nickell in 1992.

It was a BBC ‘Rough Justice’ special and told the story of how Stagg was ‘caught’ by the police after an elaborate ‘honeytrap’ set up by a criminal psychologist along with a rather over-zealous detective and a very creative undercover policewoman.

The case was thrown out of court after Stagg had spent 13 months on remand. The judge’s comments afterwards were very scathing indeed and accused the police officers involved of “excessive zeal” and “deceptive conduct of the grossest kind”.

Fortunately, the real muderer is now known – already an inmate of Broadmoor – if further proof was needed of Stagg’s total innocence. That case concluded yesterday with Robert Napper sentenced to be held indefinitely in Broadmoor.

Apart from the murder itself which was frenzied and sexually motivated and committed in front of Rachel’s two year old son, the most distressing thing about this case was how Stagg was hounded by a large proportion of the press long after the original case against him was thrown out of court and, as far as the police were concerned, was always ‘in the frame’ . Due to a desultory and rather dubious ‘flashing’ charge, Stagg was referred to as a ‘pervert’ periodically in the red tops and subject to all the usual lurid stories from people who professed to know him.

The reason Stagg found himself  the police’s chief suspect was due to the very new technique of psychological profiling which, once aimed his way and only his way, convinced the police that he was their man.

He fitted their profile almost perfectly.

During the programme facts emerged about Stagg both from the guy himself  as well as the film’s narrative – he was a body builder, he was into Wicca and interested in the occult, he was a loner, a virgin at 30 – which were used by the police to construct the case against him and convince them of his guilt.

He comes across as an articulate and literate guy, with certain idiosyncracies, who some people might find ‘odd’ – particularly back when he was arrested. However, nothing he said or did made him stand out in any significant way. We all have our ‘little ways, don’t we?

Stagg recently won compensation of £706 000 and received a very full apology from the Metroplitan Police. He’s also written two books about his experiences from which he still seems traumatised.

He should be allowed to now recede from the public gaze as much as he wants to and any slightest doubt about his innocence and any innuendo about his personal idiosyncracies should not be allowed to appear in print.

So, bang on cue, let’s hear it for the Daily Mail…

Yes, that pathetic, petty, pernicious rag has just run a story on him.

£706,000, an apology from the Met and Colin Stagg is still bitter

Well, wouldn’t you be?

The  whole story is strewn with little details that just come across as sniping at the guy.

Stagg’s first priority after the car is not to move upmarket, but to buy his grim council maisonette in Roehampton, a short walk from the murder scene.

He issued a statement of thanks for the ‘grovelling’ apology – and posed with a brand-new £27,000 Toyota Rav4 he bought himself as a ‘present’ with his compensation.

When police arrived there back in 1993, a sign on the door announced: ‘Christians keep away. A pagan lives here.’

Inside were books on witchcraft, an altar and a black-painted wall decorated with chalk drawings of horned gods. Pictures from pornographic magazines adorned other walls. Books on the occult are still on the shelves, but a 50-inch plasma TV now dominates the living room and a new flame effect fire adds a homely touch.

Stockier now than when he was arrested, Stagg added: ‘I never want to talk about the case again as long as I live.’

He is not quite as media-shy as he claims, however. He wrote a book about his experiences, has given interviews for cash – and has just spent months with a BBC film crew. But his girlfriend – for whom he has bought a new patio, and lavished presents on her children – insisted to the Daily Mail yesterday: ‘Colin just wants to get on with his life like a normal Joe Public.’

Miss Marchant confirmed that Stagg retained his interest in the occult, ‘but not in an evil way’ and said he was an extremely intelligent self-taught individual who ‘flies through the Times crossword’, but at heart is just ‘a normal regular guy’.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me getting irate at the Mail again, but I get the impression that the whole article begrudges him the money and looks down its nose at this ‘parvenu’. ‘He’s STILL bitter with all that money and look, how weird, he’s going to buy his grotty little flat but only after his new car and 50 inch plasma TV.’

All right, he’s made money speaking and writing about his experiences but it’s not as if he’s cashing in on any criminal activity and after being branded as a pervert and, through continual innuendo in the press over a period of many years, never allowed to get on with his life, how the hell else is he going to survive? A pervert and suspected murderer and rapist isn’t exactly employable, is he?

Speaking of money, the Mail rather conveniently neglects to mention that the undercover policewoman who took part in the honeytrap operation did all right out of the case. She received a pay out of £125 000 for ‘serious psychiatric injury’ – her solicitor’s words, not mine – due to the undercover work she carried out to trap Stagg, blaming her senior officers for this. It has to be said that the Rough Justice Special I saw suggested that she was very used to this sort of work…

Furthermore, the Mail story dredges up details – details that the police viewed as evidence of his guilt but were later shown to be totally irrelevant – that seem to combine to say, ‘OK, he’s innocent but he likes porn, has books about the occult and doesn’t welcome Christians, so he may not be a murderer but he’s still a bad person.’

Well, I’m not into porn, but I do have some books about the occult and I always tell Jehovah’s Witnesses, or any other religious group, who knock on my door to politely fuck off – so does that make me an ‘undesirable’ in the eyes of the Mail and its bovine readership?

I hope so.

Read the whole article here, and then tell me if that isn’t a squalid piece of hack journalism that speaks out of its smug, self-righteous middle class arse and fastens on every detail that reveals Stagg as not conforming to the paper’s own definition of a Mail reader…

Yet another mutual masturbation story from the Mail making its readers feel good about being such a narrow-minded and intolerant shower of tossers.


5 Responses

  1. You could usefully glimpse OPERATION CENTURY on the WIKIPEDIA – its been edited to smithereens by armies of fly-by-night over the top moderators but the basics are still there.

  2. There is also a blog link for OPERATION CENTURY – its relevant because Essex Police measured O C against the disgraceful undercover Stagg operation. the link is

  3. Fascinating stuff!

    I found this
    which has some interesting scans of newspaper articles and letters.
    I didn’t know anything about this – thank you kindly.

  4. I’m not the most computer literate mortal but if you open the link below you can find a reference to a review of the original OPERATION CENTURY report with details of how you can get a copy from me – you won’t find the actual review on the link just that it appeared and that the report exists and how to get the report – no sweat if you don’t want bother. The problem about whether the cops have learnt their lesson is confounded because there could be and no doubt are ops going on that simply never get discovered. Anyway the link

  5. Would like to update you – I have now posted the whole of my original OPERATION CENTURY report onto my earlier shorter blogspot documents section. I may re-write one section a little but not for a while – the same link >

    good wishes.

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