The police incited Colin Slagg to commit murder.
That is the important point which has been missed in
the fuss that has rightly been made over the police's
efforts to trap Stagg into confessing to the murder of
Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common two and a half
Stagg was released after a judge threw out the case
against him, refusing even to hear the police "evidence".
Essentially the police had no case except that Stagg - like
many thousands of others - seemed to fit a speculative
"psychological profile" of the killer.
In fact, it seems that the police were wrong even about
Stagg's psychology. But had their "profile" been correct
- if Stagg were a potential killer-— then what they did
to him might have spurred him on to go and murder a
woman, picked at random, exactly as Rachel Nickell was
What the police did amounted, in the circumstances, to
incitement to murder.
Thcy had a policewoman, "Lizzie James", who volun-
teered for the job, contact Staggand draw him into a cor-
respohdenee. She led the 31 year old virgin into a rela-
tionship heavy with sexual promise in which they wrote
to each other of their desires and fantasies.
She presented herself as a women whose sexual needs had
been most fulfilled when linked with activities by herself -
and a lover to "hurt people". Shc told him that she had
killed with a knife for sexual gratification. She repeated-
ly told the man who was by now naively-besotted with her
that she could only have a "relationship" with him if he
had had experiences of the same sort to share with her.
The idea was to get him to admit to killing Rachel
NiekelI. "James" even put it to him explicitly, that she dearly
wished that he was the man who raped and killed
He told her, apologetically, that he was not that man.
But he desperately wanted "Lizzie James", and there-
forc he desperately wanted to give her what she needed.
Thus the police goaded and egged on a man assessed by
the police psychologist— who was telling "Lizzie James”
what to write and say- of being Rachel Nickell's murderer, as being a man capable and desirous of doing such a deed.
Stagg responded to the pressure from "Lizzie James" not
by going out and butchering some poor-woman, but by
telling her the lie that he had done such a thing, long ago.
The police quickly established that no such murder as
Stagg described to "James" had taken place. So she told
she knew he had lied and began to put the pressure on
It seems that the police "psychological profile" of Stagg
was way off beam. He was more masochist than sadist;
more inclined to be dominated than to be dominating; and
he was not interested in the sort of sex that Rachel
Nickell's killer had forced on her. In other words, he was
not at all likely to behave as a man who was really of the
same psychological type as Nickell's killer might have
But what if the police had been right in their judgment
of Stagg's character? Then, under the relentless pressure
of the police provocateur who had captured his sexual
imagination, hc.might well have gone over the edge and
into a decision to act for his own gratification and that
of "Lizzie James". The police were guilty of incitement
This terrible example of what the police do came
to court before a conscientious judge, and he pulled the
police case down on their heads. In fact, though, the
police behave like this all the time.
They invent, concoct and plant "evidence" when it does
not exist Too often, they act as police, prosecutor and jury
all in one, and deliver the case to court all tied up with
manufactured evidence so that the end result is a foregone
Sometimes a case blows up in their faces, as the Colin
Stagg case did. Thousands of fabricated cases do get through
The innocent people in jail probably run into the thou-
sands. In recent years, the exposure of police methods in Irish
"political" cases such as that of the Birmingham Six and the
Guildford Four has brought deep discredit on the system
of justice in Britain.
What the police did in the Stagg case is what they do rou-
tinely, writ large, and in this case - if the police psychologist had
got it right about Stagg – possibily murderous.