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Wednesday, 30 October, 2002, 17:04 GMT
'Cracker' misconduct charge dropped
Paul Britton
Paul Britton: The real-life Cracker
All charges of professional misconduct against Britain's leading forensic psychologist have been dismissed.

Paul Britton, 56, often described as the real-life version of television's Cracker, faced seven charges of misconduct after the Metropolitan Police asked for his help in catching the killer of Rachel Nickell.


Here today is a good day for me, but every day is still a bad day for the Nickell family

Paul Britton

But after a two-day hearing, the British Psychological Society disciplinary committee concluded Mr Britton's work on the 1992 murder inquiry could not be properly investigated.

The committee ruled he could not get a fair hearing.

After the case was dismissed, Mr Britton, from Leicestershire, said he was considering legal action against the society, from which he resigned in 1999.

Ex-model Rachel Nickell, 23, was murdered on Wimbledon Common, south west London, while out walking with her two-year-old son Alex.

She was stabbed 49 times and sexually assaulted. The killer is still at large.

Myth

In 1993 Colin Stagg became the chief suspect.

But the case against him collapsed in 1994 when the main plank of the prosecution's case - an exchange of letters with a policewoman posing as a pen-pal - was ruled inadmissible.

Rachel Nickell
Rachel Nickell was stabbed to death in front of her son
The policewoman, who was given the pseudonym Lizzie James in court, had encouraged Mr Stagg to swap violent fantasies in an effort to get him to admit to the crime.

Mr Britton, who helped in the Fred West and James Bulger murder inquiries and is still used as an expert witness in trials, concluded Mr Stagg had the same "sexually deviant-based personality disorder" as the killer during the original investigation.

But he has always denied being responsible for the mistakes which led to the case being thrown out by an Old Bailey judge.

After the hearing on Wednesday, Mr Britton said a myth had been created around his role in the murder inquiry.

He said: "I have been a very frustrated man for eight years.

"Here today is a good day for me, but every day is still a bad day for the Nickell family. A huge steel door dropped down on their lives.

Colin Stagg
Colin Stagg stormed out of the hearing
"I can move forward from this. I'm not sure the Nickell family can. Nothing can put right what happened to them."

The disciplinary hearing was told Mr Britton allegedly "pulled the strings" while helping the police investigation.

The committee heard he was "totally discredited" after the case and had broken BPS rules.

Mr Britton denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Stagg, who originally complained in 1994, stormed out of the hearing on Tuesday after a delay in the proceedings.


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31 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
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