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Janette Clucas reports for BBC News
Janette Clucas reports: "1 in 10 of such cases are outstanding"
 real 56k

Monday, 19 March, 2001, 11:43 GMT
Rachel Nickell officer 'to get pay-out'
Rachel Nickell
Rachel Nickell: Stabbed to death in front of her son
A policewoman who controversially befriended the main suspect in the Rachel Nickell murder case may get 200,000 in compensation for stress, according to reports.

The 33-year-old undercover officer - known only by her cover name of Lizzie James - befriended Colin Stagg after he was identified as a suspect in the 1992 killing.

Miss Nickell, 23, was stabbed to death on London's Wimbledon Common after receiving 49 knife wounds in an attack witnessed by her two-year-old son, Alex.

Mr Stagg was acquitted of the murder in 1994 and the trial judge refused to allow evidence from Lizzie James, saying police had engaged in "deceptive conduct".

Colin Stagg
Colin Stagg: Acquitted of murder
The undercover officer later said she had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and claimed the Metropolitan Police failed to support her after the investigation.

She was off work with stress for 18 months and took early retirement in June 1998.

Her relationship with Stagg was said to have left her traumatised and she was backed by the Police Federation when she launched a legal action against the Met two years ago.

'Not enough support'

A High Court hearing is due next month but The Daily Mail has reported that police chiefs have offered 200,000 to settle the case out of court.

According to the newspaper, the Met conceded that not enough emotional support was given to the undercover officer after her work with Mr Stagg.

A Metropolitan Police Authority spokesman told the newspaper: "It is now accepted that more should have been done to help this officer in the aftermath of the Stagg operation.

"It was a particularly dangerous assignment, yet afterwards she had little or no psychological support.

"The psychological report states that the Stagg operation had a devastating impact on her."

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