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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 17:19 GMT
Stagg storms out of 'Cracker' hearing
Colin Stagg arrives for the hearing
Colin Stagg wrote the book 'Who Really Killed Rachel'
The man acquitted of murdering Rachel Nickell stormed out of a disciplinary hearing on the criminal psychologist who helped police bring him to court.

Colin Stagg of Roehampton, west London, left the British Psychological Society inquiry after proceedings were delayed for more than an hour.

The three man committee will consider whether Paul Britton - dubbed the real life Cracker - was guilty of professional misconduct in advising murder squad detectives on the Nickell case.

Miss Nickell, 23, was stabbed to death in front of her son on London's Wimbledon Common in 1992. She suffered 49 knife wounds.

Paul Britton arrives for the hearing
Paul Britton denies any wrongdoing

Mr Stagg was charged with the murder but cleared in 1994 when the evidence against him was ruled inadmissible.

The judge in the case described the police operation as "wholly reprehensible".

Since then, Mr Stagg has fought an eight-year campaign for Mr Britton to face a disciplinary hearing over his alleged misconduct.

He also co-wrote a book in 1999 with David Kessler called Who Really Killed Rachel.

He had waited for the hearing to begin at the society's offices in central London, but he stormed out and bumped into Mr Britton on the stairs as he left, calling the criminal psychologist a "pervert".

Rachel Nickell
Rachel Nickell: Stabbed to death in front of her son

He then walked off, pursued by TV cameras and photographers.

Mr Britton, a forensic psychologist for 20 years who is based in Leicestershire, said after clashing with Mr Stagg: "I'm very unhappy about what's happened.

"It's not the sort of thing that should have happened and I'm considering whether or not to make a complaint."

Mr Britton's role in numerous high-profile murder cases led to him being dubbed Cracker after the fictional crime TV series featuring Robbie Coltrane.

Honey trap

The preliminary hearing, which is due to finish on Thursday, will decide whether full disciplinary proceedings can be brought against Mr Britton.

It is claimed his part in the police investigation led detectives to using a now discredited "honey trap" ploy.

In the case he conducted a "sexual fantasy analysis" of the offender and concluded that the chief suspect, Mr Stagg, and the killer of Rachel Nickell shared the same "sexually deviant based personality disturbance".

The collapse of the case against Mr Stagg and his complaint over Mr Britton's involvement in the investigation has since called into question the credibility of so-called Cracker psychologists and offender profiling.

Exceptional delay

Also, the WPc who wrote to Mr Stagg during the undercover operation later received 125,000 in compensation from the Metropolitan Police for stress suffered during the investigation.

If proceedings are brought and he is found guilty, Mr Britton could be struck off. He denies any wrongdoing.

Keir Starmer QC, representing Mr Britton, told the hearing the "exceptional" delay of more than eight years since the first complaint was made would mean his client could not get a fair hearing.

The hearing was adjourned until Wednesday.

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