I’m a lawyer. I don’t work in the criminal sphere, never have. but the treatment of those caught up in the criminal justice system, and the attitudes of the police tells you a lot about what kind of legal system you have. Over recent years I’ve banged on about various infringements of civil liberties – implemented by government increasing the powers of the police – typically at the request of the police (rather than appreciating that the role of parliament is at least in part is to act as a check on the powers the police want – in order to protect the individual). And this is partly about protecting general civil liberties, but also a reaction against how we have seen the police act within the powers they already have. And to see the police at its worst (post-PACE) you only need to look at the Rachel Nickell case.
So years after the police through a bizarre honey trap attempted to set up and frame Colin Stagg for the murder of Rachel Nickell , years after his acquittal with a case thrown out by a judge who recognised when police procedure stank to high heaven as they tried to entrap a lonely man flattered by female attention, years after the head of the Met refused to countenance the possibility that anyone other than Stagg was responsible (and consequently indicated that the case was not open) finally someone else has been convicted having pleaded admitted the murder.
Last year the excellent septicisle wrote a piece about the tabloid treatment of Stagg, based on the hacks swallowing the initial line from the Met – and their campaign of vilification led to the hounding of Stagg, his inability to get settled work, the attacks on him. I trust that as well as the apology he’s received from the Met today Stagg gets an apology from each of these newspapers. And perhaps those that reacted adversely to Stagg’s compensation for wrongful imprisonment earlier in the year now (and for septicisle on the news coverage see here) feel suitably chastened.