Man cleared of Nickell killing calls psychologist 'a pervert'

By Jason Bennetto,Crime Correspondent
Wednesday 30 October 2002 01:00

The man cleared of murdering Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common was involved in a public clash with one of the country's best known criminal profilers yesterday.

Colin Stagg stormed out of a disciplinary hearing into the work of Paul Britton, barging past the criminal psychologist and calling him a "pervert".

The confrontation came on the first day of the hearing which is looking at claims that Mr Britton acted unprofessionally during the 1992 murder inquiry. The preliminary hearing before the disciplinary committee of the British Psychological Society (BPS) is part of a long dispute between Mr Stagg and Mr Britton. The criminal profiler was criticised by other psychologists for his part in a "honey-trap" scheme in which an undercover policewoman wrote to Mr Stagg, the chief murder suspect, encouraging him to swap sado-masochistic fantasies. Mr Britton helped write the letters.

Mr Stagg claims the psychologist ruined his life and did not carry out his duties in a proper and scientific manner. At the Old Bailey in 1994, the judge threw out the evidence and cleared Mr Stagg of stabbing Ms Nickell, a former model, 49 times in front of her two-year-old son, Alex.

The hearing is to decide whether Mr Britton should go before a full disciplinary panel next year. But before the session could begin Mr Stagg became frustrated by delays and left the room, pushing past Mr Britton. Afterwards, Mr Britton said: "I'm very unhappy about what's happened – shoulders and elbows. I'm considering whether or not to make a complaint."

The committee heard from Mr Britton's legal team who argued there had been an "exceptional" delay in bringing the case and that it should be thrown out.

If found guilty of professional misconduct, Mr Britton could be expelled from the BPS, which would prevent him working in the public sector and damage his reputation.