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Partner of Rachel Nickell to take Met to European court

Tom Lawrence,Pa
Tuesday 16 November 2010 09:58 GMT

The partner of murdered Rachel Nickell today said he would take his compensation claim against the Metropolitan Police to the European Court of Human Rights.

Police officials have told Andre Hanscombe he will not receive a payout for failings during the investigation into the 23-year-old mother's murder in 1992.

However, he said he is now pursuing the case in the European courts because "nobody has been held accountable".

Ms Nickell was sexually assaulted before being repeatedly stabbed on Wimbledon Common in south-west London on July 15 1992. The couple's two-year-old son Alex was found close to her body.

Innocent Colin Stagg was wrongly charged with the crime, leaving murderer Robert Napper free to kill again before he was arrested by police and convicted more than a decade later following advances in DNA technology.

Mr Hanscombe today told Radio 4's Taking a Stand there had been a catalogue of dreadful mistakes and missed opportunities during the investigation.

Mr Stagg was put on trial a year after the murder after spending more than a year on remand, but the case collapsed due to a lack of evidence.

However, the spotlight remained on him with police claming they were not looking for anyone else.

In 2002, Mr Hanscombe was contacted by the Metropolitan Police who launched a cold case review using newly advanced DNA techniques.

Napper, a paranoid schizophrenic who had been in Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital since 1996, was convicted in 2007.

"It shouldn't be forgotten that the final team did produce a successful conviction of Rachel's killer, but at the same time there has been absolutely no holding to account of anybody who was responsible for all of the mistakes," said Mr Hanscombe.

"Everyone was going down blind alleys and the oversight was just not there."

Following Napper's trial, Mr Hanscombe made a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission seeking damages.

But after being told there was no basis for a civil claim against the MPS, he is now taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

"The most important thing... after all these years is that this is never allowed to happen again," he said today.

"Nobody has been held accountable and nobody at any high level has been forced to resign.

"They've been dragged kicking and screaming through the Independent Police Commission complaints process ... their early disciplinary actions ... were not released to the public."

The Metropolitan Police said: "Andre Hanscombe's lawyers wrote to the MPS seeking compensation but have accepted that there is no basis for a civil claim against the MPS.

"There has already been a payment made to Alex Hanscombe from public funds for the impact of his mother's murder. Having considered all relevant factors the Metropolitan Police Service has made the difficult decision not to compensate Mr Hanscombe or pay his legal costs."

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