Today, Stephen Wright has been given a platform by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre to talk for the umpteenth time about the murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common back in 1992. Wright, during the years following that event, was the Daily Mail’s crime correspondent, and so wrote at length on the case, and in particular the Met’s inability to catch anyone for it.
Course I'm not f***ing apologising, c***
Wright talks of the little boy left at the side of his dead mother, the father who took him out of the country in an effort to get their lives back on track, and of the eventual admission of Robert Napper, already in prison, that he was the killer. He also mentions Colin Stagg, wrongly accused of the murder and fitted up by the Police in a bizarre psychological profiling “honey trap” operation.
The Mail man then tells of how the case was thrown out when it came to court, the subsequent compensation award to Stagg, and even touches on the less than totally edifying behaviour of parts of the media circus towards those involved in the Nickell case. But something is missing from this article, and it is a very big something for Colin Stagg and Paul Dacre.
Because that something is an admission by the Vagina Monologue that his paper got the Rachel Nickell case not merely wrong, but so wrong that it went after Stagg with the kind of zeal that put its recently-lauded pursuit of Stephen Lawrence’s killers in the shade. Not only that, the Mail went after Stagg for years after his acquittal, even goading him into taking a polygraph test.
Stagg passed that, so the Mail implied that was merely because of some innate cunning, and that he was still guilty really. Readers were invited to feel jealous because he bought a new car with some of the compensation money, and the suggestion was made that he still had something to hide, because he paid extra for tinted windows.
The Daily Mail did very well out of fingering Colin Stagg, and doing so maliciously and with not a jot of evidence to go on. So when Napper owned up and was duly convicted – the Met had picked him up at the time and then let him go – one might have thought that Dacre might do the decent thing and say sorry. But that thought would have been sorely misplaced.
Because there was, and never has been, the kind of unequivocal apology from the Vagina Monologue to Colin Stagg that he deserved. Instead, the Mail has carried on milking the Rachel Nickell story, dragging Stagg’s name up – his photo is in the online version of Wright’s piece – while never letting readers know that they got it so wrong, for so long, even persuading the Nickell family that Stagg done it.
This proves, as if anyone didn’t know already, that Paul Dacre is a spineless coward.