Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Limited Sympathy for Colin Stagg

This may be very unchristian of me (which I suppose is unsurprising for a self-confessed Agnostic) but I was none too impressed when I read in the Evening Standard that Colin Stagg had been awarded £706,000 for his wrongful arrest and prosecution over the murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common in 1992.

My first thought was: I wonder what kind of compensation Rachel's son Alex and her partner Andre got. Does anyone know?

Criminal compensation is a very difficult area, and most comparisons are probably completely unreasonable, but when a woman gets £12,000 for being raped, can a payout of £706,000 for wrongful prosecution really be justified? Stagg described the award as "like winning the lottery" - a singularly insensitive thing to say in the circumstances.

How on earth does one put a montary value on behind raped, murdered, injured or wrongly prosecuted. The truth is that it's virtually impossible.

In some ways, the Criminal Compensation Board is a bit like NICE, the people who decide which drugs can be supplied by the NHS. They're damned if they do and damned if they don't.

UPDATE 8.30pm: Having read some of the comments you have left, I do wonder how many of you actually read what I wrote. No change there then. My point was to compare the award which Stagg got with what victims or their next of kin get - or don't get, and to point out how difficult it is for the bodies who award these sums to come to a decision. And yes, compared to Rachel Nickell's family, I do have limited sympathy for Stagg. That's not to say I don't have any at all - which is what some are implying in the comments.


Anonymous said...

"behind raped"

A Freudian typo!

Anonymous said...

I think you confuse two points. Your question about the compensation for Rachel's family is a fair one but the answer has no bearing on the size of Stagg's compensation. He was the victim of one of the worst pieces of policing since the war, how would you feel if you were wrongly arrested and tried for a murder you had nothing to do with?

In fact I suspect a large chunk of the payout is compound interest.

Anonymous said...

Easy Iain. Just look at the all the idiots at Westminster. Most of them are lawyers or barristers.

What you should have pointed out is that THEY are the ones that get rich out of the misery of our legal system.

If we put every judge, lawyer and barrister on a ship, towed it out to sea (having removed the life boats) then sank it. Would anyone notice the loss?

Anonymous said...

You stupid idiot !! A completely innocent bloke has been found guilty of MURDER !!

How is it his fault that victims of other crimes don't get a better deal?

Would you put your hand up to a murder you didn't commit, and do time in jail, for a measly £ 700k ??

No, I didn't think so...

Iain Dale said...

I am afraid it is you who is the "stupid idiot". He was found guilty of nothing as the case was thrown out by the judge.

Anonymous said...

How would you like it if the police tried to fit you up.

It may seem a lot but the guy lost his freedom and reputation because the police coked it up.

How much do you think Barry George is worth?

What would you expect in the same circumstances? Just because the guy comes across as a bit strange doesn't make him guilty.

Anonymous said...

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board seems to me to be a daft idea that should never have been introduced.

Unsworth said...

"can a payout of £706,000 for wrongful prosecution really be justified?"

Perhaps it was other matters, like deliberate entrapment, which preyed on the minds of those setting the figure. To paraphrase Mr Justice Ognall - the police had shown "excessive zeal" and had tried to incriminate a suspect by "deceptive conduct of the grossest kind".

Stagg was acquitted after the 'evidence' was disallowed and the Prosecution withdrew its case - not quite the same as the judge throwing the case out.

So maybe Stagg is being compensated for being fitted up as well as wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution, eh? And just how 'employable' is he now after those events?

Richard said...

One would presume there are different compensation boards for the awarding of damages to victims and to wrongfully imprisoned individuals. However, I think it is fair to say that if an individual is wrongfully imprisoned and simultaneously accused of a crime (especially one as grievous as raping and murdering another person) then their life is turned upside down and, apart from the obvious cessation of freedom during their incarceration, the long-term effects - both psychologically and in terms of their local reputation - can be devastating. It is for this reason that I think a large payout can be justified, although I would also argue the separate point that victims' compensation should be larger (if one wanted to go down the route of quantifying and putting a price tag on sexual and physical injuries).

Continuing such a tangent, compensation payments for service men and women who are left with life-changing injuries should also be increased...

Iain Dale said...

Unsworth, about as employable as he was before the case, I would guess.

Unsworth said...


You may be right - but that's not the game, is it? Let's not confuse The Law with Justice, eh? Two entirely different things - in my view.

Alex said...

Iain, I think your judgement on thi is very poor. Stagg was fitted up by the police for a murder that he did not commit and for which their was no evidence. They tried to put together a case based on supposition and speculation. Does that sound familiar? Does the name Barry Geoorge?

When contemplating the size of Stagg's compensation, you might also bear in mind thet the policewoman who was used to entrap Stagg claimed psychological distress and was paid off with over £100k. What ever her problem that can't be nearly as bad as spending 14 months in custody. Stagg may not have been convicted of anything but he still spent 14 months behind bars.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I can't believe you are stooping to the same sort of fatuous, tabloid, 'trial-by-media' bollox that has ruined this bloke's life and are now adding insult-to-injury by your asinine comments about employability - but then he lives in a council house so to Tory twats like you he is just beyond the pale and doesn't ever deserve anything better.

You should be bloody ashamed of yourself !!

Anonymous said...

Coming next on Iain Dale...

'Barry George, well, yeah, guv 'e ad it coming, what goes around comes around, what you lose at the swings you gain at the roundabouts, know what I mean, guv ?'

David Boothroyd said...

It's wrong to even attempt to compare the compensation paid to those wrongly convicted with the payments from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. They are in a fundamentally different position. The friends and relatives of Rachel Nickell can really have no justified objection to Colin Stagg being compensated for the wrong that was done to him.

It's worthwhile recalling that the UK is very, very rare in having a system of publicly funded compensation for criminal injuries. In almost every other country, the next of kin of murder victims receive absolutely nothing from the state.

Unsworth said...

Anon 7:56 PM

"but then he lives in a council house so to Tory twats like you he is just beyond the pale and doesn't ever deserve anything better."

That's garbage, sunshine. It's also irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Iain your blog is becoming a personal soap box, empty of any serious political content.

Is all the political comment now going to the magazine you started?

(Colin Stagg deserved every penny, and you should apologise for further prolonging his suffering by writing negative articles about him).

Anonymous said...

You may have limited sympathy for Mr Stagg (why? do you know something about him we don't? has he ever done you any harm?, etc, etc) but surely someone in your position, as a prominent political commentator, should be entirely in sympathy with the notion that vulnerable but innocent people should not be deliberately entrapped by the police and see their lives destroyed as a consequence.

But perhaps you still think he's really guilty? No smoke without fire, eh? Odd suspicious-looking guy, police don't make mistakes and none of them are bent, bound to be something in it...

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous 8.25. I thought that's what a blog was - a persaonal soapbox. Pardon me for not understanding blogging.

Devoid of political content. You having a laugh?!!!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. If your point here was that people who suffer injury or rape deserve bigger compensations to bring them into line with compensations for wrongful conviction/imprisonment, then I would have to agree.

But this seems much more like "That Colin Stagg, eh? He looked a rum 'un, still does. And they give 'im the best part of a million? They should give it to the famil,y that's what I say, I mean how would you feel if it wuz your daughter, after wot 'e done! Beg pardon, guv, of course 'e didn't do it. South of the river at this time of night?!"

Which is less of a valid point.

Tapestry said...

Stitch up to get the case out of the newspapers same as with Jill Dando and Barry George.

Anonymous said...

This is an appalling, irresponsible piece of bile, Iain Dale - and of a piece with the sustained deterioration of your blog in recent weeks, from fatuous teenage contributions to the premature announcement of a Scottish MP's death to the bigoted vilification of Mrs Robinson to an increasing dearth of any worthwhile political comment. I'm removing the Diary immediately from my bookmarked sites and I suspect many others are falling off too.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with you Iain.

There is much criticism of the so called 'compensation culture' in this country and I am afraid to say it is tinged with envy as if compensation is some sort of free good that is undeserved.

I cannot comment on the Colin Stagg case but I know someone who was compensated for a different reason but that nevertheless entirely ruined their life. I know their real emotional and financial loss was far in excess of what they finally got as compensation.

No one who receives compensation under the UK legal system ever gets the true cost of the hurt or damage they suffered. Judges always ere on the low side so they cannot be criticised for being too generous. They never look for reasons to raise the amount. They always look for reason to cut it. After all the victim is in no position to complain - they are usually too shattered and traumatised to fight anymore. The UK legal system takes advantage of that. Look at UK soldiers who are injured or killed. They and their families by common agreement are desperatley under compensated.

Iain Dale said...

John Macloed, Frankly, if you think my comments about Iris Robinson were bigoted I'm glad not to have you as a reader. Your fire should be turned on her, not me.

Raedwald said...

The long lists of those 'fitted up' for high profile crimes by institutionally inept policemen reveals few likeable characters. Those whom the police wrongly ajudge guilty and then proceed to painstakingly assemble evidence against, some of which may be true, are not generally the most loved of our people. They pick the Staggs and the Barry Georges. They pick the vulnerable and the unloved; the Irish simpleton, the 'loner', the inarticulate bedsit dwellers.

Colin Stagg may not be the most attractive of people. He is, however, a British subject and as deserving of the full protection of right and justice as the most beautiful, intelligent and charismatic of the Crown's subjects. The self-deluding corruption of the policemen who manufactured false evidence against him, in the belief no doubt that the end justified the means, should be excoriated.

Let Stagg enjoy the small comforts that his compensation brings him. My only regret is that it was not sourced from the pension funds of the policemen who so corruptly manufactured the false case against him.

Etienne du Clé said...

It does seem a large reward.

In part it will have reflected his time in prison on remand (almost two years?) and of course the heinous nature of the crime for which he was, quite obviously judging by the Prosecution's reaction to the evidence in all its appalling nudity, fitted up. And the fact that, Iain, despite his de facto acquittal, some people would - evidently do - treat him as a pariah.

So, on the latter, point, I think there may be an element of 'punitive' damages there (police-wise, pour encourager les autres).

But as to the compensation of the victim's family:

The level of criminal injuries compensation tries to sit comfortably alongside what happens in the civil courts. In England & Wales damages are about quantifiable loss of amenity and damage: they are quite stingy about 'emotional' "pain and suffering".

I was taught criminal law - so long ago and have never used definitely out on a limb to comment - by that wonderful character and academic, Peter Glazebrook (who must be ancient by now). He was always very compelling on this point, about the 'moral hazard of pricing the sadness of losing a life: is a child worth more than a mother, worth more than the humanity of a middle-aged man'. & that money cannot never be a moral equal for bereavement.

We do live in a compensation culture - nothing wrong in that, people shold pay for their wrongs, fully - but Glazebrook's point still holds I think, if we try to compensate for 'depth of sadness' or scale of tragedy.

Anonymous said...

Iain, there is a much bigger issue here. That part of the electorate who once would have instinctively supported the police is falling out of sympathy with them. This comes as politicians, for their own reasons, give police forces more and more power.

Mr Osato said...

Stagg's words weren't the cleverest but then he's clearly not the cleverest of blokes - the local weirdo, like Barry George, picked up by police when the trail went cold and they started getting a bit of stick. The payout is fully deserved - this man must pick up the pieces after having years of his life destroyed. The Nickell family's payout is of course far to low but no sum could ever reflect the loss her family have suffered. Still, it'll be far easier to stomach the Stagg payout since it's being funded from the confiscated pensions of the coppers brought to account for creating this farce. It is, isn't it.

Unsworth said...

@ red exile

"I was taught criminal law"

"It does seem a large reward"

I hope that Glazebrook would have explained the difference between 'award' and 'reward'. It's particularly apposite in this case.

Etienne du Clé said...


He did and I do. Bad draftsmanship. It's a blog comment not a Bill of Rights.

And nothing in my post suggested I thought the size of the *Award* was wrong.

But do *lets* get typographical nit-picking obscure debating an issue.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I have read your update and I have little sympathy with your views. Nearly fifteen years ago my sister in law was murdered by a stranger who came in off the street, and almost simultaneously but independently I was accused (falsely) of an assault and spent a long time trying to clear my name despite the fact that it was clear that my accuser had lied to the police.

Of the two events the murder caused the more distress, but left our family with no sense of grievance against the state or feeling that we should be compensated. On the other hand my dealings with the police still leave me aggrieved.

In my view Colin Stagg fully deserves his £700,000, but the loss of a mother/girlfriend, even by murder, is not a cause for redress from the state, although some limited financial assistance might be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Nickell's family would always be under a life sentence, but the state never caused their grief, hence the small amount of compensation. However, the state is 100% responsible for Stagg's fate. 14 months in prison while innocent is monstrous. He deserves every penny. Being the local weirdo isn't a crime. Leave comments like yours to the Daily Mail and News of the World. You're normally a much nicer guy than this.

Anonymous said...

I'm unimpressed by either Iain's original post or the update. Iain seems to be making the classic politician's/journo's error of conflating the positions of the (alleged) perpetrator and the victim. Why on earth should sympathy for Rachel Nickel and her family limit one's sympathy for Colin Stagg? It's possible to have the utmost sympathy for both, surely? Both have suffered terribly, and injustice has been piled on injustice thanks to the incompetence of the police in this case. And don't forget that Stagg's wrongful conviction represented a dreadful miscarriage of justice for Rachel Nickel's family as well.

Jim Jepps said...

I think the last anon has it right in that Stagg was a victim of the state.

This is a man who spent more than a year in jail, was vilified on frontpages, was entrapped by the police and will never be able to leave this period of his life fully behind him.

The state did this to him - and they did this instead of continuing the investigation for the dangerous criminal that committed the murder.

I'm sure we all feel a great deal of sympathy for Rachel's friends and family but it is not a competition between the two. She was not a victim of the state, although the delay in gaining justice is their fault.

Incidentally I'm sure Stagg said more than the lottery comment which does sound rather insensitive - however the press that vilified him decided that was the only thing he said that was worth repeating.

His sympathy for Rachel and those who loved her - unmentioned. Could it be the press still have in for him even though they now know he's innocent?

Anonymous said...

The Criminal Injuries Compensation is a terrible system.

In the same paper they revealed a woman who is raped receives £11,000 they ran a story about an English pipe-fitter who was awarded £15,630 because his Irish colleagues sang 'racially abusive songs' to him.

While I fully believe Stagg deserves compensation, I agree that the levels vary wildly and unfairly.

cabalamat said...

It seems to me that the state has a moral duty to compensate those that it has injured, but that it has no moral duty to compensate those who were injured by an agency other than the state.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear Iain, I often like reading your blog, but this is just dissappointing drivel. It's all very well adding an update and getting uppity with your readers claiming they've not read what you wrote, but frankly, with a headline "My limited sympathy for Colin Stagg", what on earth do you expect?

Hardly Stagg's fault that payouts in other instances are lower - doesn't change the fact that his life was destroyed by a combination of crap policing and dreadful tabloid journalism.

Yeah, he may have been insensitive with his comment about the lottery, but I think he'll be the first to admit to not being the brightest (a politician in the making?).

And I think you let yourself down somewhat with the "about as employable as he was before" dig at 7.42. So he isn't bright and didn't have much of a future anyway...not worth bothering about then eh?

Anonymous said...

Argue for better compensation for Rachels' family and other victims by all means. It has no bearing on whether or not Colin deserves compensation.

Colin and Rachel's family both deserve our sympathy in large measure as a result of this fiasco. I certainly don't believe that sympathy for one means you must 'limit' your sympathy for the other. Your sympathy should not be a scarce comodity in a matter like this.

Putting a value on the level of suffering is as you say 'virtually impossible' but I'd say enduring 14 years of being treated by the police, significant sections of the media and by extension large numbers of the public as a brutal sex-murderer, does not bear thinking about.

Neither has his ordeal ended. There will be always be some who will assume he did it and still others (I hope you recognise yourself here) who will belittle him and minimise the level of suffering he's endured (you've a bit of a nerve accusing him of insensitivity under the circumstances).

Neither you nor I have any idea what he has gone through, no more than we know what Rachel went through. Equally, I cannot begin to imagine what Rachel's family, particularly her son, have gone through.

I'd rather suggest that we argue for just compensation for all of them, hope that they rebuild their lives as best they can, and pray to whatever God you aren't sure exists that what happened to them, never happens to us.

Mono said...

jesus christ iain give the guy a break. he deserves all the money he can get. It ruined his life. Just cause he's a different class from you doesnt matter. You should be ashamed.

Iain Dale said...

Mono, what the hell has it got to do with class for Christ sake?

I acknowledge I am taking a beating on this, but please don't take the lazy way out and talk about class. It's entirely irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

I don't really know why people are attacking you so much, Iain. It seems a perfectly reasonable argument. You just can't put a figure on these things. The worst of it to me is that we just seem to live in a culture now that finds it easier to award money instead of really providing practical support to these people, which surely would go much further to starting to heal these wounds than any amount of money could possibly do.

Anonymous said...

Iain, your post makes little sense.

On the one hand you say that deciding how much compensation someone should get is very difficult, i.e. it's near impossible to say whether someone has got too much or too little. Yet you then go on to suggest that Stagg has, in fact, received too much. Odd.

I also think that trying to think comparatively about Stagg's / Nickell's family's compensation is bizarre. Why should you compare the two? Both have obviously been wronged, although the source of Stagg's misfortune is identifiable: the police.

More to the point though, I just don't understand how you can possibly have anything but complete and utter sympathy for Stagg.

Anonymous said...

Iain you are wrong on this.

Colin Stagg was the victim of the police; they indulged in the very worst type of idiot "cracker" like speculation and attempted to fit him up for a murder he did not commit.
Even the police accept this now. His life has been ruined, his name is mud, he deserves every penny of his payment and I feel then some.

David Boothroyd said...

Anonymous @ 10:41, you are not comparing like with like. The pipe-fitter you mention was in Ireland, not the UK. Employees who get racially abused in the UK can resign and claim at an employment tribunal for constructive dismissal; any compensation would be paid by their former employer.

The compensation paid to rape victims is from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority which is state-funded and paid by all of us collectively. As Cabalamat says, it is difficult to make out a moral duty on the state to compensate the victims of crime; there would be a duty on the criminal if they had any money. (The 'lotto rapist' case has recently widened that law)

Anonymous said...

Every now and then Iain, you put up a blog which attracts hostile comments and then you valiantly defend your original position.

You remind me of this chap

As in "when in a hole, stop digging?"

Anonymous said...

Yus, well, you pompous commenters in your cozy safe 'omes may all think that 700 grand is just recompense for the little tinker, after 'e's 'ad 'is life ruined, 'is prospects of ever finding a job between 'ere an' the grave flushed down the tubes, fourteen months spent up the kermit an' all the rest of it.

But think about it - 'e's only served fourteen months after what 'e done!!! They never even strung 'im up. I beg pardon, guv, of course as ya tell me 'e never done it, I see.

Why don't I change the subject and discuss the soapbox nature of blogging, Iris Robinson's views on 'omosexuals, and class difference in 21st Century Britain and not the fact that I'm a proud man but I know I was plain wrong in the first place. It'll make the ride less embarrasing for both of us, eh?

What d'ya mean, ten quid if I'll get ya to Vauxhall? What d'ya think I am a night bus!

Anonymous said...

With this posting Iain you show yourself to be as uncharitable and repellent as Iris Robinson when she showed similar 'limited sympathy' for the victim of a gay bashing in Belfast. Look at the beam in your own eye before you go picking the mote out of others.

I am genuinely shocked and repled by this post and I read and understood it perfectly well.

Anonymous said...

"Limited Sympathy"

A phrase worthy only of a politician.

From Stagg's comments he seems as surprised as anyone about the level of compensation he's been awarded. His solicitor was interviewed on the radio, stating that all that was really wanted was for the police to apologise for their actions.

Anonymous said...

I really hope you'll reconsider your position on this; it's clear that Colin Stagg was fitted up, it's clear that it's ruined his life since, and will have a lasting effect into the future.

I saw the full version of his statement, and he sounded like a decent, if somewhat dim, bloke, who was dazed by the size of the award. There was no crowing over it, only plans to use the money to get his life back together - exactly as it should be.

Anonymous said...

i didn't think you were a christian by your very statement. you should apologise to christians for your non christian slur on their ideals. I have never heard of you and obviously don't buy the paper for whom you write but I think the tabloids that ruined Mr. Staggs life probably pay you to churn out this sort of mindless mob mentality whereas most real journalists are trained to think things through.

Paul Linford said...

Colin Stagg is one of those people who does himself no favours when he opens his mouth and the comment about "winning the lottery" is sadly typical. But that does not alter the fact that he was fitted up by bent coppers who manufactured evidence against him. All in all, he is someone who deserves our sympathy.

Anonymous said...

A quick visit to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority website suggests that compensation was available for Rachel Nickel's partner and child. It might well have included compensation for loss of her earnings in which case the amount would have been substantial.
The amount awarded to Colin Stagg reflected what he went through. After the collapse of the trial the Met announced that they were not looking for anyone else, effectively branding him guilty. It was only when DNA evidence proved that someone else had done it that he was really cleared. He will have suffered for years. The murder was in 1992. The trial was in 1994. The real villain was not convicted until fairly recently. Colin Stagg had many years of this just for being odd.
Iain, you've just got this one completely wrong.

Unsworth said...

@ red exile

Well, be it a typo or a malapropism, I don't disagree with your more general position.

"And nothing in my post suggested I thought the size of the *Award* was wrong."

Did I say that? Where?

"But do *lets* get typographical nit-picking obscure debating an issue."

Do you want to clarify that?

Anonymous said...

My point was to compare the award which Stagg got with what victims or their next of kin get - or don't get,

But, Iain, that is also your mistake. Because the two are not comparable. The state didn't injure Rachel Nickell,but it did deploy its full might to wrongfully injure Colin Stagg. Therefore the state is culpable and should be punished for so doing.

If they can find the actual perpetrator of the dreadful crime against her then I have no problem with all of said perpetrator's assets being appropriated and gifted over to the Nickells in compensation.

Lord Blagger said...

Iain, You're a twat when it comes to this issue.

He was fitted up. He hasn't worked since and is probably unemployable as a result of the police trying to make him a criminal.

There is no doubt at all that he was innocent. The police are prosecuting someone else in a couple of months for the crime.

What you are basically saying is one of the victims in this cases should pay.

The reason the award appears large is that is is for loss of income and interest over 15 years.

It's the same with the NHS. The NHS kills by mistake or deliberate error 35,000 a year in the UK. That doesn't account for the other errors.

To get damages there is very difficult, and lots in the NHS view that as a good thing.

Victim pays, yet again.

In reality very large awards are the only way of changing the system. It is then in the police/NHS to get the treatment right, rather than trying to minimise payouts by legal shenanigans.

Alternatively, stop the state supplying things like the NHS, ad make then the regulator. No conflict of interest then as a result.


Anonymous said...

sorry ian,you got this one wrong (in my opinion) "any questions" friday 15 th.may be a good place to admit it,michael.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I am absolutely gobsmacked at you here. The fundamental point you seem to be missing with your lack of sympathy for Mr Stagg is that he, like the family of Ms Nickell, is a completely INNOCENT VICTIM in this case. Further he is a victim of a malicious fit up attempt by those acting on behalf of the STATE.

And if there is a problem with an amount of compensation, it is that given to the Nickells, NOT that given to Mr Stagg.

If you really want to get worked up about some compensation amounts, look at the MOD and how much office staff suffering stress or RSI get compared to soldiers with their bits blown off.


Anonymous said...

Jim Jay said...

"I'm sure Stagg said more than the lottery comment"

He did. He said that he had applied for jobs but no-one would employ him. He saw the compensation awarded as amounting to the public apology that the police refused to give him. That the public apology was the thing he had really wanted. That he had one or two ideas for setting-up a small business of his own and he would now be able to try them.

"My point was to compare the award which Stagg got with what victims or their next of kin get - or don't get, and to point out how difficult it is for the bodies who award these sums to come to a decision."

Okay Iain, let's say so many of us were misunderstanding you.

Help me out here. What exactly does Stagg's compensation have to do with compensaton for the Nickell family? Why are you (apparently, given your total silence on it) not concerned by police behaviour? Is it OK for the police to frame certain people? If so, what type? If not, what should be done about it? Are you happy with police off-the-record briefings, to dribbling inadequates in the press, fitting-up innocent people? If not, do you agree those policepeople should be exposed, sacked, sent to prison, and forfeit their pension rights?

Anonymous said...

Re your update: You're confusing two separate things here. The compensation paid to Stagg is one issue (and it's arguable that it's a paltry sum, considering what the police put this man through) and the insultingly small compensation to the victim.

In fact, you're very socialist about it -- rather than demand decent compensation for the victim, just as for the innocently accused, you want the innocently accused to take less so the victim gets more.

Mr. Stagg has nothing to do with the victim of the crime, he too was a victim, and whether you like the man or not is beside the point -- had you been wronged as outrageously like he was, I'm sure you'd find the sum inadequate.

Mr. Stagg just is not used to that kind of money, so it seems like the lottery to him, when it's actually a derisory pittance.

Why not be angry about victims in general getting stiffed? Because this is the real issue here.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. The more you try to explain, the worse it gets.

This is just like the Daily Mail and its "fury at £700,000 award".

A truly disgraceful headline.

And, I must say if this is your standard of reasoning then the electors of Norfolk (North was it?) were wise to reject you at the last election.

And I write as a Conservative voter.

Anonymous said...

"He was the victim of one of the worst pieces of policing since the war..."

He was still a lot luckier than Jean Charles De Menezes, though...

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone has answered Iain's question. Rachel's son was awarded £90,000. I think the point Iain was trying to make was that it is very difficult to quantify in monetary terms, just how each pain or loss can be valued. The son's trauma and loss of his mother was valued at £90k. Colin Stagg's loss of a year's freedom, his standing in the community and his being set up by the police was valued at £700k. So who's to judge? And of course, different judges.

Roger Thornhill said...

Stagg compensated by the wrongdoer (the state) = justifiable IMHO.

The criminal injuries compensation board should be abolished. To me it is nothing less than an extension of Daytime TV "no conviction, no compo"/CriminalBarristers4U mindset.

If victims are to be compensated monetarily, it should be by the wrongdoer.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, chums, but some of us are becoming pretty fed up with the so-called 'appellate judiciary' continually undoing all the good work done by the police and the lower courts. The cases of Barry George and Colin Stagg being exemplars of two criminals, guilty as hell, being 'got off' by smart-arse lawyers on technicalities. The thought of Stagg enjoying a cheque for £700k of taxpayers' money - which some of us have to work BLOODY HARD to earn - is truly sickening.

Anyone with half a brain - which automatically excoused all lawyers, politicians and other scumbags who have never earned an honest day's pay in their lives - could see that both these mnen are as guilty as charged (that's what a jury is there to judge, not three good ol' boys in horse-hair wigs) and should have been left to rot in jail till the end of time.

The compensation culture is clearly to blame , witness Stagg's now infamous 'winning the Lottery' comment. Being charged, found guilty, serving time has been the biggest 'earner' in this pathetic little man's miserable life.

End of rant. Nrmal service now resumed.

Alex said...

Iain, I think on this point the overwhelming response of your readership is that instead of following the Daily Mail / Patrick Mercer line, you should show a more mature and reasoned understanding of the issue.

I think the anonymous at 9:44AM yesterday got it bang on:

1) Stagg was an innocent victim of a state agency and it appears yo have wrecked his life - the public refusal of the police to look for another person after Stagg's acquittal was as damaging as his arrest and detention.

2) Whilst everybody has sympathy for Nickrell's son and his misfortune, the state has no more obligation to him than it has to any other person suffering a misfrtune of similar magnitude. The state has an obligation to protect him from destitution but not necessarily to compensate for any unquantifiable loss. Similar considerations apply to all victims of crime.

And to comment on the ridiculous knee jerk reaction from Patrick Mercer in the Daily Mail about the compensation paid to armed forces personnel, this is lower because the soldier accepts on signing up that they may be killed. The armed services simply cannot afford to pay the same amounts in the event that we ever go into a full scale war. If the government had to pay out £1 million in compensation to each of half a million armed forces personnel who might be killed in another full scale war the economy would be so great that we would be forced to surrender the war.

If you do want to be considered for parliament you should sharpen up your ideas. If on the other hand you want to be on lots of BBC news programmmes, keep coming up with these lines because the BBC would love to call on you to embarass the Conservative Party.

Anonymous said...

"...some of us are becoming pretty fed up with the so-called 'appellate judiciary' continually undoing all the good work done by the police and the lower courts. "

Oh, agreed, though you can't really hold up Stagg/George as 'good work', can you?

"The cases of Barry George and Colin Stagg being exemplars of two criminals, guilty as hell, being 'got off' by smart-arse lawyers on technicalities."

Oh, it seems you can...

You, sir, are an idiot. They didn't get off 'on technicalities' (in fact, Stagg didn't 'get off' in any sense of the word, the judge having actually acted as a judge should when confronted with a dog's dinner of a CPS case).

There was no evidence against them. Clear?

Anonymous said...

Colin (the original) said...

"Anyone with half a brain" would seem to have a lot more than you.

Anonymous said...

So to all those who reject Iain's "limited sympathy", should the youths prosecuted over the murder of Stephen Lawrence also get £700,000 - I'd have thought their lives were ruined as well.

Anonymous said...

"should the youths prosecuted over the murder of Stephen Lawrence also get £700,000 - I'd have thought their lives were ruined as well."

If you can find evidence that the police maliciously entrapped them, then yes.

That's the way the law works - we don't simply apply it to those we find palatable, and the rest can go hang. Luckily for us all.

Unknown said...

Quantifying the amount someone has suffered and putting that into monetary terms is always grotesque - have a look at the legal book "Kemp & Kemp" and you'll see what I mean: it tells you what people have been awarded in the past for loss of an eye, quadraplegia, facial scars... it's all horrible even to think about.

And it's even more grotesque to try to compare what's awarded under different systems. That, not different judges, is what leads to the disparities here: there's the CICA system on the one hand (which I don't agree should be abolished - its purpose is as a last resort when attackers can't be identified or have no means) and the miscarriages of justice system on the other.

It's difficult to make the CICA system a lot more generous: there are many crimes, therefore many claims against it. There are fewer miscarriages of justice.

But it seems to me perfectly reasonable to ask whether the two systems are wildly out of line with one another - that's what Charles Clarke did a couple of years ago when he reformed the miscarriages compensation system to make lower payouts and give less to solicitors in the form of costs. I imagine Colin Stagg's claim was made years ago and that he would receive quite a bit less than £700,000 if he were wrongly accused today.

Martin: many CICA claimants are represented free by lawyers working for the charity, the Free Representation Unit. Maybe you should support them instead of just slagging off lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Head of Legal said...

"But it seems to me perfectly reasonable to ask whether the two systems are wildly out of line with one another"

Oh, is that was was going on here?

"- that's what Charles Clarke did"

And I thought you were being serious.

Unknown said...

I am being serious, Anon.

Why don't you tell us what you think? I assume you think (a) bringing the systems more into line was no part of his thinking and (b) the system of miscarriages compensation should have remained untouched.

Anonymous said...

Iain. I'm ex services. I think the compensation for soldiers injured on duty is appaling. Very few of use really knew on signing up what the risks we were taking on really were. I think the compensation paid to Rachel Nickell's family was very poor too but generally support the idea that the perpetrators should pay, and the state only psy insofar as it has failed in its duty to protect the citizen. However, I cannot buy the way you equated the two. Not only did the police, ie the state, committ a crime against Stagg, they failed in their basic duty and left the real criminal loose on the streets. Just as perpetrators should pay, so should the state if it perpetrates a crime, as it did in Staggs case. And there was terrible undertone of snobbery in your approach to poor Stagg. Most unlike you.

King Athelstan said...

The fact You had to compare Mr Staggs compensation to that paid to Alex Nickell/ Hanscombes payment, illustrates why He's been paid so much, thought You were cleverer than that.

Tony Blair said...

10 or so years of people believing you're a murderer, all for £700,000 - £70,000 a year? Doesn't sound that brilliant! How much do you get paid for being a nonce?

nobandballs said...

"How on earth does one put a monetary value on behind raped, murdered, injured or wrongly prosecuted." - Iain, I think you're completely missing the point, and i think the whole case stinks. The media made his life hell for 15 years - 700K seems fair as a guaranteed payout from the British tax payer, to protect innocents from Britain's (relentlessly vitriol) tabloid press. If they (the 'tabloids') had any moral compass then perhaps they should cough-up reimbursement for colin and more of the tax payer funds could be diverted to the murder victim's family.