Phone-hacking: Colin Stagg targeted by News of the World

Man wrongly accused of murdering Rachel Nickell in 1993 says he will fight back aggressively through courts

Colin Stagg, the man who was wrongly accused of the 1992 murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common, has been told by police he was a victim of phone hacking by the News of the World.

Stagg said that he "felt sick and angry" when he was informed by the Metropolitan police that he had been targeted by the newspaper.

The 48-year-old's solicitor, Alex Tribick, a partner at W H Matthews & Co, said his client would be meeting Scotland Yard shortly to see the evidence they hold.

It is likely that the Met found Stagg's phone number and personal details among documents seized from Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator used by the paper, during a 2006 raid on his home in south London.

Detectives working at Operation Weeting, the Met's new investigation into phone hacking are going through the process of alerting everyone whose personal details were recorded by Mulcaire. There are likely to be more than 3,000 victims.

Stagg was arrested and charged with Nickell's murder in 1993 and acquitted the following year.

He told London's Evening Standard: "I felt sick and angry when the police first contacted me about suspected hacking. It was this kind of media behaviour that made me a pariah in the public's mind."

Stag added: "I endured years of abuse because the press thought there was open season on me – and I didn't have the means to fight back. Now I do. I have instructed my solicitor to pursue this aggressively, through the courts if necessary."

Stagg has been told the hacking claims date from 2000, six years after he was acquitted. He later received £706,000 compensation after the police operation. Stagg was the subject of intense media interest around the time of his arrest and for many years –even after he was cleared of the crime.

Robert Napper, a convicted murderer, admitted three years ago that he had carried out the killing of Nickell.

• This article was amended on 5 July 2011. The original referred to Colin Stagg as wrongly accused of murdering Rachel Nickell in 2003. This has been corrected.


James Robinson

The GuardianTramp

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