The Murder that Changed Britain


THE MURDER THAT CHANGED BRITAIN: Ground-breaking Special Premiering on CBS Reality on 15th November

Many of us are drawn to stories of true crime; to get a fascinating glimpse into the minds of people who have committed terrible crimes.

While trying to find out what makes a murderer’s mind tick is riveting, watching the police and crime professionals unlock the mystery and solve the puzzle is just as engrossing. However, for all their skill, unfortunately (but thankfully rarely) there are times when investigations go wrong, with far reaching repercussions.

Premiering on Tuesday 15th November at 10pm, exclusively on CBS Reality, ‘The Murder That Changed Britain’ takes a deep dive into one of the most high-profile miscarriages of justice in British criminal history – the Rachel Nickell case.

On the 15th July 1992, young mother Rachel Nickell was brutally murdered in broad daylight on Wimbledon Common while walking the family dog.

Shockingly, she was killed as her 2-year-old son looked on. Discovered after the killer had left the scene, thankfully he was not harmed.

Under enormous pressure, the police launched a massive investigation to find the killer. With few leads and no hard evidence, the Metropolitan Police interviewed approximately thirty-two men in total, none of which led to charges.

With no forensic evidence tying anyone to the crime, investigators enlisted the help of the UK’s leading forensic psychologist, Professor Paul Britton. It was his criminal profile, along with details from an eyewitness that convinced police that Colin Stagg, a man who lived in Roehampton and regularly walked his dog on Wimbledon Common, was the prime suspect.

Called “Operation Edzell”, the investigation that followed is now considered one of the most catastrophic police investigations in British history. Certain Colin Stagg was their man; it was now a matter of getting him to confess. An undercover police officer, ‘Lizzie James’ was enlisted to form a relationship with Stagg, with the objective of obtaining the evidence needed.

In August 1993, the Met arrested and charged Stagg. But the police had got the wrong man. After a year in custody, Stagg’s case came to trial. The trial judge threw the case out of court, and it wasn’t until 14 years later, that suspicion was lifted from Stagg when the real killer, Robert Napper was finally unmasked and convicted.

Ever since, the man the Met brought in to crack the case, Paul Britton, has been blamed for the catastrophic failings that took place. Recently, the finger of blame was pointed at Professor Britton again in ‘Deceit’ - a Channel 4 dramatisation of the affair.

For almost 30 years, Britton has never commented publicly on the case – until now. On CBS Reality’s ‘The Murder That Changed Britain’, he finally goes on the record. In an exclusive interview, he takes us through his side of the story. While Britton has always been placed at the centre of this disastrous case, the story that emerges proves to be highly nuanced.

We also hear for the first-time from retired Met Police Commander Gary Copson. He gives his insights into how the ‘honey trap’ operation fell apart so completely and the damage it caused to the reputation of the Met. Copson also outlines the lessons learned and what safeguards have been created to stop such a catastrophic investigation from happening again.

And most dramatically, in one of the most anticipated meetings in recent times, ‘The Murder That Changed Britain’ finally puts Colin Stagg and Professor Britton face-to-face. Will Stagg accept Britton’s version of events and get the closure he has sought for decades? Or will Britton continue to be the man Stagg blames for destroying his life?

Join CBS Reality on Tuesday 15th November at 10pm to find out.


If you’re one of the many millions of true crime fanatics, then you don’t need to search hard to get your fix. Home to expert-led true crime, CBS Reality investigates authentic criminal cases through first-hand interviews, archive footage and key evidence.

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