The publisher of the Mirror newspapers has paid “substantial compensation and legal costs” to an ex-police officer over false allegations published on Mirror Online last year.
The article, which was published in March 2018, wrongly suggested former police commander Roy Ramm had a central role on the undercover investigation into the murder of Rachel Nickell in July 1992.
A statement from Ramm’s solicitor said the ex-officer was running the police’s undercover unit at the time and only had the limited role of supplying a police officer to work undercover on the Nickell probe.
The investigation gained notoriety over its use of an undercover female officer “to draw a confession” from a male suspect who was later found to be innocent, according to court documents.
The Mirror story, following up an ITV documentary interview with Ramm about the case, was headlined: ‘Disgraced top cop behind Rachel Nickell operation reveals bizarre honeytrap link to TV show Cracker as he speaks for first time’.
It also carried the subheading: “Roy Ramm explains how he supplied the undercover officer to draw a confession out of innocent Colin Stagg in ITV documentary Rachel Nickell: The Untold Story, which airs this evening”.
Mirror Group Newspapers withdrew the allegations and apologised “unreservedly” to Ramm in the High Court today.
The publisher accepted that the article’s headline and sub-head “falsely depicted Mr Ramm as playing a central role” in the infamous investigation and that it was defamatory to call Ramm “disgraced”.
Ramm was represented by lawyers from the firm Carter Ruck.
Carter Ruck head of media law Nigel Tait said: “These false and defamatory allegations caused considerable anguish to Mr Ramm given his spotless record of service as a police commander.
“It is right and just that Mirror Group Newspapers have agreed to issue this unreserved apology and to pay Mr Ramm substantial compensation.”
Ramm worked in the police for 26 years from 1970 to 1996 and served in leadership roles across various branches of the force.
Mirror Online published an apology to Ramm in September last year and also apologised to him in two private letters.
The published apology said: “On 8 March 2018 we published an article under the headline: ‘Disgraced top cop behind Rachel Nickell operation reveals bizarre honeytrap link to TV show Cracker as he speaks for first time.’
“The article described Roy Ramm, a former commander of specialist operations in the Metropolitan Police, as ‘disgraced’, suggested that he was responsible for a discredited operation against Colin Stagg, and implied that he supplied an officer for the operation for an improper purpose in the knowledge that Stagg was innocent.
“None of those things are true and Mr Ramm left the Met with an exemplary record and a certificate of commendation.”
The Mirror went on to apologise for the errors and any distress caused to Ramm. Reach, the owner of Mirror Group Newspapers, declined to comment on the case.