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James Bulger’s father loses court bid against Jon Venables’ anonymity | UK News



James Bulger’s father has lost a bid to have information about his son’s killer made public, with a judge saying an anonymity order is necessary to stop Jon Venables “being put to death”.

Venables and Robert Thompson, who were both 10, murdered two-year-old James after snatching him from a Merseyside shopping centre in February 1993.

They were handed life sentences but released and granted lifelong anonymity in 2001.

They have lived under new identities ever since.

Ralph Bulger's court bid was rejected by a judge on Monday
Ralph Bulger’s court bid was rejected by a judge on Monday

Lawyers for James’s father argued that certain details about Venables – who the judge said was “uniquely notorious” – are common knowledge on the internet.

Ralph Bulger launched the High Court bid with his brother Jimmy Bulger, but no challenge was brought against the anonymity granted to Thompson.

Venables was recalled to prison for two years in 2010 after pleading guilty to downloading and distributing indecent images of children and breaking his parole conditions by returning to Merseyside.

He was released with a second new identity, before being recalled to prison again last year over indecent images of children.

Lawyers argued something had “gone wrong” with his rehabilitation and they should be able to scrutinise his handling by authorities.

They asked Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the family division, to change the anonymity order so that it does not cover information already accessible.

Robert Thompson
Robert Thompson was also handed a life sentence for murdering James Bulger

The court was told that the Bulgers did not want the anonymity order dismissed altogether, but wanted some information revealed without threat of prosecution.

However, on Monday, the judge refused to change the terms of the order.

He said the injunction was necessary to protect Venables from “being put to death”.

“There is a strong possibility, if not a probability, that if his identity were known he would be pursued, resulting in grave and possibly fatal consequences,” the judge said.

He added: “My decision is in no way a reflection on the applicants themselves, for whom there is a profoundest sympathy.”

The information said to be accessible online includes details of Venables’ identities, former addresses up to 2017, and the prisons where he has been detained, the court heard.

Anyone sharing such information under the order could face prosecution for contempt of court.

A pair were spared jail in January after sharing information online that was believed to be about Venables.

Richard McKeag, 28, and Natalie Barker, 36, were both given 12-month suspended sentences after admitting breaching the worldwide injunction.

Two men who posted images on social media in 2013, which they claimed were of Venables and Thompson, were also given a suspended sentence.

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