Jon Venables information ‘common knowledge on internet’, Bulger lawyer argues

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The father and uncle of James Bulger, who Venables kidnapped, tortured and murdered in February 1993, are challenging a worldwide ban on identifying him in High Court.

As the hearing started in London today, Ralph Bulger argued that the injunction granting Venables anonymity has “not washed with the public”.

His son was killed by Venables and Robert Thompson, both aged 10, after they snatched him from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside.

Both were granted lifelong anonymity and new identities to protect them from the danger of reprisal attacks upon their release in 2001.

Arguing for the ban to be amended, Bulger’s lawyer Robin Makin said information about Venables is common knowledge and easily accessible on the internet despite the injunction.

jon venables identity

ANONYMOUS: Jon Venables has been living under a secret identity for 18 years (Pic: GETTY)

Makin said information released in 2010, when Venables was jailed for possessing indecent images of children, has not jeopardised his right to life.

“The reality is that those matters are readily available and have been over many years and still are in the public domain,” he told the President of the Family division Sir Andrew McFarlane. 

“Someone types in the name Jon Venables to a mainstream internet search and the material comes up and it still comes up.

“It hasn’t made any difference and the onus is actually on Jon Venables to demonstrate why this information which I’m saying is common knowledge on the internet and has been for some time is going to damage him.”

“Those matters are readily available”

Robin Makin

Since being granted anonymity, Venables has been jailed twice for possessing indecent images and is still serving time for his most recent conviction from February last year.

He was jailed for 40 months after pleading guilty to having more than 1,000 indecent images and a “paedophile manual”.

Bulger and his brother Jimmy, James’ uncle, want to vary the court order on Venables so that more information about the convictions and how he was monitored after the first offences can be published.

They are not seeking for his anonymity to be lifted altogether – only for information relating to his rehabilitation to be publicly available. 

james bulger

TRAGIC: James Bulger was murdered in 1993 by Venables and Thompson (Pic: GETTY)

Makin said: “This is a very high profile matter. The current situation is unprecedented in which we now have a child murderer who has committed two sets of serious sexual offences and he’s undoubtedly a danger to the public.

“The applicants don’t seek to discharge the injunction – in essence they wish to have some tidying up of the injunction so that it is perfectly clear. There’s an issue about the wording of the injunction.

“And then the rest of the proposed variations is to allow material which is effectively common knowledge not to be covered by the injunction.”

The court heard that authorities have been slow to punish people that breach the injunction by posting information and adult photos of Venables.

jon venables

CHILD KILLER: Jon Venables was held for eight years at Her Majesty’s pleasure (Pic: GETTY)

It was also said “mistakes were made” by authorities when Venables was released in 2013 after the first child porn conviction.

Makin said: “Clearly something has gone seriously wrong in that process.

“The public don’t really think that washes. Parliament wishes to debate this and there’s been a debate on hold in Parliament about this very issue because the authorities are not allowing anything to be said about what went wrong in how it was handled.

“The law should not protect what is common knowledge.

“The authorities do not wish there to be scrutiny in the dealing of Jon Venables.”

The hearing continues.

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