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Should the public be told why Jon Venables has been recalled to prison?

16:24 UK time, Monday, 8 March 2010

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has said he will not reveal any of the details regarding the recall of Jon Venables to prison. Does the public have the right to know this information?

Mr Straw said he would not risk prejudicing any criminal proceedings by disclosing the reasons for Venables' recall. Meanwhile, the judge who originally granted Venables his anonymity, Baroness Butler-Sloss, has warned that he could be murdered by vigilantes if his new identity is revealed.

Jon Venables, who murdered two-year-old James Bulger in 1993, was recalled for breaching the terms of his licence. James's mother Denise Fergus said she was "prepared to wait" for details of how Venables breached his licence, and added "I do not want to prejudice a trial but I have the right to know."

Earlier Mr Straw stressed Venables was still not facing any charges and that a criminal investigation was still under way.

What is your reaction to the statement made by Jack Straw? Does anyone have the right to know this information?

Please be aware that we will be unable to publish any comments which may identify Jon Venables, and those which could influence any possible criminal proceedings.

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.


Page 1 of 10

  • Comment number 1.

    No, because it will make any trial he has to face difficult due to impartiality. His identity should not be divulged either as it will cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds for yet another identity when he is inevitably released. I have no doubt the truth will come out though. I dont think he should have been released in the first place and should remain in prison indfinitely as obviously cant be rehablitated. I dont think people like him should be let out.

  • Comment number 2.

    This man is probably either sad mad or bad and probably shoud be looked after for the rest of his life in a secure enviroment. Naming him will only make the job of those charged with looking after him more difficult.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    No as far as I am concerned we do not need to know the details of his alleged offences. If such information would disrupt a trial, then the information should not be released until after a trial and he, if he is, is convicted.

    Justice should be fair and reasonable, for everyone.

  • Comment number 5.

    As much as I believe that the act that was carried out on James Bulger was disgusting and depraved I firmly believe that the reason that Mr Venables is back in prison should be kept out of the public record until such time as he is taken to court over the matter. EVERYONE in this country is entitled to a fair trial on the basis of INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY and we can't change this to suit our moods.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    My reaction to Jack Straw?

    He's a mealy-mouthed fool who has no idea of what life is like for people in the real world. James Bulger, his parents and the rest of society deserve better than this.

    Straw should be ashamed of himself.

  • Comment number 9.

    People need to understand the fundamental difference between something being "in the public interest" and "of interest to the tabloid-reading public". Justice is something best left to the courts rather than to those seeking to act as armchair judges, who are seldom in possession of all the full fact of the case and its many subtleties.

  • Comment number 10.

    No, why do we need to know. He is clearly a very damaged man now and perhaps he should remain in secure care.

  • Comment number 11.

    Should details be made public? Absolutely not. There is every chance it would reveal his new identity, wrecking any chance of a fair trial - always assuming he has committed any crime. For all we know, the breach of license was minor.

    There is no right to vengeance, which is what underlies the demands for information. Lynch mob, anyone?

  • Comment number 12.

    Yes I do think the public have a right to this information almost as much a Denise Fergus has a right to know. I'm constantly annoyed by this obvious pandering to the rights of criminals over the rights of the victim which although some claim doesn't exist in my experience certainly does.

    Yes granted it should always be a case of innocent until proven guilty and yes I agree that you can not assume that what the tabloids have reported in recently days is gospel truth. However to deny the victim and the public that information on the basis of keeping the guilty safe simply because it might rehabilitate them is flawed thinking IMV.

  • Comment number 13.

    The difficulty we have is that we can't have it both ways. On the one hand, we demand fair, impartial trials...yet in this case we demand information which would contradict this. As a serving Police Officer, I'm often sickened by how the judicial system favours the criminal, ignoring the victims. We need to address this in order to give people faith in the system however we're obsessed with the idea of rehabilitation and this leads to softer and softer punishments which fail to address the offender's actions. The simple fact is, Venables shold not have been free. Regardless of his age, if he could commit an offence which the majority of us find reprehensible and beyond imagination why do we presume he can change? I hope the furore surrounding this issue opens a discourse into how we can change the system, without resorting to tired platitudes about offender's upbringings etc. Let's have some justice for Denise Fergus

  • Comment number 14.

    It is difficult to believe that two ten year old boys could have been that evil, and one can only suppose that they were abused or treated with violence at home while growing up. I have a ten year old grandson, and know that this is an age were often reality meets fantasy. He is lucky to have good moral and loving parents, but not all children do. Jon Venables was probably damaged beyond repair well before reaching the age of ten. I feel sad for his victim's family, and nothing can bring back James Bulgar, but I truly believe that this whole affair should be dealt with by the experts and not used to stir up public rage. Vengence or hatred against this young man will only hurt those who cannot let go, it will not bring back the victim, and will probably have no effect whatsoever on the criminal.

  • Comment number 15.

    Of course Jack Straw is doing the proper thing...There is a lynch mob mentality out there,with the flames being fed by tabloid journalists.

  • Comment number 16.

    He is probably correct in not releasing the details as to why he was returned to prison.
    The question that is more important is why were they released anyway.

  • Comment number 17.

    This is a very difficult situation made much worse by a media lynch mob, desperate for a major scoop.

    As much as we all want to know the ins and outs of Jon Venables' return to jail, Jack Straw has made the right decision not to disclose information as yet.

    I think Jack Straw has handled this issue reasonably well under very unusual circumstances and the comments made by MPs from all parties has been reasonable and measured in contrast to certain commentators in the media.

    The public "right" to know should always be superseded by the more important universal right to a criminal process that is wholly objective and without prejudice.

    However when the process has been followed to its conclusion and information can be released then I would suggest that the Bulger family be amongst the first to know.

  • Comment number 18.

    So Injustice Secretary Jack Straw has said he will not reveal any of the details regarding the recall of Jon Venables to prison, but will give "active thought" about releasing more information and concluded it "would not presently be in the interests of justice".
    Is this the same Jack Straw who is quite willing to give parents the names of convicted sex offenders to parents if asked.
    Is this the same Jack Straw whose government let this convicted homicidal maniac out of prison after only serving eight years
    Straw is totally useless at his job, and should have been fired years ago. He hasn’t had an original thought in his life, never mind an active one.
    Nulab’s policy of protecting the criminal and never mind the victim is working well.

  • Comment number 19.

    Not yet if it jeopardises the police investigation or future trial. Although I am very sympathetic to James' family, if his defence can persuade the court he cannot get a fair trial there will be no justice.

  • Comment number 20.

    I can only answer this based on watching carrol on QT last week. She had no idea what she would do with the information, or even what she would want to know to keep herself from being outraged (which is the point some people take laws into their own hands).

    A lot of money was spent to give this person a new identity. if The crime can be identified, crime reports narrow down areas. Speaking to witnesses offers a description of a person who should be anonymous. What would a person do with this information?

    I also have to question if the person had a concept of what he was doing at the time of the crime. The crime must be punished but based on his intent and concept of intent. It is a complicated subject that should be handled by people impartial to the crime

  • Comment number 21.

    I think we have a right to know but I am not surprised that they will not tell us. They care more about the criminal than they do the Victim.

  • Comment number 22.

    No not yet, until he has had his "fair trial" , we owe that to his victims and to make sure that if guilty of the charges he is back in prison for life.

    The media should be patient.

    What does baffel me is why they get anonimity, surely one of the conciquesces of committing a crime is that although you have done the time, what you have done cannot ever be forgotten and they should have to take their chances in the world.

    This also proves, as have many other cases of criminals re offending, is that they should probably never be released after the first serious offence. The Facebook murderer today for example!

    Who are the people responsible for telling us, the public, how we should treat these monsters???, when the vast majority of the public want these people locked up for ever... a very fitting punishment for crimes like this.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    He should have the right to a fair trial. And then if he has been found guilty the public should be told. Those demanding that he is not provided anonymity would have him strung up from the nearest lamp-post - not the type of justice I'd like to see in this country, whatever the crime committed.

  • Comment number 25.

    Denise Fergus is wrong: she most definitely does not have "a right to know". Whatever Venables may or may not have done, it's nothing to do with her or her family. She seems unwilling to let go of him, having previously confessed to stalking him since his release. She clearly needs more help in getting over the tragedy that happened.

    As for Venables, he hasn't been charged with anything yet, so Straw is right. Information can come out when definite charges, and a proper conviction, are brought.

    What Venables did when he was 10 was a terrible thing, but he's done his time, and I suspect he's unlikely to do the same thing again. But if anything will make him re-offend in any way, it's society's insistence on never letting him move on.

  • Comment number 26.

    how funny that when the government want to keep things quiet it is not in the interest that the general public need to know about this subject,this government have an obligation to this country no matter how important or how trivial to dissclose things that concern us and this dos'e.

  • Comment number 27.

    Every time i hear the term 'Previous Conviction' my blood boils.

    Just keep them inside and start to look after the good people for a change.

  • Comment number 28.

    Yes it should be made public, its our money that has paid for this so called farce of a new identity, he should never have been let out in the first place. We are all going to find out who he is sooner or later, because the media will be watching the courts like a hawk. Anything suspicious like police outside courts or courts behaving in weird ways, will attract attention. My heart and thoughts go out to little James's family even now I still get tearful thinking of that poor little boy. Venables is probably the most hated person in this country and quite frankly he deserves all he gets. Ive never felt so angered by anything in my life apart from this, it makes me sick to the stomach. He doesn't deserve any justice, lock him up and throw away the key and even then thats being kind.

  • Comment number 29.

    Not now. If any trial takes place and he is found guilty, then and only then should any details be released. Otherwise a jury might be prejudiced by past events.

  • Comment number 30.


  • Comment number 31.

    yes the public should be told , but it should never have come to this anyway , they should have had the death sentence or a proper life sentence for what they did

  • Comment number 32.

    What makes me absolutely sick is the awful closetted technical gobblydegook, spouted by the various lawyers and other assorted legal worthies, that seem to put justice well down their list of priorities. If he is guilty (as in 'he actually did the crime' as opposed to being 'proved' guilty by an antiquated legal system) - he could escape charge because an offence he committed earlier in his life means he's too famous to be tried. We can't know who he is because 'he wouldn't get a fair trial'! His right to anonymity is more important than punishing him for what he has done? It seems that our legal system is rigged to make maximum money for lawyers at the expense of real justice. A sharp lawyer, or one who can convince a jury through snake-oil patter to see his clents' side of the story, wins the day. A criminal can be let off on a techniciality, supposedly to stop innocent people from being wrongly convicted. Like that's never happened! It's time to overhaul our ridiculous legal system so that it serves the people it was meant to protect, and not the interests of the legal elite.

  • Comment number 33.

    This just sums up NuLabour.
    Protect the rights of the criminals and the victims can go to hell.
    The original crime this man comitted as 10 year old not only shocked Britain but the whole world.
    After the millions spent on housing and changing this man identity and all the money spent on the"experts" to rehabilitate this man and he still commits a "serious" crime then yes it is in public interest to exactly know what he did.
    I vote anyone who will get rid of that Human Rights charter.

  • Comment number 34.

    I can see no reason why this information should be made public. It serves no purpose other than to satisfy prurient interest and sell newspapers. In fact I can't see why his recall was ever made public in the first place, if John Doe had been recalled to prison because he breached the terms of his parole, no-one would have taken the slightest interest. And so should it have been with Venables.

    I can't even see why Denise Fergus needed to know. It's only opened old wounds and cause the poor woman grief and stress. Knowing what he is alleged to have done won't help her in the slightest, in fact the opposite is more likely.

    Now we have multiple problems. He may be identified in jail and his life put at risk. Someone else in jail who matches his profile may be wrongly identified. He may well not be able to get a fair trial. We will have to spend thousands protecting him. And so on.

    This affair has been seriously mishandled by the Justice Ministry.

  • Comment number 35.

    There are many convicted murderers released every year and when they breach their bail conditions it doesn't become a matter for the politicians. Do we really want the politicians controlling who goes to prison. Venables has breached his bail conditions & therefore had his license revoked. There is no point in announcing "a male of 27 has been arrested in connection with alleged offense" the whole point is that you are classed as innocent until proven guilty. As for those who say he wouldn't be harrassed if his new identity was released, try telling the women who have been mistaken for Maxine Carr that there are no vigilante groups in this country, there was a bbc program about this last year and at least 4 women were abused and hounded out of towns because some moron started a rumour that they were maxine carr, despite them proving otherwise their lives were at risk so the police had to protect them - more waste of money because the "great British public" can't restrain themselves from taking the law into their own hands.
    If venables is back in prison then fine - why must you know his new ID? I'd much rather we knew who the unconvicted peodophiles were, you know the ones - the nice man/woman who is a pillar of the community but spends their spare time abusing children who will never be believed because "no one would believe X would do that"

    Jamie's mum and dad I'm sorry you had to suffer such a loss but why do the media have to turn it into a circus - if the Justice dept had contacted them and said Venables or thompson have been recalled to custody that would have been enough, now any man of 27 in prison for the first time for whatever offense will be targeted in case he is venables - makes the prison wardens job even harder, maybe we could put the journalists who leaked this in a screws for a week

  • Comment number 36.

    Definately not,unless he has been convicted of new offence. As much as I have no sympathy for Venables he is entitled to the protection of the law as indeed any citizen is. I'm sure the media like to keep the pot boiling with guesswork and so called "exclusives" but they stand a good chance of exposing his identity, once this is done if he is innocent of the latest allegations of parole breaking he will have to be given yet another identity at no doubt great public cost and police inconvenience.

  • Comment number 37.

    I don't think information on him should be releases at this time as he shouldn't be given any opportunity to cry about impartiality at any trial he faces in the future. I think Mr Straw has this one right. I make these statements however from a starting point I feel is erroneous to begin with as I think animals like Venables should be locked up and literally have the key thrown away. The fact that he has blown his 'second chance' I believe highlights his worthlessness to society as a whole and I think it entitles him to none of the protections of a civilised society i.e. anonymity. If you can't conform to the rules of a civilised society you should not enjoy the protections of it.

  • Comment number 38.

    Of course not. While the grief and anger felt by James Bulger's mother is unimaginable, what rightful action would she or any member of the public be able to take on the basis of this information? She has every right to see her son's assailants punished, but what bearing does their current behaviour have on her status as the parent of the victim of an earlier crime? We have appointed officials and legitimate institutions in place to manage our justice system - let them do their jobs. The alternative is a media frenzy and crowds of thugs roaming the streets looking for anyone who looks a bit like Venables or shares his surname, for no reason other than they'd feel good doing it - that's pretty much the extent of the real 'public interest' in this case.

  • Comment number 39.

    Yes! Of course, he is absolutely right because that's the law.
    The law in this country is designed to provide equity to every individual in terms of getting a fair trial, without prejudice - regardless of their crimes.
    Both Jack Straw and Harriet Harman are "tied" by the law and they can be in breach of it just like the tabloid editors and Denise Fergus which is why Harriet Harman said yesterday that she had to "tread carefully" on the Andrew Marr show - she should know, she's a lawyer.
    This is a matter of protecting an individual's fundamental rights within the British justice system - hard as it might be to swallow!
    Denise Fergus is just as liable to prosecution for contempt of court as anybody else!

  • Comment number 40.

    No, if this goes to court his right to a fair trial is more important than our right to know -and the tabloid media's right to hype up more hysteria- what the allegations are.

    In my opinion, as ten year olds their names should not have been made public in the first place. What the two of them did was horrific but they were children and they should have been treated as children.

  • Comment number 41.

    Jack Straw is right. No info should be placed in public domain that could prejudice any future trial, which appears likely in this case.
    I do not believe it is in anyone's interest or right to know the detail prior to any trial and the objectivity of the law has to take precedence over the emotive nature of the circumstances.

  • Comment number 42.

    It doesn't take a genius to figure out, after reading various headlines for the last couple of days, that Venables - should he face criminal prosecution - would never be guaranteed a fair trial if his real identity was known. So much as I sympathise with the family of Jamie Bulger, it's imperative that Venables' true identity is still kept hidden. What's worse? Not finding out Venables' new identity or letting him get away with breaking the law because of a legal technicality?

    If it turns out that he doesn't face any prosecution and is released, or he's prosecuted and found not guilty and then released, then he should also be guaranteed anonymity. What Venables and Thompson did was despicable, but they were children at the time and as such deserved the chance to prove themselves by staying out of trouble as adults. Should Venables on the other hand be found guilty of another crime I definitely think it changes things. Then he's had his second chance and blown it and doesn't deserve any more tax money wasted on his protection, but I'd be quite happy to see him rot in jail.

  • Comment number 43.

    Absolutely not. If we are to have justice, it must apply to all and that means not disclosing information that may bias any future trial. I'm pleased that the government are holding out against this media witch-hunt for once and are refusing to give in to tabloid pressure. I sympathise with the mother of James Bulger but she does not have the right to know. This man served his time for that murder and that case is closed. This is unrelated and everything we've heard so far is pure speculation on the part of the tabloid media who clearly thrive on whipping up bloodthirsty hysteria. Well done, Jack Straw, for once!

  • Comment number 44.

    Give me a child to the age of 10 and I will show you the man for Mr Venables illness was given to him by his parents and by the sick society in which we live. Lazy Journalists should be ashamed of themselves for selfishly generating a paranoid public response.

  • Comment number 45.

    Get the court case over and done with first. Then once some in-humane lawyer gets him off with a slap on the wrist and justice is seen to have failed once more we should be told everything.

  • Comment number 46.

    Simple; NO!

    in what interest has it for the public to know why he has been sent back to prison!

    He needs to have a fair trial, and how can they do that with all these details leaked in the media! I hate this lynch mob society we have! This man was a 10 year old boy when he committed this atrocious act, and feel it was right for him to have been released when he did to attempt some form of rehabilitation!! i feel this as i mentioned above he was a 10 year old boy at the time and evidence of the transcripts suggest that these boys were very unstable and confused CHILDREN! yes CHILDREN!

    whilst what they did was an unforgivable act i feel it right that some form of rehabilitation should of been attempted! However this now clear it hasn't worked and if the offence is as serious as being suggested, he should then spend the rest of his life in prison or some form of detention center!

  • Comment number 47.

    Did not this Government change the Law so that previous crimes could be reviled during a Trail ? if so the Jury would know of any crimes the Defendant committed, that so its only a matter of time for all to know, unless Trial Jude put a ban on REporting, and I can see no Reason for that. unless this feeble Government steps in again.

  • Comment number 48.

    I dont think a trial should be halted even if he is "outed", a jury goes off the fact presented and I think that previous convitions should be taken in to account.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    If it would prejudice a trial, then it should be kept out of the public domain until after the trial. (How that could be achieved is almost impossible to conceive in the circumstances). If he is found innocent of further crime, then his anonymity should be respected, but if he is found guilty of a crime, then he will have lost all rights to that protection and should never again be so cossetted. He was lucky to be let out after such a short time and he would have blown his second chance as an adult.

  • Comment number 51.

    22. At 5:03pm on 08 Mar 2010, lookingforgoodnews wrote:
    What does baffel me is why they get anonimity, surely one of the conciquesces of committing a crime is that although you have done the time, what you have done cannot ever be forgotten and they should have to take their chances in the world.

    Because they were 10 years old and presumably the extreme hatred that was shown to them by the public. I honestly believe they deserved a chance and wish they'd had a better chance than living a lie.

  • Comment number 52.

    Yes, as soon as his trial for whatever's alleged against him has concluded. If he's innocent this time, then I guess he'll need another new identity; if he's guilty again, then to my mind he's lost any chance of future anonymity. He was given a second chance - rightfully as he was only 10 when he committed the first offence - if he's blown that, at age 27, then he has to live the rest of his life with the 2010 crime against his name.

  • Comment number 53.

    This is a situation of the government's own making. By letting Venebles out early he was always going to re-offend at some point. Then, when it happens, they default to protecting the rights of the criminals rather than the victims. It's the sort of justice that Straw and his genre have shaped over the past 13 years. For once, Straw, think about poor little James Bulger and his family's rights rather than rights of convicted criminals. I despair at what justice appears to mean today. What's the point of having a Justice Secretary who can't deliver justice?

  • Comment number 54.

    Just for once in 13 years I agree with the decision of a Labour politician.

    As far as those who say the information should be released goes, this is voyeurism and typical of people who read the gutter press.

    If this is more than a minor breach of Venables's terms of rlease than it does rather beg the question, why was he not being watched more closely.

    It is obvious that Jamie's mother is not able to get on with her life even after all these years. She has apparantly taken her children out of school. What are these children supposed to think or has their mother told them about their brother.

    As someone has just pointed out, it is the recall that should not have entered the public domain.

  • Comment number 55.

    No, his details should not be released. Why Denise Fergus feels "she has a right to know" is beyond me. None of us have that right, and that the BBC is giving this non story so much airtime is a disgrace. I am hoping that whoever leaked to the press is brought up on charges, and the PCC doles out huge fines to all the speculative media reports out there for this frankly irresponsible journalism.
    Venables and Thompson served their time, and would not have been released if all the professionals who dealt with their rehabilitation didn't believe they were ready. All media coverage such as this does is undermine the British Justice System, and the ideals of innocent until proven guilty.
    No doubt the hang 'em high brigade will be on baying for blood soon enough, but I’m a great believer that people can change for the better, otherwise we may as well just go back to public hangings for all criminals (i'd start with drunk drivers and those who speed, Scum!)
    Matt, Salford

  • Comment number 56.


    who cares

    he's there

    for whatever reason

  • Comment number 57.

    Probably the first time ever, I think Straw has made the right decision. Our gutter press is fueling mob rule, and that can't be allowed.

  • Comment number 58.

    I am amazed that he is still alive!

  • Comment number 59.

    @ no.6

    Joshua, your comment terrifies me. People like you are the reason why details of this case haven't been published.

    The public have absolutely no right to know what this person's done pre-trial as it will no doubt influence the verdict.

  • Comment number 60.

    As much as it pains me to agree with a Labour minister, Jack Straw is right in his stance - we cannot have trial by media.

  • Comment number 61.

    I don't agree that this is 'in the public interest'. The man has been sent back to prison for an alleged breach of his license. If he has broken the law then he will probably be tried for that as well. We don't need to know where he lives, nor what his name is. Mrs Bulger also has no right to know, despite what happened to her son. Whatever he has done has nothing to do with her, it is up to the probation service to do their job, and to ensure that this man is not a danger to the public.

    It is amazing how many people seem to think that life would be better if the judicial system was harsher, and the death penalty was re-introduced. In fact, the existence of the death penalty has never been a deterrent; and going back to the barbaric prison system that we had in Victorian days would not help anyone. It would actually make criminals more dangerous, as they would be more desperate not to be apprehended, and it is likely that there would be more violence on the streets.

  • Comment number 62.

    This is so difficult. One can only completely sympathise with the unique position Denise Fergus is in and it is understandable that she is desparate to know what has happened. She must have spent many years imagining all sorts of things about the two boys (now men) over the years and tried to make sense of what happened to her little boy. The sad reality, however, is that the information cannot be made public knowledge, if justice is to be done. Even if she were told and had to keep the information to herself this would be impossible. She would have to tell somebody and the information (or even mis-information) would jeopardise bringing Jon Venebles to account for his actions.
    The media must take a back seat on this and understand that these are real lives and real feelings that are being played with. This is not an opportunity to exploit the situation for headline grabbers.
    However, after any trial - I think he has forfeited his right to protection of a new name, etc. He is a man now and he knew the rules.

    RIP Jamie... I still feel for you.

  • Comment number 63.

    Personally, I dont think we should know the details of why Jon Venables has been recalled to prision as we are never told the reasons of why others are.

    I do feel sorry for Denise Fergus BUT the fact that he is back behind bars should be enough and she was notified that he had been recalled.

    The scandel papers should let justice run it's course instead of is russling up a lynch mob with the public.

    What has been forgotton here as well is that Jon Venables may not face trial as the Parole Board may feel that a trial may not be in anyone's interest and lets face it, there is going to be someone out there that will find out where the trial is and turn the whole thing into a circus.

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.

    The public have a right to know as soon as possible. I don't buy Straw's appeal to the public interest in this secrecy. Reporting of arrests and charges seems to be acceptable in other cases involving well known people charged with serious crimes - football stars, MPs and so on.
    The secrecy in this case is highly suggestive of an establishment cover up. The tax payer has paid for this person's new identity, one to one education, and upkeep for several years. The taxpayer is entitled to know if the authorities have screwed up, whether they have been too easy with supervision, whether this person has been a risk to the public, and so on. If the officials have screwed up we should be demanding resignations high up the system. For this would amount to a serious breach of professional responsibility.
    As far as I am concerned Venables can go to a special place reserved for him in hell. But the public who fund his guardians have a right to know what has been happening.

    As a cynic I might suggest that the delay in reporting the facts is to buy time for the failed officials and guardians to prepare their defence and probably arrange their golden handshakes before the skies open on them.

  • Comment number 66.

    The attitude expressed in #6 shows why no details should be released to the public. Mob rule would take over and no doubt some self appointed vigilanties would exact their own revenge on this individual.
    To my mind, the fact that he has been recalled to prison for breaking the conditions of his release proves that the system works, and that if he is a dangerous individual, he is where he belongs. It will help no one at all if details of whatever breaches of his conditions are released to the general public. Just because the editor of the Sun decides that something is in the public interest does not make it so.

  • Comment number 67.

    Mrs Fergus has suffered terribly and our thoughts must go out to her, but the situation will not be improved by sharing further information. This will merely compromise his identity (and thus cause him to have an entirely new one created at considerable expense - be clear, he will not 'forfeit' this privilege) and will also greatly compromise the chances of a conviction in any subsequent trial. All of which will be rendered academic by the need to review his licenced release in any case. I am deeply suspicious of the Press motivation in this case, nothing like stirring up the mob to sell copy. Little regard to responsibilities, legal or otherwise that I've seen so far.

  • Comment number 68.

    Total over0reaction by everyone!

  • Comment number 69.

    It would be much better for everyone concerned to make Venables recall and his made up identity available to the public. The internet is buzzing with a name and location which may or may not be true, It won't be too long before the details of his recall are on the web as well. The Labour home office appears to be leaking like a sieve. My concern is that if the details are not clarified, someone completely innocent, but with the same name and location as shown on the net, will wrongly suffer abuse and suspicion or worse. Straw needs to protect the innocent in this case not the evil murderers.

  • Comment number 70.

    Lets hold back on our judgement of Venables until the courts have had a go.
    With regard to whether he should have been released or not: Let's not forget there were TWO murderers. The fact that the other has kept out of crime would seem to suggest that people CAN be rehabilitated. Perhaps Robert Thompson is a family man who works and pays taxes.

  • Comment number 71.

    It is very easy to be outraged at what is happening after all why should this scum have justice?

    But justice is supposed to be blind and for once justice does appear to be blind. I would like to see Venables rot in jail but I do not want to see some bleeding heart liberal lawyer, who see's the criminal as the victim and the real victim as irrelevant, get this man off because due process has not been followed to the exact letter of the law. We will hear what this man has done after the hearing but first be patient let the process work and if it does not raise hell and direct it at the Government and its mouth piece Jack Straw.

  • Comment number 72.

    To all those saying he should have stayed in prison and rehabilition is 'impossible', how about you actually remember that there were TWO people who murdered James Bulger, and the other one has not been recalled to prison and is presumably living a normal life after being successfully rehabilitated.

    What I want to know is why the information that he was recalled was released, there is now already possible prejudice during his trial as any judge/jury could speculate based on age and appearance that it may be him. Nothing should have been released until after his trial.

  • Comment number 73.

    Does anyone remember the exact circumstances of James Bulger's abduction from the shops??

  • Comment number 74.

    No I don't believe it should be made public, until it is non-prejudicial.
    The government have to tread carefully under the law and for Denise Fergus to "vent fury" at ministers for this is very unreasonable.
    Unfortunately, I don't believe she does have the right to know the reasons if it IS prejudicial!
    I believe that it is good of Jack Straw to meet with her - that is a nice jesture which he is not required to do.
    None of us can over-ride the due process of law - not even ministers!

  • Comment number 75.

    I honestly can't see what actual good it would do anyone to be given this information. If anyone can advance a position beyond the constantly iterated "but the public has a right to know!", I should be interested to see it.

  • Comment number 76.

    The whole thing is beyond me. It is lightyears beyond me how one can put ten year olds on adult trial. I mean this is the same country that doesn't allow 17 year olds to buy a bottle of beer! And why do the public and media now need to know about one of the offenders from then? Why does the Justice Secretary have to deal with this personally and publicly? This doesn't shed a good light on this society.

  • Comment number 77.

    "Just like Jack Straw and Nu-Labour punish the innocent, hide and help the perverts and greedy bankers.

  • Comment number 78.

    How can knowing his crime disrupt his trial? It's normal to know the crime before a trial commences.
    I suspect this is just another Labour government error, and they are trying to cover it up.

  • Comment number 79.

    It's our right to know why Murderers are sent back to prison. Who the hell does he think he is GOD...

  • Comment number 80.

    It is difficult to decide which way to go but rather than pander to the rights of the criminal I would rather respect the rights of the victim.

    Since James's mother Denise Fergus would like to know, I see no reason why she shouldn’t have this information divulged to her.

    Politicians, lawyers, do-gooders and control freaks are the ones who argue she doesn’t have a right to know this - who are they to decide what is right when the system they are involved in has failed her? They are responsible for the injustice in this country with more rights for the criminals and no rights for the victims.

    I respect her wishes as it is the only thing she can have granted her as a result of what happened to her son James. This won’t make up for the suffering she has experienced - I don’t care how much Venables suffers since he deserves it.

  • Comment number 81.

    No, not unless he is found guilty by a court of law. If his identity were released now, the court's work would be impossible.
    Then you could argue that, if he is found guilty of this new offence and imprisoned under his real name, the prison officers' work would also be impossible. The best solution would have been not to release such a dangerous individual in the first place.

  • Comment number 82.

    If Venables is formally charged with an offence, then yes, details should be released in the same way that they would for any other defendent.

    Frankly, all this should have been a moot point, as instead of being released at the age of 18, I personally feel he should have celebrated his birthday at the end of a rope.

    Im sure people will disagree with me, but thats my opinion. And Im ganerally a liberal!

  • Comment number 83.

    What I'm curious about is, if his new identity has been protected how did his reincarceration become public knowledge?

  • Comment number 84.

    I don't believe that the public have a "right" to know, at all. What possible reason do people have for wanting to know where Venables is and what he's up to? Apart from the tabloid-fuelled witch hunt which would inevitably follow were details to be released, the only other argument I've heard is that people are entitled to know where he is, in order to protect their children(?!). Unfortunately, I can assure these people that there will be individuals a lot closer at hand and as yet undetected by the criminal justice system that have the potential to harm their children, so their concerns over this single person are rather silly.

    I'm afraid that I can't wholeheartedly agree that poor Denise Fergus has a "right" to know, consdidering that any information given to her is bound to end up in the public domain due to her understandable feelings towards her son's killers.

    In fact, I'm beginning to question why the fact that he had been recalled couldn't have been kept a secret from the beginning? What purpose does it serve if the public aren't going to be given any details?

    Aside from protecting Venables and whether you agree with this or not (personally I do, we live in a civilised society and I find the idea of throwing this man to the baying blood-thirsty crowds abhorrent, and tantamount to sinking to their level), the secrecy also protects countless other young men who could potentially be mistaken for him, either in prisons or in the community.

  • Comment number 85.

    Just because the 'public' is interested does not mean this information should be released.

    If all those who are demanding release of this information were in the same position as Jack Straw they would realise that they would have to say the same as him because it is the law.

    There will not be as has been suggested a 'secret' trial. IF he is charged (and none have been laid yet) he will still stand trial under his new name and for the crimed he has alledged to have committed.

  • Comment number 86.

    If information about why he has been recalled is released, the only person to benefit will be Jon Venables. He'll be able to waltz into court with his barrister and claim he can't possibly have a fair trial due to the publicity. If the first judge doesn't let him go, the appeal court or Strasbourg will.

    If he gets off on such a technicality, I trust the people of Liverpool will remember that it was the Mirror that caused it. There'll be no tabloids left for the people of Liverpool to buy soon (the shun the Sun because of an article about Hillsborough).

  • Comment number 87.

    Jack Straw is absolutely correct here. If Venables is charged it is essential that he get a fair trial - any suggestion that this is impossible may well result in his not being prosecuted at all, or in his avoiding conviction on those grounds.
    If Venables is convicted (and we cannot assume guilt with regard to the present allegations), then it will be right and proper to reveal his new identity and the crimes of which he has been convicted

  • Comment number 88.

    Yes, the public should be told the reasons regarding the recalled to prison of Mr. Jon Venables; But, I am also, not convicting him of any new crimes.....


  • Comment number 89.

    It's absoluely disgusting...

  • Comment number 90.

    '25. At 5:05pm on 08 Mar 2010, Graphis wrote:
    Denise Fergus is wrong: she most definitely does not have "a right to know".'

    And how would you feel if it had been your child? I find this to be a comment totally lacking in empathy or imagination. Parents CAN'T "get over the tragedy" - look at the number of parents who finally split up following similar deaths.

    Had the European Courts not overruled the UK Courts and shortened the sentence, this situation might not have arisen now.

    If there is to be a trial, Venables is now an adult -I see no reason any longer to protect his identity at further cost to the tax-payer if he is found guilty.

    I have to wonder if some of the comments aimed at Denise Fergus are coming from people already serving time.

  • Comment number 91.

    An old principle is that justice should not only be done, it should also clearly be seen to have been done. Here, it has not been seen at all, and there's reason to think it may not have been done. The original reason to conceal Venables' new identity was, that he was still a child. That reason has long since expired. Aged about 27, he's been an adult for nearly a decade, and any reason to protect him as if he were still a child should be made public if it exists at all.

  • Comment number 92.

    Yes, Name and shame this thug who should (if the system worked) stay behind bars until the day he dies.

  • Comment number 93.

    I can understand the need to allow the due process of law to operate unhindered by a baying media mob - but should Venables be convicted of any further offence then this should be made public under his real name.

  • Comment number 94.

    Innocent until proven guilty. If we gave the press everything they wanted this man would have a Sunday exclusive in every paper about what, where, when, how and why. Justice can go hang the media likes a good baddy, the only reason they want to know is because they can make money out of it.

  • Comment number 95.

    My gut instinct tells me that if THE SUN wants his anonymity removed then that is reason enough for it to be kept.

  • Comment number 96.

    No 53, Thompson and Venables were not let out early as you claim and to state that one or both would re-offend is untrue.

    Mary Bell was released on similar terms and has never re-offended, she has however had to have identity changed at least once.

    Both these boys were obviously considered sufficiently rehabilitated before their release and if one of them has breached the release terms, he now stands no chance of having a fair trial if that is the consequence of any breach.

    The worst thing about this is the fact that this information was released in the first place.

  • Comment number 97.

    There are right and wrong ways to go about this. We can't have trials prejudiced because of some knee-jerk public outcry. Details should be kept quiet and only revealed if he is found guilty of the alleged crime.

    Emotions run high I understand, but some go over the top. I read on one forum the other day several people saying he should have been hanged for the murder of James Bulger. People advocating hanging 10 year old children says it all really. If nothing else this should be kept secret to stop vigilantes lynching him. Mob rule and trial by media have no place in our scoiety.

  • Comment number 98.

    Just because people want to know does not mean they can pass it off as a right.

  • Comment number 99.

    a child's criminal slate is wiped clean when they reach adulthood. His alleged offense was allegedly committed under his new adult identity and he should be tried under his new identity.

    The press might not care a damn about justice nor those that read them - but fortunately, it would appear, The Minister for Justice, as one would expect, does.

    We do not burn witches any more nor do we hand over damaged children to the unprincipled mob who, by their behaviour, show themselves to be not much better than him. He was a dreadfully abused child. What's their excuse?

  • Comment number 100.

    No! Absolutely not! Not under any circumstance! That the press even released any detail regarding this beggars belief. That they continue to rally support and cry for more information, whipping the nation into a completely misguided lynching frenzy is absolutely unforgivable.

    Why do people want to know - because they want to find this person and attack and/or kill him. Divulging any further information isn't just damaging his right to a fair trial, it will undermine his fundamental human rights altogether, and probably get him killed.

    These idiots frothing at the mouth should take a good look at themselves. Vigilante justice? Someone please remind me what century I'm living in.


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