Liverpool

James Bulger's father loses Jon Venables identity challenge

Jon Venables Image copyright Merseyside Police
Image caption Jon Venables was 10 when he and Robert Thompson killed James Bulger

The father of James Bulger has lost a legal challenge to try to change a lifelong anonymity order for one of his son's killers.

Ralph Bulger wanted information about Jon Venables' new identity to be made public, after the murderer was jailed for possessing child abuse images.

Venables and Robert Thompson, both 10, killed the two-year-old in 1993.

Mr Bulger's lawyers argued information about Venables which was "common knowledge" should be made public.

However, president of the family division Sir Andrew McFarlane refused to change the terms of the order, which was designed to protect the "uniquely notorious" Venables from "being put to death".

Sir Andrew said: "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."

James was murdered after he was snatched from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside.

Under the order, dating back to 2001, Venables and Thompson were granted lifelong anonymity and given new identities when they were released on licence.

Image copyright PA
Image caption James Bulger was two when he was snatched and killed in 1993

Mr Bulger, and James' uncle Jimmy, had argued certain details about Venables were easily accessible online.

The court was told that included details of the killer's identities, former addresses up to 2017 and prisons where he had been detained.

However, under the injunction anyone sharing those details could face prosecution for contempt of court.

The Bulgers asked the court to vary the order so it did not cover that information.

Sir Andrew rejected their request, saying: "My decision is in no way a reflection on the applicants themselves, for whom there is a profoundest sympathy.

"The reality is that the case for varying the injunction has simply not been made."

The court order in relation to Venables was changed after he was convicted of offences in 2010 and February last year.

Justice for James

He was jailed for three years and four months last year after admitting making indecent images of children and possessing a "paedophile manual".

James' mother, Denise Fergus, did not support the legal battle.

Speaking last year, she said: "I've always said, I don't want them dead, because I don't want blood on my hands. I don't agree with killing someone.

"All I've ever wanted was justice for James and getting that justice would be them two going from young offenders to a proper prison and spend proper time in there."

Speaking outside court after the ruling, solicitor-advocate Robin Makin, for the Bulgers, said "the authorities seem to be hell-bent on protecting [Venables] regardless of the risk to others" and that was the "primary driving force" behind the application.

Sir Andrew refused permission to appeal against the ruling but Mr Makin said the Bulgers may consider pursuing a challenge at the Court of Appeal.

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