The father of murdered toddler James Bulger has launched his bid to vary the anonymity order on one of his son’s killers at the High Court today (TUES).
Ralph Bulger is arguing that a press gag on Jon Venables has ‘not washed with the public’ and information is being withheld under the injunction to ‘bury’ the mistakes of authorities.
His lawyer Robin Makin told the President of the Family division Sir Andrew McFarlane that authorities were seeking to avoid scrutiny for their handling of Venables after he was released from prison for child porn in 2010 – only to be jailed for the same offences five years later.
He told the court: “The authorities do not wish to have any accountability as to what the events were.
“How he has been managed should not be buried.”
Venables kidnapped, tortured and murdered the toddler in Bootle, Merseyside with Robert Thompson in 1993 when they were both ten and the tot was just two.
The worldwide ban on naming Venables and Thompson was made after they were released from their life sentences in 2001.
Since then, 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’.
The Old Bailey heard the images were mainly of children aged six to 13-years-old but some depicted ‘male toddlers’.
Mr 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.
Mr 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.
“And the final and most important which is this – that in order for the applicants to exercise their rights as victims.
“To deal with the process going forward there should be disclosure of information akin to what was disclosed when the offending occurred in 2010.”
The barrister added the information, which he claims is common knowledge and easily accessible on the internet despite the injunction, does not affect Venables.
He said: “What I say quite fundamentally is that the material some of which was referred to in open court – and some of which wasn’t including a couple of photographs – has been and still is common knowledge.
“The reality is that those matters are readily available and have been over many years and still are in the public domain.
“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.”
The court heard that authorities have been slow to punish people that breach the injunction by posting information and adult photos of Venables.
It was also said ‘mistakes were made’ by authorities when Venables was released in 2013 after the first child porn conviction.
Mr 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 authorities do not wish any information in the public domain with regard to the handling of Jon Venables and the mistakes that have undoubtedly been made.”
It was also said that there was a ‘sexual theme’ to James’ murder which is a “significant feature bearing in mind what has happened”.
The hearing continues.
By Adela Whittingham