James Bulger killer Jon Venables could be identified TODAY as dad goes to court

James Bulger’s father Ralph and uncle Jimmy are seeking to have Jon Venables’ anonymity lifted at the High Court 26 years on from the abduction and murder that shocked Britain

A judge will decide today whether information about James Bulger’s killer Jon Venables should be made public 26 years on from the abduction and murder that shocked Britain.

The murdered toddler’s father Ralph and uncle Jimmy have launched a bid to have Venables’s anonymity removed, arguing certain details about him are “common knowledge” and easily accessible online.

Thanks to a worldwide court order, Venables is living under a cloak of anonymity since his release from a life sentence for the kidnap, torture and murder of the two-year-old in February 1993.

Ralph and Jimmy Bulger have asked Sir Andrew McFarlane, the President of the Family Division, to consider varying the order so that it does not cover the information they claim is “common knowledge”.

Sir Andrew is due to give his ruling on the case on Monday afternoon.

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

Both killers were granted lifelong anonymity by a High Court judge and have lived under new identities since their release from custody.

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

He was jailed for three years and four months last year after admitting surfing the dark web for extreme child abuse images and possessing a “sickening” paedophile manual.

He was charged after police found more than 1,000 indecent images on his computer.

It was the second time he had been caught with such images, and when he was arrested he told police he was plagued by “stupid urges”.

Lawyers for the Bulgers told the High Court last week that something had “gone wrong” with Venables’s rehabilitation and they, as victims, should be able to scrutinise his handling by the authorities.

They argued they are prevented from doing this because the terms of the injunction stop them from discussing details which are widely available online.

Solicitor-advocate Robin Makin, for the Bulgers, told the court: “This a very high-profile matter and indeed it is one where the current situation is unprecedented, in which we now have a child murderer who has, as an adult, committed two sets of serious sexual offences and is undoubtedly a danger to the public.”

Mr Makin said it appeared “no lessons have been learned”, adding: “The point is that (Venables) has been trained by the state to be dishonest and hide his identity, and to no doubt develop techniques for dealing with such matters.”

He said the Bulgers do not want the order to be discharged altogether, but are asking for it to be varied so some information can be revealed without the threat of prosecution.

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

Mr Makin said: “In order for the applicants to exercise their rights as victims and 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 lawyer said the “reality of the situation” is that information can easily be found about Venables by searching online and he has not been “damaged” by the material so far

However, anyone sharing such information would, under the current terms of the order, face prosecution for contempt of court.

Lawyers representing the Attorney General’s office and Venables argued there is a need to maintain the order.

James’s mother, Denise Fergus, is not involved in the proceedings and no challenge is being brought against the anonymity granted to Thompson.

At the time of a preliminary hearing in the injunction challenge last year, Mrs Fergus said in a statement: “I understand the motivation for the application, but my concern is that if Venables were known by his own name, it could lead to vigilante action and innocent people being hurt.”

Only a handful of lifelong anonymity orders have been made to date, including those granted to Venables and Thompson, and child killer Mary Bell.