JAMES Bulger killer Jon Venables is to keep his anonymity after a judge today ruled it would protect him from “serious violence”.
The toddler was brutally murdered by Venables and Robert Thompson after they snatched him from a Merseyside shopping centre in 1993.
Both ten years old at the time, the killers were granted lifelong anonymity by a High Court judge and have lived under new identities since their release from custody.
In their bid to have Venable’s identity disclosed, lawyers for Ralph and Jimmy Bulger argued certain details about the killer and his life are “common knowledge” and easily accessible online.
But today President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane rejected the bid, saying it was in place to protect Venables from being “put to death”.
“My decision is in no way a reflection on the applicants themselves, for whom there is a profoundest sympathy,” he said.
“The reality is that the case for varying the injunction has simply not been made.”
Venables is ‘uniquely notorious’ and 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
President Of The Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane
He added: “As Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss held, (Venables) is ‘uniquely notorious’ and 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.
This is, therefore, a wholly exceptional case and the evidence in 2019 is more than sufficient to sustain the conclusion that there continues to be a real risk of very substantial harm to (Venables).”
Sir Andrew added: “I accept that normally the public and Parliament should be able to debate important matters relating to future policy on the basis of full disclosure of relevant information.
“For the reasons I have given, that is simply not possible in this case without compromising (Venables’) right to be protected from serious violence.”
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.
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”.
James’s mother, Denise Fergus, is not involved in the proceedings and no challenge is being brought against the anonymity granted to Thompson.
The court previously heard details of Venables’ identities and former addresses up to 2017 and the prisons where he has been detained.
Anyone sharing such information under the order could face prosecution for contempt of court.
The Bulgers have been refused permission to appeal against the ruling, but it is open to them to apply directly to the Court of Appeal.
Only a handful of lifelong anonymity orders have been made to date, including those granted to Venables and Thompson, and child killer Mary Bell.