James Bulger’s dad Ralph launched a legal bid in the High Court to reveal more details about Jon Venables
The dad of murdered toddler James Bulger has lost a High Court bid to have information about killer Jon Venables made public.
Grieving father Ralph and James’s uncle Jimmy had 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 had 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”.
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, previously 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 did not want the order to be discharged altogether, but were asking for it to be varied so some information can be revealed without the threat of prosecution.
The court heard the information included 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” was that information could easily be found about Venables by searching online and he had not been “damaged” by the material so far.
However, anyone sharing such information would, under the terms of the order, face prosecution for contempt of court.
This afternoon, the Bulgers lost their High Court bid.
Lawyers representing the Attorney General’s office and Venables had argued there was a need to maintain the order.
James’s mother, Denise Fergus, was not involved in the proceedings and no challenge was 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.