Straw turns down Venables revelations

CCTV showing James Bulger, who was murdered in 1993
CCTV showing James Bulger, who was murdered in 1993

By Alex Stevenson

Jack Straw has ruled out releasing further details about why killer Jon Venables has been returned to jail.

The justice secretary had admitted this morning that he was giving "further consideration" to the case for public interest after reports over the weekend suggested reasons for the move.

Venables, 27, was ten years old when he murdered toddler James Bulger in 1993. After being released the Ministry of Justice confirmed he was returned to jail following a "breach of licence conditions" on Wednesday.


James' mother Denise Fergus said she had a "right to know" why the recall had taken place.

But this afternoon Mr Straw told the Commons that it would not be in the public interest to make further revelations.

"It is critical that if charges do follow it is possible to hold a fair trial - fair for the defence and fair for the prosecution," he told MPs.

"Our motivation is solely to ensure that serious allegations are properly investigated and that justice is done. No one in this country would want anything other."

Mr Straw's earlier comments echoed home secretary Alan Johnson's suggestion that the public had a "right to know" last week.

"It is better to be cautious. Above all, it is not for ministers to run a criminal trial process," Mr Straw said earlier.

"I think it's pretty well known that my overriding instinct in public life is to give as much information as possible as early as possible - not to sit on things. There has to be a good reason for doing what I'm doing at the moment."

This afternoon he insisted that he and Mr Johnson were in complete agreement on the issue, telling the Commons: "The home secretary and I are in exactly the same place on this."

Venables abducted two-year-old James from a shopping centre in Bootle, Liverpool, with Robert Thompson in February 1993 before they beat him to death and laid his body on a railway track.

According to the Sunday Mirror, Venables was taken back into custody on allegations revolving around indecent images of children.

The Sun yesterday also claimed that Venables had been arrested on suspicion of a serious sexual offence. It has emerged since then that an injunction has been obtained against the paper to prevent it from publishing the specific alleged offences.

Mrs Fergus told ITV1's This Morning on Monday her head was "all over the place" over the developments.

"I do not want to prejudice a trial but I have the right to know," she said.

"I want to know why he, I can't even bring myself to say his name, has been recalled to prison.

"If he [Mr Straw] can't tell me now, then I want to know after any criminal proceedings against him have finished.

"I can't eat again. I have pulled my kids out of school. It has brought it all flooding back."

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