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The BBC's Jane Peel
"Nearly eight years on they are still at risk of revenge attacks"
 real 56k

Chris Johnson, spokesman for James Bulgar's mother
"Denise... feels that these two boys have been put on a pedestal."
 real 28k

Tuesday, 14 November, 2000, 12:13 GMT
Bulger killers' secrecy fight
Venables (left) and Thompson
Venables (left) and Thompson: Eligible for release
Lawyers for the killers of toddler James Bulger have asked the High Court for the secrecy surrounding them to be maintained, even though they are now both 18.

Jon Venables and Robert Thompson hope to win parole early next year, following a ruling by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, that they had served the minimum tariff necessary under their life sentences.

The pair, who have been held in separate secure units for more than seven-and-a-half years, will be released as soon as the parole board decides they are ready.

They are now unlikely to be sent to a young offenders' institution or an adult prison.

James Bulger
James Bulger: Abducted from a shopping centre
Venables and Thompson were both 10 when they murdered two-year-old James after abducting him from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside in February 1993.

An injunction imposed at the time of their sentencing banned the media from publishing photographs or details about the boys, and was valid until they reached 18.

But the pair, who both turned 18 in August, are said to be terrified at the prospect of being thrown into the media spotlight, and want the injunction to be continued.

In July a private hearing granted an interim injunction until the outcome of the High Court hearing, which has been set for three days.

At the hearing on Monday Edward Fitzgerald QC, representing Venables, launched an action to continue that injunction for the rest of the boys' lives.

He said it should also ban anyone publishing anything about the boys' whereabouts or their assumed identities when they are released.

"Disclosure of that information would expose him (Venables) and his co-detainee to serious physical risk and serious psychological fear and the likelihood of harassment," he told the court.

He added: "It is necessary to protect his right to life and freedom from persecution and harassment."

The move to continue the injunction is being vigorously contested by media organisations.

They will argue that continuing the injunction would set a dangerous precedent and mean that paedophiles or child murderers such as Myra Hindley would be able to demand the same anonymity.

At the hearing, Family Division President Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss is faced with the task of balancing the killers' right to privacy and family life under the European Human Rights Convention and the Human Rights Act, against the media's right to freedom of expression.

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