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Tuesday, 10 July, 2001, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
Net firm fights Bulger injunction
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson
An open-ended injunction protects Venables' and Thompson's identities
An internet service provider (ISP) is to argue it should not be held responsible for material posted on its web pages that contravenes an injunction protecting James Bulger's killers.

Demon Internet's case will be heard by the judge who imposed the injunction designed to keep Robert Thompson and Jon Venables' new identities and whereabouts secret.

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the Family Division at the High Court, will hear Demon's case that it could currently be held responsible for breaching the injunction if a third party were to post contemptuous material on the web.

The applicants feel that their clients will be in danger of breaching the injunction through no fault of their own

Office of Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss
The ISP, which will argue that it should be exempt from responsibility in such a scenario, could presently face a fine or even jail if the injunction was broken via its website.

Dame Elizabeth's clerk, Roger Smith, said: "The applicants feel the injunction made at the last hearing did not really lend itself to the internet, which we all know is very difficult.

"The applicants feel that their clients will be in danger of breaching the injunction through no fault of their own."

It is not known if Demon's case would be heard in public.

There has already been concern about the role of the internet in the complex circumstances surrounding the release of the 18-year-olds, who abducted, tortured and murdered James Bulger in 1993.

Difficult to control

Thompson was photographed during a trip to Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield before the Parole Board's decision to free him, and there were threats to publish it on the internet.

The government and the courts have difficulty controlling information on the web because of its complex international structure.

In March former MI6 agent Richard Tomlinson published his spy book The Big Breach on the web although it was banned in Britain.

Renegade MI5 agent David Shayler also used the tactic to disseminate allegations about the secret service while he was in exile in Paris to avoid prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.

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