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Saturday, 24 August, 2002, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
Paedophile vigilante mob fears
Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells
The girls deaths led to calls for new paedophile laws
A senior law official has warned people against taking the law into their own hands if a national newspaper presses ahead with plans to name and shame convicted paedophiles.

Sarah Payne
Sarah Payne was killed by a convicted paedophile

The News of The World is again calling for the creation of a bill which would allow for the "controlled access" of the names, addresses and convictions of paedophiles, to anyone in the community who wants them.

But former Master of the Rolls, Lord Donaldson, says controlled access would be impossible and vigilante mobs would be inevitable.

Stuart Kuttner, the paper's managing editor, maintains the campaign is not calling for vigilantes, but for vigilance.

The News of the World called for the creation of a so-called "Sarah's Law" after the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne two years ago.


The mobs will gather

Lord Donaldson

It asked that parents be given the legal right to know the identities of offenders in their area and it published lists of names and addresses.

However, the publication prompted an angry response and resulted in paedophiles - and some non-paedophiles - being attacked and their homes vandalised.

Last Sunday, sparked by the murders of 10-year-old best friends Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, the paper decided to revive its call for a Sarah's Law.

It urged readers to sign a petition to expose the "110,000 perverts still on the loose in Britain".

Stuart Kuttner, managing editor, News of The World
Kuttner: 'It's every parents' right to know'

But, speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday, Lord Donaldson said he believed it was irresponsible.

He said: "The newspaper talks about 'controlled access' of the information, but of course this will not happen.

"As soon as neighbour A knows there is a paedophile living near them, they will tell all those around them and the mobs will gather.

"It is down to parents to teach their children not to talk to strangers - that's the way to deal with it - and above all, it is for the police to deal with.

'Vigilance'

"The police should have the information, not everyone else."

Mr Kuttner, however, said he believed it was every parents' right - to know if a paedophile was living near their child.

"We have said right from the beginning that this is a charter not for vigilantes, but for vigilance.

"As far as we, and millions of our readers, are concerned, it is our right to know if a dangerous, serial child sex offender is living next door.

"With the best will in the world, the police cannot monitor them 24 hours a day - they have admitted that to us."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
News of the World's Stewart Cuttner & Lord Donaldson
"It is every parent's right to have controlled access to information about individuals in the neighbourhood"
See also:

13 Dec 01 | England
13 Dec 01 | UK
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