Saturday, March 13, 1999 Published at 12:29 GMT
Police anger over Bulger challenge
The killers of Jamie Bulger will take their appeal to the highest European court
The policeman who led the team which tracked down James Bulger's killers has criticised a European legal challenge which could lead to a fresh trial.
It emerged on Friday that the European Human Rights Commission has recommended referring the case to the full Court of Human Rights.
The commission, whose report is officially released on Monday, is understood to support some of the arguments put forward by lawyers for Jon Venables and Robert Thompson.
The pair's lawyers, who say their trial before an adult court was not fair, are expected to press for a fresh hearing following the decision.
They took him to a railway line, telling concerned passers-by he was their brother, beat him and poured paint over him before leaving him on a railway line, where his body was run over by a train.
They were given eight years in custody, a sentence which was changed to 15 years by the then Home Secretary Michael Howard.
Mr Kirby said the boys were treated with nothing but "kindness and courtesy" by his officers and were even thanked by one of the boys' mothers.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We did everything within the law to make sure that the trial was as humane as possible so I don't know how there could be grounds to appeal on that basis."
'They have never denied it'
He said: "What is the purpose of a fresh trial when they were found guilty by a court of law in regard to what they did and admitted the part they played in it. There were never any denials."
If the judges rule the boys' human rights have been breached, the whole trial could be ruled unlawful and the boys might be granted their freedom.
But a decision could take two or three years.
They also claimed the 15-year sentences imposed on Thompson and Venables were illegal.
Leak was 'deplorable'
The UK Home Secretary Jack Straw says he "deplores" the way the information from the report was allowed to leak out before the Bulger family was informed.
James Bulger's mother, Denise Fergus criticised the Strasbourg decision.
She said: "They murdered him in the most horrific and despicable way imaginable and they cannot deny that.
"To say they were degraded or that their trial was inhumane is ridiculous."