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Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 12:24 GMT
Killers' parents welcome ruling

Venables and Thompson are now 17 Venables and Thompson are now 17


The solicitors for James Bulger's killers, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, have welcomed the European ruling that their clients' trial was unfair.

Jon Dickinson, for Jon Venables, said the boy's parents were "naturally relieved" at the announcement, which he called the "right decision".

He said he now hoped the tariff for sentence would be fixed in some way.

Although he called for the case to be referred to the parole board, he stressed this would not be to look at their release but to look at their progress through the system.

He said he believed that the pressure would have been relieved on both Venables and Thompson had the trial not been held in the public eye.

Costs 'will pay legal fees'

Robert Thompson's lawyer, Dominic Lloyd, said that the next step was now up to the home secretary.

"It is not really appropriate for us to speculate on what might happen next," he said.

"We have had a ruling that the UK has breached my clients' most fundamental human rights and it really is for the UK to say how it remedies that.

"We anticipate a statement from the home secretary and we will wait to see what he has to say."

Mr Lloyd said Thompson had been told about the ruling.

"Like myself he will be considering the ramifications. I really need to sit down with him and talk it through," he said.

Mr Lloyd said that the costs awarded to the two boys will go to pay legal fees and would not be handed to the teenagers.

"It represents payment for many hours and years of hard work on the part of those who prepared the case for presentation to the court," he said.

"It is not payable to the boys themselves. It was actually open to them to make an application for compensation but my client declined to do so."

Politicians should have 'no role'

John Wadham, director of civil rights pressure group Liberty, also welcomed the European Court of Human Rights' decision.

"Children who are accused of crime - no matter how horrendous that crime is - are entitled to a fair trial," he said.

"Court procedures need to be changed to allow any child involved in a serious offence to take a real part in their own trial.

"Politicians and home secretaries should have no role in deciding how long individuals spend in prison or when they should be released - that is for the court to decide."

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See also:
16 Dec 99 |  UK
Reform pledge after Bulger ruling

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