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Sunday, 19 December, 1999, 05:26 GMT
New Bulger law 'speculation'

Publishers have approached families of Venables (left) and Thompson


The Home Office has described as "speculation" claims that the law will be changed to prevent James Bulger's killers from selling their stories.

Publishers are said to have approached the families of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson about the possibility of co-operating on books about the murder.

Criminals are already prevented from being paid for their stories for six years, but the Sunday Telegraph reports that Home Secretary Jack Straw is considering extending this ban to life.


Child killer Mary Bell was jailed in 1968
The Home Office is concerned that there will be a wave of publishing offers when the Venables and Thomson turn 18 and restrictions on reporting their progress are lifted.

Mr Straw ordered a review on the issue following the publication last year of a book about Mary Bell, which saw the child killer paid 10,000 for her collaboration.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 1995, courts can confiscate money from criminals within the six-year time limit.

But the law was designed to cover the recovery of the proceeds of organised crime and would not cover the Bulger murder.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed that a working group set up to investigate the Mary Bell book - Cries Unheard by Gitta Sereny - had reported back and that ministers were considering its recommendations.

But she added that no final decisions had been made and would not be drawn on the suggestion that the review had recommended changes to the law.

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See also:
15 Mar 99 |  UK
A death that shocked the nation
16 Dec 99 |  UK
The future for Bulger's killers
16 Dec 99 |  UK
Q&A: The Bulger case

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