Page last updated at 10:40 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Venables should 'have a chance' says his ex-solicitor

Jon Venables' former solicitor Laurence Lee: ''It's very hard to brand a child as evil''

Jon Venables' former solicitor urged the justice system not to "give up" on the child killer - recalled to prison over "serious allegations".

Laurence Lee told the BBC it was "very hard to class a child as evil" and he still had the right to a chance of rehabilitation.

Venables, 27, who murdered James Bulger in 1993, is under risk of attack as the "media hype" continues, Mr Lee said.

The justice secretary has refused to divulge why Venables has been recalled.

Jack Straw told the House of Commons it was in the interests of justice and that disclosure of the allegations could prejudice any further action taken against him.

Mr Lee, who represented a 10-year-old Venables throughout his trial said he agreed with Straw's decision adding that Venables had the right to be tried in a "normal democratic manner".

I am sick of them closing doors in my face...As James's mother I have a right to know
Denise Fergus, James Bulger's mother

"Venables is at a greater risk, the more the hype and the speculation continue, the more chance his cover is going to be blown.

"He's in prison but at the moment it's a security tinder box, a real hot potato has been created here and I can only hope that things start to die down.

"If there is a trial and he is convicted, he will be punished and his chances of release will be greatly reduced."

Baroness Butler-Sloss, who originally made the decision to grant anonymity to James Bulger's two killers on their 2001 release, has warned that Venables would be at risk from vigilantes if his new identity is revealed.

Mr Lee said he was "flabbergasted" that Venables had breached the terms of his licence, but he said someone even with "nerves of steel" would find it extremely difficult to start a new life with a new identity.

Police handout in 1993 of Jon Venables
Jon Venables was given a new identity on his release from prison

"The pressures on him to live this lie and constantly have to lie to make friends and fit in with society, I think are what made him breach his licence."

Denise Fergus, James' mother, told ITV's This Morning she found it hard to even say Venables' name and that she had the right to know what he is currently accused of.

She said it would not "take the pain away" but would reassure her.

"I am sick of them closing doors in my face. It's about time they started telling me what I think I should know.

"As James's mother I have a right to know."

Venables and Robert Thompson, both 10 at the time, snatched James from the Strand shopping centre in Bootle, Liverpool in February 1993.

They beat him to death and left his body on the tracks to be hit by a train.



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Bulger mother calls for answers
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Straw hints at Venables decision
08 Mar 10 |  Merseyside
Fresh claims over Venables recall
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Venables 'should be identified'
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02 Mar 10 |  Merseyside

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