Page last updated at 19:59 GMT, Thursday, 11 March 2010

James Bulger's mother meets Jack Straw

Denise Fergus
Denise Fergus met Mr Straw at Blackburn Town Hall

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has met the mother of murdered toddler James Bulger to discuss the return to prison of one of her son's killers.

James was murdered by 10-year-olds Jon Venables and Robert Thompson in 1993 after he was taken from a Merseyside shopping centre.

Mr Straw met Denise Fergus after it emerged Venables was recalled to prison for breaching his licence terms.

The Ministry of Justice would not reveal what Mr Straw told Mrs Fergus.

On 13 February 1993 Venables and Thompson abducted James in Bootle and killed him on a railway line.

Venables and Thompson were convicted of the toddler's murder and released on licence with a new identity in 2001.

James Bulger
James Bulger was abducted from a shopping centre in Bootle

An order prohibiting the publication of details which could reveal their whereabouts remains in place.

Venables was recalled to prison last month for an unspecified breach of his licence which Mr Straw said involved "very serious allegations".

Mrs Fergus asked for the meeting last week after it was revealed he was back in prison.

The meeting with Mr Straw, at Blackburn Town Hall, lasted about an hour.

Chris Johnson, a spokesman for Mrs Fergus, said the meeting had been cordial and they parted on good terms.

He added: "She was encouraged that Mr Straw did devote over an hour of his time to meeting her and was quite attentive in listening to the questions that she posed, and clearly took a lot of detailed notes."

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

When asked whether Mrs Fergus was happier after the meeting, after previously saying she was "sick" of officials "closing doors in her face", Mr Johnson said she was content.

A spokesman for the justice secretary said he tried to answer Mrs Fergus's questions "as fully as he could".

It is understood he has promised that his officials will keep Mrs Fergus informed about future developments where appropriate.

Mr Straw has made it clear he will not reveal the precise reasons for the decision to return Venables to prison.

Earlier this week he told the House of Commons: "It is critical that if charges do follow, it is possible to hold a fair trial - fair for the defence and fair for the prosecution."

He has promised an inquiry into how Venables has been managed since his release if charges are brought.



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