Posted by: Ciaran | March 9, 2010

News in the nude: the week’s stories undressed

The biggest story of the last week has been the furore over James Bulger’s killer Jon Venables being returned to prison. The case has provoked nationwide fury, with a petition by The Sun to reveal his identity having attracted more than 70,000 signatures.

The national press have been pushing the law as far as it will go in the last few days, with a gradual ‘drip-drip’ flow of information about the offences he is alleged to have committed. And, according to the Sun story above, about two-thirds of people are in favour of disregarding Venables’s human rights to try him under his real name.

While his original crime was despicable, the right to a fair trial is the cornerstone of the legal system: does any right-minded person think Venables would get that if he were to be tried under his real name?

There is a strong duty placed upon the media here in that they risk identifying him by building up a ‘jigsaw picture’ through the fragments of the story which are leaking out – and if they do this, then the prospect of any future trial taking place is put at a greater risk every day. Imagine the outrage if he were to be freed because he could no longer depend on the right guaranteed to him by his rights under Article Six of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Galling as it may be, the best thing people can do in this case for the time being is try and keep a lid on their emotions and let Venables have a fair crack of the whip if he is taken to court. Then, at the end of any prospective case, reporting restrictions will be lifted and the full picture can emerge.



  1. I’d be stunned if the Sun didn’t already know Venables’ new identity. They’ll never release it though. The backlash would be too big and too expensive, even with a 400,000 spike in sales.

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