Hit or Miss? Government's handling of the Jon Venables case under scrutiny

Tabloid frenzy Justice Secretary Jack Straw was caught in the media headlights this week as the news broke that one of James Bulger's killers had been taken back into custody.

Straw refused to bow to tabloid demands to spell out the allegations against Jon Venables, while insisting he would face justice. Bulger's mother expressed her fury at the Government's handling of the case, saying she was 'sick of them closing doors in my face'.

How I see it

JUSTINE McGUINNESS, Independent consultant, former adviser to McCann family

The coverage and Jack Straw's comments beg the question just how secret is Jon Venables' new identity. If he has chosen not to remain anonymous or unidentifiable or, worse, bragged about what he has done, then he is in a different position to someone who committed a terrible crime, was punished and is trying to rebuild their life. However, Straw is correct to try to maximise the chances of a fair trial if Venables has re-offended, to ensure justice for all his victims. But one of the PR mistakes has been the treatment of Denise Fergus, James Bulger's mother. The Probation Service should have offered more than a brief meeting. Proper support and information should have been given to this still-grieving mother. This must be agony for her. Sadly, the State has been seen to have let her down.


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