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Judge: James Bulger killer Jon Venables may be killed if he is identified

James Bulger killer Jon Venables could be murdered by vengeful vigilantes if his new identity is revealed, the judge who granted his anonymity warned last night.

Both Baroness Butler-Sloss and Justice Secretary Jack Straw defended the need for secrecy amid growing public pressure and a direct appeal from the boy's mother for more details about why Venables (27) was returned to jail.

Just hours earlier Denise Fergus appeared on This Morning to accuse the Government of treating the issue like a political football and of closing doors in her face.

Lady Butler-Sloss, the former president of the High Court's family division who granted Venables anonymity, stressed “the enormous importance of protecting his anonymity now and if he is released because those who wanted to kill him in 2001 are likely to be out there now”.

Giving her backing to Mr Straw's decision, the crossbench peer, who retired as a judge in 2005, told peers that ministers must “take into account” the enormous importance of protecting Venables' anonymity.

She said: “He may or may not have committed offences. There is, of course, at least the possibility that he has committed no offence. And consequently, he may therefore be allowed again to be out (of jail) on licence.”

Mrs Fergus, who was supported by her husband Stuart, told This Morning that she found out about Venables' recall last Tuesday when officials visited her home in Kirkby, Merseyside.

“She added: “I have had no answers and it's about time now I got some answers.

“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.”

But speaking in the Commons Mr Straw said releasing further information was “not in the interests of justice” because it could threaten the fairness of any future trial.

He also revealed that details of the alleged breach of licence conditions came to light after officials were told that Venables' new identity had been compromised.

According to reports, 27-year-old Venables, who was 10 when he and Robert Thompson carried out the brutal killing in Bootle, Merseyside, is being investigated by police over allegations he was looking at child pornography.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Straw had hinted he could release more information. Mrs Fergus is due to meet Mr Straw later this week.

Venables and Thompson were released with new identities in 2001, having served eight years.

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