Belfast Telegraph

Why the public counts less than the Bulger killers

By Gail Walker

The Prime Minister won't do it. The Justice Secretary won't do it. The Home Secretary thinks someone should do it, but not him. The Probation Services won't do it.

Why won't anybody tell Denise Fergus why one of the killers of her two-year-old boy is back behind bars?

The answer is simple. Because the legal system prefers to protect the rights of Jon Venables rather than the rights of Jamie Bulger (who, of course, has no rights being dead) and his relatives.

When Venables and Thompson were released after eight years being ‘rehabilitated', Denise Fergus says she was told that she would be kept informed of progress in the case and that she was assured that she would not be in danger.

Denise says that meant getting a visit from a representative of the Probation Service — after the story had broken in the papers. And all that official could say, over and over again, was “I cannot comment on that” when asked questions about what precisely Venables had done to breach the terms of his release.

That is not justice. It’s not compassion either. Imagine Denise's feelings as the story has developed. From confused conjecture, to an admission that it was ‘very serious', to truly horrifying reports that Venables faces child porn charges.

Plus, according to reports, Venables habitually breached the terms of his release by frequently visiting Merseyside to enjoy nights drinking and taking cocaine and trips to Goodison Park to watch Everton.

If the legal system didn't know about his wee jollies, so much for the ‘strict conditions' promised when Venables and Thompson were allowed back, anonymously, into society.

And if the legal system did know — what was it playing at? Did the possibility of Jamie's mum bumping into Venables never occur to them? Similarly the allegation that Venables worked as a club doorman raises disturbing questions.

Did it never occur to his handlers that this may have been an inappropriate way to earn a living for someone who battered a child to death?

All ifs. But the blanket secrecy given to Venables has hindered effective public scrutiny of his probation.

The allegations about what he may have been up to, however, are now out there. Confirmation or denial poses no threat to Venables' physical safety or prejudices any investigation. Of course, the truth is the authorities had hoped to hide the fact Venables was back behind bars. They hoped he would have been buried in the system, given another new identity, and spirited away, without anyone finding out.

After all, he’d been in prison for some time before the news of his incarceration emerged.

Why?

Because the ‘authorities’ know they made a mistake and had no appetite for their ‘let ‘em go but don’t let on’ policy to be opened to the kind of scrutiny the Bulger case would provoke.

The Bulger murder pushed this country's buttons like never before and much of the debate became a vicious cultural battleground between ‘liberals' and ‘conservatives'. ‘Redemption’ versus ‘revenge'.

Of course, it wasn’t really. But it doesn’t matter anyway — because whatever it was the ‘authorities’ thought they were doing when they released the killers of Jamie Bulger — we all now know they were spectacularly very, very wrong.

We are living with the consequences of that failure and in the future dreaded by Jamie Bulger’s mother 18 years ago. We have all run out of road and still the ‘authorities’ are playing fast and loose with the facts. Protecting no one, now, but themselves.

It is incredible, actually. One of the highest profile murder cases since the war — and the authorities chose to take a risk, set a test, entirely without consultation with the public or any sense of natural justice. It knew better. Our betters knew better. Well, most of those ‘betters’, I’ll bet, are safely retired now. But who’s left behind as the decades have rolled by? Guess who? Jamie’s mother. And her son’s killers.

And us, of course. The gullible, stupid, unsuspecting, trusting, wide-eyed public, who count less than two murderous thugs who got special attention thanks to their evil killing.

And who are still getting special attention. Isn’t it amazing what it takes to get the entire British Establishment rooting for you, staying firmly on your side for a lifetime?

Killing Jamie Bulger was the best career move these monsters made.

They have wanted for nothing ever since.

Pity about the kid, though.

Belfast Telegraph

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