Brown backs Straw over James Bulger killer’s detention

By staff

Gordon Brown appeared to back justice secretary Jack Straw over home secretary Alan Johnson as he spoke out in support of government silence in the case of killer Jon Venables.

Mr Johnson suggested yesterday that the public had a “right to know” why Venables, who was ten years old when he murdered toddler James Bulger in 1993, had been returned to jail.

Now 27, Venables has been returned to prison following a “breach of licence conditions”, the Ministry of Justice said yesterday. Mr Straw refused to reveal further details in a stance backed by the prime minister today.

Speaking at a joint press conference with South African president Jacob Zuma this morning, Mr Brown said: “What we’re talking about is a totally abhorrent crime that happened some years ago.

“I completely understand the public outrage even after so many years, but the public know we cannot comment on particular cases that are going through the system.”

Venables had abducted two-year-old James from a shopping centre in Bootle, Liverpool, with Robert Thompson in February 1993. They killed him and laid his body on a railway track.

James’ mother, Denise Fergus, wrote on her Twitter profile yesterday that “Jon Venables is where he belongs tonight behind bars”.

Mr Brown added: “The justice system must be allowed to take the action which is necessary. That’s what people would expect and that’s what’s going to happen.”