Inquiry into social media messages that may identify Jon Venables
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Inquiry into social media messages that may identify Jon Venables

The attorney general’s office has launched an investigation into social media messages which may breach the worldwide legal injunction preventing identification of the convicted child killer Jon Venables.

In 1993, Venables and his co-defendant, Robert Thompson, were convicted of killing the two-year-old James Bulger in Liverpool.

Before their release on parole in 2001, Venables and Thompson were given new identities, which are supposed to be protected by a court order.

The injunction prevents the media or anyone anywhere in the world publishing photographs of them, information that could lead to their being identified or soliciting such information.

The fresh inquiry follows previous prosecutions. Four years ago, two men were given suspended prison sentences for posting images on Facebook and Twitter that purported to reveal recent pictures of Venables and Thompson.

Breach of the injunction, which is prosecuted as contempt in the high court, carries a sentence of up to two years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

It is an offence to publish images of the two killers even if the images are of a completely different person since that would expose innocent individuals to the dangers of an attack.

Last month Venables was recalled to prison for the second time after he was suspected of having child abuse images on his computer.

There appears to have been a proliferation of messages on multiple social media sites recently giving information that might identify Venables.

Confirming the new inquiry, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office told the Guardian: “We have received a complaint that the anonymity order has been breached and we are investigating it.”

Other messages on social media appear to give information that might identify the whereabouts of Maxine Carr, the former girlfriend of the Soham murderer, Ian Huntley.

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