Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Still Small Voices, Part II

One has the nagging feeling that the work of the Leveson Enquiry will somehow be incomplete if it does not take the evidence of a person whose life has been actively endangered by the actions of the British press, and who might live the rest of it in mortal fear of their photograph appearing in a newspaper.

That person is a gentleman once known as Jon Venables. Public revulsion at the crime he committed as a child resulted in him being made the beneficiary of a lifetime anonymity order. Several years ago, the British press attempted to run a coach and horses through this protection which the law had granted him. At that time, it seemed to be the case that with the very honourable exception of Sir Simon Jenkins, nobody in any position of authority or influence in the United Kingdom, not even Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the civil liberties organisation 'Liberty', spoke up in his defence of his rights, while the then 'Justice' Secretary  discussed his case with his victim's mother and attacked an anonymity order previously granted for the protection of one of the country's most vulnerable prisoners.

If he were willing to do so, I am sure that he could give his evidence from behind a curtain, or by videolink with both his face and voice disguised. Whether he would be prevented from doing so by whetever  judicial terms he currently lives under, or indeed the terms of the lifetime anonymity order itself, would be another matter. That would be a very British solution to a very embarrassing problem, but as a person who must live with the fact that the British press will present what could easily become a mortal threat to their life for however long they might live, I rather think Mr. Venables's opinions on how the press has conducted itself in relation to his case might be worth hearing.

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