Attorney General Asks Social Networks in the UK to Delete Illegal Photos of Killers


In February of 1993, 10-year-olds Jon Venables and Robert Thompson kidnapped and murdered two-year-old James Bulger. The two were eventually caught, and became the youngest convicted murderers in modern English history.

Their life sentences were cut short, however, when they were released in 2001 under the protection of new identities and a court order that prohibited the publication of any info that could reveal who they were. Now a full 12 years after their release, UK Attorney General Dominic Grieve is finally getting a chance to enforce that court order.

Earlier this week, Grieve decided to level contempt of court charges against several Twitter users who allegedly posted photos of a 30-year-old Venables on their accounts. The issue, claims Grieve, is that nobody actually knows what either man now looks like, and incorrect photos could place innocent people in danger.


In a statement to the press, the Attorney General’s Office explained that:

There are many different images circulating online claiming to be of Venables or Thompson – potentially innocent individuals may be wrongly identified as being one of the two men and placed in danger.

The order, and its enforcement, is therefore intended to protect not only Venables and Thompson but also those members of the public who have been incorrectly identified as being one of the two men

Taking it one step further, Grieve has also asked for the major social networks’ help in the matter. According to Techdirt, Google, Facebook and Twitter have all been notified that they must search for and destroy any photos claiming to be of Venables or Thompson.

Seeing this as a tall order given the number of people who subscribe to these services in the UK alone, Sinead McSweeney (Twitter’s director of public policy in Europe, the Middle East and Africa) responded:

We work with law enforcement here in the UK. We have established points of contact with law enforcement in the UK where they communicate with us about content, they bring content to our attention that is illegal, and appropriate steps are taken by the company. You may read into those words what you wish in context of the current [issue].

In other words, while Twitter will be more than happy to remove illegal photos from users’ accounts, the company can not and will not actively monitor every user.

No word yet on what sort of penalty the aforementioned Twitter users will be subject to, but contempt of court in the UK is typically punishable by jail time, a fine, or both.

(via Techdirt)

  • 434343

    oh yeah please and give them a big social check….

  • bgrady413

    I read as much as I could before almost vommiting at the gruesomeness of their crime. Tell me again why they should be protected? They should have just been let out as adults, dumped in the streets, announced to the neighborhood who they were and then left to fend for themselves. Two of the sickest scum this planet has ever seen are free and being protected by there government, where is the justice for the victim and his family?

  • cnavey

    I seriously can’t believe this actually happened. I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old and I can honestly say that I would anything to protect them. I don’t see how these dysfunctional nightmares for kids didn’t spend the rest of their lives in jail or get the death penalty once they were 18. Oh and Venables was later arrested on child pornography charges. Yeah, awesome justice system. Sounds like he was ready to be back in the public life again…what a dark and gruesome story.

  • Dozen Meda

    I see no reason why society should “protect” psychopathic killers. 12 year old or not. Rot in hell you assholes!

  • Bob

    I worry about my future & how I will survive financially when I retire to live a comfortable life. These two murderers have absolutely nothing to worry about because their Human Rights have to be protected at any cost. That cost will be paid for by the likes of me the honest working class tax payer. I reckon this will be costing us millions to protect them. Something isn’t right, is it!

  • vigilante

    I can’t believe the people posting here… what’s so hard to understand? Read the quote:

    “There are many different images circulating online claiming to be of Venables or Thompson – potentially innocent individuals may be wrongly identified as being one of the two men and placed in danger.”

    What they did is reprehensible – but it’s quite clear this could story could result in more victims if photos of innocent and and unrealted people are reported to be them.

  • Guest

    One of them is jailed again, I think.

  • Clown Party

    You need to amp up those comprehensive skills skippy. The intent is to insure that people are not mistakenly identified.

  • One European

    They didn’t receive a “life sentence”. If you read your Wikipedia source with a little more attention you find :

    sentenced to custody until they reached adulthood, initially until the age of 18, and were released on a lifelong licence in June 2001

    which is not quite the same thing.

    And yes, this happens in Europe, and American sensitivities do not apply here.

  • DafOwen

    Mob “justice” is hardly ever just.
    I had a go at friends who posted such photos asking if they could 100% guarantee it was the right person.

  • Samuel

    Jesus christ, when did the PP comments become the daily mail discussion board ??

    Terrible people? Yup
    Disgusting murders? Of course

    But thats not the point of this, they have served their sentences that is the corner stone of modern existence and this is about photoshop “experts” thinking they have created exactly what someone looks like from 20 years ago.

    Lets see how one of you reacts when someone runs the mugshot photos through a plug in and it outputs an image that looks a lot like one of you other commenters.

    This isn’t about the ethics of protection of murderers (current or served sentences) its about stopping random lynch mobs of utter strangers.