Sarah's parents defend 'naming and shaming'

The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, attacked the News of the Worldyesterday for ignoring the advice of police chiefs and publishing the names and photographs of 49 paedophiles.

The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, attacked the News of the Worldyesterday for ignoring the advice of police chiefs and publishing the names and photographs of 49 paedophiles.

But as Mr Straw spoke out in Parliament against the newspaper's plans to "name and shame" Britain's 110,000 child sex attackers, the parents of Sarah Payne, eight, who disappeared in West Sussex on 1 July and whose body was found last week, gave their support to the campaign.

Mr Straw said the News of the World should have heeded advice from the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire, Tony Butler, who pleaded with the newspaper's executives not to publish the pictures last weekend. Mr Butler, spokesman on sexual offenders for the Association of Chief Police Officers, warned that the newspaper's campaign could drive paedophiles underground, making them a greater threat to children.

The Home Secretary told MPs: "In our judgement the press in these matters ought to act on the advice of the police who, above all, have the concern of the public's safety there before them."

But Michael and Sara Payne said the newspaper's publication last weekend of pictures of 49 paedophiles, with their names and home areas, would help to protect children. Speaking on GMTV, Mrs Payne said: "I don't condone in any way any vigilante attacks, but parents have the right to protect their children and children have the right to protect themselves. Paedophiles can't help themselves. We need to help them stop by looking after our children."

After the discovery last week of Sarah's naked body, the newspaper began its "name and shame" campaign with the intention of "protecting children". It says it will publish details of more convicted paedophiles next weekend.

The Association of Chief Officers of Probation (Acop) has also strongly criticised the campaign, saying that it could lead to more vigilante attacks on suspected child sex offenders.

Yesterday, a crowd of 300 people chanting "paedophile" assembled outside the home of a man in Manchester whom they mistook for one of the 49 sex offenders.

Iain Armstrong, 49, tried to convince the crowd that he was not the convicted paedophile Peter Smith, 60. A brick was later thrown through a window of an adjoining house, the home of his former wife.

George Barrow, ACOP spokesman, said child sex offenders had already begun contacting probation officers asking what they should do if they were identified by the newspaper. Mr Barrow said that a complaint would be lodged with the Press Complaints Commission if the management of any offender was adversely affected.

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