Child killer Mary Bell wins lifelong anonymity

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The Independent Online

The child killer Mary Bell and her teenage daughter today won their High Court bid for lifelong anonymity.

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, President of the Family Division, heard that disclosure of 46-year-old Bell's current identity and whereabouts would lead to harassment.

She said: "Exceptionally, I shall therefore grant injuntions contra mundum to protect the anonymity of X (Bell) and Y (the daughter)."

She said the granting of the injunctions was for reasons that were different from those behind her similar decision in the case of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, the killers of James Bulger.

"As far as I am aware, there are at present no other child killers who have been released from prison or detention.

"The granting of the relief sought by the claimants in this case is not, and is not to be taken to be, a broadening of the principles of the law of confidence nor an increase in the pool of those who might in the future be granted protection against potential breaches of confidence."

It was in December 1968 that 11-year-old Bell was convicted of the manslaughter of Martin Brown, four, and Brian Howe, three.

She was sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure and was released on licence in 1980.

Both Bell and her "innocent child" - who turns 19 on May 25 - - are protected under existing injunctions.

The press did not contest the proceedings and the Attorney General, representing the public interest, did not oppose an injunction under Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention, which requires respect for someone's private and family life.