And so Maxine Carr begins her life sentence. Is everyone happy now?

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The Independent Online

It is an empty victory for the rule of law, this one that sees Maxine Carr released back into the community, her sentence ostensibly finished. In reality her sentence will never end, just as the savages among us want, because she is forced now to live the rest of her life in fear. She is massively vulnerable.

It is an empty victory for the rule of law, this one that sees Maxine Carr released back into the community, her sentence ostensibly finished. In reality her sentence will never end, just as the savages among us want, because she is forced now to live the rest of her life in fear. She is massively vulnerable.

The anonymity order she has been granted is necessary. But the three people such orders have succeeded in protecting were children when they gained their notoriety. All three were child killers. Poor Maxine is not a child killer. She is guilty instead of being unable to countenance the idea that her boyfriend might be one, and therefore offering a false alibi to the authorities she believed were trying to frame him.

She was not a child either when she committed her crime. Mary Bell, Jon Thompson and Robert Venables - all three entered the criminal justice system and emerged, much changed, as adults with no picture of them having been published in the intervening years. They had a good chance of going unrecognised. I fear that poor Maxine Carr has only a slender chance of similar invisibility.

Yet what do these vengeful people who bay for her blood imagine would be gained by keeping Maxine Carr in prison? Do they believe that she is a danger to the public - that on her release she is likely to reoffend, offering alibis to other criminals, and thereby endangering others?

I think that instead it is clear that Ms Carr has learned her lesson. In her life so far she has certainly been guilty of mendacity, under the most awful and vile of circumstances. No doubt she would like to undertake never to tell a lie again. Is it not ironic that because a swathe of the population refuses to believe that a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence - with remission for good behaviour - is enough to teach a person the error of their ways, mendacity will now have to come to this cursed woman as naturally as breathing? She can never tell the truth about herself again.

Except, as the hatemongering press is so keen to point out, if she chooses to tell her own story in public. How cheesed off the propagandists of vengeance are that it is Ms Carr who has ownership of her life and her history, not them. Ms Carr, under the law, retains the right to tell her own story. She has been condemned for this as well, as if the very fact that such a revelation is possible is tantamount to her already having done it.

In the meantime, instead of being so angry about Ms Carr's "short" prison sentence, so-called campaigning journalists would be better off considering that in fact nothing at all has been gained from putting Ms Carr into prison in the first place. Like thousands of other women, Ms Carr was imprisoned even though she posed no threat to the public at all.

In men's prisons, as all those who know whereof they speak agree, the pervading atmosphere is of brooding violence. This is unhealthy enough, if unsurprising. But in women's prisons, the atmosphere is despairing, mad and suicidal. Appallingly, it seems that Ms Carr will be taking the prison's atmosphere home with her.

Misplaced modesty

With her prominent lip-liner, her acrylic talons, and her pantomime outfits, Nancy Dell'Olio has never cut a modest figure. So it should come as no surprise to learn that when she was asked to rate her looks out of 10, Ms Dell'Olio declared: "I feel I am an 11."

But it is a surprise, because no one ever says such a thing, let alone a 45-year-old female lawyer. On the contrary, beautiful people are always chuntering on about how they don't see themselves as out of the ordinary. Even Michelle Pfeiffer once claimed in an interview that she looked "like a duck".

None of their insecurity about their looks ever persuades these people to steer clear of, say, lead romantic roles, because they really would prefer to build careers as character actors. But still they insist that their own opinion of their pulchritude is neither high, nor of the least importance to them.

But most of the time, men and women who play down their physical appearance so shamelessly are merely advertising their neurosis, and begging for compliments to bolster their self-absorption. Ms Dell'Olio clearly has no time for such lame little strategies. If she feels that a compliment will give her a lift, she can go fishing by herself. Which makes her quite a catch.

The gods certainly weren't with Wolfgang Petersen

Saffron Burrows, who plays Andromache in the new film Troy, suggests that The Iliad's warmongering Greek brothers, Agamemnon and Menelaus, reminded her of a "fraternity in the world at the moment". The left-wing actress is clearly speaking of Tony Blair and George Bush.

In theory, this idea makes sense. In The Iliad, all human action is controlled by the whim of the gods. This means that none of the decisions of the human characters makes much logical sense at all. Both Bush and Blair seem to believe they have a direct line to their own God, which, of course, explains a lot about their self-righteous conviction.

Brad Pitt sees a parallel too. "There's no way if you read The Iliad that you can't make a comparison [with Iraq]," he declares. However, it would appear that if you do read The Iliad you won't be able to see any resemblance to Homer's story in Wolfgang Petersen's film. One of the problems, everyone agrees, is that the role of the gods has been excised from the narrative.

The actors involved are honour bound to stay loyal to the project they've just been paid a fortune to star in. But privately, I'm sure they agree that the only real parallel between the film of Troy and the invasion of Iraq is that both are complete disasters.

¿ Piers Morgan's defence of the fake pictures he published of British army abuse of Iraqis was essentially that we should view them as a sort of problem-page photo story - posed with models but illustrating real situations.

Amazingly, most of Fleet Street appeared to think this was quite permissible. Mr Morgan's supporters fell into two categories. The first lot forbore from criticising in case their words came back to haunt them when they committed a similar mistake. The second lot feared giving Piers a kicking while he was still in a job.

The budget for this page does not run to re-enactments, figurative representations or living tableaux. Which is just as well. A picture of the streams of journalists who lined up to kiss Piers's pert bottom is best left to the imagination.

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