Maxine Carr has the right to be left alone

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The Independent Online

It is a sad reflection on the viciousness of certain sections of British society that Mr Justice Eady felt it necessary to issue a court order yesterday granting Maxine Carr anonymity for life. Ms Carr has paid her debt to society and is not a danger to anyone. In a rational world, she would be allowed to get on with her life, like any other normal person without needing extra protection from the law.

Ms Carr's crime was to provide a false alibi for Ian Huntley, the school caretaker who murdered two children in August 2002 in the Cambridgeshire village of Soham. After serving 21 months behind bars, she was released on probation and given a new identity. At that point, a temporary court order was imposed, banning the media from reporting any details that could identify her whereabouts. Yesterday those restrictions were made permanent.

The reason why such extreme measures are necessary is because Ms Carr has good reason to believe that if her whereabouts are published, she will be hunted down by a lynch mob. The Soham case led to an intense outpouring of grief and anger in this country. Much of this anger has been directed towards Ms Carr. And despite the fact that almost three years have passed since the murders, threats to Ms Carr's safety have actually intensified.

Populist newspapers must bear a heavy burden of responsibility for this. Ever since Ms Carr was first implicated in the murders, they have attempted to build her up into a national hate figure. They campaigned vociferously against her early release, despite the fact that she was a model prisoner. And although they did not contest any of the control orders imposed by the High Court, they have objected to some of the reporting restrictions on the spurious grounds that there is a public interest in knowing Ms Carr's movements and employment status. There is, of course, no such thing.

For certain elements in the press, vilifying Ms Carr represents an easy way to excite their readers. But, in doing so, they are stoking the flames of mob justice and feeding an unhealthy public obsession. Everyone must now acknowledge that Ms Carr has served her sentence and has a right to be left alone.

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