The Attorney General has today decided to institute contempt proceedings against a number of individuals who have been identified as having posted online photographs purporting to be of Jon Venables or Robert Thompson - the relevant court papers will be served shortly.
There is an injunction in place which prevents publication of any images or information purporting to identify anyone as Jon Venables or Robert Thompson. The terms of the order mean that if a picture claims to be of Venables or Thompson, even if it is not actually them, there will be a breach of the order. Providing details of the new identities of Venables and Thompson or their whereabouts is also prohibited – this order applies to material which is on the internet.
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.
The injunction applies to both media organisations and individuals. Anyone who has posted material online which is in breach of the terms of the order should remove this material immediately. Breaches of the order may be a contempt of court punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.
It is also a criminal offence to encourage others to commit acts of violence or to publish online malicious communications. The police will investigate and arrest individuals believed to be responsible for such acts.