'Hindley will be next if Bell is granted life anonymity'

Bell: application to the High Court

If child murderer Mary Bell is granted protection of her identity for life, News Group Newspapers legal manager Tom Crone predicts that Myra Hindley will be the next to request similar anonymity if she is set free next year.

Bell, who killed two children when she was 11-years-old, has a temporary order banning her new identity being revealed but plans to ask for a lifelong extension in the High Court in the next two weeks.

She has named News Group Newspapers and MGN in her legal action.

An MGN spokesman said: "Lawyers acting for both ourselves and News Group have written to Mary Bell’s solicitors to confirm that we will not be opposing the continuation of the interim anonymity order granted by the court in April, provided that certain terms are met."

Crone said: "They are bringing the application on the basis that if the new identity of Bell and her daughter is revealed their safety, and therefore their health, would be endangered.

"They picked the ‘usual suspects’, thinking if they were going to stand any chance of winning the sympathy of the court, the best thing to do would be to go against the major redtops."

Bell’s application will be heard by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the Family Division, and Bell will have Edward Fitzgerald QC as her counsel. Both were involved in the case of John Venables and Robert Thompson, who murdered toddler Jamie Bulger, when they were granted lifelong anonymity. Fitzgerald is also acting for Hindley.  "Mary Bell may succeed in getting this order," said Crone.  "I think Bell and the Bulger boys are distinguishable because they were both child murderers, but the next one into the starting blocks, undoubtedly, would be Myra Hindley.  "I confidently predict that the next application will be that for the rest of her life, we would never be able to picture her, identify her or give away her whereabouts."

The Guardian has argued in a leader that Bell should be given the privacy she desires.

"The tabloid press is notorious for whipping up false fears by hysterical coverage of crime," it said.  "The court should ignore the tabloid huffing and puffing."

By Jean Morgan

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