A photograph published on the internet may have exposed the new identity of one of James Bulger’s killers.
The image, uploaded to Twitter on Tuesday, the 20th anniversary of the murder, allegedly showed Jon Venables at a birthday party.
It has prompted an investigation by the Attorney General’s office over fears its publication broke laws protecting his anonymity.
Last night a spokesman said they had been alerted to a ‘possible contempt of court’ but refused to disclose whether the picture was in fact Venables.
Venables and Robert Thompson were ten when they murdered two-year-old James. They were given new identities aged 18, at a cost of millions to the taxpayer.
The pair are protected by an injunction granting them lifelong anonymity for fear of revenge attacks.
But the picture purporting to be of Venables was republished by more than 100 Twitter users and could have been viewed by thousands.
It was originally uploaded by a user going by the name of Steph Strotten, who wrote: ‘Obviously no one can officially confirm it, [but] the pics are clearly him and while drunk he himself told people his real identity.’
Venables and Thompson became notorious in 1993, when they abducted James from a Liverpool shopping centre and tortured him before leaving him for dead on nearby railway tracks.
The toddler’s disappearance launched a widespread manhunt, and the revelation that his killers were themselves children led to widespread revulsion.
The pair were released on parole in 2001, when they were both 18, and were granted almost unprecedented injunctions preventing the publication of their new identities.
Thompson has not been heard from since his release, but in 2010 Venables was returned to prison for violating his parole.
It was later revealed that Venables had downloaded child pornography and shared images with others.
He pleaded guilty to possession and distribution of indecent images of children and was jailed for two years, and is now believed to be in indefinite detention as officials fear he will endanger himself by revealing his true identity if he is released.
The 20th anniversary of James’s murder which came this week was marked by renewed interest in the case.
The toddler’s mother, Denise Fergus, has given a series of interviews in which she has vowed to ensure that Venables remains in prison.
And James’s brother Michael, now 19, told the Daily Mail last week that his mother’s fears have prevented him from leading a normal life – he has never travelled alone on a bus or train.
Twitter photo ‘reveals new identity of Bulger’s killer’