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Court dispute over Bulger killer's 'violence'

A dispute has erupted in the High Court over reports one of the killers of James Bulger has allegedly been involved in violent incidents while in detention.

It came as the boy's father Ralph tries to overturn a decision of the Lord Chief Justice, which effectively ended the tariff for the minimum sentences Robert Thompson and Jon Venables must serve.

Alan Newman QC, said Lord Woolf had not been told of the allegations, but counsel for Thompson and Home Secretary Jack Straw said they were fabricated.

Lord Woolf took into account that neither boy had shown "any aggression or propensity for violence during his period of detention".

But Mr Newman told Lord Justice Rose, sitting with Mr Justice Sullivan and Mr Justice Penry-Davey, the decision should be reconsidered because of the "astounding" failure of Home Office authorities to tell the judge of allegations Thompson had been involved in two violent incidents.

He said the first was in January 1997. Newspaper reports asserted there was a fight between Thompson, then 14, and another secure unit inmate, John Howells, 16, after a dispute over who had committed the most evil crime.

In the second, Thompson was alleged to have attempted to strangle fellow detainee Scott Walker with a flex.

Mr Newman said Lord Woolf's recommendation the pair be considered for parole must be quashed.

David Pannick QC, for the Home Secretary, said of the Howells incident: "It simply didn't occur. It is simply a fabrication."

Brian Higgs QC, for Thompson, also protested, saying: "We have information that the allegation to which my friend now refers is totally fabricated." He said Walker was the protagonist in the second incident