Manchester firm Cobbetts has been instructed to advise the Manchester Evening News on its alleged breach of the injunction protecting the identities of the James Bulger killers.
The Manchester Evening News is alleged to have breached the injunction by publishing details of the whereabouts of Robert Thompson and John Venables. The teenagers have been granted an open-ended injunction protecting their anonymity after their release on parole with new identities. The Attorney General Lord Goldsmith wrote to the newspaper last Monday to demand an explanation for its actions. Cobbetts, whose team will be led by media partner Peter Stone, refused to comment on how it is advising the newspaper to proceed. "I can confirm that we've received the instruction," said managing partner Michael Shaw, "but I can't reveal anything else about the work we're doing." The firm has worked for the Manchester Evening News for the last 70 years, said Shaw, but does not act for it on all matters. When the newspaper stood accused of wrongly publishing pictures of the conjoined Attard twins earlier this month, it turned to City firm Russell Jones & Walker. Defamation partner Sarah Webb led the Russell Jones team. She believes the Attard case was a one-off instruction and said she has not been asked to advise on the matter of the Bulger killers. "I believe that we were instructed on the Attard case as Cobbetts couldn't take the work due to a potential conflict of interest," said Webb. "We were happy to receive the instruction but we are not the usual solicitors and will not be working for the Manchester Evening News on the latest matter."