Case of the week

Denise Fergus, mother of murdered toddler James Bulger, set a legal precedent when she appeared before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to challenge a ruling that Bulger's killers were denied a fair trial.

John Dickinson and Dominic Lloyd, the lawyers for Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, complained in 1994 that the trail was unfair because it had been in an adult court and that the boys' sentence had been set by the Home Secretary and not by a judicial body.

Fergus' attendance at the closed hearing was hailed as a landmark, being the first time someone other than the complainant or defendant had been allowed to put their case.

Some commentators went as far as to draw parallels with Islamic courts, where the views of victims' families are taken into account.