British child-killer Bell bids for permanent anonymity


Convicted child-killer Mary Bell, who strangled two young boys more than 30 years ago whenshe was 11, is today in court seeking permanentanonymity to protect her from vigilante attacks.

Bell, convicted of manslaughter in 1968 for the deaths offour-year-old Martin Brown and three-year-old Brian Howe, wasgiven a temporary secret identity in 1980 when she left prison.

She later gave birth to a daughter, who was also grantedanonymity until she turned 18. Bell and her daughter are nowboth requesting permanent anonymity following the daughter's18th birthday last May.

But they will have to wait until at least next week for adecision. High Court Family Division President ElizabethButler-Sloss said she would need time to consider the case aftera scheduled three-day hearing started today.

Britain's attorney general has stepped in to ensure the caseis fully argued and that any extension is "strictly justified",though the court heard that he was not totally opposed to it.

In April 1998, Bell was taken into police protection afterreporters laid siege to her home, leading to her daughterdiscovering the truth about her mother for the first time.

The media witch-hunt followed serialisation of a book byGitta Sereny about the crimes, on which Bell collaborated formoney.