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Mother of James Bulger visits Ireland to protest against director

Denise Fergus is angry that the director of an Oscar-nominated film about her son’s murder did not contact her ahead of its release (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Denise Fergus is angry that the director of an Oscar-nominated film about her son’s murder did not contact her ahead of its release (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The mother of murdered toddler James Bulger has said the Irish director who made a film about her son’s killers is “obsessed” with the case.

Denise Fergus visited Dublin this week to speak out about Vincent Lambe’s Oscar-nominated short film Detainment, which centres around the police interviews of James’ killers, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, who were both 10 years old at the time.

“I thought it was important that I come to Ireland and speak out, he’s been over to my neck of the woods,” Ms Fergus said.

“The support I’ve received in Ireland has been great, the support from everywhere has been great really, people can’t believe he would go ahead with this without consulting James’ family.

“If you look on his (Lambe’s) social media, he tweets constantly about the film and the case, I think he’s obsessed.

“I think he’s seen the potential for controversy and exploited it to get more promotion for the film.”

Ms Fergus has penned an open letter to Mr Lambe asking that he remove the film from the Oscars’ nomination pool.

“The re-enactment of that child being led away, like the final hours of James’ life, has brought it back to me, and it hurts so much,” the letter reads.

“James was my baby and not yours and it certainly wasn’t ‘your responsibility’ to tell it, you have no right to use what happened to my son as a way to try and make a name for yourself.”

On writing the letter, Ms Fergus said she was too angry and emotional to sit down with Mr Lambe to discuss his intentions.

“I think it’s better for everyone if I just speak to him through the letter,” she said.

“In every case there are families and victims and I think that can get lost in the media frenzy.

“I’m living this nightmare, I have to go through all this again and I wanted him to know how I’m feeling.

“I don’t think he ever thought about how this would affect me, or my family, or even the witnesses who saw James being led away, they’re seeing themselves being played in film now, reliving that day again.”

Ms Fergus added that she hoped to visit Dublin again in happier circumstances and said that she has received messages of support from all over Ireland.

“There’s actually a memorial brick with James’ name on it in the Aviva Stadium that a supporter bought for us when they were building it, it’s those little things of support that mean so much to me.”

In a statement responding to the controversy, Mr Lambe said he had “enormous sympathy for the Bulger family and I am extremely sorry for any upset the film may have caused them”.

“With hindsight I am sorry I did not make Ms Fergus aware of the film. I would be happy to meet with her privately now to make an apology in person.”

A petition to have the film removed from the Oscars’ pool has reached almost 230,000 signatures.

Mr Lambe has been approached for comment.

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