NO MATTER what value it may have as a serious analysis of the reason why children become killers, the book by journalist Gitta Sereny about Mary Bell, who as an 11-year-old in 1968 killed two small boys, has quite another effect.

This is because Mary Bell is being paid for co-operating with the author - reportedly, as much as £50,000 - she is therefore profiting from her crime and the deaths of these children.

And however much it may be in the public interest to have such deeds probed and understood so, perhaps, they may be prevented in the future, the repugnance at Mary Bell's "cashing in" is equally valid.

She has abused the memories of her victims, added to the torture of their families and spat in the eye of justice and decency.

It is frustrating that the law, as it stands, is powerless to intervene.

But, certainly, Home Secretary Jack Straw is right to review it so that such a noxious deal as this cannot be struck again.

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