British Prime Minister Tony Blair has backed the age rating system used for videogames in response to a question in the House of Commons, but has pledged to re-examine the question of videogame violence.
Replying to a question about the controversial Stefan Pakeerah murder case posed by Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, Blair offered his sympathies to the family of the victim but lauded the UK's "strong system" for controlling violent games.
Fourteen year old Stefan Pakeerah was killed by an older friend, Warren LeBlanc, in a brutal murder earlier this year. The victim's family later claimed that LeBlanc had been influenced by Rockstar's Manhunt title, a copy of which was found in the victim's room and was alleged to have belonged to the killer.
"From what I have been told about this particular game, that it is obviously in no way suitable for children. In fact, the sale of this game to a person under 18 should be illegal," Blair told the House of Commons yesterday.
However, he went on to express his support for the non-censorship of media, and for the rating system in use in the UK - which rated Manhunt 18, making it illegal for anyone under that age to purchase the game.
"Responsible adults should have the right to watch and choose what games they play and films they see, but children need to be protected," he stated. "We actually have Europe's strongest system for controlling the sale of computer games that are not suitable for children. It is run by the Video Standards Council, which applies the familiar British Board of Film Classification rating system."
Blair, who had earlier been briefed by videogame publisher trade body ELSPA on the issue, assured Mr Vaz that he would discuss the matter with the Home Secretary, saying that the issue was "worth looking at closely" in light of the "prevalence of these games."
Police investigating the Stefan Pakeerah case have repeatedly denied making any link between the murder and the Manhunt videogame, with the motive for the murder being given as robbery in order to pay off a drugs-related debt.