'Bounty' to kill Greater Manchester Police officer

Jordan Lee Begley Image copyright PA
Image caption The bounty claim came in a pre-inquest hearing into the death of Jordan Lee Begley

Criminals have offered a £50,000 bounty to kill a Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officer, a coroner has been told.

Manchester coroner Nigel Meadows heard claims officers fear retribution if their identities are revealed at an inquest next year.

Five officers want to give their evidence anonymously at the inquest of Jordan Lee Begley, who died after police used a stun gun in July 2013.

But their request has been challenged by four news organisations.

Mr Meadows reserved his decision, which is expected before the Christmas break.

Ice cream factory worker Mr Begley, 23, died two hours after being shot at his home in Gorton, Manchester, with a Taser gun on 10 July 2013.

An interim order means the officers are currently identified only as PCs D14, J1, H4 and H1 - who were involved in restraining Mr Begley - and E21, who fired the Taser.

On Monday, lawyers from the Press Association, The Guardian, Associated Newspapers and ITV told the pre-inquest hearing the fears were unsubstantiated "assertions".

'Covert work hindered'

The coroner also heard a report by Supt Leor Giladi which said the firearms officers "would be vulnerable to reprisal and attack".

He added: "Members of the organised criminal fraternity had put up a substantial reward of £50,000 for anyone that kills a GMP firearms officer."

Ben Brandon, representing the officers, said naming would "severely hinder" their covert operations.

But Caoilfhionn Gallagher, representing the media, and Mike Dodd, the Press Association's legal editor, said the ban was "a major derogation from the open justice principle" and interferes with the right to freely report matters of public interest.

Peter Edwards, representing the Begley family, said they wanted a "completely open and transparent" process, adding the officers made "some fairly bold assumptions without any evidence".

GMP's lawyers backed the anonymity order but the Independent Police Complaints Commission opposed it.

Marc Willems, counsel to the inquest, said: "There's obvious disquiet within sections of the community that the justice system appears to give greater protection to the police than normal civilians and individuals."

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