Teenager 'was paid £50 to brandish guns on Panorama'

Merseyside police is to investigate claims made in court by a teenage gang member that he was paid by a fixer to brandish guns on the BBC’s Panorama programme.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be identified because of his age, was filmed assembling a shotgun for the programme about guns and gang culture on Merseyside.

A Merseyside Police spokeswoman said: “We are investigating claims made by the 17-year-old in court about the fixer.

“We are going to look at who was involved in that transaction and whether we can identify the people involved in that transaction.”

The teenager, a member of the Marsh Gang, was approached by an intermediary and paid the cash to “show off” the weapons on camera, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

The 17-year-old pleaded guilty on 11 December last year to possession of a shotgun, a handgun and ammunition.

Jason Smith, defending the youth, told the court: “The defence contention is not that he was paid directly by the Panorama film producers but he was paid money by an intermediary who had been paid money to fix it on their behalf.”

Smith said the intermediary, referred to in court as Male C, was a leading figure in the Marsh Gang.

The lawyer said: “On the evening of 30 June last year the defendant was offered £50 by Male C to collect some guns and go in front of the TV cameras to make threats and show off on behalf of the Marsh Gang.

“After collecting the guns he went to a location where he met Male C and a cameraman and was told to show off the weapons.

“It is not suggested that the BBC or the cameraman suggested he show off the firearms.”

Ian Davies, prosecuting, said the Crown accepted the teenager’s version of events and the trial was adjourned for sentence on 23 January.

A Merseyside Police spokeswoman said: “Following the broadcast of Panorama Young Gunmen on 30 June last year, Merseyside Police investigated both the criminal actions of individuals posing with guns and whether there was any substance to rumours that money had been exchanged.

“As a result, a 17-year-old appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on Friday having previously pleaded guilty to possession of two firearms and ammunition.

“During the hearing on Friday, the 17-year-old defendant claimed that he had not been paid by the BBC but had received money from an intermediary.

“The BBC provided information during the inquiry which indicated compliance with their editorial policies.

“Merseyside Police will continue its investigation following the claims by the 17-year-old defendant, to identify those involved in alleged transactions and any offences that have been committed.

“The force will be contacting the BBC in light of these claims, to enable them to consider any steps they need to take as a result of the disclosure by this defendant.”

After the Young Guns documentary was broadcast last July, Merseyside Chief Constable Bernard Hogan-Howe wrote to BBC director-general Mark Thompson asking if young people had been paid to pose with guns.

Following yesterday’s hearing, the BBC said it made no payments to the gunman and the programme makers abided by its editorial guidelines.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said: “If any payments were made to the gunman, we had no knowledge of them.”

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