Masked gang targets press pack outside Ryan Giggs's home

Manchester United's fans and management will forgive their players a litany of indiscretions but woe betide any journalist who does too much digging on the club.

In an extraordinary day of attacks on the press, a gang of masked men vandalised reporters' cars outside the home of Ryan Giggs as United manager Sir Alex Ferguson slapped his own gagging order on a sports reporter who dared to ask a question about the Welsh footballer's private life.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed that officers were called to Giggs's home in the upmarket suburb of Worsley after a group of masked men pulled up shortly after 3pm and attacked six cars belonging to journalists.

Meanwhile Ferguson was caught on a microphone ordering his press officer to ban a reporter who asked a question about Giggs during a press conference yesterday.

In a video released by Sky News, Ferguson could be heard ordering his press officer to exclude Associated Press reporter Rob Harris from a press conference on Friday.

But last night a Manchester United official appeared to backtrack, telling BBC Sport "I don't think we can ban him".

The attack outside Giggs's home reveals how little heed is often paid by some media to the Press Complaints Commission, which had called on the paparazzi to refrain from door-stepping him following his outing in Parliament.

Lawyers representing Giggs and his family had sent out notices that they would not be talking to the press. The PCC, the self-regulating media watchdog, relayed the message to media outlets. Yet groups of paparazzi remained camped outside Giggs's house.