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Pallbearer in hiding after anger over Busby pictures

AN undertaker's assistant alleged to have tried to sell photographs of Sir Matt Busby, the former manager of Manchester United football club, as he lay in his coffin, disappeared yesterday.

Tom Gibbons, 41, is believed to have gone into hiding on the advice of police after being questioned over an offer to sell the photographs to the Sun newspaper for pounds 150,000.

Released on bail after being held under the Public Order Act, Mr Gibbons and his family left their home in Wythenshawe, Manchester. Greater Manchester Police would not comment on reports that detectives who searched the pallbearer's home allegedly found two name tags taken from Sir Matt's body and clippings of hair.

Eamonn Kennedy, owner of the undertaker's where Mr Gibbons worked, was said to be disgusted and knew nothing of the photographs. His firm branded the self-employed assistant, who had been with the company for two years, as a 'traitor'.

Sir Matt died on 20 January, aged 84. Sandy, his son, said: 'All the family are broken-hearted. What more can you say? There has to be something wrong with someone who could do this. In every profession there is a bit of scum hiding. If I was him I would go and hide in a hole.'

Father Lionel Murray, of Our Lady and St John's Roman Catholic Church, the church where a Requiem Mass for Sir Matt was held last Thursday, said he was 'shocked' that such an alleged intrusion could have taken place. 'It is very disturbing for the family. I am getting in touch with Sir Matt's son and daughter to offer what comfort I can. I have never come across anything like this in 40 years as a priest.'