A FORMER Royal Protection officer who held a gun to a press photographer's head has walked free from court.

Trouble erupted when Paul Page, 36, spotted Scott Hornby taking photos of him outside his family home in Hatton Close, Chafford Hundred.

Mr Page, who was suspended from the Metropolitan Police's Royal Protection squad in December, 2006, told the jury he believed Mr Hornby was a hitman who had been pointing a rifle at him.

He had received a warning from police just days before the incident, on November 21 last year, telling him his life may have been in danger.

Mr Page was acquitted in Basildon Crown Court of possessing a pistol with intent to cause fear of violence, dangerous driving, false imprisonment and possessing a prohibited weapon.

During the trial, the court was told the former officer sped after Mr Hornby in his car after he spotted him taking the pictures, driving through red lights and ramming the photographer's car to make him stop.

The jury also listened to the tape recording of a 999 call in which Mr Page called for police assistance while he was chasing Mr Hornby, and a further call he made to the emergency services while he held Mr Hornby near his car.

Speaking after the trial, John Cooper, who had defended Mr Page, said: "Mr Page and his family are greatly relieved that this ordeal is now over."