CONTROVERSY surrounded the arrival of vigilantes on the Tube system back in February 1989.

A branch of the Guardian Angels - which originated in New York and whose members wore distinctive red berets - had taken to patrolling stations and carriages, and the Gazette polled readers about whether they supported the move.

And a group of Acton schoolboys set up their own alternative band of peace-loving vigilantes called Ebony Rebel, who spent their time rapping, performing and watching over the streets of Ealing.

"The group is not like the Guardian Angels,"15-year-old Charlie Benjamin - aka Chuck - told our reporter at the time.

"They are aggressive and we are against violence. Ebony Rebel walk around and if they see anything bad going on, they try to talk people out of it."

Gunman killed as officers fired to save their own lives

POLICE were forced to shoot to protect their own lives after confronting armed robbers in a museum raid, it was said at an inquest 20 years ago this week.

West Ealing criminal Dennis Bergin was shot as he burst through the door of the Sir John Soane Museum, brandishing a shotgun and leading a gang of armed crooks.

Officers had been tipped off about a raid at the converted house in London Fields, which holds treasures collected from around the world by the architect behind Pitzhanger Manor and other celebrated buildings.

The six-strong gang were tailed by the authorities after they set off from Ealing in February 1987 with plans to steal a £2m painting.

Nine policemen, including two marksmen, were lying in wait when the robbers burst in. Posing as a motorcycle courier, Bergin, of Albany Road, was first to the museum door, with the rest of the gang behind him.

Detective Chief Inspector Graham Clifford described his fear as the men burst through the door, at the tribunal two years after the raid.

He said: "I saw a helmeted figure in dark clothing thrusting between the door and the wall. He was holding a shotgun. I stopped in my tracks realising the danger to myself. He was bringing the gun around the door.

"It was obvious the officers were losing control of the door and their lives were being threatened."

Shouts of 'get down' were heard and three shots were fired before Bergin fell to the ground, the inquest heard at the time. The rest of the gang then fled.

Bergin's brother, George, was sentenced to seven years in prison for his part in the raid, and accomplice Michael Lyons was handed a 10-year jail term.