A former Greater Manchester Police chief has backed the widow of constable Andrew Harper in calling for whole life sentences for those who kill police officers during the course of a crime.

Nick Adderley was previously Chief Superintendent of GMP's North and Tameside divisions and supported his team through the murders of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes in 2012.

He's now Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police.

PC Harper, who served with Thames Valley Police, died as he tried to stop three thieves fleeing after they stole a quad bike in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire, on August 15 last year.

He was dragged for more than a mile along a road by their getaway car.

Chief Constable Nick Adderley, pictured during his time at GMP

Henry Long, 19, and 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were convicted and sentenced for the newlywed's manslaughter.

They were cleared of his murder.

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Ringleader Long got 16 years while Cole and Bowers each got 13 years.

The sentences have since been referred to the attorney general over claims they were unduly lenient.

Pc Harper's widow, Lissie Harper, launched a campaign for 'Andrew's Law' on Wednesday, backed by the Police Federation of England and Wales, calling for full-life prison terms for those who kill emergency services workers.

PC Harper's widow, Lissie, outside court

Chief Constable Adderley said 'those who set out to commit a crime' in which an officer is killed should 'automatically be sanctioned by a whole life term'.

PC Harper was caught in a crane strap dangling from the back of a Seat Toledo driven by Long, and dragged to his death.

He said he believed life imprisonment was necessary based on his experience at GMP, when PCs Hughes and Bone were killed in a gun and grenade ambush at the hands of evil killer Dale Cregan.

They were married for four weeks

He is now serving a whole life sentence.

Chief Constable Adderley said: "It's a very sensitive issue for the family of Andrew Harper of course, but it's also a really sensitive issue for the police family, and quite rightly so.

"I do believe - I've said quite clearly based on my own experiences when Nicola and Fiona were murdered in Manchester - anyone who is in the commission of a crime, who assaults and kills a police officer, should face a whole term tariff.

"They should face life imprisonment.

"The bit about where the law gets really complicated around murder and manslaughter is this bit - did you set out to murder somebody or did they just happen to get killed as a consequence?

PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes

"For me, if you set out to commit a crime, and in the commission of that crime a police officer is killed, for me what they call in Latin 'mens rea' is laid out, and for me that should automatically be sanctioned by a whole life term - life imprisonment."

PC Harper's mother, Debbie Adlam, said it was 'very insulting' to see his killers celebrate in court after being cleared of murder.

PC Harper's widow meanwhile said she was 'immensely disappointed'.

He was 28 at the time of his death, and they had been married for just four weeks.

Mrs Harper said this week as she launched the campaign: "I pledge to my late husband to never stop until I have made the difference that this country clearly needs.

"I vow to stand strong and firm with so many other honourable people in our country to make the changes that we clearly know to be justified.

"We want to bring in something called Andrew's Law - we want to change this so that you are sentenced to a proper amount of time and that defines the crime that you've committed.

"We're hoping for a mandatory sentence with no early release, no reductions for being a certain age."