Andrew Mitchell’s camp turns its guns on David Cameron over Plebgate

‘Disgraceful’ PM accused of letting Chief Whip 'swing in the wind'

David Cameron was last night accused of leaving Andrew Mitchell “swinging in the wind” because he knew about evidence that undermined policemen's allegations against him – and could have saved his political career.

Friends of the former Chief Whip said it was "disgraceful" that Mr Cameron had not called for an official investigation once Downing Street CCTV footage had directly contradicted the officers' accounts of the incident. Instead, they suggested, Mr Cameron had made a calculation that the only way to save Mr Mitchell's career would have been to accuse the policemen – who are responsible for protecting senior politicians – of lying, which he was not prepared to do.

The Independent revealed yesterday that the Prime Minister had known for almost three months that at least one member of his elite protection unit may have fabricated parts of the Downing Street police log about the confrontation with Mr Mitchell.

The Independent understands that Mr Mitchell himself did not see the CCTV footage before he resigned, instead being told by officials that the tape was "of low resolution and you couldn't lip-read" what was being said.

He was not told by either Mr Cameron or Downing Street officials that the footage contradicted police statements about the affair.

The policemen claimed that members of the public looked on at the incident and were "visibly shocked" at the language used.

The CCTV footage also contradicted the critical email – supposedly sent by a member of the public – that appeared to back up the police version of events.

It was only after Mr Mitchell resigned that his wife Sharon and his political friends encouraged him to fight back and demand to examine the CCTV images himself, which contradicted the policemen's account.

Last night Mr Mitchell's friends expressed anger that Mr Cameron and the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood had failed to act on the evidence earlier. "This was not a minor error in the log," one friend said. "If this had gone to court, a defence barrister would have destroyed the police officer for the inconsistencies.

"I am amazed that no one had a conversation with Bernard Hogan-Howe three months ago [when Mr Cameron knew]. It was a disgraceful decision to let it lie and let Andrew swing in the wind."

Labour sources also expressed concern over the apparent inaction. One Labour figure said: "It is frankly incredible that on the face of it you had a policeman on the gates of Downing Street whose statement appeared materially false and you don't order an investigation to look into it. What planet were they on?"

They also questioned why, when the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper had written to Sir Jeremy calling for an investigation and an examination of the CCTV footage, she was stonewalled. "We now know that there was an investigation of sorts but it was decided not to do anything about it," they said. "It is important to know why."

Speaking on a visit to Afghanistan Mr Cameron said he took "full responsibility" for the Downing Street investigation. He also revealed that he had met Mr Mitchell the night before a Channel 4 news and Dispatches investigation broadcast the CCTV evidence which suggested the police account of the altercation was flawed. "I saw him in No 10. I spoke to him and my office has been in contact with him, as you would expect, fairly regularly," he said.

Asked what frame of mind Mr Mitchell was in, Mr Cameron replied: "I thought his mood was very calm and rational given what were very disturbing revelations."

Mr Cameron did not rule out a return to government by Mr Mitchell in the future. However he cautioned: "One step at a time. Let's get to the truth about what happened.

"But I think it has been an extraordinary development, frankly, to find a police officer apparently posing as a member of the public, pretending to have been outside Downing Street at the time and then trying to blacken the name of a minister."

Downing Street also expressed confidence in the current police investigation into the affair, under Mr Hogan-Howe.

"The Prime Minister has full confidence in the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and believes the police should be allowed to carry out the investigation, which is being overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission," said an official spokesman.

A spokesman for the Mayor of London Boris Johnson also expressed solidarity. "The Mayor has absolute confidence in the Commissioner.

"He has assured the Mayor that he is determined to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible.

"The Mayor has every confidence in that assurance."

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game