Plebgate: Crown Prosecution Service's full statement on charges against Pc Keith Wallis

 

A police officer has been charged with misconduct in public office over the Andrew Mitchell "plebgate" affair.

Here is the statement from Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, in full:

“We have considered all of the evidence in this case, including previously unseen, unedited CCTV footage from Downing Street, not referred to by the media. Taking it all into account, including the accounts of the officer at the gate of Downing Street and that of Andrew Mitchell MP before, during and after the incident, we have found that there is insufficient evidence to show that the officer at the gate lied in his account. The CPS has also found that there is insufficient evidence to show that Mr Mitchell was the victim of a conspiracy of misinformation.

With insufficient evidence to show that the officer at the gate lied in his account, we must consider other matters, as set out below, on that basis.

I have, however, authorised one officer to be charged with one count of misconduct in public office. I will set out the decision making below.

The evidence.

The evidence has been reviewed in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors by a Specialist Prosecutor in the Special Crime & Counter Terrorism Division under the personal supervision of Malcolm McHaffie, the Deputy Head of Division. I have in addition sought the advice of an experienced Queen's Counsel.

The allegations made by Mr Mitchell led to an extensive police investigation involving hundreds of witness statements from police and from staff at Downing Street.

Previously unseen and unedited CCTV evidence has been considered very carefully. In addition there has been a detailed enquiry into emails, text messages, social messaging and telephone contact between numerous police officers and members of the public. The locations of mobile telephones have been analysed using cell site technology. We have considered evidence in relation to 14 individuals including 10 police officers, a member of the media and three members of the public.

Downing Street is a high-risk target that is guarded at all times by armed police officers and protected by two pairs of main security gates. A legal order made in 2008 because of the fear of terrorist attack means that no-one may use the street unless they are authorised or directed by a police officer. Officers were instructed only to open the main gates for motor vehicles and there was a publicised policy to that effect.

The evidence shows that on 19 September 2012 there was an incident at the gates of Downing Street between Mr Mitchell and an armed police officer who, in accordance with his instructions, declined to allow Mr Mitchell to exit on his bicycle via the two pairs of main security gates, which were closed. The officer instead directed Mr Mitchell to a nearby large pedestrian gate which he opened for Mr Mitchell.

Both Mr Mitchell and the gate officer describe bad language from Mr Mitchell.

The officer describes the following words from Mr Mitchell:

“You should know your f***ing place, you don't run this f***ing government, you're f***ing plebs.”

Mr Mitchell describes it as follows:

“I thought you guys were supposed to f***ing help us”.

Although the exact wording of what was said is disputed, both the officer and Mr Mitchell say that the officer warned Mr Mitchell for swearing and Mr Mitchell said he would pursue the matter the next day.

There are no independent accounts of what was said.

The evidence shows that after the incident at the gate the officer immediately told other officers there what had happened; he then made a written note and telephoned a superior officer to inform him. About an hour and a half later, once back at base, he compiled an email about the incident which he sent to his managers and colleagues. The email is what has previously been described as the police 'log'.

Much of the press reporting to date has assumed that the CCTV recordings show that the gate officer lied about the words used during the incident. The CCTV footage that has been aired publicly was edited and did not show the full picture.

We have been supplied with previously unseen and unedited footage of the incident from five different cameras. The CCTV footage does not determine the issue completely as it could be consistent with either the accounts of the officer on the gate or Mr Mitchell. It is clear from the footage that there was sufficient time for the words to have been said either as described by the gate officer or as described by Mr Mitchell, and this has been confirmed by an expert. The fact that an expert has confirmed what is possible does not of itself determine the issue. Both the officer and Mr Mitchell agree that the officer warned him about swearing and that Mr Mitchell made a further remark on leaving. There is no sound recording and the faces of the officer and Mr Mitchell cannot be seen sufficiently clearly. It does show that there are a small number of members of the public present immediately in front of the gate at the relevant time, but what cannot be seen is how many people were immediately off camera but in the vicinity, at least some of whom then quickly came into view. This is consistent with the officer's account that several members of the public were present. No officer ever mentioned “crowds” being present - this was first mentioned in Channel 4 News/Dispatches programmes in December 2012 and February 2013 - which showed edited footage that was less than clear in a number of regards.

Our determination in relation to the incident also involved careful consideration of evidence concerning conduct and communications by officers and Mr Mitchell both before and after the incident, including the fact that Mr Mitchell's account has varied since the incident.

The claims made in the Sunday Times about a whistle-blower were first made to the police by David Davis MP and Mr Mitchell. They have declined to assist the police by naming them.

Our conclusions

Having carefully considered the evidence in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors we have reached the following conclusions:

1) Events at the gate

There is insufficient evidence to say that the police officer on the gate lied (offence considered: misconduct in public office).

There is insufficient evidence to prove that any officer, alone or with any other officer(s), fabricated a false allegation against Mr Mitchell (offence considered: misconduct in public office).

There is insufficient evidence to prove a criminal conspiracy (offence considered: conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office).

2) Information leaks

a) It is clear that information was leaked when an officer, who was unconnected to the incident, sent a copy of the gate officer's email to the media. There is no evidence that this officer requested or received any payment or reward.

We have carefully considered all the evidence in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the CPS Guidance for prosecutors on assessing the public interest in cases affecting the media.

We considered whether there is sufficient evidence to give rise to a realistic prospect of conviction for either a breach of the Data Protection Act s55 or misconduct in public office.

This type of conduct raises issues in relation to the right to freedom of expression, including the right to freely impart and receive information, and these are important rights enshrined in our law. In all the circumstances of this case we have concluded that a jury is likely to decide that it was in the public interest for the events at the gate to be made public and it therefore follows that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute any suspect in relation to this leak.

b) In two instances there is evidence to show that false information was sent, but not by police officers.

There is information, but no admissible evidence, which suggests that an officer's partner contacted the media, introducing the word “morons” into the press. However, that person is not a public officer and therefore cannot be considered for an offence of misconduct in public office. There is no evidence that any officer has ever claimed that Mr Mitchell used the word “moron”.

In the second instance an unconnected member of the public sent an email to the chairman of the Conservative Party and this was later passed to Mr Mitchell. The email was sent six days after the incident, on 25 September, when the matter was already public. The correspondent claimed to have witnessed and filmed the incident and said that the word “pleb” was not used. The evidence is clear that this email is a fabrication and was in fact based on media coverage, but again, that person is not a public officer and cannot be considered for an offence of misconduct in public office.

c) In addition, two officers were considered for offences of perverting the course of justice in terms of the statements they provided to this investigation, but there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.

The conclusions we have reached do not in any way condone the actions of those involved in this case.

The question of whether proceedings under police regulations should follow against any officer is a matter for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Metropolitan Police Service. The fact that an individual has not been charged with a criminal offence does not prevent such proceedings.

3) Criminal proceedings

We have also received evidence in relation to PC Keith Wallis who sent an email to the deputy chief whip, John Randall who was his MP, saying that he had witnessed the incident.

We have decided, having carefully considered the evidence in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, that there is sufficient evidence to charge PC Wallis with misconduct in a public office and that it is in the public interest to do so. I should make it clear the misconduct allegation relates to evidence that PC Wallis falsely claimed to have witnessed the incident, not to how the incident was described in his account.

PC Keith Wallis has been charged and is required to attend Westminster Magistrates' Court on 16 December 2013.

PC Keith Wallis now stands accused of a criminal offence and is entitled to a fair trial. Care should be taken that nothing is reported which may prejudice his trial.“

STATEMENT OF OFFENCE

MISCONDUCT IN PUBLIC OFFICE, contrary to Common Law.

PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE

Keith Wallis between the 19th day of September 2012 and 16th December 2012 wilfully and without reasonable excuse or justification misconducted himself when the holder of a public office, namely a police constable in the Metropolitan Police Service, in that he falsely claimed to have witnessed an incident dated 19th September 2012 and arranged for his nephew to support his false claims.

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
Arts and Entertainment
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game