Plebgate investigation: Police officer texted about ‘toppling Tories’

 

CRIME CORRESPONDENT

Text messages released by Scotland Yard have revealed the level of police animosity against the former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell before he quit over the Plebgate saga following clashes that dated back years.

A 56-page report contained messages between members of Scotland Yard’s Diplomatic Protection Group and their associates sent during a saga that resulted in four officers being fired and one jailed.

Mr Mitchell resigned after a campaign that followed allegations that he called officers “f***ing plebs” when they refused to allow him go through the main gate of Downing Street in 2012. Mr Mitchell admits swearing but denies using the phrase in a heated conversation with PC Toby Rowland.

The police investigation into the conspiracy to bring down the minister found Mr Mitchell and officers had clashed twice in the previous week over the decision to refuse him to leave through the Downing Street gates. The report was released yesterday following the conclusion of all criminal and disciplinary boards. Supporters of Mr Mitchell claimed that the report showed “industrial levels of dishonesty by police working in Downing Street”.

PC Rowland was the only officer who heard the phrase. He sent a log of the account to his supervisors and another officer on duty during that evening, PC Gillian Weatherley. In a text to another officer, PC Weatherley wrote: “I’m the officer that stopped the Chief Whip leaving Downing St on Wednesday… I could topple the Tory government x,” according to the report.

In a second text to a neighbour, the officer – who was later sacked – said: “I’m at the front gates tomorrow so I still have time to bring the government down”.

Mr Mitchell resigned his post after weeks of pressure led by the Police Federation and an email sent to an MP that appeared to back the officers’ account of what happened. It emerged that the email was sent by an off-duty officer, PC Keith Wallis, who was later jailed for his role in the conspiracy.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan, who led the inquiry, said: “We understand the public interest in this case, which is why we have taken the unusual step of publishing this material.

“At the heart of this investigation were very serious allegations that police officers had conspired together to falsify statements against a cabinet minister. I have no doubt these allegations have damaged public trust in us.”

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