'Plebgate' police to face further investigation
Three officers accused of misleading the press were previously told to expect no action
Sunday 03 November 2013
Three police officers who MPs have accused of giving "misleading" accounts about a meeting with former chief whip Andrew Mitchell after the "Plebgate" incident are to face further investigation by the police watchdog. Two of the officers will also be hauled back to face MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) to explain why they earlier gave conflicting evidence to the committee. The fresh investigation follows the row between Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell and police last year. Mr Mitchell, then Tory Chief Whip, was accused of calling Downing Street police officers "plebs" who should know their place. Mr Mitchell apologised for the outburst but strenuously denied the using the word. He was forced to resign in the furore that followed.
Three Police Federation representatives – Inspector Ken MacKaill, of West Mercia Police Federation, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton, of Warwickshire Police Federation, and Sergeant Chris Jones, of West Midlands Police Federation – were previously told they would face no action for misconduct over press statements they made following a meeting with Mr Mitchell in the West Midlands in October last year in a bid to resolve differences with the former minister.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will announce today that it will conduct its own investigation into the officers' behaviour after finding "procedural irregularities" in the way the inquiry was dealt with.
Sgt Jones and Det Sgt Hinton have also been called to reappear before the Home Affairs Select Committee for a second time on Tuesday, after being accused of giving "misleading" answers to MPs last month. The committee wants the pair "to apologise for misleading it".
Deborah Glass, the IPCC's deputy chair, originally told the committee that it would not be possible redetermine the investigation as it had concluded. But she said that opinion had been revised after learning that Chief Inspector Jerry Reakes-Williams of West Mercia Police, who led the original inquiry, had told MPs he disagreed with senior officers and believed the three men should face action for misconduct – a view that was not reflected in the final report.
"It is clear from CI Reakes-Williams's evidence... that this conclusion did not reflect his opinion. His opinion was (and remains) that a case to answer for misconduct was made out. However, he mistakenly believed that his report should reflect the view of the 'appropriate authorities' – the senior officers in each of the forces involved," she said, citing an independent review as being in the "public interest".
In the stinging select committee report, which rebuked both the officers and the chief constables of the three forces, the officers were said to be "lacking in credibility". Both men are being given the opportunity to apologise, or face being in contempt of Parliament. The committee also found the officers' "stubborn and unashamed" refusal of an apologise to Mr Mitchell "incredible".
Keith Vaz, the committee chairman, said "The narrative of what we have seen could rival any great work of fiction". He added that he was "delighted" that the IPCC was to re-open the investigation.
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