Police watchdog says no to Plebgate leak inquiry


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The Independent Online

The police watchdog has turned down the demand by former chief whip Andrew Mitchell for a leak inquiry, after he accused Scotland Yard of trying to blacken his name over the Plebgate saga.

Mr Mitchell wrote to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), complaining that the force had sought to destroy his career, after reports suggested that the investigation had found no evidence that officers had lied about a confrontation in Downing Street.

In a letter to Mr Mitchell, IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass said: “While I fully understand your concerns about these press reports, it appears to me that the public interest is best served by ensuring that the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) are, indeed, carrying out a robust and thorough investigation into the initial incident and its aftermath.”

She said that the Met had supplied 740 statements, including 44 key ones, and that seven officers had been interviewed under caution. She said that if Mr Mitchell wanted to pursue his complaint, he should contact the head of the team investigating the incident. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)  is considering possible charges against several police officers over the alleged conspiracy to bring down Mr Mitchell.

Ms Glass said she hoped that the CPS would conclude its initial review into the evidence within two weeks, adding: “Both the CPS and the IPCC are entirely independent of the MPS and we both have a role in ensuring that the investigation has followed all necessary lines of inquiry.”

Mr Mitchell resigned as chief whip after weeks of bad publicity over the bad-tempered exchange last September when officers refused to let him ride his bike through the main gate. While he admitted swearing, he denied calling the officers “plebs”, as they had claimed.

Four people have been arrested, including three officers, after doubts were raised about the nature of the dispute following the release of CCTV footage. An email that backed the officers’ accounts was found to have been sent by an off-duty police officer.

Mr Mitchell has also announced his intention to sue The Sun which first ran the story about the Downing Street row. The newspaper said that it would defend any claim against it.