'Plebgate': Three police officers accused of trying to discredit Andrew Mitchell to be grilled by MPs

The three chief constables of their forces will also be questioned, as will those charged with leading the internal and independent investigations of the matter

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The Independent Online

Three police officers accused of trying to discredit the former Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell are set to be questioned over their conduct by MPs today.

The three chief constables of the forces they represent will also appear, and will be asked to explain why West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands Police all spared their officers from misconduct proceedings.

In a bumper set of appearances which, it is hoped, will get to the bottom of events in the wake of the “plebgate” saga, the Home Affairs Select Committee will also hear from the police officer who led an internal inquiry and two representatives of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Today’s meeting will not be tasked with looking into what really happened when Mr Mitchell was stopped trying to take his bicycle through a Downing Street gate more than a year ago – that matter is being dealt with by a separate inquiry.

Instead, MPs will look into the IPCC’s report which states three officers damaged the “honesty and integrity” of the force when they allegedly misrepresented what Mr Mitchell told them in a “clear the air” discussion.

The Tory MP agreed to meet with Police Federation representatives Inspector Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones in order to try to bring an end to the saga.

But when the officers emerged afterwards, they told journalists Mr Mitchell had not explained his side of the story and called for him to resign.

A recording of the meeting, made secretly by the politician, seemed to show this to be untrue – Mr Mitchell said he apologised for swearing at officers but that he did not use the word “pleb”.

The three officers’ forces investigated the matter, but decided not to charge any of them with misconduct – a decision which the IPCC has criticised.

Prime Minister David Cameron insisted Mr Mitchell was owed an apology by police and said the conduct of the officers was “not acceptable”.

The three officers earlier this week said they regretted making a public statement after the meeting at Mr Mitchell's Sutton Coldfield constituency office, but did not retract the comments made.

The Crown Prosecution Service is considering whether to bring criminal charges following an investigation, known as Operation Alice, which has cost more than £230,000.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe admitted this morning that the row over 'plebgate' had clouded the public's view of the police.

“During the time this thing has been an issue, the Met has been performing better than ever. We've just got to live with the reality - the newspaper headlines, the fact that you're talking about it, clouds the fact that crime's coming down at its fastest for 30 years.

“This issue's got to be resolved and we've got to deal with it.”