A fair cop? Cameron backtracks on comment on Britain's 'relatively honest police force'


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Indy Politics

It maybe what he privately thinks - but almost certainly not what intended to publically state.

David Cameron had to dig himself out of a hole of his own making on Sunday when he appeared to question the honesty of the British police.

Mr Cameron was being interviewed by Sky News about Syria and Britain’s priorities for the G8 summit when he volunteered his own concerns about policing in Britain.

Asked about the continuing security problems in Libya following Western intervention and the overthrow of Gaddafi Mr Cameron replied: “One of the things we’ll be doing at the G8 is having conversation about what we can do to help a government that I do believe wants a democratic, successful, prosperous Libya. 

He then rather unfortunately added: “We sometimes take for granted this in the west that you have a relatively honest police force, you have a standing army, you have the institutions of government so things can get done.”

Unsurprisingly the interviewer Dermot Murnaghan picked him up on his surprising remark and asked him what he meant.

A clearly flustered Mr Cameron then attempted to downplay his attack on the police – by widening his attack to other institutions.

“What I meant was I’m not saying everything in our country is perfect,” he said. “We’ve had cash for questions problems in our Parliament.  We have problems following all the Leveson stuff about police who’ve done bad things, journalists who’ve done bad things and so on.”

Mr Murnaghan then asked Mr Cameron the question that most people watching must have been thinking.

Had the apparent fabrication by Downing Street protection officers of a conversation with the former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell had had anything to do with his current outlook?

Mr Cameron wisely would not be drawn.

“I don’t want to get into all of that,” he said rather testily.

But that did not stop the Police Federation from making a little hay of Mr Cameron’s slip of the tongue.

Its Chair Steve Williams said: “The description was clumsy in that it has been interpreted in a way that I am sure is far from what he meant.”