Top officers ‘had report rewritten’ to clear police at heart of Andrew Mitchell 'Plebgate' row

IPCC and Prime Minister criticise the decisions of three chief constables

The scandal of the police investigation into the “Plebgate” affair has deepened after it was suggested that three chief constables secretly overruled their own investigators to clear officers of serious wrongdoing.

A leaked letter reveals that the original police investigation into the three officers accused of lying about a meeting with the former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell found that there was enough evidence to bring disciplinary charges against them.

After the investigation report was handed over to the chief constables of West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands, it was re-written to clear the officers. The development raises fresh questions about the ability of the police to investigate themselves and puts further pressure on the forces to re-open their investigations.

Today David Cameron intervened in the row for the first time, saying it was “quite wrong” that no disciplinary action was being taken against officers, who met Mr Mitchell as representatives of the Police Federation.

At Prime Minister’s questions Mr Cameron said the conduct of the officers was “not acceptable”, adding that Mr Mitchell was “owed an apology” by the Police Federation and that the incident needed to be “properly investigated”.

The revelation is contained in a letter from the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s deputy chair, Deborah Glass, explaining why she publicly disagreed with the published findings of an IPCC-monitored report into the affair.

Ms Glass said that a draft report she first saw in July concluded that there was a case of misconduct to answer, while a second report sent in August said there was no case to answer. In her letter she says didn’t believe that the evidence had changed and or supported the case to clear the officers.

IPCC sources said that they believed the decision to change the report had come only after it was submitted to the chief constables concerned for approval. A spokesman for West Mercia police who led the investigation said it had received Ms Glass’s letter but refused to comment on it.

Mr Mitchell met Inspector Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones,  Police Federation representatives of West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands, on 12 October last year to “clear the air” following his clash with police in Downing Street.

A recording made by Mr Mitchell of the meeting shows  that  he apologised for swearing at the police officers, although he denied using the word “plebs”. But after the meeting, Mr MacKaill claimed the former Tory chief whip would not provide an account of the incident.

The original altercation, in which Mr Mitchell was accused of calling officers guarding Downing Street “plebs” as he tried to cycle through the main gates last year, has been the subject of a separate Metropolitan Police investigation.

The Independent understands that Mr Mitchell will have to wait until next week at the earliest to discover if any police officers will be charged in relation to that.

The Crown Prosecution Service is currently assessing whether there is evidence to charge five officers who have so far been arrested over the affair. But sources suggested no decision would be made before the weekend.

Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the behaviour of the Police Federation officers had fallen below the standards expected, but their chief constables should be given the opportunity to explain their decision not to take further disciplinary action.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “It seems to me in this case there is no issue that the finding by the police service was the officers’ behaviour fell below the standard. The question is the quantum of seriousness and I think that’s why the chief constables are clearly determined to explain that.”

All three chief constables are due to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee about their decision next week. Bob Jones, the Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, said that the officers involved had been “put on trial”.

He said: “Unfortunately those officers are in an extremely difficult position. They are being put on trial by the IPCC in the media and have basically been found guilty and haven’t got the opportunity to clear their names.”

Pleb of deceit? 13 months of bikes, lies and videotape

19 September 2012

The Conservative MP, Andrew Mitchell, who has just become the Government’s chief whip, has a row with police officers who refuse to open Downing Street’s main gate and allow him to  cycle though.

20 September 2012

The story appears in The Sun newspaper, under the headline: “Cabinet minister: Police are plebs”, which reports Mr Mitchell swore at the officers and called them “plebs”.

21 September 2012

Mr Mitchell denies using the word “plebs”  but apologises to the officers concerned for  being disrespectful. 

25 September 2012

A police log of the incident is leaked to the Daily Telegraph. It claims that members of the public witnessed the altercation in which Mr Mitchell was alleged to have said: “Best you learn your fucking place... you don’t run this fucking government...You’re fucking plebs.”  

12 October 2012

Three local representatives of the Police Federation meet Mr Mitchell at his Sutton Coldfield constituency office, telling reporters afterwards that Mr Mitchell refused to disclose the precise words he had used in the incident.

They criticise him for implying that the Downing Street officers’ accounts were not accurate. They say Mr Mitchell has “no option but  to resign”.

19 October 2012

After continuing political pressure, Mr Mitchell resigns, saying that the “damaging publicity” means he can no longer do his job.

16 December 2012

A police constable with the diplomatic protection group is arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office, and suspended.

18 December 2012

CCTV footage, broadcast on Channel 4 News, casts doubt on the police officers’ version of events. The footage suggests that no one other than the officers involved were within earshot of the altercation – despite the police log suggesting that members of the public looking on were “visibly shocked”.

Mr Mitchell says he has fallen victim to a “stitch-up”. He also reveals that he recorded his meeting with the Police Federation representatives and says it is clear that they lied in their statements to the  press afterwards.

19 December 2012

Scotland Yard announces it has opened an investigation into the affair. In the ensuing months, eight people are arrested and bailed under the investigation, codenamed Operation Alice, including five police officers.

15 October 2013

With a CPS decision on whether to prosecute anyone imminent, the row is reignited. An inquiry by West Mercia police clears the Police Federation reps of misconduct, but the Independent Police Complaints Commission says it disagrees with the findings.

It says it is clear from a tape recording of the meeting that Mr Mitchell did provide an account of what he said in the altercation – despite claims by the Police Federation representatives that he didn’t. Home Secretary Theresa May says it would be “quite wrong” to take no disciplinary action against the officers. 

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

March On Cancer™ - Local Marketing and Promotions Volunteer

This is an unpaid voluntary role.: Cancer Research UK: We need motivational vo...

Teaching Assistants

£50 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Rapidly developing and growing ...

Supply Teachers needed in Stowmarket

£1034496 - £1516224 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: The Job:Randstad ...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week