Andrew Mitchell ‘plebgate’ scandal: Is it possible that police behaved this dishonestly?

The allegation they smeared a political target is extraordinary

Share

I have shown all the consistency of lumpy porridge on the subject of Andrew Mitchell. To start with, I was sympathetic to a fellow cyclist told to go the inconvenient way round. Especially as the gates would have been opened for Mitchell had he been in a metal box on wheels.

Then I thought that, on balance, he should have resigned as chief whip. I thought that swearing to a police officer, which he admitted, was a mistake that would make it hard to demand discipline of his fellow MPs.

Never mind all that. The behaviour of the police appears to have been so shocking that I would support Mitchell’s reinstatement to any post he wants, and I hope that any police officer found to have tried to stitch up an elected politician is taken to the cleaners.

The Prime Minister was categorical today about the conduct of the three representatives of the Police Federation who visited Mitchell in his constituency after the disputed conversation at the gates of Downing Street. They came out of that meeting saying that he had been unclear about the original incident, but because Mitchell had recorded their meeting, David Cameron said, we know that “what the police officers said is untrue”. He said their “conduct was not acceptable”.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister all say that the officers who visited Mitchell should face misconduct charges - which I would have thought would be the least of it - but their force, West Mercia, refuses to take any action.

What is also unacceptable is the delay in the Metropolitan police investigation into what actually happened in Downing Street more than a year ago. Yet what has been established so far about the police version of events is enough to suggest that criminal charges could have been brought long ago. The CCTV footage of the interchange, which is now publicly available, does not allow for the length of dialogue reported in the police log, and the story of the email from a claimed witness who turned out to be an off-duty police officer who wasn’t there is simply extraordinary.

This is far more important than a moment of grumpiness more than a year ago. It is more important even than the career of one minister which has been damaged, even if he is eventually brought back into government. The implication is that police officers set out dishonestly to destroy a political target. This surely cannot be true, and it is astonishing that the leaders of the forces concerned are not dropping everything in their haste to show that it is untrue.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices