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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Barnardo's: Corporate Audit and Inspection – Retail Intern (Leeds)

Unpaid - £4 lunch allowance plus travel to and from work: Barnardo's: Purpose ...

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Receptionist

£15000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Writer and director Armando Iannucci at the 40th Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival  

BBC bosses should be prised out of senior roles to let new talent rise up

Anonymous
Turkey, where Executive Escapes had 500 clients when it went bust  

Why do holiday companies go bust on Fridays?

Simon Calder
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future