Editorial: Questions for Cameron over 'Plebgate'

 

Share
Related Topics

The events leading up to Andrew Mitchell's resignation from the Cabinet in October are now even more blurred, complex and highly charged than they were at the time.

Although the Prime Minister knew before his Chief Whip left the Government that some of the police evidence against the cabinet minister was not reliable, he neither said so publicly at the time nor moved from his balanced position between Mr Mitchell and the police.

David Cameron had been ready to sack Mr Mitchell, but was struck by the vehemence of his denials and ordered internal inquiries, parts of which appeared to challenge officers' accounts of the fracas at the gates of Downing Street. Yet Mr Cameron offered no public explanation – apparently because he did not want to poison relations between the Government and the senior officers who protect them, but more likely because of the existing stand-off with the police over deeply unpopular reforms.

The result was a bizarre sequence of events in which Mr Mitchell protested his innocence somewhat vaguely, without clarifying precisely whether or not he had accused officers of being "plebs"; the police were insistent that Mitchell was not telling the truth; and the Prime Minister floated uneasily between the two. In the end, Mr Mitchell resigned, although, given how strongly he is fighting back now, it is something of a mystery why he did not cling on more tenaciously in the first place.

With cause to doubt the police evidence, Mr Cameron should, perhaps, have acted more decisively in defence of the beleaguered minister. But even if he were not himself sure enough of events to give his full backing to Mr Mitchell, at the very least he should have ensured that the questions over the police accounts were made public and swiftly investigated.

Instead, Mr Cameron opted for the most political of solutions, a behind-the-scenes deal designed to smooth over the public row and minimise the risk to himself and his Government. Indeed, he allowed expediency to trump any concern over the facts of the matter, despite the far-reaching implications of their uncertainty. Even as the police face questions following the latest twist in the tale, so too does the Prime Minister.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers a speech on his party's plans for the NHS, in Sale, on Tuesday  

Why is Miliband fixating on the NHS when he’d be better off focussing on the wealth gap?

Andreas Whittam Smith
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness