Plebgate: The Sun and the police used Andrew Mitchell to escape Hillsborough
IS Andrew Mitchell innocent? Mitchell lost his job as the Tory Party’s Chief Whip. A police constable with the Diplomatic Protection Group has been arrested over the Andrew Mitchell “plebgate” scandal. It’s alleged that the copper pretended to be a member of the public when making a complaint to his MP, John Randall.
Randall was Mitchell’s deputy in the Conservative Party’s whips’ office.
The copper claimed he heard Michell call the police “plebs” when they refused to let him ride his bicycle through the main gates of Number 10 Downing Street. Mitchell has always denied called the police “f**king plebs”. He has admitted to having sworn at them. (You can read the ‘leaked’ full transcript here.)
“The incident was very brief. I picked up my bicycle. I did say under my breath, but audibly in frustration: ‘I thought you lot were supposed to fucking help us.’ I did say that. It is for that I apologise.”
The copper say he was there. Only, according to the Metropolitan Police, he wasn’t.
According to the leaked police logs there were “several members of the public present – around the gate – they heard the altercation and were “visibly shocked”. What this CCTV shows is that there are no crowds of people watching and listening.
The officer told Randall:
“Unfortunately I write to you to complain about the absolutely disgusting behaviour I was witness to yesterday of your fellow MP in Downing Street. I was with my nephew and … hoping to catch a glance of a famous politician. Other tourists standing with us were also shocked and some were even inadvertently filming the incident … I, having a keen interest in politics and the Conservative party, knew it was Andrew Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield. Imagine to our horror when we heard Mr Mitchell shout very loudly at the police officers guarding [blanked out by Channel 4] our country. He just continued to shout obscenities at the poor police officers.”
The story was then leaked to the Sun, which gleefully picked it up, leading with it five says running. The Sun says Mitchell told a constable:
“Best you learn your fu**ing place. You don’t run this fu**ing government. You’re fu**ing plebs.”
A spokesman for No 10 says:
“Any allegations that a serving police officer posed as a member of the public and fabricated evidence against a cabinet minister are exceptionally serious. It is therefore essential that the police get to the bottom of this as a matter of urgency…We welcome [Metropolitan Police commissioner] Bernard Hogan-Howe’s commitment to achieve that aim.”
John Tully, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents officers in the Met Police, adds:
“The Metropolitan Police Federation unequivocally and categorically refutes any allegation that it was part of a conspiracy to unseat a cabinet minister.”
That’s the same Tully who earlier said:
“It is not the words, police officers are quite thick skinned, what infuriates me here is that a minister is saying police officers are liars. We need a full and frank inquiry. There is a clear difference of opinion, and we need to establish what happened.”
“The information I have is that Mr Mitchell did use offensive language – he used the words ‘pleb’ and ‘morons’ as well as expletives, which is totally unacceptable. It constitutes a criminal offence under the Public Order Act, Section 5, and I would say he’s very lucky not to have been arrested.”
“The time for resignation has passed. The prime minister needs to take decisive action. It’s now about integrity. He’s questioning the officers. They’ve been professional throughout, he hasn’t. He needs to be sacked. For someone in a position of authority, it’s a very very bad example for them to set.”
Tully now says:
“The thing which disappointed me is around the proportionality of whether it was necessary to arrest the individual. After all, he is a serving police officer. Clearly it needs to be resolved, because there are things that we shouldn’t talk about as police officers, and this may be one of those cases.”
What about setting bad examples? Still, amusing to see the police who invite tweeters to work as their narks complaining about heavy-handed policing.
Mitchell now says:
“There were, there were three phrases above all which were hung around my neck for the following 28 days, every day in the press, which were used to destroy my political career and were used to toxify the Conservative party. They are completely untrue, I never said phrases like that at all, I would never call someone an effing pleb. Anyone who knows me well would know that it is absolutely not in me to use phrases like that.”
Asked why he did not give a more detailed account at the time, Mitchell said: “Well, when the story broke, the decision was made that I would apologise for what I did say and my apology was accepted. There was no police complaints and that we would let it lie. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, that was clearly the wrong decision.”
“I always knew that the emails were false, although extremely convincing. It has shaken my lifelong support and confidence in the police. I believe now there should be a full inquiry so we can get to the bottom of this.”
Meanwhile, how does the Sun cover the big story: Tom Newton Dunn, the paper’s political editor, tweeted: “The Sun stands by our initial #plebgate story.”
About teh tiem of Plebgate, the police and the Sun were in the mire over their alleged collusion in phone hacking and defaming the dead of Hillsborough. On September 13, the Sun had published “THE REAL TRUTH”, an apology for its lies.
Here’s how the Sun covers the news that a police officer might have lied over Mitchell: