Plebgate Police Officers In Mitchell Apology
Last Updated 19:27 21/10/2013
Three police officers have apologised for their conduct after meeting the former chief whip during the “plebgate” inquiry.
The Police Federation have released a statement in which the officers say they are sorry for “poor judgement” in talking to the media after a meeting with Andrew Mitchell.
Andrew Mitchell Profile
The statement has been issued on behalf of Inspector Ken MacKaill, of West Mercia Police; Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton, of Warwickshire Police; and Sergeant Chris Jones, of West Midlands Police.
The three officers have been under pressure to apologise to Mr Mitchell for their conduct since an Independent Police Complaints Commission report last week questioned their “honesty and integrity”.
It concluded that evidence suggested the three had lied in media interviews about what Mr Mitchell had said in a meeting on October 12 last year to support police colleagues in London, who claimed he had called them “******* plebs” during a Downing Street row over his bicycle.
Following the report both David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May called on the officers to apologise for their actions.
However, the Police Federation statement stops far short of an outright apology to Mr Mitchell. Instead it said only: “We acknowledge the investigation’s criticism relating to our poor judgement in talking to the media following the meeting with Andrew Mitchell, for which we take this opportunity to apologise.
“We would like to emphasise (as we did to the investigation) that in no way did any of us ever plan or intend to mislead anyone about what occurred during this meeting or otherwise.”
Tory MP David Davis said the apology fell well short of what is required for their “pre-meditated” attack which he says “destroyed a career”.
He said: “The statement from the three police Federation officials is simply not good enough.”
And added: “This is not a case of misjudgement, it is deliberate misconduct and they should face the consequences of that misconduct.”
Mr Mitchell met Mr MacKaill, Det Sgt Hinton and Sgt Jones at his Sutton Coldfield constituency office to “clear the air”.
A transcript shows he apologised for swearing at the police officers but denied using the word “plebs”, while in comments made after the meeting Mr MacKaill claimed the former Tory chief whip refused to provide an account of the incident.
The IPCC found that in interviews afterwards there was “evidence to suggest” that officers gave a “false account” of the meeting – a meeting Mr Mitchell had recorded.
The report found: “In the media and political climate of the day, I do not consider that the officers could have been in any doubt about the impact of their public statements on the pressure being brought on Mr Mitchell.
“As police officers, they had a responsibility to present a fair and accurate picture. Their motive seems plain: they were running a successful, high-profile, anti-cuts campaign and the account that he provided to them did not fit with their agenda.”
Mr Mitchell quit the role of chief whip because of the scandal.
While he has admitted arguing with the officers on September 19 last year, he has always denied using the word “plebs”, which was the politically charged element of the phrase that led for calls for him to resign.
Police officers involved in the incident have been accused of colluding to falsify evidence – adding the word “plebs” – in an attempt to make political capital out of the scandal at a time of police cuts.
The whole scandal has been seen as significantly damaging the public’s trust in the police force.
The officers found to be at fault by the IPCC will not be disciplined by the force for their part in the debacle.
Following the IPCC report, Mr Mitchell said: “It is a matter of deep concern that the police forces employing these officers have concluded that their conduct has not brought the police service into disrepute. Most people will disagree.
“It is a decision which will undermine confidence in the ability of the police to investigate misconduct when the reputation of the police service as a whole is at stake.
“My family and I have waited nearly a year for these police officers to be held to account and for an apology from the Police Forces involved. It seems we have waited in vain.”
The three officers have been called to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee to provide a “full explanation” of what happened.
The committee’s chairman Keith Vaz said: “I note the statement by the three officers concerned.
“We have now asked them to appear before the committee to provide a full explanation of what they have said and the circumstances leading up to their statement. Such evidence will be most helpful to the committee’s inquiry.”