Three Fed officials accused of giving misleading accounts of a meeting with Tory MP Andrew Mitchell are to be re-investigated in the wake of a damning report by the Home Affairs Select Committee.
West Mercia Inspector Ken Mackaill, West Midlands Sergeant Chris Jones and Det Sgt Stuart Hinton of Warwickshire Police, will now face a fully independent investigation by the police watchdog after MPs found “procedural irregularities” in a previous probe carried out by the forces.
After questioning the three Fed officials in October, MPs said they were “appalled” by the evidence given by the trio, adding that the matter should be re-determined.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has agreed with the findings of the committee, and has confirmed that it will now carry out its own probe.
Det Sgt Hinton and Sgt Jones have additionally be recalled to the committee after being accused of giving “misleading” answers to questions during the evidence session.
Committee Chairman Keith Vaz (pictured) said the pair would be asked to apologise or risk being in contempt of Parliament. He added: “The episode could rival any great work of fiction.
“We were appalled by the evidence given by DS Hinton, Sgt Jones and Insp MacKaill.
“At every point, instead of being transparent, we have uncovered a process that obstructs the truth. If this can happen to a Cabinet minister, what hope is there for everyone else?”
As previously reported, the controversy erupted after the three Fed officials met the then Conservative chief whip Mr Mitchell after allegations he had earlier called officers “plebs” during an incident in Downing Street.
The MP, who later resigned, had always denied using the word although he conceded swearing during the episode.
During the conversation, the three Fed representatives appeared to clear the air with Mr Mitchell. But they called later his integrity into question in front of a waiting media scrum.
The MP had however recorded the meeting and an investigation was launched to establish whether the officers had deliberately misled the public in their account of the event.
This was led by West Mercia Police under IPCC supervision and concluded that the Fed reps should receive management action. But the watchdog’s Deputy Chair Deborah Glass suggested the evidence showed the officers should be answerable for gross misconduct.
During the hearing in October, MPs were told there had been procedural irregularities in the investigation. But only West Mercia Constable David Shaw believed there should be a re-determination in the case – with West Mercia and Warwickshire colleagues claiming that they were satisfied with the outcome of the probe.
But Mr Vaz suggested that the irregularities were enough for a re-determination. He pointed out that the reputation of the Police Service was at stake.
He added: “It is vital that the public see that, where officers make mistakes, they will be held to account. Only then will they be able to focus on the outstanding work done by forces.”