UK

Andrew Mitchell had 'history of police verbal aggression'

  • 24 March 2014
  • From the section UK
Andrew Mitchell on a bicycle Image copyright PA
Image caption Two libel cases relating to "plebgate" are expected to start next year

Ex-cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell had "form or history" of "verbal aggression" against police, the High Court has heard.

Mr Mitchell, who resigned as chief whip over the "plebgate" affair, had been involved in several incidents involving officers since 2005, it heard.

He is suing News Group Newspapers after the Sun reported he swore at police and called them "plebs" when they stopped him at Downing Street gates in 2012.

He denies using the word "pleb".

The Conservative MP has admitted swearing, but says he did not swear at the officers.

The officer at the gates, PC Toby Rowland, is suing Mr Mitchell for comments he made after the altercation.

Monday's hearing was held ahead of full libel cases, which are unlikely to start before next year.

'So angry'

Gavin Millar QC, representing News Group Newspapers at the hearing, said the Metropolitan Police had documents relating to previous occasions "when it's been suggested Mr Mitchell expressed frustration towards, or in the presence of, police officers".

Mr Millar said the material suggested Mr Mitchell had "form or history" of "verbal aggression against police seeking to provide him with protection".

He said the Met also had documents relating to previous incidents when Mr Mitchell had tried to cycle through Downing Street - and this might explain why he became "so angry" on the evening he was denied entry through the main gates on his bicycle.

Desmond Browne QC, representing PC Rowland, said there had been incidents involving Mr Mitchell in November 2005, 2011 and two in September 2012.

The court heard that the September 2012 incidents had occurred shortly before the row with PC Rowland - with one taking place the day before.

"These incidents - evidenced by police reports - demonstrate the nature of the man and the way he treats officers seeking to enforce security requirements," Mr Browne told the court.

Neither Mr Mitchell nor the Met opposed disclosure of the material.

'Fatally inconsistent'

The High Court also ordered the Met to disclose footage from five CCTV cameras - three in Downing Street and two in Whitehall.

Mr Millar said the two Whitehall cameras provided a "completely different angle" to those in Downing Street.

Stills from the Whitehall footage gave an "unblocked view" of members of the public at the "precise moment" that Mr Mitchell left the pedestrian gate, he said.

PC Rowland has said "several members" of the public were present, a claim that Mr Mitchell has said is "fatally inconsistent" with the CCTV evidence.

The court was also given details of a recent complaint made against PC Rowland by a motorist in June 2010, which was "resolved informally".

Police documents, disclosed to the court, show that it concerned an allegation of "traffic irregularity and oppressive conduct or harassment".

According to the documents it was the only complaint made against PC Rowland since 2000.

Other complaints had been made before then, but none had resulted in formal disciplinary proceedings.

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