Andrew Mitchell under mounting pressure in 'police insult' row

Andrew Mitchell Mr Mitchell denies using specific words reported by the Sun

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Pressure is mounting on Conservative minister Andrew Mitchell after police leaders urged him to resign and Labour called for a full account of his outburst at an officer.

The Tory Chief Whip denies claims he swore at a policeman on duty outside Downing Street and called him a "pleb".

The officer concerned has insisted reports of what happened are accurate.

Mr Mitchell has apologised but Labour said No 10 "must make clear" the exact words he used in the confrontation.

The body representing rank-and-file police officers said Mr Mitchell's alleged remarks were "outrageous" while the prime minister said the minister's conduct was "not appropriate".

John Tully, the Metropolitan Police Federation chairman, said the minister's outburst was "disgraceful" and he must resign, adding that the minister was "lucky not to be placed under arrest if indeed he did say those words, and I have no reason to doubt that he did".

Mr Mitchell's behaviour has also been criticised by a number of Conservative colleagues.

'Lack of respect'

The incident occurred on Wednesday after Mr Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield, was told by officers to get off his bicycle as he left Downing Street and use the smaller pedestrian gate instead of the main entrance used by cars.

He is reported by the Sun to have used foul language and told the officer at the gates to "learn your place" and "you don't run this government".

David Cameron: "What Andrew Mitchell said and what he did was not appropriate"

The officer - a member of Scotland Yard's Diplomatic Protection Group, SO6 - reported the incident to his superiors.

The BBC's home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said the officer had backed up the Sun's version of events and the language - including the word "pleb" - that Mr Mitchell was reported to have used.

Downing Street said Mr Mitchell had "apologised profusely" to the officer on the telephone and sources also stressed Mr Cameron had made clear to Mr Mitchell how displeased he is at the confrontation with a police officer.

The source added that the PM still has faith in Mr Mitchell as Chief Whip and that the minister disputes The Sun's version of events.

Mr Cameron said: "He has obviously apologised to me, but more importantly he has apologised thoroughly to the police and that needed to be done."

The prime minister also praised the police, saying they do an "outstanding job".

But Mr Mitchell's apology has not been accepted by police union leaders.

Police Federation national chairman, Paul McKeever, said: "It is hard to fathom how someone who holds the police in such contempt could be allowed to hold a public office.

"Mr Mitchell's half-hearted apology for the comments made whilst leaving Downing Street will do little to build bridges with the police who feel they have once again been treated with a lack of respect and civility by members of this government."

"The lack of regard that some within government appear to hold police officers in is especially disappointing during this tragic week for the service and does nothing for the rock bottom morale of officers in this country."

'Deeply shocked'


  • He was reportedly nicknamed 'Thrasher' at school due to his love of discipline
  • His father was a Conservative politician and minister under Margaret Thatcher
  • He is a former soldier who served as a UN peacekeeper in Cyprus in the 1970s
  • He entered Parliament in 1987 and was a whip during the Major government
  • He lost his seat in 1997 but returned to Parliament four years later
  • While an opposition spokesman on international development, he was also a director of a merchant bank
  • He was appointed international development secretary in 2010 and became Tory chief whip earlier this month

Backbench Conservative MP Philip Davies said the reported comments were "obviously unacceptable" and that he would tell Mr Mitchell, who attends cabinet but is not a full cabinet minister, so to his face when he next sees him.

And a senior backbencher, who spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity, said the comments were "not out of character" and Mr Mitchell should consider his position.

"I am deeply shocked that a senior member of the government could speak to an officer in this way," he said.

Asked if Mitchell's position was tenable, he said, "I think it's very difficult for him to continue".


Labour have said the reported comments were "appalling" and No 10 has "a lot of questions to answer".

"Downing Street must make clear exactly what Andrew Mitchell said to the police officer," a party spokesman said.

"There are two alternatives. Either the chief whip used appalling and offensive language to an officer going about their duty or Mr Mitchell is saying the officer is lying.

"Downing Street will know. They must make the position clear urgently. A half-hearted apology is not enough."

Mr Mitchell only became Conservative chief whip earlier this month, after being moved from his previous position as international development secretary in Mr Cameron's first major reshuffle.

In his current role, he is responsible for enforcing party discipline and keeping rebellious backbenchers in line.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    Actually, thinking a little more about this the officer should be investigated and if proven to have lied be disciplined!! Perhaps a good thrashing would suffice. All the cctv footage of the area should be made available to establish the truth root out the rotten apple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    The last time I looked bicycles are supposed to be ridden on the road, not the path. Maybe the Police Officer in question needs a refresher on the law.
    The Police Officer should have more respect for those who have served their Country in the Armed Forces.

    2 sides to every story!

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Andrew Mitchell seems to be a bit of a plonker and I wouldn't vote for him, but isn't this whole thing a bit of a storm in a tea cup?

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    This is the same Met Police force that repeatedly ignored Harwoods misdemeanours until there were tragic results - wounded pride andthey go running to the press.

    I am not defending Mitchell but seriously who cares?

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    'Plebs' - This is just another example of how these out-of-touch public schoolboys see the rest of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    Why am I not at all surprised by Mr Mitchell's comments - a typical privileged Tory who at some point will always revert to type. In their eyes, we ARE indeed plebs, there never has been or ever will be a 'We are all in this together' mentality with them.

    To compound matters, we have a PM who tries to explain away his disgusting comments, making him just as bad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    How many times has one been confronted with an officious 'jobsworth' telling you to do this, that or the other and left biting one's tongue?

    In the modern regressive politically correct world that we live in, we are expected to show compliance with the 'green' mantra and when someone in high office does so and is challenged in a bumptious manner to refrain, then would you not explode? MADNESS!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    I don't like it, but the Police Federation have really over played this. Calling for Mitchell's resignation is an over-reaction provoked by them having properly fallen out with the Tories for the first time in 20 odd years. It's an unreasonable request and Mitchell already seems to have side-stepped it by apologising, it seems, to everyone including the great-grandmothers of the officers involved!

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    I am a civil servant, if I or any of my colleagues gave the abuse Mr Mitchell gave to a member of the public(the policeman is a member of public) or to any of the people I work with, I would first be suspended, investigate andmore than likely dismissed from my job. If Mr Mitchell indeed give such abuse, then he should be treated the same as any other Government employee and disciplined.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    Nice to see bully boy Flashman attitudes alive and well in ex Rugby boys. We should know our place- one rule for toffs another for plebs- my son would get an asbo if he spoke like that to a police officer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    142: "Is this all that the media have got to report?"

    It might be a shock to you, Larry, but some of us can take in more than one piece of news at a time - especially when it betrays the stereotypical arrogant "I'm better than you, scum..." mindset that seems to define so many of the Tories' policies...

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    What a stupid lot of nonsense. Forget it. Stop costing the country time and money it can't afford. Police (as witnessed recently in the horrifying tragedy of two officers killed) must have some resilience to do their jobs. If they can't have a decent row with an MP then they're not fit for security duty. More practice on traffic duty might help. "Make clear the exact words.." Balderdash

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    I'm sure a judge recently said it was not against the law to swear at the police, the Met have not made a complaint, and WE ARE NOT A POLICE STATE. There seems to have been a precedent set regarding opening the gate before, so I can understand exasperation, especially if it was a petty minded, obdurate policeman (union member ?). 'Wonderful British Police' reputation for tolerance ? Witnesses ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    this typifies the rich,spoilt,overindulged little boys that weve voted into govt. they see themselves above the law and decent society in every respect. oh, my god, i do fear for britains future!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    What a sensitive policeman,maybe he needs counseling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    Andrew Mitchell's outburst and attitude towards this officer makes his position untenable. David Cameron should not be waiting for him to resign. If Mr Marshall stays it tells us what this government really thinks about the police force and law and order in general. The anti police comments are despicable at any time but, this week, they are beneath contempt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    Modern day plebe's in Britan do have a vote and a say as to who governs them. Unlike the ancient plebe's of Rome. This upper crust twit should give his head a shake. He should resign. Before the plebes form a linching mob.

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    Really,the Met Police Federation blowing out of all proportion comments made by Andrew Mitchell. The apology was made and that should be that. Also bear in mind that the police have not exactly bathed themselves in glory in light of the findings of the Hillsborough report released just over a week ago. Now, did the police officer get payment from the Sun for the story or did the Federation??

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    1. If anyone asking him to resign was asked to justify why they think swearing is wrong they would choke.
    2. He is a HUMAN BEING and is liable to mistakes media as usual blowing stuff out of proportion for lack of anything better so do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    Any other day of the week and it may not have been such an issue. But 2 officers are murdered doing their duty and an MP thinks that insulting the Police is fine and dandy..... Poor judgement from a horses a$$


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