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 1343.

    2 Minutes ago

    Seems a storm in a teacup to me.

    The only thing of interest is that the police "service" have to take a heavy line in demanding respect because much like the MP the public have almost zero for them now. And who's to blame for that?"

    That's the best post I've read here. Says it all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1342.

    I love seeing the tory boys trying to defend this toff.

    Really makes me laugh. (sometimes outloud).

  • rate this

    Comment number 1341.

    Is that his nan's bike?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1340.

    Lot of people here crying about the Tories but you folks were the ones that voted them back into government for goodness sake.

    Has history taught you nothing?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1339.

    What s all of the fuss about

    In July 182 cyclists got kettles assaulted and arrested and it hardly got a mention

    Now the police prevent a mp cycling

    Another coverup?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1338.

    This about someone apparently trying to BULLY someone else. It is that simple. Does not matter which political party,their background,or even that it was done to a policeman. If you a reasonable human being then you don't try to get your own way by BULLYING it can cause harm to the recipient, particularly when repeated, demonstrates a lack of moral fibre. It is also HARASSMENT & so can be illegal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1337.

    @ Begbie . It's self evident and typical . A policeman has nothing better to do with his time than pick on someone choosing to use one gate over another

  • rate this

    Comment number 1336.

    .1329.Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

    Yes the poor Constable guarding the Government from terrorist attacks and protecting your freedom while you snipe at him online.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1335.

    Tory supporters are scraping the barrel, desperate to find anything to justify Mitchell's behaviour, but there simply isn't. The man was out of order and should resign, end of.

  • Comment number 1334.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1333.

    I actually have reported it :) Went to the angel police station made a report! Now i just accept the fact there are loads of racist rude police officers! It's easier just accepting that sad fact along with the fact there is an EDL/BNP political party! Also labour/lib dems/torys - that majority support / vote for! but still an EDL/BNP-likewise -still racist rude officers! Sad facts!

  • Comment number 1332.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1331.

    What is it about riding a cycle that brings the worst out in people. He wouldn't have said something like this if he had been walking.
    Stick people on a bicycle and they change from people who wouldn't dream of doing anything wrong to people who think nothing of cycling through red lights, cycling the wrong way down one way streets and cycling on pavements.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1330.

    A totally inappropriate response to what he was told to do maybe, but it usually takes a provocation to prompt and outburst and being told to get of your bike and walk through one gate rather than cycle through another in the prevailing circumstances by an officious police officer is just the kind of offensive provocation too many of us are subjected to by the police on a daily basis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1329.

    . . . what a sad state of affairs when a poor police constable on a cushy gate duty has his feelings hurt by a nasty cyclist . . . isn't it about time they got some backbone, and in the words of Jeremy Kyle . . . grow some!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1328.

    1320 I know that it's Roman some of us working class have a brain. But the word in England as I said has a darker meaning in the not to distant past. I did not realise until to today it was still in use in that context but alas I was wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1327.

    @1309.Disgusted: "Mr Mitchell is a Cabinet Minister and should have been accorded the respect due to the office"

    I think Mitchell should be grateful that he isn't being "accorded the respect due".

    It is only a classist toff who believes that a /position/ in society is due respect, rather than an individual for having earned respect through his behaviour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1326.

    "Why should the policeman lie ?"is a question frequently asked. There are around 100 policemen from Hillsborough who could tell us. The days of police reports being automatically believed are long gone - and, as Hillsborough further shows us, it can take many years before they are found out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1325.

    I am concerned by the opportunism of a number of people with axes to grind who do not care about the second order effects of their intervention. The condemnation of the Labour Party, their continuous play on priviledge does not ring bells with the large majority of voters who see themselves as part of the multi-racial, multi-ethnic Britain: the Olympic Britain not theblast from the past.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1324.

    Surely some of the residents of Downing Street must have witnessed this confrontation?
    Why did they not come to the aid of the policeman?
    Are these residents more an example of "Broken Britain" than of "the Big Society"?


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