Andrew Mitchell: It doesn't look good

Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell has denied using foul and insulting language to an officer

It's a case of bad behaviour, bad language and very very bad timing.

The man just promoted by the prime minister to discipline Tory backbenchers showed very little of that discipline himself when told by a police officer that he couldn't ride his bike out of Downing Street using the main gate.

That the new Conservative Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, lost his temper with a member of Scotland Yard's Diplomatic Protection Group, is not in dispute. What is disputed is what he said.

The officer's Police Federation representative has confirmed his account of the row - first reported in The Sun: "Best you learn your f ---ing place. You don't run this f--- government"

He is also said to have added another politically toxic four letter word - calling the officer a "pleb."

Mr Mitchell insists he did not use any of the offending words although he has now apologised to the officer for failing to" treat the police with the respect they deserve".

I understand that although Downing Street is extensively covered by CCTV cameras there is no sound recording of the incident to prove who is telling the truth.

This will be little comfort to Mr Mitchell or his party since it allows Labour and other critics to point out that either a senior minister used appalling and offensive language to a police officer or he is saying that one of those tasked with protecting the prime minister is lying.

David Cameron gave his new Chief Whip the sort of public carpeting he wants Andrew Mitchell to deliver in private to rebellious backbenchers.

Nevertheless, one close ally of the prime minister told me that his colleague should not be put through the mill for a "momentary expression of exasperation" and said that he would be very surprised if the "pleb" word would have been used.

Mr Mitchell, I was told, is someone who likes to exert his authority and looks and sounds like a traditional Tory MP and so is seen as fair game.

All of which leaves the Chief Whip in his job but still in a very bad place indeed.

Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Well it seems one of them has been lying then, which ever one it is should be resigning, not for losing their tempers or being petty and officious but simply for lying in positions of trust.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    What amuses me most is that Mitchell went to Rugby which is pretty second rate as far as public schools go.....the sort of schoolboy that those who went to Eton and Charterhouse like Cameron and Hunt would consider a pleb.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Whatever happened to "sticks and stones"?

    It seams that the police are more interested in twitter comments and comments from disgruntled cyclists than murderers, rapists and thieves.

    It's the police federation that shold be ashamed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    This is the most anti police governement ever and he typifies it.He should resign and I am amazed he wasnt arrested if he used those words. With public around that gate all the time it is hardly the way a member of this government should behave and after what had happened in Manchester as well and yes I am a serving member of the Police.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I think I know a really good Christmas present for Cameron; a dictionary with the word "credible", and possibly "credibility" highlighted.

    With what's happened recently, the last thing we need from Gvt is increasing tensions between them and the police, or the police and the public.

    Leaving this to smoulder is going to ask questions of the credibility of his decisions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Conservative Party has always lived under the arrogant assumption that they 'own the place' _ that should come as no surprise to anyone!
    the irony here is that this time they're up against the second most arrogant power group _ the Metropolitan police_ who (bad timing or not!) are seen to literally get away with murder!

    this no doubt unwelcome comment nevertheless explains what's happening here


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