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 26.

    21. anotherfakename....There are rules of the Parliamentary Estate which the Officer was following to ensure the Right Honourable Member could exit from his place of work unhindered and safely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Would the cop risk what's left of their pension and career by lying about something which is obviously going to blow up nationally? Should MP's have just as a ruthless disciplinary process as the police do have. Because if the cop abused an MP they would be strung up and lashed. A serious professional allegation has been made and it should be investigated properly. Everything else is irrelevant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    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.

    how convenient..... but as they cant both be right i would hope no stone is left unturned getting to the truth , cant have a chief whip thinking his Government is above the law now can we...

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Someone shouting foul mouthed abuse at a Police Officer in the street for doing his job...?

    No, not a drunken idiot on a Saturday night, just an idiot.

    He should have been arrested and ticketed like any other who member of the public (or pleb as we are known to the patricians)

    He has no moral authority to denigrate those who similarly abuse the police - he therefore must go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Perhaps the offended party can suggest a suitable way for the offending gentleman to Make Acceptable Amends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Mitchell should be given a pat on the back for standing up to a bullying idiot. Sorry, but to say to someone that they need to dismount and use another gate instead of allowing them about their legitimate business is beyond excuse. The police should be the one to apologize. The police in this country need to remember they SERVE US not the other way around.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Get a lip reader in to view the cctv!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Post 13 Maria. The Chair of Sutton Coldfield Conservatives speaks.

    Thrasher is a dead man walking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Good heavens. During my 31 years in the job I was called everything under the sun. I dealt with the matter there and then. I didn`t need the support of the national press, the Labour party or political hacks to do battle on my behalf. But then again unlike the police federation, the Labour party and political hacks I didn`t have an axe to grind with the government of the day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Not a fan of the Government to say the least. But should he resign over this? Of course not The police dish out a hell of a lot worse to members of the public every day. Stop crying and get on with your jobs - sticks and stones....

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Every now again, you get a chance to see how Tories really think when they're not being spun by their PR advisors. And this kind of boorish, snobbish pomposity is par for the course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Cover up Hillsbough yet demand a resignation when an officer gets called a pleb. Is this the 'disgrace' people keep mentioning in regards to this incident?

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    If he's trying to breach security rules - ie good security reasons why he must use the smaller gate - then snooty needs to give a good 'dressing down'

    As for the police, I find them pathetic. What next, s5 public order for calling them a 'pleb' ?

    The actions of their union trying to take advantage of the deaths is opportunistic in the extreme. Shame on them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    May I make a general appeal for more restrained use of expletives?Call me a Very Old Fashioned Lady,but I enjoyed the time when strong language was reserved for private chambers,out of earshot&only near people one'd known closely forAges.&never ever around women or children,especially daughters!Not because people were less coarse(if anything they were more so!)but because it's alwaysUnintelligent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    "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."

    That should be easy to sort out - just show the tapes to a skilled lip reader and we should quickly know who was right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    the police above board? never lie? they should lay low and sniff themselves - they will not like the scent (smell). Not giving MPs the respect they deserve is itself inviting retort. Do unto others what you expect yourself I say.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Either way one or the other needs to resign. Either Andrew Mitchell for lying about what he said or the officer for lying about what was said

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    So is he lying or the policeman?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    This could only have been worse for Mitchell if it he had have run over a dog afterwards. For the blue rinse brigade of ladies who run Sutton Coldfield's conservative party swearing at a policeman is a step too far.
    For a man parachuted in to a safe seat following the retirement of Norman Fowler and with no ties to the area this could be a very expensive loss of of calm for "Thrasher" Mitchell.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Can we be surprised? The mock courtesy of parliamentary language can never disguise the contempt this government has for the rest of us ordinary mortals.
    Clearly Mitchell (son of another MP - maybe it's hereditary) is from the Mitt Romney school of politics. The other half don't matter.


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