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 Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Police as BIG MEN with BIG sticks keeping the Plebs in their Place eh wot? And quite right too! Why weren't they touching their Fore locks EH? And saying God Bless Yer Guv when a Tory Minister Deigns to notice their pitiful existence ? About time we were getting back to basics!

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    "We are all in it together." If anybody else would have made such a comment, they would have been arrested by the police.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Well, as Overseas Development Minister he insisted on spending taxpayers money on an already rich country, i.e.India, and defended it to the death. His arrogance was visible to all on TV interviews, why should we not believe he behaved badly. What surprises me is that David Cameron tolerates it.. or should I not be too surprised?

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    It could of been worse. Mitchell could of called the police the capite censi.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    The Sun.

    Well known for "The Truth".

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    If I made those comments to staff in any public service building I would be penalised/banned or have services withdrawn. He should go even if just to try fool us that they aren't all obnoxious toffs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    The gutless police on duty should have arrested Mitchell straight away for using obcene language and employing insulting behaviour ! The fact that he was a Government Minister was used succesfully by him, to intimidate the officer and allow him to walk away free ! Disgraceful ! Now the boys in blue want to employ retrospective justice just because he left them feeling like ineffective fools !

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    21. anotherfakename

    I imagine that the gates are high security and only opened for cars and vans. There may be systems which have to be deactivated to open the gates. Completely inappropriate to open them for a bicycle when there is a suitable side gate. The policeman is there to ensure security, not to kow tow to an arrogant man who must have a brain the size of a pea if he can't see that

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Seems this 'story' was broken in the Sun, so presumably it's tosh.

    Is the rag calling for this Mitchell guy to go?

    Ok, right, I'd like to see him promoted then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    In recent years several police officers have come unstuck by NOT remembering that members of the public are likely to have mobile phones that will record conversations.

    Are we to believe that the Cops in question aren't aware of this lesson and that part way through this Posh Boy Rant an intelligent Cop wouldn't have turned on his phone?

    And then Cops do work in pairs these days don't they?

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    I met some DPG officers attending the Prince of Wales at a event earlier this year. These are hard-bitten, hardworking and hardy types, world weary enough to be modest, courteous and calm. Andrew Mitchell should be stood down immediately and sacked at leisure, or simply resign and save us all some money proving he's lying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    The article says there is no audio of the incident, trouble is the government often makes claims like this (usually cctv), I wonder how long it will be before the audio surfaces!

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Tories want to take our money and give it to their rich friends.

    Other than that we are just "plebs" as far as they are concerned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    great when public school boys let their masks slip "know your place pleb". says it all about the people who currently govern us, & think they have a divine right to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    'Plebs' who should 'know their place'?

    Looks to me like the 'we're all in it together' mask has slipped!

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    No denying Mitchell was wrong but really a spat with an officious police officer is the headline news in the Sun??

    Who do the police think they are kidding - this incident is nothing compared to the Hillsborough coverup, the misdemeanours of Simon Harwood or allegations of corruption in the Met.

    Seems the hotline to the Sun is still intact

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    It was not the police officer who reported this - it was a member of the public. So doesn't look as if it was the officer who lied. Stop trying to excuse this disgusting imitation of a minister of the crown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Some apology!
    Mitchell should own up to what he said, what we all know he said, and apologise properly. Instead of behaving like a spoilt 4 yr old. That would at least earn him a bit of respect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    We no longer have a national government. These people are shameless and arrogant beyond belief. I would urge decent people to use their votes wisely at the next available opportunity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    how about a public inquiry!!! maybe refer to Leveson !!! better still call an election then we can get rid of Mitchell and his ilk. Without doubt Mitchell must qualify as fully paid member of the nasty party


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