Why the Andrew Mitchell 'plebgate' story matters


What began as a story about what was really said became a story about who leaked a police log but it is now much more serious than that.

The Metropolitan Police say they are investigating allegations against a serving police officer of fabricating evidence against someone who was, at the time, a cabinet minister. What's more, they say that they will investigate conspiracy if any evidence emerges.

We now know that no member of the public corroborated the police version of what Andrew Mitchell said. Contrary to what is stated in the police log leaked to the press, the CCTV shown on Channel 4 last night suggests that no-one was there to hear what was said.

What is more, we know that an email which purported to come from a member of the public in fact came from a serving police officer who was not on duty or even present in Downing Street at the time.

The email was sent before any account of what happened reached the media and yet is remarkably similar to the police log both in the events it describes and the phrases it alleges Mr Mitchell used.

Hold on, some will say, the two officers who reported what Mr Mitchell said are both still sticking to their story and their boss, the head of the Metropolitan Police, insists he's seen nothing which challenges their story.

That, though, does not answer the questions which the Met has now admitted are "extremely serious" and the subject of "a thorough and well resourced investigation" :

  • Why did the email get written?
  • How did the officer who wrote it know what was in the police log?
  • Did he talk to the officers involved, to their superiors or to the Police Federation?

There are many who, I know, are sick of the story of "plebgate" or who long ago took the view that, whatever words Andrew Mitchell actually used, the minister behaved in a way that no member of the public would get away with.

The reason I believe it matters is that this row is now about the power of politicians, the police and the press - the issues which, you may recall, triggered the Leveson inquiry.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

UKIP - power struggle, not soap opera

All the bizarre news stories that have emerged from UKIP in recent days reflect a power struggle within a party that aspires to hold the balance of power after the next election.

Read full article

More on This Story

More from Nick


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    @mike S

    "No-one, not even Mitchell, has said he didn't swear at them."

    Mitchell claims he said 'I thought you guys were supposed to ****** help us'

    That is not swearing AT the police, it is using an expletive while in conversation, 99% of the population do that, they are not swearing AT people when they do it

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    It's not just about any conspiracy with THAT officer (who we heard this a.m. has resigned) but the APPARENT somewhat inadequate investigations by the Chief Constable and the Cabinet Secretary and, ultimately, the Home Sec & the PM.

    There are an increasing number of questions to be answered.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    How many people making these comments have actually seen any evidence either way? Once again comments are being posted purely based on predetermined prejudices for or against the police. Too many minds have already been made up !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Someone needs to get on top of The Met. The number of times they have been in the news because of something concerning like this in recent years is disturbing. While we are still miles from any reasonable defintion of a police state someone needs to get The Met brought to account.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    80 RivieraSun "normal people like me are battling to keep our business' afloat, pay our bills and make sure our children are clothed and fed. This is a sideshow and not important".

    So knowing that police fabricate evidence isn't important? If the children you've so conscientiously clothed are one day framed by police for something of which they are innocent, perhaps you'll change your mind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    I make no claim to know police procedure, but it would seem that at the incident there was every opportunity for the police to take action or warn Mitchell of action, if intended.
    Looks like they chose to let it go.
    So why and when was the verbatim log compiled, and who leaked it?
    What are the full facts about the witness report?
    Hardly needs Holmes to sort this out, so what's taking so long?

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    84. openside50. It has been reported widely that he swore AT the two police staff, and that was what was logged. No-one, not even Mitchell, has said he didn't swear at them. The fact is, you can't trust the police to tell the truth, and you certainly can't trust politicians to do anything right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    As usual this 'sideshow' is costing taxpayers money.
    We can't afford these games to be played when people are trying to get by. Too many enquiries into things either way in the past or which are 'he said' 'she said'. These are luxuries only people without real lives can afford.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    What is the world coming to when serving police officers cannot even fabricate evidence properly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    When I was a child I found a wallet and handed it to a policeman. All he could say was, "How much money did you take from it?"

    Yesterday's police wore blue, now they wear black, looking more like the SS than Boys in Blue

    They spend their time protecting corporations and their leaders, harassing people on the streets taking photographs, arresting others for thought crimes

    Smash the police state!

  • Comment number 104.

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

  • Comment number 103.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    No54 Jeremy,
    Interesting that you refer to Mr Crow. He is revered by his members for the success he has in advancing their interests, within the law
    Perhaps he should be appointed to lead a public inquiry into the potential conspiracy against 'Thrasher' emanating in the Whip's office.
    The panel could include £90,000 Maria, and Rupert's representatives in the cabinet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    if Mitchell was on a bike why was he even being asked to use the pedestrian gate in the first place?

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    The minister might not have said all that it is claimed he did. However, he did swear at the police. Anyone else would have been arrested. Do we really want people representing us who behave like this? If he hadn't sworn in the first place none of this would have happened.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    as a F4J/RFFJ activist/protestor I can tell you that from long experience
    that the police are less than politically impartial.

    It is a story that has been overlooked since 1997

    There was the F4J kidnapped plot in 2006 printed in the Sun but how did it get there police/No 10 or both

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    It seems to suggest an "agenda" within the police which, if true, is a very worrying situation. Serving police officers have to be impartial, irrespective of their own political views or any current "gripe" they may have with the government of the day

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Is this going to turn into another police witchunt? What a difficult job they have. I'm suprised anybody wants to be a policeman these days, their hands are tied.

    Do you really believe Mitchell WAS NOT abusive to them?

    Be careful what you wish for people, you may end up with no effective police force - no one will want the impossible job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    @76 If I were one of the cast of thousands who gleefully hung Mitchell out to dry I'd be considering getting my apology in early

    Why? Mitchell has admitted he argued with and swore at the police who werendoing their duty he behaved in an unacceptable manner. If a member of the police falsified evidence that is a very serious issue they should be punished, but that doesn't change wha mitchell did

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Andrew Mitchell should never have resigned in the first place. A Cabinet Minister being forced out by an officious PC was always plain wrong.

    And now there is evidence of a police officer fabricating evidence and possibly conspiring with others.

    If this is proven, give Mitchell his job back, sack the police officers involved and then prosecute them all.

    Plebs? What an own goal.


Page 41 of 46



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.