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.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    The MPS log is factually wrong about people outside the gates and their reaction. As to the conversation this is hard to tell but the body language of the MPS officer and Mitchell are not typical of dispute.

    More worrying is the collusion of an apparently independent email which reflects the log. The officer must then have known about the log. If he did not leak the log then there is conspiracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    Politicians are always outraged when one of their own is in the firing line.

    I dont recall such indignation when the likes of Ian Tomlinson or Jean Charles de Menezes were struck down.

    They have no principles...

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    This story is crucially important to investigate. Could it be that this incident was some form of conspiratorial retaliation by the police in direct response to planned public sector cuts that police forces across the nation may be included in?

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    I would have more sympathy with Andrew Mitchell and the Tories if it hadn't been the Thatcher government that increasingly politicised the police and increased the power of the press to the point that the fabrication of these lies became common practice. If nobody from the public was there to witness it as CCTV shows but an e-mail said there was, why did Andrew Mitchell not state this earlier too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    open your eyes maps and newsreaders the police have told lies about a government minister , What chance the rest of the general public in the uk got ? The police have been doing it for the history of the service But will a judge believe. The person in court or the constable ? We know who don't we .Lets hope more questions are asked now and not blindly taking what the police say as true

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    Downing Street was gated in 1920 and again in 1989 both times in response to concerns regarding Irish republicanism. Now that threat is reduced why not remove the gates? Then Andrew Mitchell can cycle back and forth at will.

  • Comment number 168.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Andrew Mitchell had to apologise because he had blundered into a tiff of his own making. It is only corrupt politicians who expect no consequence for their blunders. There were consequences, but if any Tory wants to hype this up into an Enquiry, it should come out of their own pockets, not the public purse. There is no service to anyone outside of the Tory caucus served by having such an enquiry

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    M'lud Mr Mitchell was riding and rhetorically ruminating about a constitutional problem to himself as he passed through the gates along the lines of ''What about a Plebiscite?''

    Whereupon M'Lud, the officer who was off duty and out of sight of the camera thought he'd commanded ''Pleb be out of sight'' .

    A frivolous case M'Lud, Mr Mitchell should have his temping job back and we can move on

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    Hindsight,is a perfect science,and in retrospect all of this,could have been easily avoided,if Mr Mitchell had just used a bit of common sense obeyed the Police and just got on his bike and cycled off.At the end of the day,the mans arrogance seems quite appaling.I am sure the Police attitude would have been repectful.Certainly,dont argue the toss with the Police,it usually ends in tears,for you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Let's all take a minute to celebrate 12th October 1984, that was a good day for us all.

    We are currently run by imposters who have no mandate to govern our country. The sooner these people are removed from power, the better. They do not serve us, they do not care for us, we are mere 'plebs' getting in the way of their profit margins!

  • Comment number 163.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Seems someone has been telling porkies about Conservatives. Again. Hunt, McAlpine, now Mitchell. So who could be behind this, one does wonder. The Labour frontbench is strangely quiet today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    1.WunderfulBBC "Labour front bench are very quiet today.....I wonder why?"

    Maybe because poxy stories like this, the Jubilee and the Oylmpics etc are distracting media and public attention away from how bad this government is doing?

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Key issue here ...

    Are we seeing evidence, on video tape and audio recording, that police officers have lied in order to set someone up (regardless of who he is).

    If true, then this is something every citizen needs to be concerned about.

    Concerned when you sit on a jury.

    Concerned that it might be you next.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    The truth will out soon but it does seem that the police are not whiter than white. We cant have corrupt coppers in the UK, or is it the police unions ? Time for another investigation , but not by the police !

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.


    That is the whole point about police documentaries, the police act in the way they want the public to perceive them on TV and they are on their best behaviour.

    What you are seeing on TV is a "staged" event an "act," - please DON'T confuse fact with fantasy

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Wonder why Labour have not come out in force today in the same way they did when they wanted his head. Labour have been trying at every turn to label the Tories with the 'nasty party' tag. Did they have anything to do with this??? one wonders

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    This is all nonsense and quite frankly irrelevant. Mr Mitchell swore repeatedly at a police officer doing his duty, whether he said the word 'Pleb' or not has far me never been an issue. He swore at a police officer without any apparent reason and subsequently he should not have only been fired from his job but also should have found himself in court over the issue. The Great Con continues.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    '..behaved in a way that no member of the public would get away with..'

    Oh come on. I'm not saying we shouldn't treat the police with respect, but adding a swear word into 'I thought you lot were supposed to help us', may be petulant and unsavoury, is hardly crime of the century is it.

    Do the police arrest people everyday for using the '*' word directed at them? Can we have a log of each case?


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