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

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  • Comment number 214.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    This is a huge story. Seems odds-on that there was a lefty conspiracy at work here. Ask not who sent the email. Ask instead about the figures in the background, as mentioned in the program.

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.


    4 Minutes ago

    The police went to war with the government over privatisation. They used very dirty tactics and they broke the first law of crime. 'Don't get caught'.

    Everyone involved in this must suffer deep public humiliation at the very least
    Including arrogant politicians who admit using the F word to police on duty to protect them...

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    Why do the BBC (as far as I can see) never report/comment on the fact ( proved by the CCTV footage) that the Miscreant Mitchell asked (demanded of ) the Security (Anti-terrorist) Police detail that the security (main) gates be opened so he could continue his, doubtless, regal cycling egress of Downing Street?
    And how did Channel 4 acquire the CCTV footage before the BBC?

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    Maybe my education has been sadly lacking, but I find the expression "Pleb" to be a very minor insult and on a par with calling someone a "scouse git" as used by Alf Garnett.

    I strongly suspect a stitch up in this case

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    If an officer fabricated evidence, then yes deal with them in the correct format, as they are doing now. BUT why was Mr Mitchell not treated the same way. Swearing at anyone is public is a breach of the peace, an action he has admitted, yet no charged with! And now people say Mr Mitchell should get his job back? NO he committed a crime FULL STOP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    I think someone just used the words 'honourable' and Tory politician in the same sentence. Doesn't this need investigation as well?

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    The timing of this revelation will be particularly painful for the police, coming as it does alongside the scrapping of the original Hillsborough inquest verdicts, with the associated allegations of police colluding to falsify accounts. Confidence is so slowly gained, and so easily lost.

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    "He may not have said what he said, but he's still an upper class snob"

    Who not only served with distinction in the armed forces, but did a huge amount of charity work in Rwanda, what exactly have you done for this country & this world?

  • Comment number 205.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    Some comments here conjure up images of Police, Police Federation, BBC journalists and Labour politicians conspiring against poor Tory politicians to discredit them. Well as has been stated, when you are dealing with liars how you do tell what the truth is? Moreover what kind of person is wronged and lied about, and then apologises to those doing it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    I have just had my comments removed by the moderator, goodness knows why, maybe it is because I described Andrew Mitchell my local MP as 'effective and efficient'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    The police went to war with the government over privatisation. They used very dirty tactics and they broke the first law of crime. 'Don't get caught'.

    Everyone involved in this must suffer deep public humiliation at the very least.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    First Labour smeared Jeremy Hunt & he was cleared by Lord Leveson but got no apology from Milibland. Now it would seem Andrew Mitchell has been cleared of using the P after an intense smear campaign by Labour) word after an alleged wrong doing by the Police will there be an apology? Don't bet!

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    how long before...every day souls...experience corrupt justice?
    Where have you been?! It's already happening and has been for decades. This. Ian Tomlinson. De Meneses, Hillsborough, Orgreave, etc., etc.

    Wake up.

    You want to see the routine Police abuses? YouTube 'incompetent police'. You'll see endless videos of police abusing the public, their authority, the law..

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    He may not have said what he said, but he's still an upper class snob!

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    Consipracy...perhaps? I'm guessing a few angles..aka Hillsborough..which has shown various fabrications, so lets see if it works for our man Mr Mitchell, as we want him back..well some time when things have all gone quiet! Nope, I feel a really expensive public enquiry just around the corner, paid for by UK Tax £'s...PS a policeman/women is always on duty!

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    All the gangsters crooks and compulsive liars in positions of authority are tearing each other to pieces at the moment so things are bound to get a bit feisty

    This has no relevance for the plebs though

    It's nothing more than a storm in an establishment teacup

    As Britain spirals back to the 1930s powerful establishment organisations are publicly battling it out over our shrinking resources

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    Crick commented in his TV report that there were figures in the background behind the guy who seems to have sent the false email. Find them and identify them. I think we all have suspicions as to who they might be. Totally by the bye, nothing from Labour seniors on this topic today....

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    How can the Chief Constable of the Met say that nothing has changed from what happened in the last 24 hours? Pre-judgement adds nothing to his stature or that of his serving officers over this affair.


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