UK Politics

Plebgate: Officer boasted of 'toppling government'

Andrew Mitchell Image copyright PA
Image caption Andrew Mitchell has always denied calling police officers "plebs" during the dispute in Downing Street

Andrew Mitchell has claimed one of the police officers involved in the "plebgate" affair boasted that he could "topple the Tory government".

In a letter written to the Met Police Commissioner, the former minister calls for all of the evidence the force holds on the incident to be published.

Mr Mitchell resigned after he had a row with police officers who would not let him cycle through the gates of No 10.

The 2012 altercation in Downing Street is now the subject of a libel case.

The Sun newspaper claimed Mr Mitchell swore at the officers and called them "plebs" who should learn their place - something Mr Mitchell has always denied.

Mr Mitchell is taking legal action against the Sun as well as the officer who reported Mr Mitchell's alleged comments while the officer is, in turn, suing the former minister.

'Confidence in police'

In a letter to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the former chief whip refers to misconduct hearings the Met has held against a number of officers in relation to the incident.

Mr Mitchell, who attended some of the hearings, wrote: "While I wish to say that the way these hearings were run was undoubtedly fair and proper I am deeply concerned that they were held in private and were not open to public and journalistic scrutiny,

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Former PC Keith Wallis was sentenced to 12 months in jail for wrongly claiming to have witnessed the incident

"I am deeply concerned that if any of the information is withheld, and any hint of a cover-up is left in the public mind, a signal will be sent that the police can get away with doing this to people who would have no chance to fight back and public confidence will be yet further undermined."

Mr Mitchell is now asking for the full transcripts of all the hearings to be released.

In response, the Met Police said it had sought legal advice about what information could be published after the conclusion of the disciplinary process.

"Statutory regulations govern police misconduct proceedings and state they are considered a private process," it said in a statement.

"As such the information raised at misconduct hearings is treated as confidential.

"However, the Metropolitan Police Service has already stated publicly that a report detailing the Operation Alice investigation will be published in due course. We also intend to publish the summary reports from the chair of the gross misconduct boards.

"Mr Mitchell is aware that we will inform him in advance of publication what will be released and when."

'Hardball'

Three officers have so far been sacked for misconduct over the row.

One of those, Keith Wallis, who lied about witnessing the incident, has been sentenced to 12 months in prison.

The plebgate incident has soured relations between the government and the police, with some Tory MPs accusing officers of waging a vendetta against Mr Mitchell as part of the force's campaign against budget cuts and changes to employment conditions.

Speaking on Tuesday, an officer hoping to become the next chairman of the Police Federation said the organisation, which represents rank and file officers, should not have "played hardball" with the government.

Will Riches, a Metropolitan police constable, said the organisation's approach had been "crude and disrespectful" and argued it was time to rebuild bridges with ministers.

More on this story