Andrew Mitchell to sue Sun newspaper over 'plebgate'

Andrew Mitchell
Image caption Four people have been arrested as part of the inquiry into the row involving Mr Mitchell

Ex-cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell has said he is suing the Sun over claims he swore and called police officers plebs.

Mr Mitchell has repeatedly denied the claims, first reported in the Sun, but he later resigned as chief whip.

His lawyer confirmed a libel writ had been issued, while a source said he wanted to address "the campaign of vilification by the Sun against him".

A spokesman for the Sun newspaper said: "We stand by our story and will defend this claim vigorously."

Earlier, police investigating the incident said they had passed evidence to prosecutors.

The Times and the Guardian reported that the police files sent to the Crown Prosecution Service contained "no evidence" that Downing Street police officers lied about their account of the incident.

The role of the CPS is to examine the evidence to decide if any charges should be brought against the officers.

'Further action'

Mr Mitchell's lawyer Graham Atkins has indicated that further legal action could follow.

"I can confirm that I recently issued proceedings for libel against the owners of the Sun on behalf of Andrew Mitchell MP," he said.

"There are a number of other potential actions being considered but I do not intend commenting any further at this stage."

A source close to Mr Mitchell told the BBC: "He felt that a point had to be made. It is always risky suing newspapers but he felt he had no alternative."

So far four people - including three police officers - have been arrested as part of the investigation into the incident, which happened in September last year.

CCTV footage

Initial reports had said that the former Conservative cabinet minister lost his temper and allegedly swore at police when they refused to open the gates for him as he cycled out.

Mr Mitchell admitted there was an exchange and resigned from the cabinet - but denied directly swearing at any officers and denied using the word "pleb".

CCTV footage of the incident later cast doubt on the police reports.

Those arrested in relation to the incident include:

  • A 52-year-old from the Diplomatic Protection Group who was held on 15 December on suspicion of misconduct in public office and bailed until April
  • Two 46-year-olds from the same command were held on 31 January and 1 February for allegedly passing information to the media and were bailed until May
  • A 23-year-old man who does not work for the police was also arrested and bailed until May

All three police officers remain suspended.

The CPS earlier confirmed it had received files in relation to the case.

"We have received initial papers but we have not received a full file of evidence and we now await the conclusion of the police investigation before considering charges," a spokesman said.

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