UK Politics

'Plebgate': West Midlands police chief apologises to Mitchell

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Media captionMr Mitchell said he was grateful for the apology.

The chief constable of West Midlands Police has apologised to MP Andrew Mitchell for the role one of his officers played in the "plebgate" row.

Chris Sims met the ex-Conservative chief whip for 50 minutes in his constituency office.

After the meeting, Mr Mitchell said he was grateful for the apology - which he said was the fifth he had received from a senior police officer.

Mr Mitchell quit the government over the 2012 altercation in Downing Street.

He admitted using inappropriate language in the presence of police officers when they stopped him from cycling through the main gates at Downing Street in September 2012.

But he has always denied swearing directly at them and calling them "plebs".

Disputed version

Later that month, the MP met three representatives of the Police Federation in his Midlands constituency, including Sgt Chris Jones from West Midlands Police, to discuss the incident.

After the meeting, the officers claimed Mr Mitchell failed to give a full explanation of what he did and did not say in Downing Street - a version of events disputed by the former chief whip.

A recording of the meeting later showed that Mr Mitchell had repeatedly denied using the word "plebs".

Appearing before MPs last autumn, Sgt Jones said he stood by the officers' account of the meeting and insisted he did not believe he had done anything wrong.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating Sgt Jones's conduct and that of the other two officers as well as the evidence that two of the three men gave to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

According to the BBC's Midlands political editor Patrick Burns, Mr Sims apologised for the distress that the whole saga had caused to Mr Mitchell and his family.

When asked whether this had now drawn a line under the matter, the police officer said "that's for Mr Mitchell to say".

Earlier this month Met Police officer PC Keith Wallis was sentenced to 12 months in prison after admitting falsely claiming to have witnessed the original row between Mr Mitchell and police in September 2012.

On 5 February, the day before PC Wallis was jailed, Metropolitan Police chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe visited Parliament to apologise to Mr Mitchell.

Police Federation chairman Steve Williams has also apologised to Mr Mitchell for the actions of the officer.

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