Plebgate crisis engulfs Met Chief: Hogan-Howe 'compromised by police stitch-up of ex-chief whip'Scotland Yard is investigating claims of a conspiracy against Mr MitchellMet Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe returns from holiday early as he is drawn into scandal
Mail on Sunday reveals officer at centre of the storm as Toby Rowland
00:53 GMT, 24 December 2012
Scotland Yard boss Bernard Hogan-Howe was fighting for his credibility last night as senior Tories said he was ‘completely compromised’ by the police ‘stitch-up’ of Andrew Mitchell.
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner flew home from holiday amid claims that he blindly accepted the word of officers in Downing Street who said the former Tory chief whip called them ‘plebs’.
Mr Hogan-Howe was even branded ‘extremely foolish’ by a former director of public prosecutions.
Last month the commissioner – who is expected to be given a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours – said the officers had ‘accurately reported what happened’.
Authority: Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has been dragged into the 'Plebgate' row
Mr Mitchell, as he accepts, was wrong to have set such a bad example by swearing at the police
But last night he was forced to issue
a statement insisting that he would preside over a ‘ruthless search for
the truth’ about the ‘Plebgate’ confrontation that led to Mr Mitchell’s
A policeman involved in the Downing Street fracas was named yesterday in the Mail on Sunday as Toby Rowland.
He is the officer believed to have written the official log of the incident.
policeman, diplomatic protection officer Keith Wallis, 52, and a man
believed to be his 23-year-old nephew Clarence Ng have been arrested
amid allegations that the officer posed as a member of the public in
order to fabricate evidence against Mr Mitchell.
footage has also emerged which undermines the claims of the two
officers at the gate that members of the public were ‘visibly shocked’
by the confrontation last September.
friend of Mr Mitchell, senior Tory MP David Davis, warned that unless
the police answer key questions about the conspiracy they will demand
that the Independent Police Complaints Commission takes the inquiry out
of the Met’s hands.
Allies of Mr Mitchell are furious that
Mr Hogan-Howe last week claimed the CCTV did ‘nothing’ to challenge the
claims of his officers.
Former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald said the Met boss was ‘extremely foolish’ and accused him of ‘an arrogance of power’.
‘What exactly does Bernard Hogan-Howe consider is the purpose of having an inquiry into the men he has already exonerated on television’ he asked.
A chastened commissioner said: ‘The allegations in relation to this case are extremely serious.
'For the avoidance of doubt, I am determined there will be a ruthless search for the truth – no matter where the truth takes us.’
A Yard spokesman conceded that the UK’s most senior policeman now has an ‘open mind’ on the affair.
But a senior Tory MP said many in the party had lost faith in the police.
The MP said: ‘There is widespread concern that Bernard Hogan-Howe has completely compromised his ability to have anything to do with the investigation. He really is in trouble.’
David Cameron used a statement at the weekend to accuse the officers in the spotlight of lying.
No 10 said: ‘The Prime Minister has deep sympathy for Andrew Mitchell after allegations emerged that a serving police officer fabricated evidence against him.
‘The Prime Minister, and Andrew Mitchell, were deeply shocked to be informed that the police were investigating allegations that a serving police officer had lied about the events.’
Nick Herbert, who was police minister until September, warned against the ‘cancer’ of corruption in the force which ‘should not be exaggerated, but must be cut out before it spreads’.
'Blazing row': CCTV footage, which emerged last week, cast doubt on police officer Toby Rowland's account of the 'Plebgate' incident. The footage showed Mr Rowland ushering Mr Mitchell out of a side gate at Downing Street but showed no evidence of a row
Investigation: The Mail on Sunday named Toby Rowland, left, as the policeman at the centre of the 'Plebgate' row and the man believed to have written the official police log into the incident. Met Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, right, has returned from holiday to deal with the crisis
Defence: Number 10 has defended Prime Minister David Cameron as having 'stood behind' Mr Mitchell following the 'Plebgate' row after Mitchell's allies accused him of leaving the former Chief Whip 'swinging in the wind'
Met Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe's statement released this afternoon in full:
'The allegations in relation to this case are extremely serious. For the avoidance of doubt, I am determined there will be a ruthless search for the truth – no matter where the truth takes us.
'This is shown not only by words but by action taken immediately following the receipt of new material earlier this month. This includes:
'My appointment of Deputy Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan, head of Professional Standards, to oversee the investigation.
'The allocating of 30 police officers to the task to ensure the investigation is not only thorough but also swift.
'Within 48 hours of receiving new information, the arrest of an officer from the MPS on suspicion of Misconduct in a Public Office, and a few days later a 23-year-old man on suspicion of assisting in that endeavour.
'The broad terms of reference allowing the investigation to develop where the evidence takes it.
'There was an immediate referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and we are committed to keeping them updated as the investigation develops.
'I believe these actions are vital in maintaining public confidence in the police and DAC Gallan and her team have my full confidence to carry out a robust investigation.
'During the last 24 hours I have taken the opportunity to satisfy myself about the welfare of the officers involved. Media interest is to be expected, but for officers to be pursued and identified by the media during an ongoing investigation does, of course, create significant pressure.
'I recognise that there is a great deal of public interest in these events. It is the investigating team who are in the best place to gather and assess all the evidence and it is vital that they are given the time and space to do this.”