Revealed, fabricated, barely literate email that helped to sink Mitchell: Cameron condemns bid to 'blacken minister's name'Andrew Mitchell demands an inquiry into 'completely untrue' allegations that he called Downing Street officers 'f****** plebs''Three phrases were
hung around my neck and used to destroy my career'David Cameron 'furious' at reports an off duty officer tried to 'blacken the name of a Cabinet minister'CCTV footage casts doubt on account in leaked police log
13:21 GMT, 20 December 2012
Detectives were last night investigating claims of an extraordinary police plot to ‘blacken the name’ of Andrew Mitchell – as a fabricated email sent by a serving officer was made public.
The barely literate message helped cost the then Chief Whip his job, despite the fact key sections of it were directly contradicted by CCTV footage viewed by the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood days later.
Crucially, it was sent to Mr Mitchell’s deputy John Randall on the evening of September 20 – the night before details of his ‘Plebgate’ confrontation with police officers in Downing Street were made public by The Sun newspaper.
Controversy: Andrew Mitchell with his wife yesterday
The altercation happened on the
evening of September 19 when Mr Mitchell tried to leave Downing Street
on his bicycle by the main gate, but was told by police that he must use
the side gate.
He admits swearing at the officers but denies the most damaging allegation, that he called them ‘f***ing plebs’.
Mr Mitchell clung on to his job for three weeks before resigning when he lost the confidence of fellow Tory MPs.
The timing of the email, four days
before an alleged copy of the official police log was leaked to the
Daily Telegraph, shows that the sender had access to internal police
In it, the sender attempts to
corroborate the account of officers on the gate, saying that Mr Mitchell
called them plebs and ‘continued to shout obscenities at the poor
The email is now known to have been
sent by a serving police officer posing as a member of the public and
claiming to have witnessed the incident as a passer-by.
A second email claiming to be from an
alleged witness to the incident was sent to Mr Randall a few days later
but its contents have not been disclosed.
A constable in the elite Diplomatic Protection Group has been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner
Bernard Hogan-Howe has said the officer was not at the scene as he
claimed, but has insisted this does not undermine the account given by
the officers on duty.
Mr Hogan-Howe has repeatedly backed
the account by his officers who confronted Mr Mitchell in Downing Street
and last night the Met said his position has not changed.
Yesterday Scotland Yard announced a
major investigation into the controversy manned by 30 detectives. The
inquiry is being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints
The inquiry will examine whether the
officer who sent the email was acting alone or whether there was ‘any
evidence of a conspiracy’.
Detectives are also investigating the source of the stories in the Sun and Daily Telegraph.
During Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron today expressed his dismay at the allegation that a police officer tried to 'blacken the name' of a Cabinet minister'
David Cameron told MPs yesterday : ‘A
police officer posing as a member of the public and sending an email
potentially to blacken the name of a Cabinet minister is a very serious
issue and does need to be seriously investigated.’
The first email was released by Channel 4 News last night.
The programme’s political
correspondent, Michael Crick, said the officer had admitted not being at
the scene, adding: ‘The impression I got was that he was a very
frightened man – even hinting that there were others in the background.’
Former shadow home secretary David
Davis said Mr Mitchell had been the victim of ‘a really serious
injustice’ and should be restored to the ministerial ranks.
He said: ‘This is a shocking
revelation that a police officer seems to have masqueraded as a civilian
– more than seems to, I’ve seen the emails and clearly did so – and
acted in a way which effectively completely undermined Mr Mitchell in
the eyes of the Prime Minister and the rest of Downing Street right at
the point they were making the decision: do we support him or not’
Mr Mitchell used freedom of information laws to obtain a copy of CCTV footage which he says contradicts the official police report of the incident
Mr Mitchell left his London home this morning amid calls from some Tory MPs for him to be reinstated in the government
The email is littered with
grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, including a reference to Mr
Mitchell’s ‘digesting behaviour’.
The author claims to have been
showing his nephew from Hong Kong around London when he witnessed the
clash between Mr Mitchell and police officers.
He went on: ‘Imagine to our horror
when we heard MR MITCHELL shout very loudly at the police officers
guarding “YOU (expletive blacked out) PLEBES !!” and “YOU THINK YOU RUN
THE (expletive blacked out) COUNTRY” and just continued to shout
obscenities at the poor police officers.’
The account in the leaked police log
of the clash also states that there were ‘several members of the public
present opposite the pedestrian gate’. They were said to have been
‘visibly shocked’ by the language Mr Mitchell used.
But CCTV footage suggests there were
only a few passers-by while the confrontation was taking place – and
that none of them appeared to be interested in what was going on.
The CCTV footage is silent, making it
impossible to know what Mr Mitchell said, although it appears to have
been only a brief exchange.
VIDEO Mitchell reiterates denial as he talks through CCTV footage
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Mandarin accused over 'imcompetent probe'
Cabinet Secretary, Jeremy Heywood
Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood was under fire last night over an ‘incompetent’ investigation into police claims that Andrew Mitchell called them ‘plebs’ during an angry confrontation in Downing Street.
Sir Jeremy, Britain’s most powerful civil servant, was asked to carry out an investigation into the explosive claims in September after a police account was leaked to the Press, and Downing Street was passed two emails claiming to be from a witness to the event.
Yesterday it emerged that Sir Jeremy had viewed the CCTV evidence that casts doubt on the version of events provided by both the police at the scene and the fabricated evidence in the email sent by another officer posing as a member of the public.
Number 10 said Sir Jeremy concluded that he ‘could not be confident that the evidence in the emails was reliable’.
But, incredibly, he did not draw any conclusions about the accuracy of the police log – or even ask to look at it.
Sir Jeremy told the Prime Minister that the CCTV footage contradicted police claims that the clash with Mr Mitchell was witnessed by a number of ‘shocked’ onlookers stood at the gates of Downing Street. But neither man took the issue further with the police.
Sir Jeremy went to ground yesterday, pulling out of a Whitehall event at which he would have faced questions from the Press.
Former shadow home secretary David Davis said the investigation was ‘not exactly Sherlock Holmes’. He added: ‘All the investigations did not go to the heart of the matter. Look at the CCTV, see whether it is consistent with the allegations made, consistent with what’s been said. It plainly wasn’t.’
Margaret Curran, a member of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet, said: It looks as if the so-called witness statement was not properly interrogated and I have to say… I do think that does speak of an incompetent inquiry undertaken by Number 10.’
Downing Street denied that the investigation had been botched. ‘The Prime Minister’s view is that reasonable inquiries were made,’ Mr Cameron’s official spokesman said. ‘Its conclusion was that one couldn’t be confident that the evidence in the emails was reliable, including on the basis of a number of inconsistencies with the CCTV footage.
‘There clearly remains a genuine difference of view about what words were actually used… the review was of the e-mail evidence that was submitted to us.’