I was stitched up by police: Sacked Chief Whip goes to war with Met after PC falsely claimed he witnessed 'f****** plebs' rantComes as new CCTV footage casts doubt on account in leaked police logAndrew Mitchell demands an inquiry into 'completely untrue' allegations'Three phrases were
hung around my neck and used to destroy my career'David Cameron 'furious' as No 10 calls for police to 'get to bottom' of case
23:22 GMT, 18 December 2012
On the attack: Sacked Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell has called for an inquiry into the Plebgate affair after it emerged a police officer falsely claimed he witnessed his alleged 'f****** plebs' rant
A bitter row broke out last night between Downing Street and the police over an alleged plot to bring down the former Chief Whip.
A constable is now known to have falsely claimed he witnessed Andrew Mitchell’s encounter with two other officers in Downing Street when he is alleged to have called them ‘f***ing plebs’.
And CCTV footage screened by Channel 4 News last night cast doubt on the widely-publicised police version of the incident on the evening of September 19.
Mr Mitchell, who lost his job as a result, called for an inquiry and said he was the victim of a ‘stitch-up’. David Cameron was said to be furious about the allegations.
In a strongly-worded statement, Number 10 said: ‘Any allegations that a serving police officer posed as a member of the public and fabricated evidence against a Cabinet minister are exceptionally serious.
‘It is therefore essential the police get to the bottom of this as a matter of urgency. We welcome Bernard Hogan-Howe’s commitment to achieve that aim.’
However, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner said he stood by the original account of the two officers involved in the confrontation.
Mr Mitchell was forced to resign in October following allegations that he swore at police officers in Downing Street when they stopped him riding his bicycle through the main gates.
In a police report leaked to the Sun newspaper in September, the officer involved said Mr Mitchell told him: ‘Best you learn your f***ing place. You don’t run this f***ing government. You’re f***ing plebs.’
In a threatening afterthought, the minister allegedly added: ‘You haven’t heard the last of this.’
Mr Mitchell has always denied calling police officers ‘plebs’ but admits swearing at them, saying he had said: ‘I thought you guys were supposed to f***ing help us.’
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CAUGHT ON CCTV: THE MITCHELL CONFRONTATION
New evidence: The developments came as Channel 4 News showed previously unreleased CCTV footage of Mr Mitchell, seen here riding towards the Downing Street gate just before the incident in September
Confrontation: Mr Mitchell stops to asks the officers to open the gate, which they refuse because they say they are under orders not to let cycles through the main entrance
No exit: Mr Mitchell walks his bike round to the side gate after being stopped by two officers
Leaving by a side gate: This is when Mr Mitchell is alleged to have called police 'f****** plebs'. There is no sign of the passers-by said to have overheard him
CCTV footage of Andrew Mitchell with two police officers on the evening of the so-called ‘pleb rant’ raised fresh questions about the incident last night.
The film from a Downing Street security camera shows the former Chief Whip cycling up to the main gates before appearing to talk to the officers for just a few seconds.
It is widely agreed that the officers refused Mr Mitchell’s demands to open the gate. The footage shows that after the conversation he wheels his bicycle to the pedestrian exit and leaves.
A police log leaked days later claims he launched into his alleged tirade as he approached this gate.
There is no audio on the CCTV so it is impossible to know what he said, but the footage does not show any visible signs of an argument. It also appears to dispel another key claim. According to the police log, officers claimed ‘members of the public looked visibly shocked … by the language used’.
But the film shows only three people walking past the gate, two of whom look too far away to hear anything, and one who appears to express no more than a passing interest in what is going on.
VIDEO 'The body language is all wrong': Andrew Mitchell reiterates denial as he talks through the CCTV footage
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The toxic allegation was seized on at the time by both the Police Federation and Labour to damage the Conservative Party.
But last night it was reported that a
constable in the elite Diplomatic Protection Group, posing as a member
of the public, had falsely claimed to have witnessed the incident in
order to fuel the row.
The officer, who was arrested on
Saturday night on suspicion of misconduct in public office, sent an
email to his local MP, Tory deputy chief whip John Randall, the day
after the encounter, giving an account of events in Downing Street that
was strikingly similar to the version published in the Sun newspaper a
Met Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe says he stands by the original account of the two officers involved in the confrontation
Mr Randall passed his account to Number 10 and went on to play a key role in the removal of his boss.
Channel 4 News said the officer had
admitted not being present when the confrontation took place and had
hinted that others were involved in an apparent conspiracy.
The CCTV footage is thought to have been obtained by Mr Mitchell himself using data protection laws and passed to Channel 4.
The footage is silent, but the
millionaire former minister can clearly be seen being stopped by police
as he attempted to ride his bicycle out of the main gates of Downing
After a brief conversation he wheels his bicycle to the
pedestrian exit and leaves.
The film is largely inconclusive as it is impossible to tell what words are used by Mr Mitchell.
However, there is little sign of the
rant alleged by the police. The police account of the event suggested
there were ‘several members of the public present opposite the
Members of public were said to have
been ‘visibly shocked’ by the language Mr Mitchell used. No one is
obvious at the gate in the CCTV footage.
But Mr Hogan-Howe said: ‘I don’t
think, in terms of what I’ve heard up to now, that it’s really affected
the original account of the officers at the scene. Because of course
this officer we’ve arrested wasn’t any of those people involved
‘This is another officer who wasn’t there at the time.’
'Toxic allegations': Mr Mitchell says the incident was used to destroy his political career
The Sun also said it stood by its
story. The astonishing revelations last night prompted speculation at
Westminster there may have been a wider conspiracy among some police
officers to smear a senior member of the Government at a time when
ministers are pushing through controversial reforms of the service.
Mr Mitchell said: ‘Three phrases were
hung around my neck for 28 days and used to destroy my political career
and toxify the Conservative Party.
'They are completely untrue – I never
said them. I have never called someone a f***ing pleb and never would.
‘It has shaken my lifelong support and
confidence in the police. We need a full inquiry to get to the bottom
of what happened and make sure it cannot happen again.’
Tory MP Dominic Raab last night described the developments as ‘deeply disturbing’.
He added: ‘The assumption has been
that the police had behaved like angels, and Andrew Mitchell a villain.
'It now appears that at least one officer has deliberately told
falsehoods, explicitly designed to drag Andrew Mitchell’s name through
‘We need a swift and rigorous
investigation to see whether he acted alone, was put up to it, or indeed
acted in collusion with other officers.’
Government sources said the Prime Minister accepted Mr Randall had acted in good faith.