So why did No 10 throw Mitchell to the lions
23:44 GMT, 23 December 2012
Vilified by police as an arrogant snob who'd called Downing Street officers 'f****** plebs and morons', Mitchell was forced out of Government
They say a lie is halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on. But when the lie is told by police the truth might never be known.
Vilified by police as an arrogant snob who’d called Downing Street officers ‘f****** plebs and morons’, Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell was forced out of Government.
Now it emerges that the email from Ruislip, Middlesex, condemning Mitchell — purporting to be from a member of the public who had witnessed his row with Downing Street officers — was actually sent by a policeman, Keith Wallis.
Although he was nowhere near Downing Street on the night in question, Wallis’s accusations tallied with the official police log of the incident written by Toby Rowland — who, like Wallis, is a member of the Diplomatic Protection Group.
In other words, it now looks as if police conspired to lie about Mitchell, hoping he’d be forced out of Government.
Why The alleged motive: their union, the Police Federation, is in dispute with the Government over cuts. The Police Federation denies involvement in any such plot.
Why wasn’t the complaint about Mitchell investigated Deputy Chief Whip John Randall did contact Wallis, seeking a meeting. Wallis declined but sent another email repeating his story.
Downing Street is covered by CCTV cameras. The recording of Mitchell leaving Downing Street on the night in question was viewed by Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood. No altercation with the police was evident.
Wallis’s email said fellow citizens present were ‘visibly shocked’ by Mitchell’s bad language. But CCTV film of the pavement — again seen by Heywood — proves that no members of the public were present.
What’s going on here Given Mitchell’s repeated denials and CCTV suggesting there was no incident as described in the police log and complaining email, why didn’t suspicions arise in No 10 of a police smear campaign
There were suspicions. So why weren’t they acted on Perhaps because Mitchell was a not-very-popular minister in an unloved Government. And it wasn’t hard for the police to portray themselves as public servants insulted by a rich, arrogant minister.
Cameron was up against force majeure — a superior, irresistible power, the police. So he gave in, sacrificed Mitchell to the mob. And now
What's going on Given Mitchell's repeated denials and CCTV suggesting there was no incident as described in the police log and complaining email, why didn't suspicions arise in No 10 of a police smear campaign
The Prime Minister’s supporters sound bitter over the reversal of Mitchell’s fortunes, saying that whatever happens he might not be re-instated as a minister.
A spokesman for No 10 says: ‘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 that the police get to the bottom of this as a matter of urgency.’
Who has confidence that the police will get to the bottom of an alleged scandal involving its own members The best Mitchell can hope for is a ‘rotten apple’ resolution. A finding that one or two officers might have misbehaved but that does not in any way diminish the heroic service provided by the police. The truth is Cameron’s own staff should have investigated this story from day one. They had the CCTV, covering Downing Street and the pavement outside. The police officers on duty on the night in question were available for questioning.
No altercation with the police was evident: The CCTV footage, which emerged last week, cast doubt on police officer Toby Rowland's account of the 'Plebgate' incident
Questions: David Cameron must ask himself if Cabinet Secretary Heywood (right) could have done more
So was the author of the email
corroborating the Downing Street officers’ log. The Prime Minister’s
staff now say he stood by Mitchell as long as he could. But why let him
go before the allegations against the Chief Whip were properly
Cameron can’t be blamed for not investigating them personally — he had other problems — but he must ask himself if Cabinet Secretary Heywood could have done more. He, after all, hired Heywood.
Mitchell took his story about the bogus complainant and the CCTV cameras to Channel 4’s Dispatches team, saying: ‘I decided not to expect justice from the police or from a Government machine that inevitably would have other priorities in these circumstances.’
Now he says he hopes the 30-strong police team investigating his story ‘will pursue the truth without fear or favour’.
Surely MPs must pursue those at No 10 who failed to investigate this story before pushing Mitchell off the back of the sled without fear or favour.
He says: ‘If you had told me on September 19 that the sort of experience I have had could have happened in this country today, I simply would not have believed you.’
There’s talk of him returning to Government if he’s vindicated. A more honourable course would be for him to remain on the backbenches. Only a cynic would accept office again from those who failed to investigate the charges against him and were content to see him ruined.
Lindsay Lohan, 26, has been jailed six times since 2007
It's said that naughty Mean Girls star Lindsay Lohan, 26, who is facing almost a year behind bars after her probation for two drink driving convictions was revoked, might plead that she’s the victim of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which doctors say could be the source of her aberrant behaviour. She has been jailed six times since 2007. Apparently, she suffers feelings of ‘personal inadequacy, power, prestige and vanity’. Don’t we all at this time of year
Entertainer Stephen Fry is on TV 191 times before January 6, earning ‘as much as 250,000’, according to reports, although ‘one website claims 3 per cent of people detest him’.
Is this so Some people do dislike Fry. He has a sneery way about him, certainly. Julie Burchill describes him as ‘a stupid person’s idea of a clever person’, but off-piste Julie has her detractors, too.
I am not concerned about Fry’s Christmas ubiquity. Let those who like him enjoy the experience.
Others can choose not to watch him. It’s not as if he’s doing the Queen’s Christmas Broadcast.
Everyone I spoke to at the time said the same thing about Jacintha Saldanha, the King Edward VII Hospital nurse who killed herself after being hoaxed by two Aussie DJs. There had to be an additional reason. Now it emerges that she’d twice tried to kill herself last year — once by pills, and another by jumping from a building.
She had psychiatric treatment and recently finished a course of powerful anti-depressants. Was any of this known to King Edward VII’s management — or are they not allowed to inquire any more about the personal crisis in the lives of their staff
It doesn’t mitigate to any degree the crassness of the Australian disc jockeys, who didn’t think it wrong to play practical jokes on hospital staff, never imagining it might have bad consequences.
How high can Huhne hope to fly
We’re told the former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne expects to resume his high-flying political career if he wins a criminal case being brought against him for allegedly persuading his former wife to take speeding points on his behalf.
Friends say he might even succeed unpopular Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.
Surely it depends on how Huhne wins his case. If the prosecution case fails in court, fine. The charges will have been tested and found wanting.
But can Huhne be restored to office — far less succeed Clegg — if the case is ditched before getting there Which, in archaic terms, might not remove the stain from his escutcheon. I’d have thought not.
Happy landings at the in-laws for William
Prince William can expect father-in-law Mike's 'impressions of air stewards announcing flights into Mustique' this Christmas
One of the treats Prince William can expect when spending Christmas with his in-laws, the Middletons, is father-in-law Mike’s ‘impressions of air stewards announcing flights into Mustique’.
A former aircraft dispatcher, Middleton would be an expert on such matters. But what might be funny about arriving-in-Mustique flight announcements
Usually this is by small, local aircraft. I imagine those flying them — including the stewards — are locals. What might distinquish their announcements, making them irresistibly funny to the Prince
I have no idea, never having been there. But I know the island was made famous by its late, aristocratic poodlefaking owner, Colin Tennant, and his friend, Princess Margaret, who bought a house there.
Perhaps readers could exercise their minds over the festive season by suggesting a two-line Air Mustique arrival announcement. Keep it clean!
Strictly’s Forsyth saga . . .
Strictly Come Dancing’s presenter Sir Bruce Forsyth, 84, says he might not return to the show next year.
‘I could turn around tomorrow, next week or in two months and say I’ve had enough,’ says the old boy, once described as ‘Uriah Heep on speed’.
Critic Jaci Stephen says: ‘His jokes are dreadful, he sometimes loses his way and increasingly sounds as if he is having trouble negotiating with his teeth, but his part in putting Strictly on the map cannot be underestimated.’
Quite so. But I expect Sir Bruce is waiting to hear if they want him next year — and how much they’re prepared to pay.