Monday, December 24, 2012

British top cop caught up in police lies

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’.

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 resignation.

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.

Another 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.

CCTV 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.

A 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’.

Original report here

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