Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Police accused of 'industrial levels of dishonesty' over Plebgate as Scotland Yard releases previously-unseen CCTV footage

Downing Street police officers were accused of 'industrial levels of dishonesty' today after a new report on the 'Plebgate' scandal was published by Scotland Yard.

According to the report one armed police officer on duty in Downing Street on the night of the row texted a colleague to say she could ‘topple the Tory government’.

The new evidence reveals the extent to which police 'conspired' to destroy former Tory minister Andrew Mitchell’s career, the Metropolitan Police's deputy assistant commissioner Patricia Gallan admitted.

Mr Mitchell was accused of calling police officers ‘f****** plebs’ after they refused to let him push his bike through the main gates in Downing Street on September 19, 2012. The Tory MP admits swearing, but vehemently denies ever calling the police officers ‘plebs’.

Today MP David Davis, a staunch supporter of Mr Mitchell, said: 'Although the Operation Alice closing report is a police report into the police, it nevertheless shows industrial levels of dishonesty by police working in Downing Street.

'One police officer has been jailed. Three more police officers have been sacked and a further two police officers have received final written warnings.'

Today's report was released just days after Mr Mitchell's father - Sir David Mitchell - died aged 86 after a long illness.

The publication of today's report has been expected for some time and comes the day Parliament returns from its summer recess.

The report also contained previously-unseen CCTV footage of the incident revealing that a mystery passer-by witnessed the incident.

The video of the incident appears to corroborate the original police account of the incident recorded by officers on duty that night.

The police log said ‘several members of public [were] present’ during Mr Mitchell’s showdown with the police.

Previously-released CCTV footage - taken from within Downing Street - appeared to show that only one member of the public showed an interest in the unfolding event.

Mr Mitchell's allies said this footage undermined the police's official account of the incident.

But the new video footage of the incident released today - which is shot from across the road on Whitehall - clearly shows one passer-by stopping in front of the Downing Street gates while Mr Mitchell in in discussion with the police officers. It also shows two other witnesses.

Mr Mitchell is then seen wheeling his bike out of the pedestrian side gate.

Despite the fresh footage appearing to back the official police log, Scotland Yard’s deputy assistant commissioner Patricia Gallan said the ‘heart’ of the scandal was police officers conspiring together ‘to lie and falsify statements against a cabinet minister’.

The damning remarks came as the Met published a text from one of the officers on duty that night.

The message is published in today's lengthy report by the Metropolitan police into Operation Alice, its investigation into the plebgate incident.

Operation Alice led to the dismissal of four police officers, one of whom was sent to prison.

The report found that PC Gillian Weatherley, who was one of the four officers to lose their jobs after disciplinary hearings, texted a colleague two days after the incident to declare that she could topple the government.

PC Weatherley witnessed, but did not overhear, the incident between Mr Mitchell and her colleague PC Toby Rowland.

In the text, sent on September 21 to a colleague known as Officer 18, PC Weatherley wrote: ‘This will make you feel better, I'm the officer that stopped the chief whip leaving Downing St in Wednesday. He didn't swear at me but Toby that let him out the side gate. I could topple the Tory government x.’

PC Weatherley said the message was office banter.

But a month later, on October 21, 2012, a text message was sent from her phone number to a neighbour called Nick. It read: ‘Not today but I'm at the front gates tomorrow so I still have time to bring the government down thanks for no graffiti.’

PC Weatherley lost her job after she failed to provide an honest account of her role in the handling of an email by Rowland that described the incident. She denied having passed on Rowland's email when she had in fact sent a picture of the email to a colleague. This was passed to the Daily Telegraph.

Deputy assistant commissioner Gallan said of the report: ‘At the heart of this investigation were very serious allegations that police officers had conspired together to lie and falsify statements against a cabinet minister. ‘I have no doubt these allegations have damaged public trust and confidence in us. ‘The police service is here to serve the public, without fear or favour, with honesty and integrity.

‘Where our staff fall short of those standards they must be held to account. We wanted these discipline boards to be held in public, but legally we were unable to direct that this happened.

‘Ultimately, four police officers have been dismissed from the MPS, one of whom was sent to prison. ‘Every serving police officer has cause to feel let down by those colleagues who fall below the standards we all strive to uphold.’

Original report here


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