Published on 24 Sep 2012

Andrew Mitchell: clear as mud

Andrew Mitchell’s statement in Whitehall early this morning doesn’t leave us any the wiser about what he actually said to the police officer at the Downing Street gate on Wednesday evening.

Mitchell again denied saying “the words that have attributed to me”, and he said he’s being “very clear” about what he said and didn’t say. But what he said can’t have been at all “clear” to the general public watching the live broadcast.

So what actually is Andrew Mitchell’s position?

I understand the following:

He denies using the word “pleb” or “plebs”. He denies using the word “morons”.  And he also denies all of the other precise quotes attributed to him in The Sun today.

But Mitchell does admit that he swore, once, as he left the scene on Wednesday night, and said to the policemen something like “I thought you lot were supposed to f****** help us.”  And it is because he used the word “f******”, I’m told, that he decided to apologise to the policeman and his sergeant. Mitchell also denies that he lost his temper during the exchanges.

Perhaps the most curious aspect of his statement today was Andrew Mitchell’s claim that last Wednesday had been “a long and extremely frustrating day”. It’s hard to see why it was so “frustrating” when parliament wasn’t sitting that day, no votes were happening, and there were no immediate political pressures.  Indeed it should have been a quiet time for the chief whip last week since the Commons wasn’t due to return for almost another four weeks.

Today the Sun publishes quotations from a “report” it has seen of what the two policemen involved say about what Mitchell said and did. I understand that this report is in fact an email, and not the police officers’ actual statement or statements. This email has also been seen by the police federation, and the document may well emerge in public before long.

Many people are urging Andrew Mitchell to come up with a full account of what he did say, but he’s determined not to do this as he thinks it will only inflame the situation, and that he’d be unlikely to win a PR battle between himself and two police officers. He is spending today seeing lots of colleagues about ordinary government business.

Mitchell’s friends believe this is all being “stirred” and “whipped up” by the police federation for political purposes, and they point out how the Leveson inquiry has exposed the close links between the Sun newspaper and the police.

Now the Metropolitan Police has announced that its directorate of professional standards is investigating how the quotes from the police officers’ statements made their way into The Sun.

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12 reader comments

  1. Dave Grinnell says:

    Is it the word of two policemen against Mitchell, regarding what was said, or is the “eyewitness” to whom the Sun attributed the quotes in the original story a third person who disagrees with Mitchell about what was said?

    The more people who disagree with him, the worse his position looks.

  2. OldBill says:

    What is stunning is the absence of any public comment from the Met’s senior officers. A PC states he is abused by a senior minister, a report is made – no doubt notified to a senior officer and probably the Commissioner due to the likely impact.

    The first official, public Met response? An investigation into how the information reached the public via a newspaper.

    Truly supportive of the officers at risk on the street. You will note I do not use the word ‘leadership’, as that clearly is absent.

  3. Michael Carr-Jones says:

    ‘Chief whip will not be investigated ‘ my heart sank when I saw this headline as I think we the public stand no chance of getting rid of rotten eggs,lying colleagues or anyone who makes a bad error or an ‘apologetic’ statement which everyone suspects is not true and no matter what is said true blue is the colour

  4. B.Heath Merchant says:

    I am currently reading ‘The Fatal Shore’ by Robert Hughes. It describes the introduction of transportation of prisoners to Australia during the 1800s.

    I am amazed that the attitude of the so called ruling classes of this country do not appear to have altered in two hundred years.

    We have a serving Minister acting like a bullish prig weilding his ‘whip’ on some lesser mortals and then lacking the moral fibre to admit his distasteful

    Should David Cameron allow this to go unchallenged his Partys days are
    well and truly numbered.

  5. W nicol says:

    I have no hesitation in accepting the police officers version of events. I think the cabinet minister should be sacked and stand down as an m.p.

  6. JD says:

    From where do you get your ‘understanding’? Has he specifically denied saying “pleb/s” or “moron/s”? When did he do that? If he has only said that he denies using the words that are attributed to him, that doesn’t clearly show the words he denies saying.

    He needs to be clear and unequivocal about what he DID say. Otherwise, people may wonder if he is waiting to see if the incident was captured on a camera, mobile phone, or witnessed by an independent person.

    Why does the Police Federation representative appear so confident about what happened, as shown on your broadcast this evening?

  7. Esther Dora says:

    This pleb-gate is akin to Romney’s 47 percent takers blunder. These individuals are out of touch with the real issues affecting real peoples doing their jobs. Have they forgotten that they serve the public? Mitchell said he’d had a bad day at the office. How about the poor police officer who would have been on his feet most of the day, low pay, working in poor weather? Where is the sympathy from this Mitchell person for this officer? Mitchell is a disgrace and its time he was whipped right out of office!!!!

  8. ken ord. says:

    Yes the Officer accepted Mitchels apology alright,(given over the telephone not face to face) because if he did’nt he would have found himself posted to the furthest reaches of the met directing traffic.

  9. mike says:

    just a ingnorat aragant snob that thinks he is better that any normal person.sack him now let the plbs fight back

  10. Jonah says:

    If I swore to swear and made threats to a policeman and then apologised, very belatedly, I wonder what what the result would be?.
    Am I to understand that the PM is still in charge of his party? If so, they are all a disgrace.

  11. dw says:

    at first he lied about swearing,so why should his further denials carry any weight?

    at first he denied swearing,for that first lie alone he should have been sacked. but while the press bang on about swearing and if he said”plebs” the threat to the policewoman goes unchallenged.

    and i say threat, as how else could the police involved take “you’ve not heard the last of this”. from a chief whip. so threatened in fact they felt they needed to record exactly what happened just to cover themselves from a swearing ranting trouble maker who believes he’s been wronged.

    as for ministers muddying the water with Leveson connections,are they forgetting about the public interest defence.

    this is 100% the type of story where the whistle blower and reporting is in the public interest.

  12. Leon slade says:

    Andrew Mitchell should not have sworn at the police in the first place and should have done what he was told to do by the police. Every time that gate is opened,leaves Downing Street vulnerable to a drive in terrorist attack,cars coming in block this possible attempt,but
    not some little twerp on a bike.

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