10 Jan 2014

How the ‘plebgate’ affair unfolded

The “plebgate” row has been rumbling for 16 months and has now resulted in a police officer admitting misconduct in public office. This is what led to his guilty plea at the Old Bailey.



21 Sept – Conservative chief whip Andrew Mitchell has an argument with police officers in Downing Street after being told he cannot take his bike through the main gate. He is accused of calling them “plebs”. Mr Mitchell later apologises, but denies calling the officers “plebs”. He faces calls to resign.

24 Sept – the police log of what happened in Downing Street says Mr Mitchell did use the words “plebs”.

12 Oct – Mr Mitchell meets police officers in his Sutton Coldfield constituency. One of them, Ken MacKaill, chairman of the West Mercia Police Federation, tells the media he did not tell them exactly what he said in Downing Street and should resign.

20 Oct – Mr Mitchell resigns as chief whip.

15 Dec – a police officer in Scotland Yard’s diplomatic protection group is arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office and suspended from duty.

17 Dec – the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) says it will supervise part of a Scotland Yard inquiry into claims the arrested officer “independently witnessed” the Downing Street incident.

18 Dec – an investigation by Channel 4 News and Dispatches reveals that CCTV footage of the incident in Downing Street raises questions about what was written in police logs.

The leaked logs said there were “several members of the public” outside the gates at the time and they were “visibly shocked” by the row. But there are not any crowds in the CCTV footage.

Channel 4 News/Dispatches report that John Randall, the deputy chief whip, received an email from one of his constituents saying he and his nephew had both seen and heard the incident. We reveal the contents of the email and that the person who sent it is a serving police officer.

23 Dec – Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe says the force will launch “a ruthless search for the truth”. In the ensuing months, eight people, including five police officers, are arrested in connection with the incident.


31 Jan – a 46-year-old officer from the diplomatic protection group is arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office, relating to alleged leaks linked to the row.

28 March – Scotland Yard says it has passed a file of evidence linked to the “plebgate” scandal to the Crown Prosecution Service. Mr Mitchell confirms that his lawyers have issued a libel writ against the Sun, which first ran the story.

31 March – Mr Mitchell lodges a formal complaint against Scotland Yard over the apparent leaking of its report into the “plebgate” affair.

June/July – two diplomatic protection group officers are arrested.

15 Oct – the IPCC questions the “honesty and integrity” of the three officers who met Andrew Mitchell in his constituency on 12 October 2012. They were accused of lying about what Mr Mitchell said.

16 Oct – David Cameron says Mr Mitchell is “owed an apology”.

23 Oct – the three officers who met Mr Mitchell – Ken MacKaill, Stuart Hinton and Chris Jones – appear before the home affairs select committee.

5 Nov – they appear before the committee for a second time after being accused of giving “misleading” answers when they first gave evidence.

26 Nov – the CPS announces that Pc Keith Wallis has been charged with misconduct in public office over the “plebgate” affair. The IPCC says he and four other colleagues will face gross misconduct proceedings over the row, meaning they could face the sack.

4 Dec – the Police Federation confirms that Pc Toby Rowland, the officer at the centre of the row, is to sue Mr Mitchell for libel.


10 Jan – Pc Keith Wallis pleads guilty to misconduct in public office at the Old Bailey. His sentence is adjourned to 6 February.

How Channel 4 News/Dispatches broke the "plebgate" story in December 2012