Ex-Minister ‘deserves apology over plebgate’

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Three police federation representatives that it is claimed misrepresented their meeting with former chief whip Andrew Mitchell should “absolutely” apologise for their role in the plebgate scandal, the Police Minister said yesterday.

Damian Green said comments given by the representatives from the West Midlands, West Mercia and Warwickshire divisions following a private meeting with Mr Mitchell in his Sutton Coldfield constituency, after he was accused of calling their Downing Street colleagues plebs were “palpably untrue”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Green said: “He deserves an apology. Let’s start with the people who left his office and said things that if you read the transcript were palpably untrue.”

Asked if he was referring to the three police officers who met with Mr Mitchell when the allegations first emerged, he replied: “Absolutely, those three should apologise.”

Earlier this week, Prime Minister David Cameron said the police owed Mr Mitchell an apology over the affair, saying their behaviour “was not acceptable”.

Mr Green was asked if Mr Cameron also owed Mr Mitchell an apology, with the suggestion that he only stood down from his role because he was effectively pushed out by the Prime Minister.

But Mr Green disagreed. He said: “He didn’t, because Andrew Mitchell resigned. He resigned.”

He added: “Let’s do this in order: let’s find out what the facts are, what the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) say, whether there was a criminal conspiracy, whether there’s more police disciplinary action to be taken against those at the gate at Downing Street; all those questions need to be answered first.”

Home Secretary Theresa May also warned that the plebgate scandal risked jeopardising public trust in the police.

A YouGov survey for The Sunday Times last week found that 66 per cent of people trust the police, down from 71 per cent in August.

Mr Green was also asked whether most people now have a deep mistrust of the police. Everyone doesn’t – two-thirds of people still have confidence in the police, which is quite surprising given the spate of stories,” he said.

However, he conceded there was a need to change the culture within the police, which he described as a “huge job”.