‘Plebgate’ probe now a ‘waste of resources’

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Taking statements from 800 police officers over the “plebgate” affair is “a waste of time and resources”, a force federation leader has said.

Metropolitan Police Federation chairman John Tully yesterday revealed that Scotland Yard investigators had decided to take formal statements from every officer in the diplomatic protection group.

The move follows a pledge by Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe to hold “a ruthless search for the truth” over the row.

Mr Tully said: “It is not unusual for any officers who were on duty at the time of an incident to be required to provide what’s called a duty statement. But the Met have asked everyone in that command to make one, which is unusual.

“There are upwards of 800 people in that command and they have all had to put pen to paper in some way.

“We have a lot of officers who live quite a long distance from where they work, and if they were sitting at home in Norwich when Andrew Mitchell was allegedly saying these words it seems to be a waste of time and resources.”

Depending on how the process has been handled, each statement could have taken as little as 10 minutes to draft, or as long as four hours, Mr Tully said.

Former Chief Whip Mr Mitchell was forced to quit his Cabinet post over claims he called officers “plebs” during an altercation at the gates to Downing Street. He has consistently denied using the term.

Mr Tully added: “There are 30 officers dedicated to the inquiry, it’s a far-reaching inquiry, but is it proportionate? I don’t think so.