Plebgate probe to report ‘by end of January’

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Criminal charges linked to the so-called Plebgate affair could be brought by the end of the month.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said he hoped to hand a file to prosecutors within weeks, when the force closes its investigation into whether former chief whip Andrew Mitchell was the target of a conspiracy involving officers.

Mr Mitchell was forced to quit his Cabinet post amid a storm of protest – fuelled by the Police Federation – over claims he called officers “plebs” during an altercation in Downing Street.

Hitting out at the federation for meddling in politics, Sir Bernard told the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday it was not for the staff association to get involved with Mr Mitchell’s resignation.

The commissioner insisted he had an “open mind” to the inquiry in the face of criticism that he had hastily backed police officers involved. He admitted he made the comments before seeing the evidence that has since been made available – including CCTV footage of Mr Mitchell exiting the gate to the Prime Minister’s residence.

Sir Bernard said part of the investigation was to identify the source of the leaked police log, which recounted the altercation with Mr Mitchell.

He told the committee that if the allegations against the police officers involved were true, “it would be a very serious matter”.