Police officers’ apology over plebgate ‘not good enough’

An apology by three police officers caught up in the so-called pleb-gate row is “not good enough”, a Yorkshire MP and close ally of former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell has said.

Police Federation representatives Inspector Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones yesterday apologised for making a public statement after a meeting with Mr Mitchell in his Sutton Coldfield constituency office last year.

But the statement from the three officers, who were accused of deliberately trying to discredit the Conservative MP, did not retract the comments made.

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David Davis, a former Shadow Home Secretary and MP for Haltemprice and Howden, said it fell short of what was required for their “premeditated” attack.

“The statement from the three Police Federation officials is simply not good enough. Their actions have destroyed a career,” Mr Davis said.

“This is not a case of misjudgment, it is deliberate misconduct and they should face the consequences of that misconduct.”

The three officers have been called to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee to provide a “full explanation” of what happened.

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Mr Mitchell met the three officers after he was accused of calling officers guarding Downing Street “plebs” in a foul-mouthed rant as he was asked to cycle through a side gate last September 19. A meeting was held at his office last October to “clear the air”. A transcript shows Mr Mitchell apologised for swearing but denied using the word “plebs”, while in comments made after the meeting Mr MacKaill claimed the former Tory chief whip refused to provide an account of the incident.

The officers, who were representing the forces of West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands, were spared misconduct proceedings by an internal investigation led by West Mercia Police but the Independent Police Complaints Commission later disputed its findings.

In a statement issued by the Police Federation, they said: “We acknowledge the investigation’s criticism relating to our poor judgment in talking to the media following the meeting with Andrew Mitchell, for which we take this opportunity to apologise.

“We would like to emphasise – as we did to the investigation – that in no way did any of us ever plan or intend to mislead anyone about what occurred during this meeting or otherwise.”