The police watchdog has condemned “collusion” between officers who were determined to take revenge on Andrew Mitchell over the “Plebgate” row as a police officer who claimed to have witnessed it was jailed for 12 months for misconduct in a public office.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) gave a detailed account of how allegations against the former Cabinet minister were “spun” after the sentencing of Pc Keith Wallis at the Old Bailey yesterday.
Wallis, 53, of West Drayton, west London, sent an email to Conservative deputy chief whip John Randall, who was his MP, wrongly claiming he had seen what happened as Andrew Mitchell left Downing Street on September 19, 2012.
Mr Mitchell, who was forced to resign as chief whip by the row, had been involved in a heated confrontation with another police officer, Toby Rowland, after he was refused permission to cycle through the main gate.
The court was told Wallis, who worked at Metropolitan Police diplomatic protection group, was moved to act by “rumour and gossip” about the incident in which Mr Mitchell was accused of calling the officer a “Pleb”.
Emotions were already running high following the killing of two female officers, Pc Fiona Bone and Pc Nicola Hughes, in Manchester the day before, the Old Bailey was told, and Wallis, who was just one year from retirement after a 30-year career, was also intoxicated and suffering from mental illness.
Defending, Patrick Gibbs QC appealed for leniency for Wallis who had admitted the offence but Mr Justice Sweeney told Wallis his “devious” actions not only “fell far below the standards expected of a police officer” but also had “a significant impact” on public trust.
IPCC head Deborah Glass said: “The patchwork of evidence from emails, text messages and telephone calls does not suggest an organised conspiracy to bring down a Cabinet Minister. But there was clearly collusion between certain officers to, as they saw it, blow the whistle on bad behaviour toward one of their own.”
According to the IPCC, the officer who was manning the gate, Toby Rowland – who is now suing Mr Mitchell for libel – was not part of efforts to hit back at the then chief whip.