Watchog questions ‘honesty’ of federation officers

The police watchdog has questioned the “honesty and integrity” of three officers who were spared misconduct hearings over claims they tried to discredit ex-Conservative chief whip Andrew Mitchell.

Inspector Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones were accused of lying about what Mr Mitchell said in a meeting at his Sutton Coldfield constituency office held nearly a month after the so-called “plebgate” row erupted.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concluded the Police Federation representatives should face a misconduct panel – but added it was powerless to enforce such proceedings as Mr Mitchell has not made a formal complaint.

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The original incident, in which Mr Mitchell was accused of calling officers guarding Downing Street “plebs” as he cycled through the main gates on September 19 last year, was the subject of a separate Metropolitan Police investigation following claims officers conspired against the politician.

In a statement released after the IPCC published its findings, Mr Mitchell said he and his family had “waited in vain” for Mr MacKaill, Mr Hinton and Mr Jones, federation representatives of West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands respectively, to be held to account. “It is a matter of deep concern that the police forces employing these officers have concluded that their conduct has not brought the police service into disrepute,” he said.

Mr Mitchell met Mr MacKaill, Mr Hinton and Mr Jones, respectively, on October 12 to “clear the air”. A transcript shows Mr Mitchell apologised for swearing at the police officers but denied using the word “plebs”. In comments made after the meeting, Mr MacKaill claimed the former Tory chief whip would not provide an account of the incident.

West Mercia Police conducted an internal investigation into claims the three officers were trying to discredit Mr Mitchell and concluded there was no case to answer for misconduct. But IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass said the evidence reveals “an issue of honesty and integrity, not merely naive or poor professional judgment” among the federation representatives.