‘Plebgate’ police face new probe in wake of scandal

Three officers accused of giving misleading evidence over the “plebgate” scandal will have to face a fresh inquiry and could face contempt of parliament charges if they refuse to apologise to MPs.

The new probe comes after a scathing report by the Commons home affairs select committee (Hasc) accused the trio of “obstructing the truth” when they initially appeared before the committee.

Police Federation representatives Inspector Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones were all told they would face no action for misconduct over press statements they made following a meeting with former chief whip Andrew Mitchell last October.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The meeting was in response to an alleged-foul mouthed confrontation Mr Mitchell had with police in Downing Street the previous month where it was claimed he referred to the officers as “plebs”.

But the Independent Police Complaints Commission yesterday announced that it would hold its own investigation into the officers’ behaviour after finding “procedural irregularities” in the way the initial inquiry was dealt with.

Sgt Jones and Det Sgt Hinton have also been called to appear before the HASC for a second time tomorrow, after being accused of giving “misleading” answers to MPs on October 23. The committee wants them “to apologise for misleading it” or face disciplinary action.

The committee’s report said the officers’ evidence was “possibly deliberately” misleading, lacked credibility and was contradictory.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It also hit out at their refusal to apologise for their actions, given the effect on Mr Mitchell’s personal life and career. He resigned a month after the altercation took place at the Downing Street gates.

“If evidence was given in a similar manner by three serving police officers to a court of law it is our view that such testimony would undermine a case and lead a jury to reach an unfavourable conclusion as to the credibility of the evidence given by those police officers,” the report read.

It was also particularly critical of Det Sgt Hinton for referring to Home Secretary Theresa May as “that woman” before claiming he was misquoted in an apparent attempt to avoid disciplinary action.

Meanwhile North Yorkshire’s crime commissioner Julia Mulligan says the system of police complaints has become “virtually impenetrable to all but experts”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Writing in today’s Yorkshire Post, she says all complaints against the police should be subjected to independent investigations “unless agreed by the victim”.

She adds:” Even then, there should be a right of appeal to a local independent body rather than to the Chief Constable.”

Related topics: