Police call for chief whip Andrew Mitchell to be sacked after F-word rant at officer
THE head of the Police Federation has called on David Cameron to sack one of his top ministers over an allegedly foul-mouthed rant at a police officer outside Downing Street.
• Andrew Mitchell in altercation with Downing Street police
• Prime Minister condemns his chief whip
Chief whip Andrew Mitchell, who is responsible for making sure Tory MPs behave, was said to have shouted at the officer after he was asked to take his bike through a different gate.
He was reported to have called police “morons” and said: “Best you learn your f****** place. You don’t run this f****** government. You’re f****** plebs.”
He insisted he had been misquoted but still apologised, while his behaviour was condemned by the Prime Minister.
Mr Cameron, who was in Manchester to pay his respects to the two police officers who were shot and killed earlier this week, said Mr Mitchell’s behaviour had been “inappropriate”.
Asked if he would sack him, the Prime Minister said: “What Andrew Mitchell said and what he did was not appropriate. It was wrong and it is right that he has apologised. He has obviously apologised to me, but more importantly he has apologised thoroughly to the police, and that needed to be done.”
The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, called on Mr Mitchell, a former soldier and UN peacekeeper, to be sacked.
Its national chairman, Paul McKeever, said: “It is hard to fathom how someone who holds the police in such contempt could be allowed to hold a
public office. Mr Mitchell’s half-hearted apology will do little to build bridges with the police who feel they have once again been treated with a lack of respect and civility by members of this government.
“The lack of regard that some within government appear to hold police officers in is especially disappointing during this tragic week for the service and does nothing for the rock-
bottom morale of officers.”
Mr Mitchell made a personal apology to the officer involved by telephone yesterday as he tried to limit the damage.
He said in a statement: “While I do not accept that I used any of the words that have been reported, I accept I did not treat the police with the respect they deserve. I have seen the supervising sergeant and apologised, and will also apologise to the police officer involved.”
A Cabinet Office spokesman said the officer had accepted the apology. No formal complaint has been filed over the politician’s behaviour.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper dubbed the reported outburst an “utter disgrace” and questioned how Mr Mitchell could do the job of chief whip if he could not keep his temper in check.
Former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit denounced Mr Mitchell’s comments as “extraordinarily stupid” and urged Mr Cameron to have a “heart-to-heart talk” with his new chief whip.
He added that the Prime Minister must be worried that the pressure on Mr Mitchell might be “more than he can take”.
The Labour chairwoman of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee recalled that the city’s mayor, Boris Johnson, had called for people who swear at police to be arrested.
Joanne McCartney said: “It seems it’s one rule for the public and another for those running the country. Perhaps the Prime Minister should do more than accept a simple apology.”
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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