TORY MP Andrew Mitchell has told of his frustration with Downing Street’s handling of the “plebgate” furore, claiming it just wanted him to “lie low” rather than clear his name.
The MP, who quit as chief whip after a backlash following claims he called police officers protecting the Prime Minister “plebs”, suggested No 10 “wanted this to go away”, but said he could not live with knowing he had been “stitched up”.
He believes he would still be in government if footage of the exchanges had been swiftly released. Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood was sharply criticised by MPs last month over his botched investigation.
The CCTV scenes threw into doubt police claims about what went on when the Tory was refused exit through Downing Street’s main gates on his bicycle.
But the footage came to light only after he faced a battle with officials to obtain his own copy of the tape. Mr Mitchell said he did not believe claims that the video could not be released on national security grounds were genuine.
In an interview for a second investigation into the incident by Channel 4’s Dispatches, due to be broadcast tonight, Mr Mitchell said: “I think Downing Street wanted this to go away. They really wanted me to lie low and let them get on with running the country … but I couldn’t wake up every morning for the rest of my life knowing that I had been stitched up.”
Mr Mitchell only asked to see the closed circuit footage of the altercation with police at the main gates of Downing Street on the day he resigned, October 19, but was not shown it for nearly three weeks.
“It was quite a frustrating experience,” he said. The MP was told he could not have a copy for national security reasons and it took almost a month before that decision was reversed.