Plebgate policeman may face prosecution

The row began after Andrew Mitchell was prevented from riding his bike out of Downing Street. Picture: PA
The row began after Andrew Mitchell was prevented from riding his bike out of Downing Street. Picture: PA
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FORMER chief whip Andrew Mitchell has accused the police officer at the centre of the “Plebgate” row of not telling the truth, despite prosecutors finding there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against him.

Mr Mitchell said claims he called the police “plebs” and swore at them had been “made up and disseminated” by the officer on duty at the time of the Downing Street incident.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has charged one officer, PC Keith Wallis, over an alleged false claim, but said there was insufficient evidence to show that PC Toby Rowland, who reported the incident and stands by his account of events, had lied.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission says five police officers – all members of the elite Diplomatic Protection Group – will now face gross misconduct proceedings linked to the subsequent row, meaning they could lose their jobs.

The Crown Prosecution Service has charged Wallis over the allegation that he falsely claimed to have witnessed the incident in an e-mail to his MP. But PC Rowland is not one of the five facing disciplinary action.

Eight people, including three police officers, were investigated as part of the Plebgate inquiry, amid claims that Mr Mitchell had been the victim of a “stitch-up” to get him out of office.

Seaking at a press conference, Mr Mitchell said he welcomed the criminal and disciplinary charges as the start of a process “that should ensure that justice is done”.

The Crown Prosecution Service has suggested Mr Mitchell’s account of events had “varied” over time. However he insists he had been “completely clear” from the start about what he had and had not said.

Mr Mitchell said: “I wish to make clear that PC Toby Rowland, who was responsible for writing those toxic phrases into his notebook, was not telling the truth.”

But PC Rowland said he stood by his account of what happened on 19 September, 2012, adding: “I confirm that I am prepared to give evidence under oath if required.”

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said the CPS had considered “all the evidence” including unedited CCTV footage from the night in question.

She said: “We have found that there is insufficient evidence to show that the officer at the gate lied in his account.

“The CPS has also found that there is insufficient evidence to show that Mr Mitchell was the victim of a conspiracy of misinformation.”

But the CPS said it had decided to charge Wallis over the allegation he falsely claimed to have witnessed the incident in an

e-mail to deputy chief whip, John Randall, his MP. Wallis is due to attend Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 16 December.

A spokesman for the Police Federation said: “We welcome the decision by the CPS that there was insufficient evidence to show that the officer at the gate lied in his account and that there was insufficient evidence to show that Mr Mitchell was the victim of a conspiracy of misinformation.

“It is noteworthy that the CPS came to its conclusions after reviewing all the evidence, including unedited CCTV footage from Downing Street.”