AN INDEPENDENT review has been ordered by the body representing rank-and-file police officers into “issues” raised by its handling of the “Plebgate” row.
Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever has acknowledged concerns that it “stoked up” the Downing Street incident which led to Andrew Mitchell quitting the Cabinet.
He said last week that he would apologise to the MP if it is shown he had been wrongly accused of calling officers “plebs” in a bust-up over their refusal to let him ride his bike through the gates.
McKeever has handed control to his successor-elect Steve Williams just over a month before he is officially due to leave the role, due to “pre- existing leave arrangements”, the Federation said.
One of Williams’ first acts was to announce plans for the review.
“Recent events have shown that there are issues around the way the Police Federation nationally is able to lead and co-ordinate at a national, regional and local level,” he said.
“As we enter a new era, my first act as chairman is to establish this independent panel to ensure that we as the Federation continue to represent the interests of our members in the most effective and efficient way.”
Local branches organised protests by members wearing “PC Pleb” T-shirts, and some demanded Mitchell’s sacking.
Scotland Yard is now investigating the possibility that the ex-Cabinet minister was the victim of a conspiracy and have made two arrests – one of them a member of the diplomatic protection squad.
That officer is said to have e-mailed his local MP, Tory deputy chief whip John Randall, posing as a member of the public and accusing Mitchell of calling police “plebs”.
McKeever conceded on Thursday: “I think we can all say we could have done things better.”
He said it was right to await the results of the police investigation, which involves about 30 officers and is being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
But he said if it showed Mitchell had been wrongly accused he would be “one of the first in the queue to apologise”.