Three police officers are challenging the legality of an investigation into their conduct in the Plebgate affair, it has emerged.
The Police Federation is supporting the officers in their application for judicial review of the probe by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Federation representatives Inspector Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones were initially told they would face no action over accounts they gave of a meeting with the then government chief whip Andrew Mitchell the month after his row with officers in Downing Street, but that decision is now being reconsidered.
Mr Mitchell, who eventually resigned from his post, became involved in a heated confrontation with officers in September 2012 after he was refused permission to cycle through the main gate. He later admitted swearing, but denied he called officers “plebs”.
The following month, he met Mr Hinton, Mr Jones and Mr MacKaill in his Sutton Coldfield constituency to clear the air, but a further row was sparked when the officers told journalists that he had refused to reveal what he said in Downing Street, something apparently contradicted by a recording of the meeting.
The Police Federation said papers seeking judicial review were lodged at the High Court on Friday and a decision on whether the application will be granted is awaited. A spokeswoman said: “Following a request to consider the lawfulness of its decision, the IPCC was asked to suspend its investigation and an invitation to the officers to attend for interview. This was declined.
“As a result, there was no option but to lodge an application for judicial review, which is the appropriate route to challenge decisions taken by a public authority.”
She said it was wholly inaccurate to suggest that the three officers had refused to meet the IPCC.
An IPCC spokeswoman said: “Our position is that our investigation is lawful and it remains ongoing. All that remains to complete the investigation is for the officers to be interviewed.
“In late December, the three officers were asked to agree dates to attend to be interviewed with the investigator, but declined to do so. As a result, under the relevant legislation, the investigator has specified times and dates for these interviews later this month.”
On Friday, a serving police officer, Pc Keith Wallis, admitted lying about witnessing the row in Downing Street.
He pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to a charge of misconduct in public office, having been charged after sending an email to Conservative deputy chief whip John Randall, who was his MP, wrongly claiming that he had seen what happened as Mr Mitchell left Downing Street on September 19, 2012. The guilty plea has led to calls for the former international development secretary and chief whip’s return to the government.