Senior Tory urges caution as ‘plebgate’ investigation takes off

Andrew Mitchell's supporters raised questions about event
Andrew Mitchell's supporters raised questions about event
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Former chief whip Andrew Mitchell does not come out of the “plebgate” affair “smelling of roses”, a Conservative Party vice-chairman has said.

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant took to social media website Twitter to ask a series of questions about the altercation between Mr Mitchell and police officers at the gates of Downing Street, following the release of CCTV footage of the encounter.

He warned that there should not be a “witch-hunt” against the police.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe promised a “ruthless” investigation “no matter where the truth takes us”, after breaking off from his holiday on Sunday to be briefed on progress.

Mr Mitchell claimed he was the victim of a deliberate attempt to “toxify” the Conservative Party and destroy his career.

He was forced to quit his cabinet post in October amid protests over claims he abused officers when they asked him to use a pedestrian side exit rather than open the Downing Street gates.

He has confirmed that he swore during the exchange, but denied claims he addressed officers as “plebs” and “morons”.

Last week, Scotland Yard opened an investigation into a possible conspiracy against the MP after it emerged that an 
e-mail to deputy chief whip John Randall, purportedly from a civilian witness backing up the allegations, was in fact written by another officer.

Supporters of Mr Mitchell said that CCTV images taken from Downing Street and the Foreign Office showed that there was not enough time for the supposed exchange to have taken place as reported.