Wednesday, 16 October 2013

'Policemen Lie!' Shock! Horror!

TODAY the police watchdog - the Independent Police Complaints Commission [IPCC] - has questioned the 'honesty and integrity' of police officers who interviewed Andrew Mitchell MP, and former Whip, over the 'plebgate' row that led to him quiting.  The Police Federation (the copper's trade union) has rushed up to say it is 'shocked' by the IPCC statement querying the police. 

Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor, is quoted as saying:
'What brings those politicians together is the anger at what they see as a conspiracy orchestrated by the coppers' union - the Police Federation.'

All this follows concerns that police officers gave a false account of the meeting they had with Andrew Mitchell shortly after his altercation in Downing Street.

The original row occurred when Mr Mitchell was told by police not to take his bike through the main gates on 19 September last year. The former Tory chief whip has apologised for an outburst, but has always disputed claims he described policemen as 'plebs'.

As the row between the then cabinet minister and the police intensified after the original allegation, Mr Mitchell met Inspector Ken MacKaill, of West Mercia Police, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton, of Warwickshire Police, and Sergeant Chris Jones, of West Midlands Police - acting on behalf of the Police Federation which represents rank-and-file officers - at his constituency office in Sutton Coldfield.

The IPCC said Mr Mitchell met the officers to 'clear the air'.  A transcript of the meeting shows he apologised for swearing at the police officers but denied using the word 'plebs'.

Now, it seems, public confidence in the police may be shaken by the news that senior policeman may have issued misleading statements about what was said in their interview with Mr Mitchell.

Deborah Glass of the IPCC has said:
'In my opinion the evidence indicates an issue of honesty and integrity, not merely naive or poor professional judgement.'
And, Ms. Glass suggested a misconduct panel should be held to determine whether the three officers gave a false account in a deliberate attempt to discredit Mr Mitchell in pursuit of a wider agenda. That wider agenda would be clearly one of police vested interests, and that means that in this matter the police operated more as a trade union defending its members interests rather than in the pursuit of 'justice' and in the 'public interest'.  

For their part the Police Federation of England and Wales in a statement has hit out at the IPCC deputy chair for making a 'personal outburst'.

We must wait to see if all this leads to a collapse in public confidence in the forces of law and order. 

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