WARWICKSHIRE’S Chief Constable, Andy Parker, will join the chief constables of West Midlands and West Mercia on Wednesday afternoon to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee of MPs to explain their controversial handling of the so-called “Plebgate” affair.
Earlier this week the three chief constables were heavily criticised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) for failing to hold misconduct hearings into the role of three officers from their respective forces.
The three officers had a meeting with Andrew Mitchell, the Tory MP for Sutton Coldfield, a year ago before he resigned as government chief whip over allegations he’d called police officers in Downing Street “plebs”.
Mr Mitchell has always denied using the word “plebs” but has admitted swearing at the Downing Street officers.
When the three officers emerged to a waiting media after the meeting in his consituency one of them called for Mr Mitchell’s resignation. (He resigned as a minister a little time later.)
Since then a tape recording and transcript of the meeting have emerged which appears to be at variance with the account provided by the police officers.
On Tuesday this week the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the officers should have faced misconduct hearings for misrepresenting what Mr Mitchell had said at the meeting.
Following an internal investigation the three chief constables decided there was no case to answer for misconduct.
But Home Secretary Theresa May said the IPCC report “made troubling reading” and at Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons David Cameron said Mr Mitchell was “owed an apology” and added that “the conduct of these officers was not acceptable”.
After the IPCC statement Ron Ball, Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The IPCC handling of this has been manifestly unfair.
“At the very early stages of this investigation, and as recently as last week, they were reminded that this was a high profile case with significant public interest.
“Despite that their view was that a supervised investigation by the force was appropriate and that they would not investigate it themselves. It would appear that they were happy for a supervised investigation to be conducted – provided that it arrived at a conclusion with which they agreed.
In a further development it’s been announced that West Mercia Police is conducting a review into the specific issues raised by the IPCC following a request by Mr Ball.
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