THREE police officers involved in the so-called “Plebgate” affair – one of them from Warwickshire – today (Monday) issued a statement apologising for their role in the ongoing row concerning former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell.
The statement was issued by the Police Federation on behalf of Det Sgt Stuart Hinton from Warwickshire, Insp Ken MacKaill of West Mercia and Sgt Chris Jones from West Midlands.
The three officers made a statement to the media after a meeting with Conservative MP Mr Mitchell in his Sutton Coldfield constituency while he was still government chief whip and at the height of the allegations that he had called police in Downing Street “plebs”, a claim he has always denied.
A tape recording of the meeting appears to be at variance with the account given by the three officers to waiting journalists.
Last week the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) strongly criticised the chief constables of the three forces concerned for failing to take misconduct proceedings against the officers.
Home Secretary Theresa May said the IPCC report “made troubling reading” and Prime Minister David Cameron said Mr Mitchell was “owed an apology” and that “the conduct of these officers was not acceptable”.
As a result of the furore the chief constable of Warwickshire, Andy Parker, and the chief constables of West Mercia and West Midlands are due to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee of MPs on Wednesday.
Today’s statement by the three officers at the centre of the row says: “We are making this statement in response to public concern generated by the widely reported outcome of West Mercia’s investigation into matters arising from the meeting with had with Andrew Mitchell MP in his constituency on 12th October 2012.
"The reputation of, and public confidence in, the police service is of immense concern to each of us.
“We acknowledge the investigation’s criticism relating to poor judgement in talking to the media following the meeting with Andrew Mitchell, for whyich we take this opportunity to apologise.
“We would like to emphasise (as we did to the investigation) that in no way did any of us plan or intend to mislead anyone about what occurred during this meeting or otherwise.”
Immediately after the meeting one of the officers said Mr Mitchell should resign from his job in the government. Shortly afterwards Mr Mitchell resigned and returned to the backbenches.
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