One officer charged over ‘Plebgate’

Andrew MitchellAndrew Mitchell resigned as government chief whip in the wake of the incident

A police officer is to be charged with misconduct in a public office over the Andrew Mitchell “Plebgate” row.

PC Keith Wallis is accused of falsely claiming to have witnessed the incident in an email to his MP.

But prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to show an officer in Downing Street lied in his account of last September’s incident.

Mr Mitchell denies claims he called officers “plebs” after they stopped him cycling through the street’s gates.

The Tory MP, who was the government’s chief whip at the time, admits swearing during the incident but denies he swore at the officers.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission says five police officers – all members of the elite Diplomatic Protection Group – will now face gross misconduct proceedings linked to the subsequent row, meaning they could lose their jobs.

‘No independent accounts’

The BBC understands that the officer at the Downing Street gates on the night of the incident is not one of the five facing disciplinary action.

A total of eight people, including three police officers, were investigated as part of the probe into “Plebgate”, amid claims by Mr Mitchell that he had been the victim of a politically-motivated “stitch-up” to force him out of office.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said: “We have considered all of the evidence in this case, including previously unseen, unedited CCTV footage from Downing Street, not referred to by the media.

“Taking it all into account, including the accounts of the officer at the gate of Downing Street and that of Andrew Mitchell MP before, during and after the incident, we have found that there is insufficient evidence to show that the officer at the gate lied in his account.

“The CPS has also found that there is insufficient evidence to show that Mr Mitchell was the victim of a conspiracy of misinformation.”

But the CPS said it had decided to charge PC Wallis over the allegation he falsely claimed to have witnessed the incident in an email to deputy chief whip, John Randall, who was his MP.

‘Vindication’

PC Wallis has been charged and is required to attend Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 16 December 2013.

The CPS said there were “no independent accounts” of what was said at the Downing Street gates on 19 September 2012 and analysis of CCTV footage had not provided sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution, as there had been no sound recording.

Continue reading the main story

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The simple truth is that there are five officers facing either discipline or prosecution, that doesn’t happen for nothing in the Metropolitan Police, and that’s why it’s a stitch-up”

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David Davis
Conservative MP and friend of Andrew Mitchell

Mrs Saunders said the leak of the gate officer’s email account of what happened, by a colleague unconnected to the incident, to the media, was in the public interest.

Following the Downing Street row, the Daily Telegraph published what it called a police log of the incident – but a Channel 4 investigation appeared to cast doubt on the officers’ account when it revealed CCTV footage showed there was not a large group of tourists outside the main gate at the time as had originally been claimed.

However the CPS statement on Tuesday said the programme “showed edited footage that was less than clear in a number of regards”.

Camera footage

Channel 4 said it stood by its investigation, saying: “The CCTV footage was obtained by Andrew Mitchell from Downing Street and provided to Dispatches and Channel 4 News.”

“The footage as broadcast for the first time on December 18 2012 was not edited by the production team to change or alter the sequence of events. Furthermore, the three camera angles that we were provided with were image-matched frame by frame to confirm their veracity.”

The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, and which used the “Plebgate” incident in its publicity campaign against government cuts, said it “welcomed” the CPS decision, adding it has always been concerned by “selected information that has been put into the public domain”.

But Tory MP David Davis, a close ally of Mr Mitchell, said the CPS and IPCC announcements were “pretty much a vindication” of his position.

“The simple truth is that there are five officers facing either discipline or prosecution, that doesn’t happen for nothing in the Metropolitan Police, and that’s why it’s a stitch-up,” he told BBC News.

David Cameron’s official spokesman declined to comment on the CPS decisions but the prime minister has always made clear that he has “high regard” for the police officers who protect Downing Street, added the spokesman.

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