Andrew Mitchell was forced to resign as the Tory Chief Whip last autumn because he called policemen at the Downing Street gates ‘plebs’.
Then it turned out, as I suggested at the time, that he had not done so. It emerged that there was a conspiracy — quite how deep has not yet been made public — by police and accomplices to attribute to Mr Mitchell words which he did not speak. People pretending to be by-standing members of the public said how shocked they were by Mr Mitchell’s remarks, and then it turned out that no bystanders had been within earshot of whatever it was that Mr Mitchell had said. Eventually, there was an investigation. Last week, two more people were arrested, bringing the total to eight (five police officers and three members of the public). The investigation will produce disciplinary action within the police and probably criminal charges as well, but it is ludicrously slow.
No one now denies Mr Mitchell’s innocence of all the accusations, but he remains in political limbo. Surely David Cameron should put him back in the cabinet in his next reshuffle, possibly in the International Development job which he loved so much. Not only would his reinstatement be personally deserved: it would also demonstrate that false accusations cannot destroy careers, and will therefore make future ones less likely.
This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator’s Notes in this week’s magazine. Click here to read for free with a trial of The Spectator app for iPad and iPhone. You can also subscribe with a free trial on the Kindle Fire.
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.