Coffee House

We know Andrew Mitchell was framed. Now, give him his old job back

12 July 2013

10:36 AM

12 July 2013

10:36 AM

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.

GoveThis 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.

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Show comments
  • Terry Field

    What has happened to the plodlets who ‘fitted him up’?
    Promoted probably.

  • paulus

    He should have never put himself in that position, he represents the entire will of millions of people. Every time he talks and act he talks and act on behalf of all those people. It is a responsibility a responsibility he accepteted.And as a conservative you must hold yourself to a higher account. We rightly despise the socialists and the liberals but that can only be justified if we are more honourable, more decent than them. It is not always possible but we must always try.

  • Mike, Dalian

    The story is not really about Mitchell. It is about a police force that is so far out of control that at least five of its members (so far) felt they had the power to stitch up a member of Parliament with impunity. That should be of concern to all of us, independent of our politics or what we might think about Mitchell.

    • Wessex Man

      You are so right and so many of the people passing comment on here seem to forget just how out of control they are. Apart from that sadly Mitchell is one of a bunch of useless bumped up fools who have control of the country and don’t know govern!

      • Mike, Dalian

        Mitchell really is of no concern; he is out of the picture and is not in a position to cause harm to anyone. The Met, on the other hand, are a major concern: if they feel powerful enough launch a conspiracy against the Chief Whip, what chance do mere mortals have, who may find themselves in their sights?

  • chudsmania

    What crap. Mitchell point blank refused to quote what he said to the officers at the time. Something to hide , or did he hire a bad PR advisor ? If he quoted himself from the start , he’d have saved himself bucketloads of trouble.

  • The_Missing_Think

    1000 media headlnes = The Truth.

    Yeah… sure they do.

  • dalai guevara

    Some ministers are ousted because of sheer incompetence (Greening or Lansley spring to mind), others are let go because they are loathed by almost everyone.
    It’s a tough world.

    • Colonel Mustard

      But not for loathed or incompetent Labour ministers eh?

      • telemachus

        I am sure even you applauded the welcome appearance of Gordon at the UN introducing the Pakistani Girl shot innthe head and making a magnificent and brave speech
        Or are you a closet Taliban
        This would not surprise any of us in someone denying the effects of German bullets all those years ago

        • Nick

          I genuinely applaud and admire this young girl and I hope she does well.
          But after she was shot,why was she brought to this country for treatment?
          Why wasn’t she taken to another Asian/Muslim country which have as good medical facilities as the UK has?
          Saudi Arabia for example should have taken her in and allowed her to live there.
          After all,she is a muslim sister.
          Why was a place found for her in a UK school?
          Why are her family here now as well? Presumably receiving benefits?

          • telemachus

            I am proud to host her and her family
            Whatever the cost
            Contrast the small cost with that of the Military Afghanistan debacle

            • Wessex Man

              as am I but who took us into Afghanistan, oh yea, Labour and Iraq, oh yea Labour, who lead us up this one way passage of pain oh yea Labour

            • Fergus Pickering

              Do you know, I agree with you, tele. Nick, you are a bit of an apology for a human being, aren’t you?

              • the viceroy’s gin

                Spoken like a true leftist.

                Call Me Dave couldn’t have said it any better.

            • Nick

              Don’t be so magnanimous because you’re not hosting her,you’re paying for her to stay here like we all are.
              I was just wondering……….is it because she’s a muslim that she has been been brought here?
              Because there are so many non muslim children around the world that need our help and must be just as deserving as Malala.
              I wonder what we should say to those children……..those non muslim children that look at Malala with envious eyes.
              Sorry kids but you ain’t good enough to come here………you ain’t muslim.

        • Fergus Pickering

          What on earth was brave about Brown’s speech? Is he in line for assassination by the Taliban because of it? The girl is brave. he is just bumbling Gordon.

      • dalai guevara

        Oh, I am certain it will be their turn soon.

        • Wessex Man

          Good Lord help us in that case then, Uncle Len and Uncle Bob looking down on us all as we strive away on their five year plans!

  • Nick

    People please help me here.Why did the police seemingly want to stitch up Mr.Mitchell?
    I’m a bit lost regarding this matter.Is it because of the police cuts etc?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …well just have a look at that smirking face, and that wannabe-a-tousled-youth haircut, and that awful pink tie. And then pile all that awfulness on top of a bicycle, and take it out for a spin. See what I mean?

      I mean, didn’t the plods do us all a favor, putting this dweeb out of our misery?

      • edithgrove

        Well, his face has not been his fortune, that’s for sure.

      • Nick

        Yes I agree with you about his looks and another good reason have a go at him is because he’s an MP.
        But why did the police pick on him?

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Well, who really knows? My guess would be that he’s been an arrogant blowhard with them off and on, same as with everybody else, and it finally caught up with him. And once it did, they weren’t going to back down, so it was incumbent upon him to do so, which he was too proud to do. It escalated from there, and became a media event, and all bets are off at that point.

          He needed to defuse this situation, and didn’t. Once TSHTF, the police merely acted as all bureaucracies will, to act collectively to preserve their current station. None of this is surprising, and all of it gives evidence as to why Mitchell is unfit for leadership, that he should so blindly stumble into such a predictable course of events.

          • Wessex Man

            oh come on the “Met Police” were looking to shaft any member of the uppity govenment who were trying to control them.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Well yes, I can accept that there is blame to be placed on them as well. But that gets us back to asking the questions: Who was obligated to defuse the situation? Who would be damaged if it wasn’t defused? Who is the public figure most likely to be damaged by the situation, and who were the faceless bureaucrats who wouldn’t likely be damaged?

              Answer these questions, and then review Mitchell’s stumbling performance against those answers. He’s not fit, clearly.

          • Fergus Pickering

            The police lied in their teeth and got found out. Go straight to jail, plod, do not pass go.

        • ButcombeMan

          “why did the police pick on him?”

          Simply because they could. To enliven their day. Being there is a boring job

          We now know there was no one outside the gates and no greater risk opening the main gate a couple of feet than in opening the side gate a similar distance.

          They were provocative jobsworths, in all likelyhood criminally inclined, dishonest, provocative, jobsworths with a contempt for cyclists in suits, especially MPs cycling in suits.

  • Treebrain

    The central issue is not whether Mitchell is returned to government office, but surely rather whether Bernard Hogan-Howe will retain his position as Metropolitan Police Commissioner give his conduct to date?

    During ‘Plebgate’ he was knighted but he has failed to handle the matter correctly. Staff under his command were actively involved in a deliberate plan to frame a Cabinet minister, subsequently conspired to pervert the course of justice and yet nothing has been done to show that the police consider this to be a serious matter.

    Hogan-Howe took office after both his predecessors were driven from office for malfeasance.

    It is vital that public confidence in the police is restored, most especially at the Met, where the IPCC and the Metropolitan Police Authority have both failed repeatedly to act as a check or balance upon the London force.

    Corruption, collusion and cover-up have become the norm in the Met, Hogan-Howe will have to work very hard indeed if he too is not to be held to account and found wanting!

  • Colonel Mustard

    I have never rated Andrew Mitchell who I dislike but the circumstances of his hounding from public office and the revelations about some of the police officers involved (which have gone suspiciously quiet) were appalling and in very great contrast to the lack of media attention to the brass neck displayed by some disgraced Labour figures.

    Mitchell was hounded for a single word, allegedly uttered, in circumstances the evidence for which might best be described as seriously dodgy. Burnham on the other hand seems to have escaped unscathed from his resisting a public enquiry into suspected corporate manslaughter at Mid-Staffs on the grounds that it might “distract managers” and for the revelations about him and his alleged NHS whitewashing and whistleblower gagging regime reported by New Labour insider Baroness Young. That strikes me as a far more critical and potentially devastating scandal in the public interest.

    If the Burnham allegations had been made against a Tory minister the media reaction would be quite different. There is a terrible bias in the political narrative in the UK today and it is undermining democracy and short changing objectivity and truth.

    • HookesLaw
    • Mynydd

      So now it’s not only the BBC, but also the media (ITN, Sky, The Times, FT, Telegraph, Sun, Independent, and all the other newspapers) that are shielding the Labour party ex-ministers from damaging revelations. I know that on times the media can act as feral pack, but being part of cover-up to protect a Labour Minister for Mid-Staffs, you must be joking

      • Colonel Mustard

        Please go elsewhere and make your own comments. I’m really not interested in your rebuttal duties on behalf of the Labour party. The facts speak for themselves and I am far from being the only one to comment on it. It is not about a cover up by the media but the attention they give in terms of investigative journalism to a suspected cover up by New Labour where the Minister implicated has the potential to serve in a future administration with many unanswered questions surrounding his capability and integrity

        So I am not joking.

    • ArchiePonsonby

      Proving that the Tories are even more useless in government than they were in opposition!

      • Damon

        Unlike the spectacularly successful, fiscally prudent, famously competent, immigration controlling, efficient-IT-project sponsoring, social-mobility-enhancing, inequality-reducing Labour Party, you mean?

  • Austin Barry

    “…possibly in the International Development job which he loved so much..

    Of course, who wouldn’t love to dispense largesse funded by the hardpressed taxpayers to kleptocracies: this year Uganda is due to get £75.2million, Zambia £45.6million and Ghana £44.8million.

    Cameron should scrap Foreign Aid but, of course, being the urbane, languid, patronising, patrician, disconnected chump that he is, he has ring-fenced that particular budget.

    And people wonder why UKIP flourishes?

    • HookesLaw

      Scrapping foreign aid would be an act of self serving insipidity on the altar of crass political expediency. Yes I wonder why UKIP are for it.

      • Mynydd

        My experience having worked on International Development Aid Projects, I would say 50% were a waste of money, the other 50% managed in a most inefficient way. It should also be remembered to a high percentage of UK’s aid money is given to the EU and UN to use as they want, therefore cannot be held to account by parliament. Not all Foreign Aid should be scrapped, just most of it.

        • Barakzai

          Agree. Far too much is spent on costly vanity projects and others that leave the recipients baffled by their relevance. There’d be rich pickings for the Public Accounts Committee’s forensic screwdrivers if it cared to investigate. Trouble is, having committed to spending 0.7% of national wealth (or whatever the exact figure is now) the political imperatives to spend in-year too often produces waste, as you say.

      • Tim Reed

        It’s the refusal to scrap foreign ‘aid’ that is self-serving.

        “Look at us, we’re kind and caring and not at all like the nasty party of old. Don’t hate us, Guardianistas”.

        Easy to be generous and compassionate with other peoples’ money.

  • wobble

    Is he a great loss to public service , and politics in general ..?..heh

    Just put him down as a cost saving !

  • Denis_Cooper

    Nope, if somebody who is well-known is widely reputed to have sworn at the police then you really can’t have him in the government as a kind of role model for other more humble people who may think that it’s OK to swear at the police, and then find out differently to their cost.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Widely reputed? What the heck does that mean in English Common Law?

  • Mynydd

    ” Andrew Mitchell was forced to resign as the Tory Chief Whip” So who forced him? The only person who could force him to resign is the man who give him the job, Mr Cameron. It doesn’t matter who said what, Mr Cameron didn’t have the bottle to stand by his man. Resign or be sacked.

    • Ian Walker

      Cameron DID stand by him on the Friday. It was only after the pressure mounted over the next week that he asked him to resign – the Prime Minister can’t be seen to call the police liars, can he?

      Even if it turns out that they are.

      • ButcombeMan

        Cameron did not stand by him. Cameron had an incompetent investigation carried out by the Cabinet Secretary (plainly the wrong choice-because he lacked the required skills) and Cameron bottled it.

        Yes, it was a minor political crisis but if Cameron could not handle it, it does not bode well.

        As I said here, it was always plain to anyone with an ounce of common sense that MetPol “verballed” Mitchell then the Police Federation members fitted him up (or tried to).

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Mitchell is a metrosexual twirp, with a short fuse, and absent the nous to goodfellow himself out of a tough situation. He’s used to blustering his way around town, much like the rest of the Cameroons, and those types will generally back down and whine when confronted. They’re too thick to realize that they can’t beat the system, when the system lines up against them, as it did here. They can’t exit with grace and wit. They can only bluster.

          These types don’t belong in anybody’s leadership, but the Cameroons are littered with them, which is why they’re failing.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Dearie me. Do you call that an argument? You need more gin. At last two bottles more.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Spoken like a true Cameroonian socialist, blindly supporting proven failures.

              It won’t be long now, lad.

        • HookesLaw

          The Cabinet Secretary as a post has a history of looking into these things. But even going back to the Blunkett affair of the passport application – we see that was investigated by someone as abstract as Sir Alan Budd.
          Budd’s report concluded that there was no evidence that Blunkett had personally interfered in the visa application, but he still resigned.
          There is ample history of many ministers from all parties being hounded out. Your desperation to use this flimsy excuse to attack Cameron is just your own prejudice in action.

          • ButcombeMan


            The investigation was incompetent-just an obvious fact.

            If the Cabinet Secretary lacked the skill-as he plainly did, he should have asked Charles Farr to find him someone competent.

            Pen pushing senior civil servants are not likely to have the skill to investigate bent coppers.

            Even non bent (presumably) coppers are making heavy weather of it.

            • Wessex Man

              as they all do and dear old Hooky is now realising this and getting more and more sad and despondent about, his dream team are shown to be more in-competent as each day goes by.

  • ellubo

    Can’t believe he didn’t ,at least, mutter the word “pleb”. They were plebs anyway for stopping him riding his bike.

    • HookesLaw

      I can believe he didn’t — and they were not plebs they were jobsworths.

      As for all the rest, the spotlight should be on the Police Federation or at least some of its officials. Yet another trade union.

      • ellubo

        I can’t believe he said nothing. ‘Thank you my good man, excellent job, goodnight” perhaps…

        • HookesLaw

          No doubt he said something in exasperation at the policeman. And no doubt it deserved some kind of apology, but it probably should have rested there.

  • JamesdelaMare

    There is a very fine line between calling a policeman a pleb to his face, and merely referring to a policeman as a pleb while he’s standing beside you. It’s remarkable that so many highly placed people have had to spend so much time and effort arguing about the details of this when the real point is that people are fed up with the arrogance and limitations of career politicians and much of the parasitical, self-serving system of government – as well as its supporting media. Most people, I am quite sure, would be glad never to hear of Mitchell again in their lives.

    • HookesLaw

      Everyone’s got in in for you haven’t they.

    • Fergus Pickering

      The real point is no such thing. The real point is that so many policemen lied. I have known that policemen and women lie like troopers for many years. However, I do not think we should let them get away with it. Mr Mitchell has been the victim of an injustice. If you think that oesn’t matter just because you don’t like it then your pinion on anything at all is of no value.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Might as well. The Cameroons are on a kamikaze path, and this would help them along on it.

    It’s amusing what you bubble denizens think is important.

    • HookesLaw

      Stop making it up as you go along – you look foolish.

      • Wessex Man

        What’s he making up Hooky, the in-competence is on regular display and the only reason they may look halfway decent is the opposition of Ed & Ed & Harperson!

        • HookesLaw

          Cobblers. You try governing the country. Look at every country round the world.
          its just crass bigotry all as usual.

          • Wessex Man

            Cobblers yourself, the trouble with this country is that far too many people like you have run it into the ground!