So Andrew Mitchell is going to pursue his fight with the police over the ‘plebgate’ row, even though the Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence to suggest the officer who claimed Andrew Mitchell called him a pleb was lying.
The former Conservative chief whip told a press conference this afternoon that not only is he pursuing his libel action against The Sun newspaper, but that he will use this opportunity in court to force PC Toby Rowland, the officer who wrote the account of the altercation that involved the word ‘pleb’, to give his story under oath. Rowland is not one of the five police officers facing disciplinary action. In a statement at the start of the press conference, Mitchell said:
‘At the start of this episode I was extremely reluctant to suggest that the police had made up this exchange and were not telling the truth. Today we have learned that PC Keith Wallis is being charged with having falsely claimed to have witnessed the incident. I wish now to make clear that Pc Toby Rowland, who was responsible for writing those toxic phrases into his notebook, was not telling the truth. I will seek to say this on oath in a Court of Law and it is our intention to ensure that PC Toby Rowland has similarly to swear his account.’
A number of backbench Conservative MPs attended the press conference to show their support for Mitchell. David Davis gave a presentation of the CCTV footage, entitled ’49 seconds in Downing Street’, which he argued reinforced Mitchell’s case. He said:
‘Today my section of this briefing was originally intended as a reminder of what you already know – the analysis of the CCTV of the critical 49 seconds in Downing Street against the so-called ‘police log’ – in fact an email first published by the Daily Telegraph. After the CPS comments it is perhaps more important than that.
…The video is from three cameras, two inside Downing and one looking down on the FCO building. The timings are synchronised on the Downing Street cameras, but not the FCO one. There is also footage that we do not have, held by the Metropolitan Police from two other cameras. Our lawyer has seen it, however, and it reinforces our case.’
Mitchell says he is pursuing this case not just because of the effect that it has had on him, but because of the number of people who have contacted him claiming they are victims of what he called ‘similar experiences at the hands of the police’. He had hoped that today would be the beginning of the end of the ‘plebgate’ affair. But clearly it is just the beginning of an even lengthier battle.
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