Over the past thirteen months since the ‘plebgate’ row broke over Andrew Mitchell and subsequently broke the then chief whip’s career, a number of pieces entitled or themed ‘Andrew Mitchell: An apology’ have appeared here and there as more has come to light about the allegations levelled at Mitchell. In most cases the writers accept that an initial op-ed or blog that they penned about his alleged behaviour wasn’t, with the benefit of hindsight and more information, correct. None have been quite so striking as the statement released this afternoon by the three Police Federation officers who met Mitchell after the allegations surfaced. Here is the statement from Inspector Ken MacKaill of West Mercia Police, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton of Warwickshire Police and Sergeant Chris Jones from West Midlands Police:
‘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 we 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 our poor judgement in talking to the media following the meeting with Andrew Mitchell, for which 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 ever plan or intend to mislead anyone about what occurred during this meeting or otherwise.’
This is a funny apology indeed. It doesn’t say sorry for what the officers said – which was ‘he’s continuing to refuse to elaborate on what happened: I think his position is untenable’ – but apologises for talking to the media, and then says the officers never intended to ‘mislead anyone about what occurred during this meeting or otherwise’. You can watch the statement the officers gave after the meeting below:
The chief constables of West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands Police are up before the Home Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday, where they will doubtless by asked by the MPs in the room why on earth their colleagues issued the sort of non-apology that you’d normally hear from a politician, not a policeman.
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