IPCC disagrees with findings of West Mercia investigation into conduct of Police Federation representatives over a meeting with Andrew Mitchell MP
This investigation, which was supervised by the IPCC, sought to establish whether Police Federation representatives from West Mercia, West Midlands and Warwickshire forces, provided false accounts of a meeting they held with Andrew Mitchell MP in October 2012 in order to discredit him. The investigation, which began in January 2013, concluded in July 2013 and the IPCC was provided with the report in August 2013.
Deborah Glass, IPCC Deputy Chair said:
"The allegation against the officers is that they deliberately misrepresented what Mr Mitchell had said during a meeting in his constituency office on 12 October 2012 when they gave media interviews immediately afterwards. The context is extremely important. On that day - the week after the Conservative Party conference at which Federation members were seen wearing 'PC Pleb' t-shirts - it was well known, and must have been well known to the officers, that Mr Mitchell was under pressure to resign his post as Government Chief Whip.
"It was clear that the parties had very different agendas for the meeting. Mr Mitchell saw it as an attempt to clear the air, while the officers focussed on Mr Mitchell's "version of events" - i.e. what happened in the Downing Street incident on 19 September when Mr Mitchell was alleged to have called police officers "f***ing plebs". The officers repeatedly point to the "discrepancy between the two accounts" and the integrity implications this has - not on Mr Mitchell, but on the MPS officer. They repeatedly assert that as a result of Mr Mitchell's account the Metropolitan Police officer's "integrity is no longer intact". Yet despite their apparent enthusiasm for reporting their MPS colleague for lying, in fact none of the officers do so, but immediately tell the waiting media, in effect, that it is Mr Mitchell's integrity which is in question.
"The investigation by West Mercia Police concluded that although the Police Federation undoubtedly contributed to the pressure on Mr Mitchell and his decision to resign, none of the officers had a case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct. The investigating officer concluded that while the federation representatives' comments to the media could be viewed as ambiguous or misleading, there was no deliberate intention to lie.
"I disagree. In my view, the evidence is such that a panel should determine whether the three officers gave a false account of the meeting in a deliberate attempt to support their MPS colleague and discredit Mr Mitchell, in pursuit of a wider agenda. In my opinion the evidence indicates an issue of honesty and integrity, not merely naïve or poor professional judgment.
"In the media and political climate of the day I do not consider that the officers could have been in any doubt about the impact of their public statements on the pressure being brought on Mr Mitchell. As police officers they had a responsibility to present a fair and accurate picture. Their motive seems plain: they were running a successful, high profile, anti-cuts campaign and the account that he provided to them did not fit with their agenda.
"Although Mr Mitchell has made his views about the officers' conduct clear he has chosen not to make a formal complaint, therefore the power to direct misconduct proceedings is not open to me in this case. But bearing in mind the role of the IPCC in supervising this investigation and the public interest, I believe it is important to put my disagreement on record, and to set out the evidence so that the public can judge for themselves."
West Mercia Investigation into conduct of Police Federation representatives on 12 October 2012
Transcript of meeting
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