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Plebgate: IPCC Questions Police 'Honesty'
Home Secretary Theresa May has said a police watchdog statement over a meeting between officers and Andrew Mitchell "makes troubling reading".
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has questioned the "honesty and integrity" of officers who held a key meeting with Mr Mitchell before he resigned.
It said a new inquiry should decide whether the three officers lied to try to discredit the former Tory chief whip.
Deputy IPCC chair Deborah Glass disagreed with West Mercia Police, who earlier ruled the Police Federation representatives had no case to answer.
She claimed officers at the summit were motivated by an "anti-cuts campaign" and knew their actions would put huge pressure on Mr Mitchell.
However, she added that she was powerless to launch misconduct proceedings because the senior Tory had chosen not to make a formal complaint.
Mr Mitchell welcomed her response but said he and his family were still waiting "in vain" for an apology from the officers involved.
The meeting was held in last October as the MP battled to keep his job after being accused of calling Downing Street police "****ing plebs".
Inspector Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones were accused of using interviews to deliberately misrepresent what he said.
An investigation by West Mercia Police concluded their comments had contributed to pressure on Mr Mitchell and his decision to quit but ruled they should not face action.
But Ms Glass said: "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 Metropolitan Police 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 naive or poor professional judgement.
"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."
She added: "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 focused on Mr Mitchell's 'version of events'."
Mr Mitchell said there should be "considerable public concern" that the officers involved would face no disciplinary action for their behaviour.
He said: "The meeting was demonstrably held under false pretences and its outcome, a call for my resignation, was almost certainly pre-determined.
"The inconvenient truth that I gave a full explanation of what happened was not allowed to get in the way of that agenda.
"I flatly reject the conclusion of the police that 'there was no deliberate intention to lie' and I welcome the statement from Deborah Glass disagreeing with that conclusion and holding that the officers should have been made the subject of disciplinary proceedings."
He added: "My family and I have waited nearly a year for these Police Officers to be held to account and for an apology from the Police Forces involved. It seems we have waited in vain."
However, the Police Federation attacked the IPCC and expressed its shock at what it called a "personal outburst" by Ms Glass.
It pointed out that the watchdog had chosen to supervise the police force's own investigation rather than stage its own independent or managed inquiry.
"We are therefore shocked that the IPCC Commissioner, Deborah Glass, would then appoint herself judge and jury by releasing her personal view that she disagrees with the findings and asks the public to decide," it said.
It added: "Either the IPCC are capable of supervising investigations or they are not. If they feel that they are capable of doing so, having had the opportunity to monitor and provide input into the process, the proper and responsible course must be to accept the investigation findings .
"The public are seeing more of this type of personal outburst from an individual within a supposedly regulated and process driven body.
"This cannot be seen as acting in the public interest or being 'independent' - it is the action of someone who feels that their personal view should carry more weight than a full investigation which their own organisation supervised throughout."
Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Midlands Police insisted it did not believe there was sufficient evidence to stage misconduct proceedings.
"Our view is that the officers have demonstrated poor judgement in arranging and attending the meeting in the first place. In light of this, our position is that management action is a proportionate response," a spokesman said.