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Plebgate Police Officer To Sue Andrew Mitchell
The police officer at the centre of the Plebgate row is to sue the former chief whip Andrew Mitchell, according to Sky News sources.
Lawyers for PC Rowland yesterday sent a letter to Mr Mitchell in which the officer said he would be taking libel action against the Tory MP following comments made in the fall-out from the Downing Street incident.
PC Rowland and Mr Mitchell became involved in a heated row at the Downing Street exit over whether the MP could leave through a gate on his bicycle on September 19 last year.
The officer has maintained Mr Mitchell called him a "f****** pleb", a charge Mr Mitchell has always denied and which led him to resign from his role as chief whip.
The Crown Prosecution Service last week cleared PC Rowland of any wrongdoing, the Director of Public Prosecution, Alison Saunders, saying in a statement: " ... we have found that there is insufficient evidence to show that the officer at the gate lied in his account."
However, in a press conference after the CPS announcement, Mr Mitchell accused PC Rowland of lying, when he wrote the pleb phase in his notebook.
He said: "Police Constable Toby Rowland, who was responsible for writing these toxic phrases into his notebook, was not telling the truth."
Sky's Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt said that PC Rowland had already been planning to sue Mr Mitchell for defaming him before the press conference, but that this had crystallised in recent days.
He said that he expected the expensive libel action would in part be funded by the Police Federation.
MP David Davis, a close political ally of Mr Mitchell, said: "We have been trying to get Pc Toby Rowland into the witness box to face the evidence and cross-examination under oath, and if this law suit by any means accelerates that, so be it."
Last week the CPS announced that PC Keith Wallis, a member of the Metropolitan Police Diplomatic Protection Group, had been charged with misconduct in a public office over the incident at Downing Street last year.
The officer is accused of sending an email to the deputy chief whip, John Randall, who was his MP, falsely claiming that he had witnessed the incident and then arranging for his nephew to support his false claims.
Separately, the Independent Police Complaints Commission announced that PC Wallis and four other police officers, all from the Metropolitan Police Diplomatic Protection Group, will now face gross misconduct disciplinary proceedings. All five of them could lose their jobs.
After the announcement Mr Mitchell claimed CCTV footage of the incident supported his claim he had been "stitched up" by police, despite the fact that experts had told CPS that Mr Mitchell might have had time to use the words he is said by PC Rowland to have used.
During the incident, PC Rowland said Mr Mitchell shouted at him: "You should know your f****** place, you don't run this f****** government, you're f****** plebs," the CPS statement says.
However, Mr Mitchell claimed he said: "I thought you guys were supposed to f****** help us."
Speaking at the press conference last week, Mr Mitchell, said the decision not to focus on PC Rowland let investigators centre on less important issues.
"This has allowed the inquiry to focus on the secondary issues rather than the incendiary fact that armed police officers ... have stitched up one of those they are supposed to protect," he said.
He also said he was taking libel action against the Sun newspaper and that he expected PC Rowland would be called to give evidence in court as part of that case.