UK & World News
Plebgate Police: 'We Have Done Nothing Wrong'
Three police officers at the centre of a row over comments they made in the "Plebgate" row have told MPs they did not intend to mislead the public.
Inspector Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones appeared together at the Home Affairs Select Committee.
They have been accused of trying to discredit Andrew Mitchell after a meeting with the then Tory chief whip in his Sutton Coldfield constituency.
The three, who were representing the Police Federation, had claimed he had refused to give a full account of his altercation with officers at the Downing Street gates a month earlier.
Det Sgt Hinton told MPs he and his colleagues apologised for "poor judgement" in speaking to the media after the meeting but stopped short of apologising to the politician.
Insp MacKaill told the committee they did not "accept that this is a case of gross misconduct", as suggested by the deputy chair of Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) Deborah Glass in her evidence.
Sgt Jones said: "I'm not convinced we have done anything wrong."
Their evidence came after the officer who conducted an internal inquiry into comments made by the three officers said Mr Mitchell deserves an apology.
Chief Inspector Jerry Reakes-Williams told MPs he felt comments by Police Federation representatives had caused the public to be "misled".
He said he felt the trio should still face disciplinary action over accounts they gave of a meeting with the Tory chief whip last October, shortly before he quit.
Giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, he said: "I did find a case to answer for misconduct and that's still my view."
Although he insisted he did not believe the three officers had lied, when asked if Mr Mitchell was owed an apology, he said: "Certainly I do."
He added: "I think the result was that the public were misled but I do not think it was a deliberate attempt to mislead."
Mr Reakes-Williams was the first witness at a tense committee session looking at the affair, which has now rumbled on for more than a year.
He told MPs he understood his chief constable may still consider disciplinary action.
Mr Reakes-Williams, who handles professional standards for Warwickshire and West Mercia police, originally wrote a report recommending they face action.
His conclusions were later overruled by senior officers and it was decided the three had no case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct.
But a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) last week questioned their "honesty and integrity".
Ms Glass told the committee that she was "absolutely astonished" when a final report came back from the three forces recommending that the officers had no case to answer.
She went on: "Nothing gave me any concern until I saw that final report on August 28 which concluded no case to answer. Until that point I had no inkling that this was going to be anything other than at least misconduct, and I expected gross misconduct."
David Cameron and the Home Secretary Theresa May have led calls for the officers to say sorry since the watchdog issued its findings.
Mr Mitchell has always admitted arguing with Downing Street police last September but denies calling officers "plebs" during the altercation.
The MP claims he has been smeared in a bid to "toxify" the Conservatives and ruin his career.
The affair has escalated into an issue about trust in the police as a whole and prompted calls for officers to be constantly recorded.
Prosecutors are currently considering whether to bring criminal charges after a Scotland Yard investigation costing at least £230,000.
Eight people including five police officers arrested as part of the probe are currently on bail.