UK & World News
'Plebgate': Police Changed Report Findings
Police investigating the conduct of three officers accused of lying about a meeting with MP Andrew Mitchell altered the findings of the probe, it has been claimed.
A letter obtained by Sky News to police chiefs from Deborah Glass, deputy chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, highlights that the conclusions of West Mercia Police's inquiry changed between the draft report and the final version.
Ms Glass wrote: "I note that in the first draft submitted to the IPCC in July, the senior investigating officer did in fact conclude there was a case to answer for misconduct, although their final report, submitted in August did not."
Mr Mitchell met the Police Federation representatives after he was accused of calling officers guarding Downing Street "plebs" in a foul-mouthed rant as he was stopped from cycling through the main gates on September 19 last year.
But the officers were accused of deliberately misrepresenting what the MP said during the meeting in his Sutton Coldfield constituency office on October 12 last year when they gave interviews immediately afterwards.
In a separate report, backed by Home Secretary Theresa May, the IPCC questioned the "honesty and integrity" of Inspector Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones, and said the trio should have faced misconduct hearings for their actions.
Earlier today, Prime Minister David Cameron insisted Mr Mitchell was owed an apology by police.
He said the conduct of the officers, who were representing the forces of West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands, was "not acceptable" and repeated Home Secretary Theresa May's call for an investigation.
The Home Affairs Select Committee's chairman Keith Vaz raised the row with Mr Cameron in the Commons, saying the IPCC report was "damning".
The PM said: "What's being discussed here is the fact that ... the former chief whip had a meeting with Police Federation officers in his committee where he gave a full account of what had happened, they left that meeting and claimed he had given them no account at all.
"Fortunately this meeting was recorded so he has been able to prove that what he said was true and what the police officers said was untrue.
"He is owed an apology, the conduct of these officers was not acceptable, these things should be properly investigated, as the Home Secretary has said."
Chief Constable David Shaw, of West Mercia Police, has been summoned to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on the issue.
However, in a joint statement with police in Warwickshire and the West Midlands, the force defended its handling of the case.
"Andrew Mitchell MP has never made a complaint to police," it said.
"West Mercia, with the support of West Midlands and Warwickshire Police, recognising the public interest in this case, independently decided to investigate this incident and made a referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
"We asked for the matter to be independently investigated by the IPCC because we recognise the significant public interest in the matter, however this was declined.
"The IPCC have supervised this investigation throughout and have been invited to reconsider their position on more than one occasion.
"The decisions following this investigation were carefully considered, with the support of appropriate legal advice.
"Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Midlands Police have separately considered the findings of the investigation and all three forces agree on the outcome."
West Midlands Police Commissioner Bob Jones told Sky News said he had not seen conclusive evidence that the officers had lied.
"My job is to ensure there is a proper investigation," he said. "There's been a very thorough investigation supervised by the IPCC."
The original incident, in which Mr Mitchell was accused of getting into a heated argument with officers at the main gates of Downing Street, is the subject of a separate Metropolitan Police investigation, following claims that officers conspired against the politician.
A transcript shows Mr Mitchell apologised for swearing at the police officers but denied using the word "plebs", contradicting the police log of the altercation.
He clung to his Cabinet post as Chief Whip for several weeks despite a huge backlash, but eventually quit in October.