Just when you thought it was safe to ride your bike quietly through the gates of Downing Street he’s back!
He, and his buddies in the Conservatives are relying on CCTV footage, supplied by 10 Downing Street, to confuse us all into believing his alleged altercation with police officers never happened after all.
‘Look’, they are saying, ‘it was all a conspiracy by officers from the Metropolitan Police Force.’
Mitchell’s mates are basing their hopes on the lack of people seen in the CCTV footage and the arrest of a ‘witness’ to the incident, who subsequently turned out to be an off duty police officer.
Mr Mitchell has already denied calling the officers ‘plebs’, after they refused him permission to ride his bike through the main gate of Downing Street. However, he is yet to clarify which of the arrogant remarks recorded in the official police log, he did make (he has already admitted he swore at the officers).
Watching the footage today, it seems he spent almost forty nine seconds by the gates speaking to the officers, before being seen exiting through the pedestrian gate as requested. It seems reasonable to assume, they were not discussing police pay and conditions, or the state of the road surface. Forty nine seconds would be plenty of time for the incident to have occurred as reported by the police.
Two questions need immediate answers:
- Why did Downing Street officials take so long after Mitchell’s resignation to view the footage from the CCTV.
- Why are they releasing it now? After all, it isn’t very clear what was really happening given the angle of the cameras; it only creates more smoke to cloud the original police claims.
“I also hope people understand that there is more to this than meets the eye. I’m afraid I’m constrained in explaining that. I hope that when people hear the full story they will support what we’ve done.”
“there’s nothing I have seen … that causes me to doubt that original account” of the officers who were on duty at the time.”
They are pretty strong words from someone who’s force is effectively being accused of orchestrating a political conspiracy.
Perhaps the best comment, however, was from the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson who wrote:
There are many who, I know, are sick of the story of “plebgate” or who long ago took the view that, whatever words Andrew Mitchell actually used, the minister behaved in a way that no member of the public would get away with.
The reason I believe it matters is that this row is now about the power of politicians, the police and the press – the issues which, you may recall, triggered the Leveson inquiry.
The Truth Is Out There!
Photograph courtesy of Dispatches/Channel 4 News