Monday, 24 September 2012


Andrew Mitchell agrees to pay PC Rowland £80,000 in damages for falsely accusing him of lying. Mitchell will also have to pay some or all of Rowland's costs which are still to be determined. More here.

Mr Justice Mitting ruled in the High Court today 27 November 2014 that Andrew Mitchell did use the word 'pleb' and that the account of what he said by PC Toby Rowland was substantially true. 

"I am satisfied at least on the balance of probabilities that Mr Mitchell did speak the words alleged or something so close to them as to amount to the same including the politically toxic word pleb."

Mitchell was suing The Sun newspaper for a September 2012 report in which it alleged he said to police who would not let him ride his bicycle through the vehicle gate 

 "Best you learn your fucking place - you don't run this fucking country - you're fucking plebs."

PC Toby Rowland was present at the time and wrote the words in his notebook. He counter-sued when Mitchell effectively called him a liar who had made the words up. Although Mitchell admitted to using the word 'fucking' he denied using the word 'pleb'. 

But the judge said PC Rowland "was not the sort of man who would have had the wit, imagination or inclination to invent on the spur of the moment an account of what a senior politician had said to him in temper".

Full judgment 

PC Keith Wallis admitted he lied when he gave an account of Andrew Mitchell's confrontation with police at Downing Steet. He was not present. He pleaded guilty in court to misconduct in public office and will be sentenced later.

Evidence is growing that the police fitted up Andrew Mitchell after the incident with his bicycle at Downing Street more than a year ago. Deciding between two competing accounts by a politician and a police officer is always difficult. But clearly the recording of the meeting between Mitchell and the Police Federation three days after the event shows the officers' account of it given immediately afterwards to the press was not correct. When they gave it they did not know Mitchell was recording it. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has criticised the three officers concerned and the lack of disciplinary proceedings against them

At the end of March 2013 Andrew Mitchell issued libel proceedings against the Sun newspaper for its story about these events.

It is the first clause in the newly published verbatim rant of Chief Whip the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP which I find the most offensive. To a police officer doing their job and following the security rules they had been told to follow – ‘Best you learn your f------ place’. Oh dear.

The real damage of this whole episode is, of course, the class one. We rule, you are ruled, oozes from every word. And not because we are elected, just because of who we are. Few things could be more damaging to the present Government.

Of course, Mr Mitchell (as he likes to be addressed) is correct that the police ‘don’t run the f------- Government’, and we would all fight (I hope) to keep it so, even avowed pacifists like me. But, appointed by us and given rules on security to keep our elected members safe, the police officer at that barrier did have the right to tell him which gate he was allowed to use. However annoying those petty rules may be, politicians of all people should follow them. If they want the rules changed then they have the power to make that happen.

And as for ‘you’re all f------- plebs’, that is a word that will haunt Mr Mitchell as long as he is in politics. Because it fits precisely the tone of the rant. In Rome ‘plebeians’ meant the mass of the people as opposed to the patrician class who ruled them. Back to ‘learn your place’. Sorry, ‘learn your fucking place’. I don’t wish to misquote the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP.

Before the apparently full account by the officer was published in The Daily Telegraph dated 25 September, Mr Mitchell said "I am very clear about what I said and what I didn't say and I want to make it absolutely clear that I did not use the words that have been attributed to me." He also apologised again.

The Daily Telegraph account