One of the police officers caught up in the Plebgate row has been referred to a watchdog as a new investigation into the affair was launched.
West Midlands Police said it had ‘voluntarily’ referred Sergeant Chris Jones to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for allegedly misleading the Home Affairs Select Committee when he gave evidence to MPs last month by not telling them of his past disciplinary record.
He had originally been called up with Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton from Warwickshire Police and West Mercia inspector Ken MacKaill to explain their actions in calling for former government chief whip Andrew Mitchell to resign.
The three men had met with the Sutton Coldfield MP last October to clear the air following the dispute over allegations that Mr Mitchell had called a Downing Street officer a ‘pleb’.
- Watch the meeting on the Parliament Live website here
- Plebgate row hugely damaging for image of West Midlands Police, admits chief
- Blog: Sorry is no longer good enough in Plebgate affair
They had claimed he had refused to tell them what had happened but a recording of the meeting revealed Mr Mitchell had answered their questions. Yesterday Sgt Jones appeared before MPs again, alongside Det Sgt Hinton.
Sgt Jones told the committee he had misunderstood a question about whether any of the officers had faced disciplinary action in the past. “I do not believe that my answers misled the committee. If however I failed to recognise the meaning of the questions I was asked then I apologise,” he said.
He did not previously tell the committee he had faced 13 complaints in the past – two of which resulted in management advice being given. They related to one claim involving use of force when he pushed someone in the back while off-duty, and another was about performance of duties when he submitted wrong CCTV video.
Reading from a statement, Det Sgt Hinton and Sgt Jones told the committee: “Each of us fully recognises and regrets the fact that such distress has been caused. Our position so far as our meeting with Mr Mitchell is concerned has not changed.”
Sgt Jones told the committee: “I can’t apologise for something I haven’t done, but I do regret the disproportionate distress it has caused his family.”
The committee recalled Det Sgt Hinton after he denied referring to Home Secretary Theresa May as ‘that woman’ during the meeting with Mr Mitchell in Sutton Coldfield. However yesterday he accepted he did use the words after listening to the recording of the meeting.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it will hold its own investigation into the claims the two officers gave misleading evidence to the committee.
In a statement on its website West Midlands Police said: “West Midlands Police has today voluntarily referred Sergeant Chris Jones to the IPCC for allegedly misleading the Home Affairs Select Committee on October 23.”