A police force has been accused of an 11th-hour cover-up over claims officers lied to discredit MP Andrew Mitchell as the Plebgate scandal continued to escalate today.
As the new allegations emerged, West Midlands crime commissioner Bob Jones called for the police watchdog to be scrapped while David Cameron has said the former chief whip should get an apology.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission this week said three officers should have faced misconduct hearings for lying about what Mr Mitchell said in a private meeting about the ‘Plebgate’ row.
But last night, IPCC deputy chairman Deborah Glass claimed that an internal investigation by West Mercia Police was altered at the last minute to clear them of misconduct. In a letter copied to the Home Secretary, Miss Glass said: “We had no concerns about the quality of the investigation carried out by West Mercia Police. It was the conclusion we disagreed with.
“I note that in the first draft report submitted to the IPCC in July the senior investigating officer did in fact conclude there was a case to answer for misconduct. The final report in August, did not.”
Mr Mitchell met the three Police Federation representatives after he was accused of calling officers guarding Downing Street ‘plebs’ in a foul-mouthed rant as he was asked to cycle through the main gates in September last year. The officers were accused of deliberately misrepresenting what he said during the meeting in his Sutton Coldfield constituency office last October when they gave interviews afterwards.
The IPCC questioned the ‘honesty and integrity’ of Inspector Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones and concluded that the Police Federation representatives should have faced a misconduct panel.
Police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands Bob Jones believes the IPCC should be scrapped in the wake of the row.
West Mercia Police conducted an internal investigation into claims the three officers were trying to discredit Mr Mitchell but concluded there was no case to answer.
But Mr Jones said the IPCC deputy chairman had given them a ‘trial by media’ by making the claims this week.
He said: “I do think the IPCC should be abolished and moved to a genuinely independent body that will look after the wider public interest.”
However, Prime Minister David Cameron insisted Mr Mitchell was owed an apology by police and said the conduct of the officers, who were representing the forces of West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands, was ‘not acceptable’.