Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

CPS handed all 'plebgate' evidence

The row ignited when then chief whip Andrew Mitchell was accused of launching a foul-mouthed rant at officers guarding Downing Street as he asked to cycle through the main gates on September 19 last year.

Prosecutors will determine whether charges should be brought over the "plebgate" row after being passed all of the outstanding evidence in the case.

The row ignited when then chief whip Andrew Mitchell was accused of launching a foul-mouthed rant at officers guarding Downing Street as he asked to cycle through the main gates on September 19 last year.

Eight people including five police officers have been arrested as part of the Operation Alice investigation into what happened.

The five constables are from the Diplomatic Protection Group, which is responsible for guarding politicians and foreign dignitaries, and includes a 46-year-old woman present when the row broke out.

Two of the officers - the woman and a man who is also 46 - were arrested over alleged leaks to the media about what happened.

The members of police staff are two women aged 46 and 49 who were arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, and a 23-year-old man who was held in December.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: "We have now received all of the outstanding evidence in this case and are now considering the file to determine whether charges should be brought."

"We aim to make a decision as soon as is reasonably possible."

Mr Mitchell, who resigned in the wake of the incident, declined to comment on the CPS statement.

The Daily Telegraph published a police log of the incident, which claimed that Mr Mitchell called officers ''plebs'' and swore at them repeatedly for making him walk through a side gate.

The former Tory chief whip denied using the language attributed to him and later said he was the victim of a deliberate attempt to ''toxify'' the Tories and ruin his career.

A Channel 4 investigation cast doubt on the officers' account when it revealed CCTV footage which showed there was not a large group of tourists outside the main gate at the time as had originally been claimed.

An email from a civilian witness backing up the police account of events has also been called into question.

The Met has been criticised over the length of the investigation and its £237,000 cost.

London Mayor Boris Johnson this week expressed his frustration at the "unconscionably long time" taken to investigate the incident .

He also said the mental health of one of the officers involved was an "additional factor" in the complex investigation.

Mr Johnson told LBC 97.3 the process was "a source of great frustration" to him, Mr Mitchell and his family and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

Scotland Yard said in a statement: "The MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) has submitted the final supplementary file to the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the Operation Alice investigation.

"An initial file was passed to the CPS on 28 March 2013. However, since that time, three separate pieces of information were provided to the MPS that required further inquiries to be made.

"The final lines of inquiry have now been completed.

"The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is supervising the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards investigation. A copy of the file will be passed to them."

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