Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

'Plebgate' probe costs £144,000

Andrew Mitchell denies the allegation that he called the officers 'plebs'

The police investigation in to the "Plebgate" affair which led to the resignation of former chief whip Andrew Mitchell has cost nearly £150,000, it has emerged.

Scotland Yard launched the inquiry - codenamed Operation Alice - after claims that officers may have lied about the dispute with Mr Mitchell when they refused to let him leave Downing Street on his bike via the main gate in September last year.

It was claimed at the time that Mr Mitchell swore at the officers and called them "plebs". But a subsequent Channel 4 investigation cast doubt on that 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 e-mail from a civilian witness backing up the police account of events has also since been called into question.

Mr Mitchell - who strenuously denies the allegation that he called the officers "plebs" - was forced to resign after a series of damaging headlines.

In a letter from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan, who is leading the investigation, to Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, it was disclosed the cost of the police investigation had reached £144,000.

DAC Gallan wrote: "It remains that I have 30 officers at my disposal and the Operation Alice is estimated to have cost £144,000 to date. Four people have been arrested and no individual is currently charged. The advice file submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service by the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) has specifically asked for advice and guidance surrounding the future of the investigation in relation to potential criminal charges."

Last week, a letter from Deborah Glass at the Independent Police Complaints Commission to Mr Mitchell disclosed the CPS was now considering whether anybody should be charged in relation to the incident.

Ms Glass's letter revealed the extent of the investigation so far. Detectives have taken 740 statements, 44 of which have been described as "key", as well as interviewed seven police officers and one member of the public under caution. In total, 133 exhibits and 93 documents will be reviewed by prosecutors.

In a short statement, Mr Vaz said: "We look forward to seeing DAC Gallan when her investigation is completed."

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