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Tory Mitchell faces huge bill as he loses plebgate libel trial

By Jan Colley

A High Court judge has decided that former Government chief whip Andrew Mitchell did call Pc Toby Rowland a "pleb" because the officer did not have the "wit, imagination or inclination" to invent it.

Mr Justice Mitting said he had reached the "firm conclusion" that the 58-year-old MP used the "politically-toxic" word in Downing Street that evening in September 2012 when he was not allowed to cycle through the main vehicle gates.

Mr Mitchell, who resigned as whip a month after the altercation, vehemently denied during his two-week libel action against News Group Newspapers (NGN) that he had said: "Best you learn your f****** place - you don't run this f****** government - you're f****** plebs."

He said he would never call a policeman a pleb "let alone a f****** pleb", although he agreed he muttered audibly under his breath "I thought you lot were supposed to f****** help us" - but not directed at the officer.

But the judge said the MP was not in a state of mind that evening either to measure his words carefully. He was satisfied that he did lose his temper and it was part of common experience of life that loss of temper could lead both to loss of inhibition in speaking and recollection of what was said.

"It follows that his adamant denial of uttering the words alleged is not of itself determinative of the issues."

He concluded: "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."

Rejecting the claim that there was collusion by the officers on duty, he said that 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".

The costs of the entire litigation were unofficially estimated at £3 million by court sources. Mr Mitchell was ordered to pay interim costs of £300,000.

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