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Email tells of pre-plebgate clash


Former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell outside his north London home

Former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell outside his north London home

Former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell outside his north London home

Police officers complained that former chief whip Andrew Mitchell repeatedly insisted on cycling through the gates of Downing Street, contravening security rules, in the days before the so-called "plebgate" incident, according to a leaked email.

The Times said the email was written the day before Mr Mitchell's infamous confrontation with officers guarding the street by a constable seeking advice from his superiors on how to handle his demands.

The officer was said to have complained that Mr Mitchell "keeps requesting to leave Downing Street via the main vehicle gates" and was "adamant he WAS GOING THROUGH THOSE GATES".

Mr Mitchell was forced to resign last year after it was reported that he had repeatedly sworn at officers and called them "plebs" after they insisted he wheeled his bicycle through a side gate - a claim he has always denied.

Evidence subsequently emerged casting doubt on the police version and last week a serving officer was jailed for fabricating an account of the incident.

The email obtained by The Times, dated September 19, potentially casts new light on the incident, suggesting that Mr Mitchell had had previous disagreements with officers over the issue.

The author is said to have written: "It has been 'brought to my attention' that a certain cyclist who is now the Government Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, keeps requesting to leave the front of Downing Street via the main vehicle gates.

"When he was initially denied this, he went on to say 'I am the Government Chief Whip and I will be leaving via these gates. I have been in and out of these gates three times today and I will be leaving this way, thank you'."

The officer said that "as it was quite late and quiet" and "in order not to create embarrassment" to himself or the Diplomatic Protection Group, Mr Mitchell had on that occasion been allowed to leave through one of the main gates.

The officer went on to request advice from people "of much higher rank or standing", adding: "Do we stand our ground (but have the backing of yourself if something comes of it in the future... or do we allow him (only) to use the main gates for his arrivals and departures at all times?"

In response to the report, Mr Mitchell told the Press Association: "While I was chief whip I cycled in and out through the main gates of Downing Street on the way to Parliament on many occasions.

"There are pictures on the internet of another Cabinet minister doing precisely the same thing."