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'Plebgate' pair set for showdown

The stage has been set for a dramatic court showdown after both Andrew Mitchell and the police officer at the heart of the Plebgate row insisted they are ready to swear on oath that they are telling the truth.

Pc Toby Rowland issued a statement standing by his version of the infamous encounter in Downing Street last year after the former Cabinet minister branded him a liar and complained of a "stitch up".

Following news that one police officer will be charged with misconduct in a public office over the affair and four others face disciplinary action, Mr Rowland said: "This has now been thoroughly investigated and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has confirmed there is insufficient evidence to take any criminal proceedings against me.

"In addition, neither am I subject to any disciplinary proceedings. I confirm that I am prepared to give evidence under oath if required."

The Sun newspaper, which is being sued by Mr Mitchell over its coverage of the row, said: "The CPS today concluded that it was in the public interest for the events at the gate of Downing Street to be made public.

"The Sun will be defending Mr Mitchell's libel action on the basis that our original story was true and published in the public interest."

The confrontation between then-chief whip Mr Mitchell and officers in September last year was sparked when he was refused permission to cycle through the main gate.

Mr Rowland, who was manning the gate, claims he used the words: "You should know your f****** place, you don't run this f****** government, you're f****** plebs."

However, the MP insists he said: "I thought you guys were supposed to f******help us".

The CPS said Pc Keith Wallis would be charged with misconduct in public office over claims he sent an email to the deputy chief whip, John Randall, who was his MP, wrongly claiming that he had seen what happened in Downing Street last year.

But there was insufficient evidence to bring any charges against the officer at the gate, or a fellow constable who leaked an email giving his account of what had happened.

"We have considered all of the evidence in this case, including previously unseen, unedited CCTV footage from Downing Street, not referred to by the media," Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said.

"Taking it all into account, including the accounts of the officer at the gate of Downing Street and that of Andrew Mitchell MP before, during and after the incident, we have found that there is insufficient evidence to show that the officer at the gate lied in his account.

"The CPS has also found that there is insufficient evidence to show that Mr Mitchell was the victim of a conspiracy of misinformation."

Deborah Glass from watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission agreed that the detail of the conversation could not be proved either way.

"The officer concerned says he was not familiar with the word 'pleb' prior to the incident. His record of the words used was contemporaneous. Mr Mitchell has denied using that word. I do not think this can be proven one way or another," she said.

However, four other colleagues will face gross misconduct proceedings over the row, meaning they could face the sack.

In an explosive press conference and a round of broadcast interviews, Mr Mitchell insisted he would continue his efforts to prove what really happened.

He said he hoped the officer would give evidence on oath as part of the libel proceedings against the Sun.

"I have told the truth about this incident. The police did not. My reputation was destroyed. I was vilified, relentlessly," he said.

Mr Mitchell told Channel 4 News: "What I do know is that I was stitched up; I was fitted up in Downing Street by armed police officers whose sole duty is to defend officials and to defend Downing Street."

"We believe that the CCTV shows that the account of PC Toby Rowland is at very best inaccurate.

"I never said these phrases... no one speaks like that these days. It's like a Hooray Henry, a lout from a 1920's B-movie being sort of characterised.

"These phrases are completely untrue and the point is that I believe I've managed to show that there should be very grave doubt about the way that I was treated.

"The Crown Prosecution Service can only act on the basis of the evidence they are given by the police, but let's be very clear about this, I am not making any accusations against the CPS or the IPCC or the cabinet office. What I am saying is I was stitched up by dishonest police officers in Downing Street last year. I lay the blame on the police."


From Belfast Telegraph