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Ruling due on 'Plebgate' libel case


Former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell sued News Group Newspapers

Former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell sued News Group Newspapers

Former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell sued News Group Newspapers

A judge will rule on the High Court libel actions involving former Government chief whip Andrew Mitchell and Pc Toby Rowland.

After listening to two weeks of evidence from 26 witnesses and considering volumes of documents, Mr Justice Mitting will state his conclusions about their 15-second exchange in Downing Street on the evening of September 19 2012, which became notorious as "Plebgate".

Mr Mitchell says that The Sun's story about the incident, which News Group Newspapers (NGN) says is substantially true, meant he was guilty of launching a grossly offensive and arrogant attack at officers who would not let him cycle through the vehicle gates, branding them "f****** plebs".

The 58-year-old MP for Sutton Coldfield denies that he said the words attributed to him by Pc Rowland: "Best you learn your f****** place - you don't run this f****** government - you're f****** plebs."

Mr Mitchell, who resigned as chief whip a month after the incident, told the judge in London: "I did not say those words. I would never call a policeman a pleb, let alone a f******* pleb."

He accepts he muttered under his breath but audibly: "I thought you lot were supposed to f****** help us", but not at the officer.

Pc Rowland, who is with the Met's Diplomatic Protection Group, claims that members of the public were shocked when Mr Mitchell swore at him, prompting him to give a warning under the Public Order Act.

He denies his account was an invention to justify giving a Cabinet minister a warning, maintaining that he recorded exactly what happened.

He has, in turn, sued Mr Mitchell - maintaining that statements the MP made from December 2012 falsely suggested that he had fabricated his allegations.

At this stage, the judge is only concerned with the meaning of the words complained of and whether they were substantially true.

Police in London released CCTV footage on September 1 of an incident that led to the resignation of the British government’s chief whip in 2012. Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell was alleged to have used expletives and to have called police officers “plebs” after they refused to allow him to cycle out the main gate of Downing Street. He admitted to swearing, but has denied using the word “plebs”. In the footage, Mitchell can be seen approaching the gate from 1.05. Credit: London Metropolitan Police

Apart from Mr Mitchell's resignation, the fall-out from the affair included the criminal conviction of one officer for misconduct in public office and disciplinary proceedings leading to the dismissal of three other officers.