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Tories 'stoking up plebgate row'

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone has accused Tories of "stoking up" the "plebgate" row.

The comments came after an officer pleaded guilty to pretending to have witnessed the notorious spat between police and ex-chief whip Andrew Mitchell in Downing Street.

Pc Keith Wallis, 53, admitted misconduct in public office after writing an email to his local MP giving a version of the controversial events.

Mr Livingstone said some officers had "overreacted" to the episode in 2012 and would be punished.

But the former Labour MP told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think what the Tories do not understand, all this outrage, for members of the public it is not that he used the pleb word, it is that he used the 'F' word.

"Here is a Cabinet minister coming out of 10 Downing Street and swearing at the officers who put their lives on the line every day."

He went on: "They (police) are not as trusted as they were, but I have to tell you they are much more trusted than politicians or members of the Cabinet.

"What is bizarre is the amount of effort the Tory party is putting into stoking all of this up."

Tory backbencher Michael Ellis insisted Mr Mitchell had sworn in the presence of officers rather than at them, and denied the issue was party political.

"The reality of the matter is I have spoken to police officers, rank and file police officers, who are absolutely appalled by this," he said. "This is a matter that transcends political boundaries."

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