A now retired police constable who witnessed the Plebgate altercation between Andrew Mitchell and police outside 10 Downing Street has backed up The Sun’s version of events.
Former chief whip Mitchell is currently suing The Sun for libel over a front-page story in which it reported that he called officers ‘fucking plebs’. Mitchell denies using the word plebs and the case looks set to go to trial – with both sides showing no sign of giving way.
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The Times reports that only PC Toby Rowland knows exactly what Mitchell said to him on 19 September 2012. Rowland is counter-suing Mitchell for libel over allegations that he made up his account of the incident.
The senior officer on the scene PC Richardson, now retired, was nearby and he told The Times that Rowland immediately recounted the exchange to him saying that Mitchell said to him: “Best learn your fuckng place . . . you lot don’t run this fucking government . . . You’re fucking plebs.”
Channel 4 News later revealed that a PC Keith Wallis sent an email to a senior Tory official wrongly claiming that he had witnessed the incident. Earlier this week Wallis was jailed for a year for misconduct in a public office.
While condemning the actions of PC Wallis, and those who leaked the police log of the incident to the press, Richardson told The Times that Mitchell was “officious, rude and extremely irritated”.
Five officers from the Diplomatic Protection Group are facing internal tribunals accused of gross misconduct.
The Times said that former PC Richardson contacted the paper in the wake of the conviction of PC Wallis and that he had not sought, or been given, any payment.