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Statement by the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP

1. Now that I am able to speak about these matters I would like first to express my gratitude to my friends, my family, my many constituents in Sutton Coldfield, my staff, my legal team, political colleagues on both sides of the House of Commons and Lords and members of the International Development community who gave me their support and stuck by me throughout a very bleak period.

I would also like to thank those journalists who refused to side with the mob when I was caught between the pincers of the press and the actions of the police for 89 days from 19 September–18 December 2012.

I want to make it clear that I do not believe that the truth of this incident would ever have emerged without the investigations undertaken by Channel 4 - Dispatches.

2. I welcome today’s announcement that charges – criminal and disciplinary- are to be brought against 5 members of the Diplomatic protection Group. A process has now begun which should ensure that justice is done.

But I am speaking out today not so much on behalf of myself and my family, where I am confident we will achieve justice, but much more importantly on behalf of others who may not have been able to fight back against Police misconduct and who have not had the support that I have had. What I say today I say in deep sorrow and not in anger.

I reiterate once again, as I have always made clear, that I was leaving my place of work in Downing Street on 19 September last year when Police on duty chose this occasion to obstruct my exit. In frustration I said “I thought you guys were supposed to fucking help us” – for which I subsequently apologised. I have always made clear that I used Anglo Saxon language in the presence of Police Officers but I did not swear at them

3. The extraordinary length of this Police investigation, conducted at huge and unnecessary public expense, has effectively meandered on for more than a year, into an incident which lasted 49 seconds.

This casts grave doubt on the ability of the Police to investigate wrong-doing in their own ranks.

It is unsatisfactory enough, in normal circumstances, for Police Officers to investigate each other. But in this instance the task was severely compromised when their Commanding Officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, had already comprehensively acquitted his Officers by announcing on the national media that he had “100% confidence” in those Officers who were involved.

4. As is clear from today’s announcement, the Police investigation throughout appears to have focused on the lesser issue of how Police Officers conspired to get a false account of the incident at the gates of Downing Street into the press.

The more important issue is who invented the three lying phrases about plebs and people knowing their place. These appear in the Police Log and were used to destroy my political career and pursue a campaign of opposition to Government plans and policy in respect of Police pay and conditions. These three phrases were used to toxify the Conservative Party and were trumpeted by the Police Federation across at least 4 Police Forces to vilify me as well as to campaign against the elected Government, including turning up at Party Conferences wearing ‘Pleb’ t-shirts. These three phrases attributed to me are completely untrue; they were made up and disseminated by a police officer.

5. I turn now to the CCTV footage of the incident. In a moment David Davis will take you through our view of the film and what it signifies. There are 3 key lies which we wish to expose.

a) The time period in which PC Toby Rowland says these offensive terms were uttered and what he says were his responses are simply too short for the sequence to be credible.

b) There are not “several members of the public” close enough to see or to hear the exchange as PC Toby Rowland alleges.

c) The positioning and body language are at variance with the alleged dialogue.

We have repeatedly requested a scene of crime visit with the investigating Police at the relevant time of day, as well as sight of the notebooks and log book entry which Police released to the press, the Federation of Police and the broadcasters but which have not been shown to us.

My lawyer, Stephen Parkinson, has seen the remaining CCTV and is satisfied it backs my account of what happened. He will explain why in his view as an experienced prosecutor a prosecution should have been brought on the basis of that evidence.

6. At the start of this episode I was extremely reluctant to suggest that the Police had made up this exchange and were not telling the truth. Today we have learned that PC Keith Wallis is being charged with having falsely claimed to have witnessed the incident. I wish now to make clear that PC Toby Rowland, who was responsible for writing those toxic phrases into his notebook, was not telling the truth. I will seek to say this on oath in a Court of Law and it is our intention to ensure that PC Toby Rowland has similarly to swear his account.

7. I understand that PC Toby Rowland has not been arrested or even interviewed under criminal caution during the Police Inquiry. This has allowed the Inquiry to focus on the secondary issues rather than the incendiary fact that armed Police Officers guarding officials in Downing Street, have ‘stitched up’ one of those they were supposed to be protecting.

8. I have commented separately about the incident in the West Midlands when 3 Police Officers from the Federation of Police came to my office and deliberately misrepresented what had happened to the huge Press Corps they had assembled outside the meeting. It was only possible to demonstrate the truth of this because I had recorded the meeting.

9. I have told the truth about this incident. The Police did not. My reputation was destroyed. I was vilified, relentlessly, over 33 days, with over 800 hate emails received during the course of that first week. I and my family were driven from our home with as many as 20 journalists and photographers camped outside. My children were followed by the press. My 92 year old mother-in-law pursued in Swansea. I was spat at in the street. I lost my job after a career spanning more than 25 years in Parliament serving my Constituents, my Party and my country. What does all this say about our Police and about basic fairness and decency in our country today.

10. We will get over this. The most important point I wish to make is not on behalf of myself and my family but on behalf of those who caught in similar circumstances would never have had a chance to fight back. I have been shocked by the sheer scale and number of emails, calls and letters to my office over the last year from people claiming similar experiences at the hands of the Police. At least some of these cases are likely to be true and I very much fear that many of them are. If the Police can do this in such a casual way in one of the safest areas in Britain and get away with it then they can do it to anyone, anywhere and at any time.

All these Officers must be held to account if the good name of thousands of decent Police Officers, who do a great job for their communities, is to be preserved.

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