The Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police has responded to the announcement that the IPCC is to redetermine officers’ misconduct investigation regarding the ‘Plebgate’ row, stating he is surprised by the decision.
Andy Parker also added that he welcomed the recognition of the Home Affairs Select Committee that he had always supported an IPCC investigation.
I have always believed that the IPCC should have conducted an independent investigation into this matter, and welcome the HASC recognition of that, but I am surprised by the decision to redetermine the outcome at this time.
We will, of course, co-operate fully with the IPCC during their investigation.
Whilst the IPCC investigation is ongoing it would be inappropriate for us to make any further comment.
– Andy Parker, Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police
West Mercia Police have responded to the findings of the Home Affairs Select Committee report which has ordered a new IPCC investigation into procedures following a meeting between three Midlands Chief Constables and Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell.
While the quality of the original investigation by West Mercia into the conduct of Police Federation representatives on 12 October 2012 remains unquestioned, the force accepts there were procedural errors in the investigative reports provided to the appropriate authorities which they used to make their determinations about the officers’ conduct.
These procedural errors began with a misunderstanding between the IPCC supervising the investigation, and West Mercia Police investigators.
West Mercia has always maintained that the investigation into the events in Sutton Coldfield in October 2012 should have been conducted independently. The force therefore welcomes the IPCC’s decision to change the status of the investigation from an IPCC supervised investigation to an independent investigation using their own staff.The force will co-operate fully with the IPCC’s investigation.
Sergeant Chris Jones, West Midlands Police Federation, Inspector Ken MacKaill, West Mercia Police Federation and Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton, Warwickshire Police Federation, answering questions in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee last month.
It followed a meeting with Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell where they claimed he had failed to give an account of his altercation with officers at the gates of Downing Street.
The officers were later accused of trying to discredit Mr Mitchell, but were spared misconduct proceedings by an internal investigation.
A new investigation will now begin led by the IPCC.
The IPCC have now decided they do, after all, have the authority to launch a new inquiry. As I made clear at the very beginning of this process this investigation should always have been run by the IPCC.
The report suggests West Midlands Police put pressure on West Mercia Police to release the report before it was sent to the IPCC. The conclusions of the report suggest the motive may have been because ACC Cann may have been seeking to improperly access the report and seek to change its conclusions. This is a serious inference to draw and I completely refute it.
Ron Ball, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire says:
I have never supported the actions of the officers following their meeting with Andrew Mitchell at his constituency office. They were unwise to get involved in such a political campaign and they have subsequently brought discredit on the Police service and damaged public confidence in the integrity of the Police. I believe that the officers should have apologised to Mr Mitchell and his family for the hurt their actions caused.
In my role of holding the Chief Constable to account and scrutinising his actions I have taken independent legal advice concerning the IPCC’s decision to reopen the investigation. This advice raises concerns in my mind that the legal grounds for the proposed investigation may not be legally sound, with the potential for further legal challenges to follow. All of this can only result in additional public expense.
– Ron Ball, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire
Keith Vaz, the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee says,
"We were appalled by the evidence given by DS Hinton, Sgt Jones and Inspector MacKaill. It is now clear that DS Hinton and Sgt Jones misled the Committee, possibly deliberately. We have recalled them to correct the record and if they do not, they will be in prima facie contempt of Parliament.
"We are also concerned that the chief constables of Warwickshire and West Midlands have not re-determined their conclusions to this investigation.
"We have referred the police officers to the IPCC and we welcome their announcement to make a fully independent decision on this investigation which is what we asked them to consider."
Three Midlands' police officers accused of giving a misleading account of a meeting with Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell at the height of the 'Plebgate' affair are facing another investigation by the police watchdog, the IPCC.
Two of the officers will reappear in front of MPs.
They met with Mr Mitchell in their role as Police Federation representatives after the MP was accused of swearing at officers at the Downing Street gates and calling them 'plebs'.
After the meeting the officers claimed Mr Mitchell had not given a full account of the affair.
A tape recording later revealed his level of frankness.
A disagreement has since broken out over whether Inspector Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones should face disciplinary proceedings.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will hold its own investigation into their behaviour after finding 'procedural irregularities' in the way the inquiry was dealt with.