Plebgate and Kenyongate
- Crime and Parliamentary affairs reporter TIM HICKS draws some parallels between the Plebgate and Kenyongate affairs
Real Whitby readers will be incredulous at the latest ramifications of the “Plebgate” affair in which Mr Andrew Mitchell MP lost his job as Chief Whip. So far eight people, five of them police constables have been bailed as part of an investigation codenamed “Operation Alice”. Four of them are police constables who are also suspended from duty. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24230733
Mr Mitchell met Inspector Ken MacKaill, of West Mercia Police, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton, of Warwickshire Police, and Sergeant Chris Jones, of West Midlands Police – acting on behalf of the Police Federation which represents rank-and-file officers – at his constituency office in Sutton Coldfield, to give his account of what happened. Speaking after the meeting, Inspector MacKaill claimed Mr Mitchell would not provide an account of the incident and called for his resignation.
However, Mr Mitchell had secretly tape recorded the meeting. The transcript of the meeting revealed that this was not so and the three senior Officers are now accused of jointly giving a false account of a meeting with Mr Mitchell i.e. of lying
Quite apart from the fact that three senior Officers apparently acting in joint enterprise lied, in order to damage an innocent third party by misrepresenting his comments, discredit him and force him out of his job – a despicable act in itself – it is even more concerning that all three Chief Constables took no action against them and all three Officers walked away scot free, without having to face misconduct proceedings, or any official censure of any sort whatsoever. The clear implication being that it is OK for a Police Officer to lie and if he does and is caught, he will face no censure.
Understandably, the IPCC questioned the “honesty and integrity” of the Officers, and said the Chief Constables had been wrong to conclude they had no case to answer for misconduct.
To quote the BBC’s Mark Easton: “The question is bound to be asked – did they act in the best interest of the public or the best interest of their police force?
The Prime Minister says his former chief whip, Andrew Mitchell, is owed an apology after what he called the “unacceptable behaviour” of Police Officers in the so-called ‘Plebgate’ row. A spokesman for Number 10 said:
“Incidents such as this do bring people to question their trust in the police.” But he went on to stress that the majority of officers “operate to the highest standards and do a very dangerous job on behalf of the public“.
So what is the situation in the North Yorkshire Police?
Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson of North Yorkshire Police has been publicly accused of lying in respect of allegations of serious criminal offences she made against me and falsely threatening me with arrest.
This was in relation to (a) an investigation I was conducting into Councillor Jane Kenyon, which the police have subsequently conceded was part of a “legitimate public interest” for a journalist; (b) a £175,000 property fraud in which Detective Superintendent Pearson and other police officers from North Yorkshire are alleged to be implicated, and (c) an attempt to abuse Police powers and use criminal law to censor the press, to prevent criticism of North Yorkshire Police.
The response of North Yorkshire’s Chief Constable Dave Jones to this matter has been the same as that of the Chief Constables of West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands Police. He has ignored it and failed to take any action, despite having received a formal complaint which has been ‘suspended’ (i.e. swept under the carpet).
In summary, despite overwhelming evidence of corruption, North Yorkshire Police has simply stonewalled the complaint and maintained its right to silence, and Detective Superintendent Pearson will face no action for misconduct.
The actions of Chief Constables in failing to act impartially when faced with misconduct by senior officers in their respective Forces is perhaps why Association of Chief Police Officers’ chairman Sir Hugh Orde said the incident demonstrated the “critical” need for a fully independent police investigation system and suggested that the time may have come for an independent Police Ombudsman such as they have in Northern Ireland.
The Chief Constables of West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands Police will justify their actions to the Home Affairs Select Committee on the 23rd of October 2013. They, at least, have had the honesty, integrity and strength of character to justify their decisions in public, rather than just maintain their right to silence – and that is to be respected.
Should Chief Constable Jones choose to respond to these allegations we will publish his response in full.