New Plebgate probe 'may not be legally sound' - police commissioner

Worcester News: New Plebgate probe 'may not be legally sound' - police commissioner New Plebgate probe 'may not be legally sound' - police commissioner

THE Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire has said a new investigation into the Plebgate affair by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) may not be legally sound.

Ron Ball released a statement this morning saying that the IPCC should have been involved in the investigation from the start, but he had sought legal advice that indicates there could be problems with its latest proposal to investigate.

The affair dates back to September 2012 when government chef whip Andrew Mitchell allegedly swore at police officers on duty outside 10 Downing Street and called them “plebs” - an accusation Mr Mitchell denied.

As part of the investigation into the affair, three Police Federation members, from the Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Midlands forces, visited Mr Mitchell at his office in Sutton Coldfield the following month.

After the meeting, they told reporters Mr Mitchell had not told them the exact words he had used – an account later disproved after a transcript of the meeting recorded by Mr Mitchell was released.

An investigation by West Mercia Police into the meeting published last month concluded the three officers should not be disciplined.

But the IPCC’s deputy chairman Deborah Glass said she was astonished by the report’s conclusion and said the officers should face a misconduct hearing.

Mr Ball said: “Due to the nature of the matters under investigation and the potential public interest, I believe that from the beginning the IPCC should have managed the investigation. This whole issue would not have arisen if they had done so.

“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.”

However, his statement did not elaborate on what those legal grounds are.

Comments (19)

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6:31am Sun 3 Nov 13

DAVID1875 says...

The IPCC only handed over responsibility to West Mercia to investigate because they did not have the resources to do so themselves. It is clear West Mercia then carried out an investigation that was incompetent in that a senior officer overruled the head of professional standards and West Mercia failed to follow legal procedure too. Their verdict is therefore invalid. This is entirely the fault of incompetent West Mercia Police. If they had done it correctly there would be no need for the IPCC to re-investigate it themselves. PCC Ball should be trying to find out who cocked up within the police and sack them. Why is he so against an IPCC reinvestigation? Doesn't he want the truth to come out?
The IPCC only handed over responsibility to West Mercia to investigate because they did not have the resources to do so themselves. It is clear West Mercia then carried out an investigation that was incompetent in that a senior officer overruled the head of professional standards and West Mercia failed to follow legal procedure too. Their verdict is therefore invalid. This is entirely the fault of incompetent West Mercia Police. If they had done it correctly there would be no need for the IPCC to re-investigate it themselves. PCC Ball should be trying to find out who cocked up within the police and sack them. Why is he so against an IPCC reinvestigation? Doesn't he want the truth to come out? DAVID1875

7:47am Sun 3 Nov 13

Give Up! says...

If the WN read the transcript they will see that Mr Mitchell does refuse to say what he did actually say..... All he says is that he didn't call them plebs!! Mr Portillo didn't help his cause tho?
If the WN read the transcript they will see that Mr Mitchell does refuse to say what he did actually say..... All he says is that he didn't call them plebs!! Mr Portillo didn't help his cause tho? Give Up!

10:59am Sun 3 Nov 13

DAVID1875 says...

The transcript of the meeting proves that Andrew Mitchell said: "But I did say, under my breath but audibly, in frustration, I thought you lot were supposed to f***ing help us......". So it is clear that the 3 police fed reps did totally mislead the press, and public, by their statements after the meeting. The West Mercia officers now involved in this disgraceful attempt to subvert justice now include: Inspector Ken MacKail, Assistant Chief Constable Simon Chesterman ( who ignored the advice of the head of professional standards and found the officers not guilty of misconduct), and Chief Constable Shaw ( as he is legally responsible for the conduct of all his officers ) .
The transcript of the meeting proves that Andrew Mitchell said: "But I did say, under my breath but audibly, in frustration, I thought you lot were supposed to f***ing help us......". So it is clear that the 3 police fed reps did totally mislead the press, and public, by their statements after the meeting. The West Mercia officers now involved in this disgraceful attempt to subvert justice now include: Inspector Ken MacKail, Assistant Chief Constable Simon Chesterman ( who ignored the advice of the head of professional standards and found the officers not guilty of misconduct), and Chief Constable Shaw ( as he is legally responsible for the conduct of all his officers ) . DAVID1875

11:01am Sun 3 Nov 13

gmoore1207 says...

why are we wasting money on this rubbish i thought we are in a financial meltdown this is ****
why are we wasting money on this rubbish i thought we are in a financial meltdown this is **** gmoore1207

3:46pm Sun 3 Nov 13

taffyboio says...

If the home affairs committee want to get to the bottom of this then they need to call Mitchell to give evidence, he needs to provide a full account of what he said in the 40 second conversation he had with officers at the gates. Not just I didn't say this and that or I swore under my breath . I for one think that it is Mitchell who has misled and diverted attention from himself in this debacle, At the outset of the meeting with Mitchell the officers were told by Mitchell's aid that the meeting was being contemporaneously recorded, so why would the officers then intentionally mislead the public by saying that Mitchell had not elaborated on his account. It was their interpretation of what was said and having read Mitchell's limited account of what was said at the gates agree that he did not elaborate. This is just a witch hunt. Politicians are now just trying to get one over on the police, it's ironic that Keith vaz said to the officers that it was not a game. It is clear that is exactly how the politicians are acting in this lame episode!, sticking up for one of their own as they always do. I'm sad to say that I have lost all confidence in politicians - Mitchell needs to be investigated about all this get him in front of the home affairs committee, they have lost sight that he is the cause of all this-pathetic! They are full of self importance and not doing the country any good!
If the home affairs committee want to get to the bottom of this then they need to call Mitchell to give evidence, he needs to provide a full account of what he said in the 40 second conversation he had with officers at the gates. Not just I didn't say this and that or I swore under my breath . I for one think that it is Mitchell who has misled and diverted attention from himself in this debacle, At the outset of the meeting with Mitchell the officers were told by Mitchell's aid that the meeting was being contemporaneously recorded, so why would the officers then intentionally mislead the public by saying that Mitchell had not elaborated on his account. It was their interpretation of what was said and having read Mitchell's limited account of what was said at the gates agree that he did not elaborate. This is just a witch hunt. Politicians are now just trying to get one over on the police, it's ironic that Keith vaz said to the officers that it was not a game. It is clear that is exactly how the politicians are acting in this lame episode!, sticking up for one of their own as they always do. I'm sad to say that I have lost all confidence in politicians - Mitchell needs to be investigated about all this get him in front of the home affairs committee, they have lost sight that he is the cause of all this-pathetic! They are full of self importance and not doing the country any good! taffyboio

5:11pm Sun 3 Nov 13

DAVID1875 says...

It is the police whose honesty and integrity is in grave doubt here. And it is not just 1 police officer; it is 3 police federation representatives, plus senior police right up to the chief constables of 3 forces who have between them made such an abysmal attempt at an investigation and its conclusion that the whole process has now to be carried out by the IPCC. One thing is blatantly clear - the police can never again be trusted to investigate themselves!
It is the police whose honesty and integrity is in grave doubt here. And it is not just 1 police officer; it is 3 police federation representatives, plus senior police right up to the chief constables of 3 forces who have between them made such an abysmal attempt at an investigation and its conclusion that the whole process has now to be carried out by the IPCC. One thing is blatantly clear - the police can never again be trusted to investigate themselves! DAVID1875

6:35pm Sun 3 Nov 13

DarrenM says...

Of Course he thinks its not legally sound - if his chief constable gets caught with his hand in the till (metaphorically speaking) then who carrys the can.

The Gov't could easily avoid avoid all this attempted legal manoeuvring by having the HMIC declare the three forces inefficient and withholding the 50% of police funding they give them, until the Chief Constables and other other officers in question are sacked by the PCC or resign.
Of Course he thinks its not legally sound - if his chief constable gets caught with his hand in the till (metaphorically speaking) then who carrys the can. The Gov't could easily avoid avoid all this attempted legal manoeuvring by having the HMIC declare the three forces inefficient and withholding the 50% of police funding they give them, until the Chief Constables and other other officers in question are sacked by the PCC or resign. DarrenM

6:36pm Sun 3 Nov 13

taffyboio says...

DAVID1875 wrote:
It is the police whose honesty and integrity is in grave doubt here. And it is not just 1 police officer; it is 3 police federation representatives, plus senior police right up to the chief constables of 3 forces who have between them made such an abysmal attempt at an investigation and its conclusion that the whole process has now to be carried out by the IPCC. One thing is blatantly clear - the police can never again be trusted to investigate themselves!
The investigation and conclusion were signed off by the ipcc in fact Keith Vaz said that the investigation was thorough and complete. What this whole debacle shows is that the ipcc is incompetent . It was clear from the start this had political ramifications and should have been identified as such by the ipcc.. The ipcc needs to realise that the horse has bolted and it's incompetence has caused all these problems. It goes without saying that the police shouldn't investigate themselves ,but when the body responsible for this can't see it themselves are they fit for purpose? A lame excuse that their resources did not allow it, everybody works with finite resources things just take to get done! In fact, Mitchell should be held responsible for this as he is the one who had a strop when he had to get off his bike- the man has a lot to answer for. He should have been arrested at the gates for swearing, some role model he is!
[quote][p][bold]DAVID1875[/bold] wrote: It is the police whose honesty and integrity is in grave doubt here. And it is not just 1 police officer; it is 3 police federation representatives, plus senior police right up to the chief constables of 3 forces who have between them made such an abysmal attempt at an investigation and its conclusion that the whole process has now to be carried out by the IPCC. One thing is blatantly clear - the police can never again be trusted to investigate themselves![/p][/quote]The investigation and conclusion were signed off by the ipcc in fact Keith Vaz said that the investigation was thorough and complete. What this whole debacle shows is that the ipcc is incompetent . It was clear from the start this had political ramifications and should have been identified as such by the ipcc.. The ipcc needs to realise that the horse has bolted and it's incompetence has caused all these problems. It goes without saying that the police shouldn't investigate themselves ,but when the body responsible for this can't see it themselves are they fit for purpose? A lame excuse that their resources did not allow it, everybody works with finite resources things just take to get done! In fact, Mitchell should be held responsible for this as he is the one who had a strop when he had to get off his bike- the man has a lot to answer for. He should have been arrested at the gates for swearing, some role model he is! taffyboio

7:38pm Sun 3 Nov 13

DarrenM says...

And what should he have been arrested for Its not an offence to swear? Its an offence to use threatening or abusive language within he hearing or sight or someone likely to be caused offence. The transcript and context makes clear it was muttered and not directed at the officer, (Police accounts to the contrary would have to be discounted as they have already been shown to be massively fraudulent), then you have to consider if a constable is likely to be caused offence by what was alleged.

And in any case that only applies in a public place. Downing Street is no longer a public place, hence the gates at the end. It status was specifically altered so that security measures blocking the highway could be put in place.
And what should he have been arrested for Its not an offence to swear? Its an offence to use threatening or abusive language within he hearing or sight or someone likely to be caused offence. The transcript and context makes clear it was muttered and not directed at the officer, (Police accounts to the contrary would have to be discounted as they have already been shown to be massively fraudulent), then you have to consider if a constable is likely to be caused offence by what was alleged. And in any case that only applies in a public place. Downing Street is no longer a public place, hence the gates at the end. It status was specifically altered so that security measures blocking the highway could be put in place. DarrenM

9:31pm Sun 3 Nov 13

taffyboio says...

Whether behaviour can be properly categorised as disorderly is a question of fact. Disorderly behaviour does not require any element of violence, actual or threatened; and it includes conduct that is not necessarily threatening, abusive or insulting.
Section 5 should be used in cases which amount to less serious incidents of anti-social behaviour. Where violence has been used, it is not normally appropriate to charge an offence under section 5 unless the physical behaviour amounts merely to pushing or undirected lashing out of a type likely to cause no more than a glancing blow, minor bruising or grazing. Such conduct may also be classified as disorderly and suitable for a charge under section 91 CJA 1967 in appropriate circumstances.

There must be a person within the sight or hearing of the suspect who is likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress by the conduct in question. A police officer may be such a person, but remember that this is a question of fact to be decided in each case by the magistrates. In determining this, the magistrates may take into account the familiarity which police officers have with the words and conduct typically seen in incidents of disorderly conduct. (DPP v Orum Crim L R 848).

Although the existence of a person who is caused harassment alarm and distress must be proved, there is no requirement that they actually give evidence. In appropriate cases, the offence may be proved on a police officer's evidence alone.

Police officers are aware of the difficult balance to be struck in dealing with those whose behaviour may be perceived by some as exuberant high spirits but by others as disorderly. In such cases informal methods of disposal may be appropriate and effective; but if this approach fails and the disorderly conduct continues then criminal proceedings may be necessary.

I would suggest that there was reasonable suspicion and the court would decide the facts including whether Downing Street is a public place or not. it's a shame this didn't happen as we would not be wasting everyone's time and money with these endless line of inquiries, but I suppose the mp's need to earn their expenses!
Whether behaviour can be properly categorised as disorderly is a question of fact. Disorderly behaviour does not require any element of violence, actual or threatened; and it includes conduct that is not necessarily threatening, abusive or insulting. Section 5 should be used in cases which amount to less serious incidents of anti-social behaviour. Where violence has been used, it is not normally appropriate to charge an offence under section 5 unless the physical behaviour amounts merely to pushing or undirected lashing out of a type likely to cause no more than a glancing blow, minor bruising or grazing. Such conduct may also be classified as disorderly and suitable for a charge under section 91 CJA 1967 in appropriate circumstances. There must be a person within the sight or hearing of the suspect who is likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress by the conduct in question. A police officer may be such a person, but remember that this is a question of fact to be decided in each case by the magistrates. In determining this, the magistrates may take into account the familiarity which police officers have with the words and conduct typically seen in incidents of disorderly conduct. (DPP v Orum [1988] Crim L R 848). Although the existence of a person who is caused harassment alarm and distress must be proved, there is no requirement that they actually give evidence. In appropriate cases, the offence may be proved on a police officer's evidence alone. Police officers are aware of the difficult balance to be struck in dealing with those whose behaviour may be perceived by some as exuberant high spirits but by others as disorderly. In such cases informal methods of disposal may be appropriate and effective; but if this approach fails and the disorderly conduct continues then criminal proceedings may be necessary. I would suggest that there was reasonable suspicion and the court would decide the facts including whether Downing Street is a public place or not. it's a shame this didn't happen as we would not be wasting everyone's time and money with these endless line of inquiries, but I suppose the mp's need to earn their expenses! taffyboio

12:40am Mon 4 Nov 13

Jabbadad says...

I agree with taffyboio, this stinks politically, and the politicians are still smarting from when the police dared to enter westminster and make arrests, since they (the politicians ) thought they were exempt from the law, and should be allowed to fiddle the expenses.
So now they (politicians) are trying with the slippery actions of Mitchell who resigned (and why) over his actions to get back at the police.
And whilst having been myself nicked for speeding etc I still say I would sooner trust the police than many politicians
I agree with taffyboio, this stinks politically, and the politicians are still smarting from when the police dared to enter westminster and make arrests, since they (the politicians ) thought they were exempt from the law, and should be allowed to fiddle the expenses. So now they (politicians) are trying with the slippery actions of Mitchell who resigned (and why) over his actions to get back at the police. And whilst having been myself nicked for speeding etc I still say I would sooner trust the police than many politicians Jabbadad

5:55am Mon 4 Nov 13

DAVID1875 says...

Taffyboio, the investigation by West Mercia Police was incompetent because the recommendation of the investigating officer, the head of professional standards, who found the officers should face misconduct charges, was overruled by the deputy chief constable Simon Chesterman and even his recommendation was missed off the final report. West Mercia did not follow legal procedure in the process - even Chief Constable Shaw admitted this. In addition, there was a meeting between the head of professional standards, the force's legal officer and 2 deputy chief constables which resulted in the outcome being changed-as usual to suit the police! Why was this crucial meeting not minuted? Why should the IPCC, short of resources, be blamed for putting some degree of trust in West Mercia to carry out a fair and competent investigation? Can't we trust the police to do this? Clearly not when senior officers change the outcome of the investigation to suit themselves! This was politicized by the police fed reps, no one else! It is they who hired a PR company ahead of the meeting with Andrew Mitchell and made sure the media were outside and gave several press interviews - disgraceful behaviour by serving police officers, now made worse by 2 of them lying to the select committee and now being recalled to explain their lies!
Taffyboio, the investigation by West Mercia Police was incompetent because the recommendation of the investigating officer, the head of professional standards, who found the officers should face misconduct charges, was overruled by the deputy chief constable Simon Chesterman and even his recommendation was missed off the final report. West Mercia did not follow legal procedure in the process - even Chief Constable Shaw admitted this. In addition, there was a meeting between the head of professional standards, the force's legal officer and 2 deputy chief constables which resulted in the outcome being changed-as usual to suit the police! Why was this crucial meeting not minuted? Why should the IPCC, short of resources, be blamed for putting some degree of trust in West Mercia to carry out a fair and competent investigation? Can't we trust the police to do this? Clearly not when senior officers change the outcome of the investigation to suit themselves! This was politicized by the police fed reps, no one else! It is they who hired a PR company ahead of the meeting with Andrew Mitchell and made sure the media were outside and gave several press interviews - disgraceful behaviour by serving police officers, now made worse by 2 of them lying to the select committee and now being recalled to explain their lies! DAVID1875

9:06am Mon 4 Nov 13

sugarlump says...

Mr Mitchell should be ashamned of himself. he bad karma!!
Mr Mitchell should be ashamned of himself. he bad karma!! sugarlump

2:47pm Mon 4 Nov 13

Doogie 46 says...

Has it not already been established that the police falsified records and diary entries after the original incident and subsequent viewing of the site and CCTV footage proved that the events could not possibly have happened as the officers claimed.
Does not Mr Mitchell`s recording of the meeting with the three Police Federation reps (in which he DID state what he actually said) prove that after the meeting they did make statements that were rather more than "misleading"
It seems that Mr Mitchell did little more than get irritated by the apparent "jobsworth" attitude of the officers on duty - it seems those officers have tried to turn the incident into something it was not.
The longer it drags on the worse the police look and the more the public will lose faith in them.
In addition, every time a Police and Crime Commissioner opens his mouth on the subject it seems they are less than impartial and one of the Prime Minister`s worst ideas.
Has it not already been established that the police falsified records and diary entries after the original incident and subsequent viewing of the site and CCTV footage proved that the events could not possibly have happened as the officers claimed. Does not Mr Mitchell`s recording of the meeting with the three Police Federation reps (in which he DID state what he actually said) prove that after the meeting they did make statements that were rather more than "misleading" It seems that Mr Mitchell did little more than get irritated by the apparent "jobsworth" attitude of the officers on duty - it seems those officers have tried to turn the incident into something it was not. The longer it drags on the worse the police look and the more the public will lose faith in them. In addition, every time a Police and Crime Commissioner opens his mouth on the subject it seems they are less than impartial and one of the Prime Minister`s worst ideas. Doogie 46

9:38pm Mon 4 Nov 13

taffyboio says...

One thing is for certain that this episode has caused a loss of trust in the police, whether this has only short or long term consequences only time will tell! The police federation tried to play the politicians at their own game but when the politicians live and breath underhand maneuvering it is not surprising the federation representatives have found themselves in some bother- they should have hired Alistair Cambell. I still don't believe Mitchell when he says he did not call them "plebs" it's such an obscure insult. Who on earth would make it up - bizarre! Michael Portilo did little to help Mitchell's insistence that he does not use the word when he claimed to have heard Mitchell using the term in private conversation, but alas Portilo "misspoke"- unfortunately words are like water!
One thing is for certain that this episode has caused a loss of trust in the police, whether this has only short or long term consequences only time will tell! The police federation tried to play the politicians at their own game but when the politicians live and breath underhand maneuvering it is not surprising the federation representatives have found themselves in some bother- they should have hired Alistair Cambell. I still don't believe Mitchell when he says he did not call them "plebs" it's such an obscure insult. Who on earth would make it up - bizarre! Michael Portilo did little to help Mitchell's insistence that he does not use the word when he claimed to have heard Mitchell using the term in private conversation, but alas Portilo "misspoke"- unfortunately words are like water! taffyboio

3:56pm Tue 5 Nov 13

Doogie 46 says...

If they had hired Alistair Cambell they would be less credible than they are now.
If they had hired Alistair Cambell they would be less credible than they are now. Doogie 46

7:03pm Tue 5 Nov 13

DarrenM says...

taffyboio - Yes you've cut and pasted some huge part of the CPS charging standard or some nonsense you've found on wikipedia.

Section 5(a) and (c) applies - so again what would he have been arrested for?

Its not a question of fact for the court to decide if its a public place or not anymore than its a question of fact of if my front living room is a public place or not. It isn't, and what's more it quite specifically isn't.
taffyboio - Yes you've cut and pasted some huge part of the CPS charging standard or some nonsense you've found on wikipedia. Section 5(a) and (c) applies - so again what would he have been arrested for? Its not a question of fact for the court to decide if its a public place or not anymore than its a question of fact of if my front living room is a public place or not. It isn't, and what's more it quite specifically isn't. DarrenM

9:26pm Tue 5 Nov 13

taffyboio says...

DarrenM - Yep lifted from cps pages and those are charging standards just think what you can be arrested for on simple grounds of suspicion only! Downing Street is still a public highway, it is at police discretion who enters, but anyone can leave, as such I would think it is still a public place by virtue of it still being a public highway.
DarrenM - Yep lifted from cps pages and those are charging standards just think what you can be arrested for on simple grounds of suspicion only! Downing Street is still a public highway, it is at police discretion who enters, but anyone can leave, as such I would think it is still a public place by virtue of it still being a public highway. taffyboio

10:19am Sat 9 Nov 13

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