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.