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West Mercia Police chief issues statement over Andrew Mitchell incident
8:29am Tuesday 22nd October 2013 in News
POLICE chiefs at the centre of the 'plebgate' scandal - including a West Mercia Inspector - have apologised for their "poor judgement" when briefing the media on the incident.
West Mercia Police Insp Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton from Warwickshire Police and Sergeant Chris Jones from West Midlands Police, came under scrutiny after it was claimed they mislead the media after a meeting with minister Andrew Mitchell over the incident.
Former chief whip Mr Mitchell resigned over the scandal, which erupted after he was involved in a confrontation with police in Downing Street in which officers claimed he called them 'plebs' - a claim he has denied.
The three officers became embroiled in controversy after a transcript of a meeting they held with Mr Mitchell on October 12 last year - three weeks after the incident - appeared to contradict a media briefing they gave immediately after.
In the briefing, they called on the minister to quit, claiming he had refused to give an account of the incident, which unfolded after a row he had with officers in Downing Street over which gate he should use.
But a transcript of the meeting allegedly shows Mr Mitchell did give an account of the incident, in which he admitted swearing but denied using the term 'plebs'.
A statement from the trio said they had not intended to "mislead anyone" over the affair.
"The reputation of, and public confidence in, the police service is of immense concern to each of us," it read.
"We acknowledge the investigation’s criticism relating to our poor judgment in talking to the media following the meeting with Andrew Mitchell, for which we take this opportunity to apologise.
"We would like to emphasise that in no way did any of us ever plan or intend to mislead anyone about what occurred during this meeting or otherwise."
Following the controversy, an internal investigation by the forces involved resulted in no action against the officers, saying there was insufficient evidence to do so.
But an Independent Police Complaints Commission report said the trio's actions had brought their "honesty and integrity" into question.
Tomorrow, chief constables from the West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands forces will appear before MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee over the affair.
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