In a year full of strange British scandals, one stood out as being the strangest — and there’s now evidence that the scandal could be a police conspiracy.Here’s how we wrote about #Plebgate, alternatively known as #gategate, earlier in the year:
Last Wednesday, a member of the Conservative government’s cabinet, Andrew Mitchell, reportedly swore at a police officer after he was reprimanded for attempting to cycle through the main gate on the home of British politics, Downing Street. Mitchell was directed towards a smaller gate, but apparently swore at the female police officer who had ordered him to do so.
According to leaked documents seen by the Sun, Mitchell “raged” at the woman’s colleagues, saying “You’re “f***ing plebs.” While Downing Street contradicts this version of events, it’s set off a storm of media coverage in the UK over the use of the word “pleb”, which is often used in the UK as a derogatory term for working class people.
Mitchell, the chief whip in the government, never admitted to the accusations that he said “pleb”, but was later forced to resign over the scandal.
However, newly released CCTV (first broadcast by Channel 4’s Dispatches) may support whether Mitchell said “pleb” at all — and more importantly, whether a key police witness was actually there at all.
Instead, the Independent reports, the witness is believed to have been a police officer who was nowhere near Downing Street at the time. Despite this, the police officer allegedly emailed his local MP John Randall – at the time Mitchell’s deputy — to say he was a member of the public who witnessed the incident. The next day the story appeared in the Sun newspaper, who had reportedly contacted the witness themselves, prompting the scandal.
Mitchell is now calling for an inquiry. Meanwhile, London’s Metropolitan Police have announced that a member of the Diplomatic Protection Group, the unit which guards Downing Street, had been arrested on suspicion of “gross misconduct”. The Met are denying any possibility of a “conspiracy” however, the BBC reports.