I am proud to do have done something for a colleague at today’s Home Affairs Select Committee.
Andrew Mitchell lost his job as our Chief Whip after at least one police officer lied about what happened at Downing Street, where Andrew was accused of calling police officers ‘plebs’.
Later he fought back and got video footage which showed that there was little time for any altercation, and no shocked members of the public, as had been falsely claimed.
However, reports then appeared in the Guardian and on the front page of the Times of 29th March saying that there was no evidence that police had lied as Andrew ‘claimed’.
It then emerged that Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe met the journalists concerned before the articles appeared, and that no record was kept of the briefing, notwithstanding all the Leveson recommendations.
Today the Commissioner appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee to answer questions.
Before I had a chance to speak James Clappison MP pursued Sir Bernard in his usual dogged and persistent fashion. Michael Ellis MP, a fellow barrister, then came in and in his final question got the Commissioner to express ‘regret’. That then gave me the chance to press the Commissioner to say ‘sorry’ to Andrew Mitchell MP for his briefing about Plebgate (now Operation Alice).
The Commissioner did not remember clearly what words he had used and did not know exactly how they were used to justify the stories, but he did say ‘Sorry’.
For me that counts for a lot in a public official, particular one as senior as Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, so I accepted his apology and moved on.
Andrew Mitchell may understandably want to pursue things further, but I am pleased to have at least got the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to say ‘Sorry’.