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The announcement that former Coalition chief whip Andrew Mitchell has made a formal complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission about the so-called ‘plebgate’ row almost made me smile. Almost.
Having had experience of this organisation and it’s amazing cover-up tactics, supporting police officers who deny the existence of any laws that conflict with what they’ve done, I view the affair with scepticism.
If the outcome goes badly for him, it will confirm the IPCC’s position as principle rubber-stamping organisation for police behaviour – no matter whether they have behaved rightly or wrongly.
If it comes out in his favour, for me, it will confirm that the system works only for privileged members of society such as Mr Mitchell – those in influential positions – and not for ordinary citizens like the rest of us.
The facts of the case are completely unimportant to the outcome. Inconsequential.
For the record, it relates to an incident on September 19 last year, when it was alleged that the then-Chief Whip swore at police, calling them “plebs” (of all things) when they refused to open the Downing Street gates for him to cycle through on his pushbike.
Mitchell resigned his position but CCTV coverage later cast doubt on the accepted version of events and four people, including three police officers, have since been arrested.
Now, in a letter to the IPCC, Mr Mitchell has accused the police of a “dishonest and illicit attempt to blacken my name and destroy my career”.
Personal experience tells me he’d better have a mountain of evidence to back up that claim.
My own experience, as outlined in previous Vox articles, related to an incident in which somebody illegally published information identifying an alleged crime victim, in an attempt to blacken a suspect’s name, prior to a trial. I reported this, quoting the relevant law down to the section and paragraph, to the police – who flatly refused to investigate, claiming that the law had not been broken by ignoring the references I had given and referring to a different section of the same legislation – a section that was totally irrelevant to the nature of the crime.
You see, prosecuting this individual would have been inconvenient as it would have weakened the case against the suspect they had lined up for trial. Easier to flout the law, apparently. One law for us… another law for them.
I made a full, detailed complaint to the IPCC, quoting the relevant legislation with a printout of it from the government’s own website, pointing out where the officer involved had gone wrong, and explaining why I believed the error was intentional. All I got for my efforts was another flat refusal to acknowledge the facts. The investigator spoke with the officer and decided that his interpretation of the law was correct – despite having it quoted to them, in black and white, by me! For me, the only way forward from that point would have been to hire a lawyer and get a judicial review, but that costs money and I simply don’t have enough. Again, it’s one law for us… another law for them.
Mr Mitchell, on the other hand, does have money. But since he is, by definition, a member of “them”, any success he may enjoy will not affect the fact that is the theme of this article, which is (one last time):
It’s one law for us… another law for them.
Actually, now that I have a police commissioner, I might take the case to him and see what he makes of it. At least, that way, he’ll have something to do. The outcome will show whether his appointment – and that of all the others – really was the waste of time and money that the vast majority of Britons believe it to have been.