West Mercia Police chief constable called to give evidence to Parliamentary committee (From Ledbury Reporter)
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West Mercia Police chief constable called to give evidence to Parliamentary committee
12:11pm Wednesday 16th October 2013 in News
THE "honesty and integrity" of police officers - including West Mercia Inspector Ken MacKaill - has been called into question by a police watchdog after an investigation into last year's 'plebgate' affair.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said Inspector Ken MacKaill, chairman of the West Mercia Police Police Federation, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton of Warwickshire Police and Sergeant Chris Jones from the West Midlands force, should have faced misconduct hearings over comments about what chief whip Andrew Mitchell said in a private meeting about the incident.
Mr Mitchell was accused of calling officers in Downing Street 'plebs' after he was not allowed to use a gate to leave on his bicycle on September 19 last year.
The Police Federation trio met with the minister on October 12, shortly after the affair, in a bid to clear the air.
But immediately after the meeting, they addressed the media, claiming the former chief Tory whip refused to give an account of the incident.
However, a transcript shows Mr Mitchell apologised for swearing at the police officers but denied using the word "plebs" during the meeting.
He resigned on October 19 as the fallout continued.
West Mercia Police conducted an internal investigation into claims the three officers were trying to discredit Mr Mitchell but concluded there was no case to answer for misconduct, or gross misconduct.
But the IPCC investigation claims they should have faced action.
IPCC deputy chairwoman Deborah Glass said the evidence revealed "an issue of honesty and integrity, not merely naive or poor professional judgment" among the federation representatives.
Now, the West Mercia force's chief constable, David Shaw, has been summoned to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on the issue.
In a joint statement with the Warwickshire and West Midlands forces, West Mercia Police defended its handling of the investigation.
It read: "Andrew Mitchell MP has never made a complaint to police. West Mercia, with the support of West Midlands and Warwickshire Police, recognising the public interest in this case, independently decided to investigate this incident and made a referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
"We asked for the matter to be independently investigated by the IPCC because we recognise the significant public interest in the matter, however this was declined.
"The IPCC have supervised this investigation throughout and have been invited to reconsider their position on more than one occasion.
"The decisions following this investigation were carefully considered, with the support of appropriate legal advice.
"Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Midlands Police have separately considered the findings of the investigation and all three forces agree on the outcome."
West Mercia police commissioner Bill Longmore expressed surprise about comments by IPCC deputy chairwoman Deborah Glass and said he was seeking an urgent meeting with Home Secretary Theresa May.
"Given the critical statement which the IPCC Deputy Chair has made in the last few hours, I am frankly surprised the IPCC did not resume conduct of the investigation - they certainly had the power to do so," he said.
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