The British government’s former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell, who was forced to resign after being wrongly accused of calling police officers “plebs”, is close to dropping his libel case, according to Sky News. The former minister saw his career ruined after an argument with police at the gates of Downing Street over which exit he could use with his bicycle.
The Sun newspaper was first to print the allegation that he had called the police officers “plebs” during a dispute that both sides admit got heated. Mitchell began legal proceedings against the Sun, and one of the officers involved PC Toby Rowland is suing Mitchell.
Now looks likely that both sides will drop their actions as a result of secret negotiations.
The case shocked the country because it was perceived as an example of Conservatives looking down at ordinary hard-working people such as police officers. There was almost no public anger at Mitchell’s admission that he swore, but he was forced to resign specifically for allegedly using the word “pleb,” snobbish slang for “a common person”.
Several police officers and one civilian relative of a police officer have been arrested for offences arising from the case. PC Keith Wallis was jailed for lying about witnessing the incident, and at least three others have been dismissed from the police.
The incident raised serious concerns about the role and activities of the Police Federation, which is effectively the trade union looking after rank and file officers. Whilst it has never been proved that the federation was involved in a conspiracy to unseat Mitchell as Chief Whip, all the officers involved in the case were key members of the Federation.
The case was one of the reasons Home Secretary Theresa May has forced a number of reforms on the federation. As reported on Breitbart London they include full disclosure of their financial affairs, which had previously remained a closely guarded secret.
She explained the case for reform in a speech at the Police Federation annual conference in May, after which delegates refused to applaud. However the following day the federation voted to agree to all of her proposed changes.