Did Andrew Mitchell and the Downing St police have a long-standing animosity?
Sources close to the police tell me that while Mitchell never uttered those fateful words - he had previous with the Downing Street police
In a brief yet informative conversation with a Westminster insider last night, I learned that Michael Crick's investigation into Andrew Mitchell and Plebgate was ever so close to being complete.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative programme and kudos is owed to the Channel 4 team for what was a searing investigation into this now-evident stitch-up.
But what was missing was motive: why did the Police Federation, or the officers at the Downing Street gate (plus the copper in Ruislip) want to bring down Mitchell? As it has been remarked upon in recent days, that they were unions members is simply not enough - it just doesn't happen.
So while obviously this is simply 'what's been heard' at this point in time, the real reason I've been told is as follows.
Source: "Mitchell never called the police officers plebs... on that night."
Me: "So he said it on a different night?"
Source: "There have been altercations, let's say, with the police at the gate in the past."
Me: "This was before he was Chief Whip, presumably?"
I can't go further into the conversation at the moment. But suffice to say the rationale makes the police response slightly more understandable. If Mitchell had had run ins with various different officers at the gate over a prolonged period of time, the motive becomes clearer.
That's not to say that Mitchell is or was ever the aggressor in these situations either, and I will certainly refrain from putting words in his mouth as so many others have done over the past few months.
What this does tell us however is that we have a unionised police force who may be willing to exploit their positions to settle personal disputes. Only time, and investigations, will tell...
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