Police Federation guilty as charged over Plebgate

The most painful thing about this whole sorry business is that before the Home Secretary slashed the Police Federation’s funding, we were actually paying for this corrupt organisation to trash the name of an innocent public servant

Theresa May at the Police Federation
Steven George-Hilley
On 4 June 2014 08:07

The recent news that Home Secretary Theresa May has ended public funding to the Police Federation is long overdue and will strike a chord with the British public who have become increasingly suspicious of the organisation’s political motives and honesty.

It is a genuine tragedy that a fundamentally respectable organisation with a sensible brief to represent and serve the needs of 125,000 rank-and-file officers who work hard to keep law and order on our streets should find itself in such a dire place. But action needed to be taken.

Much of the organisation’s current problems stem from the painfully politically motivated campaign it ran against the Conservatives during the Plebgate saga. From the over-the-top demonstrations with officers in custom made ‘PC Pleb’ apparel to Police Officers sent to jail for lying about Andrew Mitchell, this whole affair stinks of corruption and a conspiracy to stitch up a Cabinet Minister.

We have now learned that, according to an official letter of complaint, armed Police were involved in repeatedly denying Mr Mitchell access through the main gate despite Number 10 security officers saying there was “no just reason" he should have been prevented from entering Downing Street on his bike.

For many, already deeply suspicious of the accounts of the officers involved in the incident, this revelation simply adds fuel to the fire that this was a calculated stitch-up.

From the shocked crowds of people that didn’t exist, the CCTV that contradicted the Police version of events, to the fraudulent email, there appears to be no area of the Police’s story that stands up to scrutiny.

Shockingly, further research conducted by the Parliament Street think revealed that many Police Officers who have previously faked official records such as Police logs have been allowed to keep their jobs. These findings point to a much deeper problem at the heart of the Police force which trivialises serious misconduct and turns a blind eye to officers who are clearly lying and bringing the integrity of the Police into disrepute.

The most painful thing about this whole sorry business is that before the Home Secretary slashed the Police Federation’s funding, we were actually paying for this corrupt organisation to trash the name of an innocent public servant. That is £320,000 of hard earned public money being channelled to an organisation so riddled with corruption it beggars belief.

However, the organisation has recently come under new leadership with the appointment of Steve White as its chairman. In his first interview with The Guardian, he said, "Rebuilding the level of trust the police service has with the public" was vital because it had been "so severely damaged" by national stories such as "Plebgate".

This is of course a monumental challenge, but one that can be achieved through a series of simple first steps.

So, if Steve White really does want to put an end to the Plebgate saga and ensure that the Police Federation has a chance to move on and restore its credibility there is one key issue he needs to tackle from the outset.

First in his in-tray should be putting an end to the ludicrous libel action issued by PC Toby Rowland and funded by the Police Federation against Andrew Mitchell. Such action means officers like Rowland are above criticism, with anyone who dares question their version of events finding themselves with a libel writ.

The Police Federation is at a crossroads, it can either continue down the path of its Plebgate libel action, costing tens of thousands of pounds and drawing further attention to the dodgy accounts of some of its officers.

The other option is to put an end to this sorry mess once and for all, and start behaving like a professional organisation that is fit for purpose and trusted by the public.

Steven George-Hilley is a director at the Parliament Street think tank and a Conservative Party activist

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