Cameron Escalates Spat With Police Over ‘Plebgate’ Allegations

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron escalated a dispute between members of his government and the police by calling on officers at the center of a dispute with former Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell to apologize.

Mitchell quit his cabinet-level job a year ago after weeks of pressure following a Sun newspaper report that he called police outside the premier’s Downing Street office in London “plebs” and said they should “learn their place” because they refused to let him cycle through the main gate.

Mitchell subsequently met members of the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers. Yesterday, the Independent Police Complaints Commission questioned the “honesty and integrity” of the three officers involved after discrepancies in accounts of the meeting, which was recorded on tape. The IPCC said they should face disciplinary action to determine whether they acted to deliberately discredit him.

“He is owed an apology; the conduct of these officers was not acceptable; these things should be properly investigated,” Cameron told lawmakers in his weekly question-and-answer session in Parliament in London today. “Fortunately this meeting was recorded, so he has been able to prove that what he said was true and what the police officers said was untrue.”

Opposition Labour Party lawmakers have also said the case calls into question the integrity of the police, who are supposed to be outside politics.

Cameron’s government is cutting both police numbers and officers’ pay as it seeks to tackle the budget deficit. IPCC Commissioner Deborah Glass put the police’s motivation to discredit a member of the government down to “a successful, high-profile, anti-cuts campaign.”

The Crown Prosecution Service is considering whether to bring criminal charges following a police investigation into the case.

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