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By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2013-06-10 at 23.29.23Andrew Mitchell's campaign for restoration to the Cabinet went up a gear yesterday afternoon as senior Conservative and Labour MPs piled into the Met Commissioner:

Richard Ottoway (Croydon South): "We have a situation where police from the Met appear to have fabricated
evidence against a Cabinet Minister; the Met Commissioner is put in
charge of the investigation and admits to discussing the case with
journalists; in breach of his own rules, he fails to keep a note of the
discussion; and, six months later, we do not even have a report. Does my
right hon. Friend agree that the Commissioner has a lot of questions to
answer?"

Tom Watson (West Bromwich East):  "After a terribly bruising encounter at the hands of the media, the right
hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr  Mitchell) attempted to clear his
name in the press. It now seems apparent that he was the victim of media
spin at the highest level of the Metropolitan police. Does the Minister
understand that this case is particularly important not because the
wronged party was a Member of Parliament but because it could happen to
any one of our constituents who do not have the vehicle to put things
right?"


David Davis (Haltenprice and Howden): "In view of the revelations of the past week, will the policing Minister
put in place a strict disciplinary code that requires all police
officers of all ranks to keep a comprehensive and accurate record of all
contacts they have with the press?"

Keith Vaz (Leicester East): The Commissioner promised a ruthless search for the truth when he established Operation Alice, but, as the hon. Member for Croydon South (Richard Ottaway) said, this has taken eight months, involved 30 investigating police officers and cost the taxpayer £144,000 for an incident in Downing street that lasted 45 seconds. We are not asking for a running commentary; we are just asking the Minister when we can have a timetable so that this and other investigations currently costing £23 million in terms of past errors by the police are investigated thoroughly but quickly?

Damian Green, the Minister answering these pointed questions, stuck to the line that the IPCC investigation into PoliceGate or MitchellGate or whatever you want to call it was not a matter for him.  (Green has good reasons of his own to believe that the police don't always act reasonably, but was far too astute to let this view show yesterday, if indeed he holds it.)

There was a flurry of reshuffle excitement over the weekend, in which Liam Fox's name featured prominently.

Andrew Mitchell is the other Conservative Cabinet resignation candidate for restoration, and though he lacks Fox's pull on the right of the party, yesterday's exchanges show again that there is wide support in the Commons for the view that he was treated unjustly, and that the case for bringing him back to Cabinet is very strong – though not as Chief Whip, please.

The last word goes to Crispin Blunt (Reigate):

"The Channel 4 “Dispatches” programme took 10 days to establish that the
video record was completely at odds with the police account of events.
Since the police have now interviewed 800 officers, spent £144,000 and
taken eight months apparently to go nowhere, might it not be an idea to
invite Channel 4’s “Dispatches” to be put in charge of the
investigation, as it appears to be more effective and would certainly be
more independent?"

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