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MITCHELL Andrew press conference

“The Andrew Mitchell case is wrapped up in legal action and formal inquiry.  In the first instance, he is suing the Sun for libel; in the second, Operation Alice is taking place (and is still going on over a year after its launch, with over 30 police officers having been put on the case, despite the original incident lasting only 45 seconds).  But neither can prove the facts of the case.  The court case will turn on the law of libel, not on what happened on that fateful evening in Downing Street.  Operation Alice may end in prosecutions or disciplinary action or neither, but it cannot pass judgement what Mitchell said to a policeman.

This is important to grasp this point, if only because the different sides of the controversy, so to speak, are bound to suggest otherwise.  If there are no prosecutions, Mitchell’s foes are bound to crow that his guilt is proven.  If there are, some of his friends are likely to suggest that his innocence is established, even though the case will not at that point have been heard.  I am one of them, but take a different view – namely, that the facts of the case are already clear.

There is no evidence that Mitchell said the words attributed to him other than the police log.  That log has been proved to be not fully accurate.  It is not true that, as it claims, there were “several members of the public present around the gate” who “heard the altercation and were ‘visibly shocked”: this is plain from the video evidence.  And an account backing up the log entry has been proved to be false.  A witness who e-mailed his MP backing up the claims about Mitchell in the police log said later when questioned that he “wasn’t a witness to anything”.  He had also failed to tell the MP that he is a serving police officer.”

You may think that the prosecution of PC Keith Wallis proves that Mitchell is innocent, or that the non-prosecution of anyone else proves the contrary. (Five officers are to be charged under disciplinary proceedings with gross misconduct).

You may believe that, given the questions about the accuracy of the account of PC Rowlands of the original incident, it is wrong that he was not interviewed under caution (I do, by the way).  Then again, you may think the decision was right.

You may believe that any CCTV evidence which demonstrates that the version shown on Channel 4 was wrong should be published by the Crown Prosecution Service, in order to clear up all the claims and counter-claims. Or you may not.

Or of course, you may have long ago have lost patience with the whole business, and prefer to ponder whether or not the Reverend Green did it with the lead pipe in the Billiard Room.  However, the point remains the same, regardless.

Namely, that what I wrote ago a month ago still stands (see above), and that court proceedings can’t prove whether or not Andrew Mitchell said the words attributed to him.  You must take your view on the evidence available.

Mine is that he didn’t say them, that his job was unfairly removed from him, and that he should be restored to the Cabinet as soon as possible. That last view is shared by four out of five Tory members. If David Cameron agrees with it, whether or not he then acts on it is something of a test of character.

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