By Peter Hoskin
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Just what had gotten into Andrew Mitchell? Even if the details of this morning's Sun story aren't fully accurate, it still sounds as though he was very rude to a police officer — which is bad enough. But to be so on Downing St, within potential earshot of members of the public, adds another level of folly to his misdemeanour. "Best you learn your f***ing place. You don’t run this f***ing government," the report has him saying to an officer who wouldn't open the gates, “You’re f***ing plebs.”
Mitchell has sinced released a statement, which both apologises for what went on and denies the Sun's account of it:
"On Wednesday night I attempted to leave Downing Street
via the main gate, something I have been allowed to do many times before.
I was told that I was not allowed to leave that way.
While I do not accept that I used any of the words that have
been reported, I accept I did not treat the police with the respect they
I have seen the supervising Sergeant and apologised, and
will also apologise to the police officer involved."
For its part, No.10 has said that David Cameron is "glad that Andrew Mitchell has apologised" — and is probably keener to regard this is a one-off, an unthinking and rash outburst, rather than taking it any further. But they'll still be smarting at the story, not least because it comes at a time of police cuts and police disgruntlement. And as for the Chief Whip, perhaps it's a good time to remind him of Paul's recent advice: "Andrew Mitchell must deploy his charm, not wield the cane".