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Andrew Mitchell is ‘only human’ says Tory PCC candidate

Andrew Mitchell is ‘only human’ says Tory PCC candidate

🕔21.Sep 2012
English: Andrew Mitchell, British politician a...

Andrew Mitchell’s reported foul-mouthed outburst at bobbies guarding Downing Street was “only human” and a moment of anger, the Tory who hopes to become West Midlands Police Commissioner has claimed.

Matt Bennett attempted to explain away Mr Mitchell’s behaviour by suggesting that the Sutton Coldfield MP and Government Chief Whip didn’t mean anything when he allegedly told policemen outside Number Ten that they were “f***ing plebs”.

Mr Mitchell subsequently apologised for not showing respect to the police, but denied using some of the words attributed to him.

According to the Sun newspaper, Mr Mitchell lost his temper with police officers after being told he could not cycle out of Downing Street through the main gate and would have to use a side exit.

He was quoted as telling a policeman: “Best you learn your f****ing place. You don’t run this f***ing government”.

The timing of Mr Mitchell’s outburst could hardly have been worse, emerging two days after the killing of Greater Manchester policewomen Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes.

The incident prompted a ticking off from Prime Minister David Cameron: “What Andrew Mitchell said and what he did was not appropriate. It was wrong and it is right that he has apologised.”

Mr Mitchell was reported to have made a personal apology to the officer involved as he tried to limit the damage from the episode.

But the incident prompted a lively exchange between the two leading contenders for West Midlands police commissioner, Mr Bennett and his Labour opponent Coun Bob Jones.

In a press release entitled “millionaire Mitchell insults police and ordinary working people”, Coun Jones attempted to portray the Sutton Coldfield MP as arrogant and out of touch.

Coun Jones said: “This tells us what many of us have suspected. Tory millionaire MPS are so out of touch they think they can insult working people with immunity.

“No doubt this is what Mitchell also thinks of nurses, teachers, office workers, factory workers and the rest of us who work for a living. Presumably all be dismissed as “plebs” and everyone else.

“Had Mitchell used such language to a policeman outside the Bottle of Sack pub in Sutton town centre on a Saturday night  he would have been arrested and quite rightly have spent a night in the cells.”

Mr Bennett hit back, accusing Coun Jones of “opportunism” and of failing to enter a public debate about the police commissioner elections on November 15.

In a letter to Coun Jones, Mr Bennett said: “Speaking to anyone rudely should never be condoned, although Andrew Mitchell denies making the remarks you have quoted. In any case, he has apologised to the officer concerned.

“It is only human for people to have these moments of anger and say things they do not mean. The sensible thing to do would be for us to accept this and move on to discussing the important issues in the campaign which you have so far been reluctant to do. I note that this is the first direct communication I have had from you and you have refused my offer to debate with you in every local authority area around the West Midlands.

 

“Of course police officers should be given the respect they deserve, but rather than engaging in naked opportunism you should show some respect to the electorate by taking part in more public debates than the few that have been organised for us in Birmingham and Coventry”.

The Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, condemned the outburst, saying the row was particularly offensive following the shootings in Manchester.

Chairman Paul McKeever said: “It is hard to fathom how someone who holds the police in such contempt could be allowed to hold a public office.”

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