From the start I have called for openness, honesty and transparency in this matter and that due process is followed. I fully support the independent scrutiny of policing which the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) provides.
As previously stated, I have never supported the actions of the officers following their meeting with Andrew Mitchell at his constituency office. They were unwise to get involved in such a political campaign and they have subsequently brought discredit on the Police service and damaged public confidence in the integrity of the Police. I believe that the officers should have apologised to Mr Mitchell and his family for the hurt their actions caused.
Due to the nature of the matters under investigation and the potential public interest I believe that from the beginning the Independent IPCC as a minimum should have managed the investigation, a decision which would have had no resourcing implications for the IPCC but would have enabled them to retain the ability to direct the outcome of the investigation. This whole issue would not have arisen if they had done so.
During the supervision of the Police enquiry into this matter the IPCC confirmed that they were satisfied with the Police investigation but disagreed with the decision of the Appropriate Authorities and called into question the integrity of the senior officers involved. These allegations of concern have since been withdrawn in the latest statement from the Deputy Chair of the IPCC, which is welcomed. Owing to procedural irregularities that were highlighted in the Home Affairs Select Committee hearing on 23rd October the IPCC have now changed their view and are proposing a fresh independent investigation by the IPCC. This in my opinion should have taken place right from the outset.
In my role of holding the Chief Constable to account and scrutinising his actions I have taken independent legal advice concerning the IPCC’s decision to reopen the investigation. This advice raises concerns in my mind that the legal grounds for the proposed investigation may not be legally sound, with the potential for further legal challenges to follow. All of this can only result in additional public expense.
The action of the officers which initiated this issue was ill judged but I have been insistent that due process is followed in reaching a determination as to whether they should face misconduct proceedings. I would hope that the proposed fresh investigation and any subsequent hearing are thorough and fair, so that this matter is brought to a swift conclusion.
Dependent upon developments I do intend to hold a public meeting in Warwickshire when myself and the Chief Constable will answer questions from the public on this issue.