Plebgate officers deny lying about meeting with Andrew Mitchell

Three police officers who met with Andrew Mitchell to discuss the 'plebgate' row, have denied they intentionally misled the public about what was said.

Speaking to the home affairs select committee yesterday, they also refused to apologise to the former chief whip.

"We may have said things that could be interpreted as being misleading", detective sergeant Stuart Hinton told the home affairs select committee.

"But we certainly didn't intend to do that and we certainly did not lie intentionally."

His colleague, Inspector Ken MacKaill said he "absolutely refutes" claims they had tried to destroy Mitchell's career.

He added that the then-chief whip was right to resign because he had made "a casual dismissal of police integrity".

Chris Jones, from West Midlands Police, said he was "not convinced we have done anything wrong".

However, Warwickshire chief constable Andy Parker said he was embarrassed by the actions of his officers.

"My officers got involved in a political campaign which was ill thought-through and has led to a lot of public confidence issues for us," he said.

"I would certainly like to apologise to Mr Mitchell because this added to the already big impact of the Plebgate campaign and it is embarrassing that my force was involved in the way it was," he added.

The chief constable of West Mercia David Shaw also offered an "unreserved apology" to Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell said today he was "very grateful" for their apology and looked forward to meeting with them soon.

Reakes-Williams, head of professional standards at Warwickshire and West Mercia Police told the committee, the officers should face further hearings.

He said their comments last year "may have had the impact of misleading the public" but insisted there was "not a deliberate intention to mislead".

MPs also heard from the deputy chair of the IPCC, Deborah Glass, who said she was "absolutely astonished" the police's internal investigation had found the officers had no case to answer.

"The evidence and conclusions [of the investigation] were so at odds that I thought I had to put that on the record," she said.

She added that she had made her opinion clear to investigators but it was not within the IPCC's powers to have the investigation re-opened.

She insisted there was a clear case to be made that the officers had tried to mislead the public and should face a gross misconduct panel.

The three officers repeated their apology for speaking to the media after their meeting with Mitchell, but refused to apologise directly to the former chief whip.

The chairman Keith Vaz told them he believed their evidence to the committee had been "very unsatisfactory".

Five police officers have already been arrested and bailed over their part in the events that followed Mitchell's confrontation with officers on Downing Street, following claims that evidence was falsified.

The Crown Prosecution Service is currently considering charges against eight people.