Saturday, December 22, 2012

Backpedalling Over Mitchell

The Police Federation can rarely have been in a worse place.  As the mysterious undercurrents of the Andrew Mitchell affair gradually gather pace, the Police Federation's execrable stance during the original incident has been coming under serious scutiny.  Its national chairman, Paul McKeever, can spot a noose tightening and has been busy backpedalling over his organisation's attitude towards Mr. Mitchell in those heady days.  Mr. McKeever says that the national leadership leadership took a very clear line not to call for Mr. Mitchell's resignation.  Really?  If so, it wasn't very clear at the time.  Mr. McKeever himself was quoted in a press release as questioning whether Mr. Mitchell should hold office: 
"It is hard to fathom how someone who holds the police in such contempt could be allowed to hold a public office."
Meanwhile his West Mercia division was opening calling for resignation. 

The Police Federation today looks a complete mess - deservedly so, given its behaviour.  But it's not the only organisation to be reviewing its stance.  the Daily Telegraph publishes an article by Charles Moore about the incident, in which Mr. Moore calls the Mitchell affair the police version of the BBC's McAlpine affair.  Mr. Moore's article is a cogent analysis of the build up of lies about Mr. Mitchell, and it is headlined "Andrew Mitchell: a lie gone round the world before the truth had its bicycle clips on".  He neglects to mention, perhaps for reasons of space, the crucial role played by his own newspaper in promulgating that lie when they published verbatim the transcript of a police log that now looks distinctly dodgy.  That the police log printed gleefully by the Telegraph should match so closely the email sent by the officer masquerading as a member of the public certainly raises serious questions about its truthfulness. 

Backpedalling, it seems, has become a bit of a sport in some quarters.




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