May 25 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 21, 2012
Government chief whip Andrew Mitchell has apologised for reportedly swearing at and insulting police officers on duty in Downing Street.
The 56-year-old, a former army officer and UN peacekeeper, admitted he “did not treat the police with the respect they deserve” after they refused to open the central London street’s main gates for him to ride his bicycle through, and tried to usher him through a side exit.
The row took place on Wednesday, the day after two police officers, Pcs Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone, were shot dead in Hattersley, Greater Manchester, prompting an outpouring of sympathy across the country.
The Sun reported that the millionaire minister used abusive language towards the officers. Mr Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield, last night denied using the language but apologised in a statement for his behaviour.
He said: “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 deserve.
“I have seen the supervising sergeant and apologised, and will also apologise to the police officer involved.”
A spokeswoman for Number 10 said Prime Minister David Cameron is aware of the outburst, “is glad that Mitchell has apologised” and said “police should always be treated with respect”.
Mr Mitchell was moved from his post as Secretary of State for International Development to replace Patrick McLoughlin in the key party enforcer role at the start of the month as the Prime Minister sought to beef up the whips’ office.
The married father-of-two, whose father Sir David Mitchell was a Tory minister under Margaret Thatcher, served as a UN peacekeeper in Cyprus in the 1970s before working in banking.
He served as MP for Gedling in Nottinghamshire for ten years and was Minister for Social Security between 1995 and 1997 before losing the seat in Tony Blair’s landslide Labour victory.
After losing his seat he became a director of investment bank Lazard Brothers, a role he retained until 2009.
He returned to the Commons in the 2001 election and was made a minister after the 2010 general election.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said that the force had not made a formal complaint about Wednesday’s incident.