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'Plebgate' officers issue apology
Three police officers caught up in the "plebgate" row have apologised for "poor judgment in talking to the media" after a meeting with former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell.
Inspector Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones were spared misconduct proceedings by an internal police investigation after they were accused of trying to discredit the politician.
But the Independent Police Complaints Commisison (IPCC) later disputed the West Mercia Police investigation's findings and said there were issues of "honesty and integrity" among the three Police Federation representatives.
In a statement issued by the Police Federation, the three officers fell short of apologising for the comments they made but insisted they never intended to mislead anyone.
It said: " The reputation of, and public confidence in, the police service is of immense concern to each of us.
"We acknowledge the investigation's criticism relating to our poor judgment in talking to the media following the meeting with Andrew Mitchell, for which we take this opportunity to apologise.
"We would like to emphasise - as we did to the investigation - that in no way did any of us ever plan or intend to mislead anyone about what occurred during this meeting or otherwise."
Mr Mitchell met the Police Federation representatives after he was accused of calling officers guarding Downing Street ''plebs'' in a foul-mouthed rant as he was asked to cycle through a side gate on September 19 last year.
Mr Mitchell met Mr MacKaill, Det Sgt Hinton and Sgt Jones on October 12 last year at his Sutton Coldfield constituency office to "clear the air".
A transcript shows Mr Mitchell apologised for swearing at the police officers but denied using the word "plebs", while in comments made after the meeting Mr MacKaill claimed the former Tory chief whip refused to provide an account of the incident.
West Mercia Police conducted an internal investigation into claims the three officers were trying to discredit Mr Mitchell but concluded there was no case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct.
However, the IPCC concluded that they should have faced a misconduct panel.
Prime Minister David Cameron insisted Mr Mitchell was owed an apology by police and said the conduct of the officers, who were representing the forces of West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands, was "not acceptable".
The Crown Prosecution Service is considering whether to bring criminal charges following Scotland Yard's £230,000-plus investigation, known as Operation Alice.
Eight people, including five police officers arrested under Operation Alice, were re-bailed.
The three officers have been called to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee to provide a "full explanation" of what happened.
The committee's chairman Keith Vaz said: "I note the statement by the three officers concerned.
"We have now asked them to appear before the committee to provide a full explanation of what they have said and the circumstances leading up to their statement. Such evidence will be most helpful to the committee's inquiry."
Tory MP David Davis said the apology falls well short of what is required for their "pre-meditated" attack which he says "destroyed a career".
"The statement from the three police Federation officials is simply not good enough.
"Their actions have destroyed a career. The transcript of the meeting which took place in Sutton Coldfield shows that the Federation deployed a premeditated line of attack against Mr Mitchell.
"This is not a case of misjudgment, it is deliberate misconduct and they should face the consequences of that misconduct."