UPDATE: From further examination of the footage, I’ve concluded that the footage pointed to by Andrew Mitchell is actually genuine footage. However, having watched and re-watched the footage repeatedly, I’m now certain that clever editing by him and/or the Channel 4 Dispatches team makes Mitchell’s interactions with the police officers appear far shorter and more innocent than it in fact was – and also makes the number of people privy to the incident appear far fewer – the chief ‘reason’ the former Tory Chief Whip claims the footage ‘exonerates’ him. Please bear with me, and I hope to publish a detailed analysis in a very short time – ideally before I go to bed!
I wrote yesterday about Andrew Mitchell’s claim to have been ‘exonerated’ by CCTV footage showing him apparently leaving an almost-deserted Downing St gate, which appeared to undermine the police summary of the incident. The footage by no means exonerated Mr Mitchell, though, as I pointed out.
In that post, I linked to another blog, by the excellent Gracie Samuels (@graciesamuels on Twitter in case you wish to follow her as I recommend!), which looked in detail at the video footage from different angles. Gracie queried apparent discrepancies between video taken from behind the incident with the footage Mitchell claims exonerates him – and particularly drew attention to the fact that the time-stamp on Mitchell’s preferred view is missing or blocked out.
The obvious inference is that Mitchell’s footage might not be related to the actual incident – and my initial reaction was, ‘Interesting, but surely not’.
It appears I may have spoken (to myself) too soon. John Ward’s blog (@nbyward on Twitter, and a special mention for Harry Clarke/@horatioharry for pointing me to the post!), The Slog, has highlighted a ‘curio piece‘ run by the Daily Mail not long after the incident. The headline of the Mail’s piece ran:
Mitchell made SECOND bid to cycle through Downing Street gates hours after foul-mouthed rant at police
At the time, the Mail treated the incident as an example of Mitchell’s overweening arrogance to be trying it on again so soon after the now-famous Plebgate incident. If it was arrogance, it would be of a scale and stupidity mindblowing even by Mitchell’s standards. But was it?
The release of ‘new’ footage of the incident in which the timestamp is conspicuous by its absence, combined with the way in which Mitchell and his allies are trying to use it, means the question has to be asked:
Is the ‘innocent’ footage actually of the same incident at all – and even worse, did Andrew Mitchell deliberately re-stage his exit from Downing Street in order to provide alternative video footage that could be used to resurrect his career, and at the same time perhaps to damage David Cameron?
Mitchell’s arrogance is too much even for his ‘nasty-party’ colleagues, and he is distrusted by many, as fellow former Chief Whip Michael Fabricant’s interview in today’s Daily Telegraph shows. Is his arrogance also enough for him to believe that he can get away with tampering with evidence and perverting the course of justice?