Did Andrew Mitchell re-stage exit to provide ‘innocent’ CCTV footage?

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?


  1. You beat me too it!

    I drafted a comment last night and started to look at the two different CCTV videos but I didn’t have time to try to sync them together to see how (or if) they did match in terms of the pedestrians. Anyway, I’ll past my comment here as I wrote it because I suspect there may be a simple explanation to the timestamp issue, yet may raise other issues.

    In the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, has anyone noticed that the time in the top left corner of the Whitehall Foreign Office CCTV camera has the minutes fuzzed out? This starts at 7 m 45 s into the programme. We can see the date, hour and fractions of seconds, but not the minutes. It doesn’t look like it, but it may be because there is someone behind it (and pedestrians and police are similarly fuzzed out), but it means that we don’t know what time it relates to.

    Mitchell points to a pedestrian on the laptop screen and says:

    On this, the alleged log book talked about crowds of people deeply shocked watching and listening. And what this CCTV shows is there aren’t crowds of people watching and listening. … There’s one chap here who wanders across…emmm…and stops, and then wanders back, but emm…there aren’t any crowds of people.

    The earlier CCTV videos (CAM 17 and 18) from inside Downing Street clearly show the time, but if we don’t know what the time on the Whitehall CCTV video is, we have no way of knowing whether what is presented by Crick and Mitchell is indeed contemporaneous with the alleged incident on the other side of the gate in Downing Street. Of course, we don’t see Mitchell coming through the pedestrian gate in the Whitehall CCTV, so we have nothing to tie the two videos together in time. It could just be video from any time between 19:00 and 19:59 on that date.

    There may be a simple explanation: unless the two CCTV cameras were part of the same system (and there is some evidence to support that they are not), they could be set to slightly different times that were out of sync with each other and Channel 4 may have taken the editorial decision to not bother trying to explain why the times were different.

    But if that’s the case, how do Crick and Mitchell know they are looking at the correct time in Whitehall? The answer can only be if they see Mitchell coming through the pedestrian gate – it would then be the preceding 10 seconds or so in which the incident was alleged to have taken place. That would definitively tie the two separate CCTV videos together, regardless of any displayed time discrepancy.

    But then there’s the problem that this pedestrian who walked across and then returned can’t be see on the Downing Street video – I certainly can’t see anyone who appears to be doing that. The relevant video starts at 4 m 52 s in from (CAM 18). Can anyone else see him/her? You can clearly see two pedestrians together walking left to right at around 5 m 20 s (and again at 5 m 32 s), just as the gate is being opened

    However, even then, the CCTV doesn’t quite cover the pedestrian gate. This Google Street View shows it clearly (assuming it’s not changed). Comparing this with the CCTV, the pedestrian gate is at the extreme bottom left of the CCTV picture and round the corner slightly, and, because it’s poorly lit and poor resolution, it’s not clear to me that Mitchell would have been seen wheeling his bicycle through the gate.

    If the Whitehall CCTV does show Mitchell passing through the gate, then it would have been helpful if Channel 4 had shown us that so we could be certain. If Mitchell can’t be seen, how does we know what we are looking at?

    There are other issues with this: the pedestrian entrance way extends below the bottom of what can be seen in the CCTV video, so there could have been pedestrians there who would have easily have been in earshot of Mitchell and the police, but out of view of both cameras.

    Also, I find it hard to believe that the entrance to the pedestrian entrance way is so poorly covered by CCTV – there is a similar camera on the other side on Downing Street that might have seen more. There must be other footage that would clear all this up. Crick says there are plenty in that area, so do they have any recordings from any others?

  2. It’s maybe worth saying that the reason that the two cameras are obviously on different systems (and hence may be at slightly different times) is that the timestamps are in different locations on the screen and in different formats. This info is usually added by the recording device and not the cameras themselves. So, it is entirely possible that Channel 4 fuzzed it out to save having to explain that. However, we don’t know that and it could well be that we were not seeing the video from the Whitehall camera at the time of the the alleged incident. Channel 4 would be able to tell us whether they did this or whether they received the video with the timestamp already fuzzed out and down that road can only be very deep conspiracy theories.

  3. Your theory makes absolutely no sense when you look at the footage – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3K3yaykOaGw – Everything featuring Mitchell from 1.20 to 3 mins is datestamped… the other bit of video – which is hardly crucial anyway appears to include the hour. I think Mitchell would have needed a crystal ball to be motivated to perform a reenactment.

  4. Sorry Treats but ive only seen the footage once, on CH4 news, and from that i considered immediately that the pre gate footage didnt match with the post gate footage.I never even noticed the time stamp but i do believe they are two seperate pieces of video spliced together.The sticky thing for the cops is the complaint but i await more info on the arrests surrounding that.

      1. I have just watched the footage and they do not appear to be the same. It’s clear that when Mitchell is near to the gate, at least 4 people walk by. This is not shown on the second CCTV.

      2. I’d love to see someone with the right video editing skills try to match the two different views up in a split screen so we can better see what happened. I have tried, but just don’t have the skills.

        But I think it’s clear that Channel 4 have questions to answer:

        1. Did they fuzz the timestamp in the Whitehall video? If so, why and if not, did they receive the video like that?

        2. Does the Whitehall video stop as we were shown on the programme or does it go on?

        3. If it goes on, were there other pedestrians and do we see Mitchell leaving through the gate?

        4. If the video doesn’t show Mitchell leaving through the gate, how did they match the two videos in time?

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