The Chair of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz, is quoted in today’s Sunday Telegraph and on BBC News as saying that
Public confidence in the police has been shaken after failures over the way officers responded to the Hillsborough disaster, and new disclosures over the “Plebgate” controversy
and calling for a public inquiry into policing.
Nobody can question that the Hillsborough disaster was a catastrophe for those affected by it, or that it cast the South Yorkshire police of the time in a very grim light. But to put that tragedy – which happened over 2 decades ago – alongside ‘disclosures over the “Plebgate” controversy” in order to describe public confidence in the police as ‘shaken’ is to give the supposed ‘disclosures’, by former Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell and his supporters via Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches’ programme, a weight and credence that they simply do not deserve.
The BBC News channel went further. Showing a very brief clip of the CCTV footage of Andrew Mitchell leaving Downing Street, a commentator’s voiceover today says:
This CCTV footage of a brief encounter in Downing St between police officers and Andrew Mitchell MP raised new questions about the police role in the ‘Plebgate’ row.
I wrote, in the very early hours of Christmas morning, about this footage – and how a proper analysis of it reveals that it is very far from corroborating the claims of Mr Mitchell and his allies of ‘exoneration’.
That post has, to date, been the 2nd-most read post since I started this blog, so clearly ‘Plebgate’ is a matter of significant public interest – and one which Mr Mitchell and his supporters are now evidently keen to use to turn public opinion against the police so that he can campaign to get his old job back, or perhaps another senior ministerial post.
I believe that a careful watching of the CCTV footage shows clearly that the police log is not demonstrated to be untrue by it. However, a few comments on the blog post and on Twitter have made me think that perhaps the matter needs to be made clearer still.
So, I’ve spent the last day or so trying to learn a few new (and very basic) video-editing skills, in order to be able to put the footage and my commentary together in a single, straightforward video to shine a more accurate light on the CCTV images than I believe has been done by ‘Dispatches’, by BBC News, or by any other of the mainstream media so far.
Until and unless Mr Mitchell, or someone else, is prepared to provide the full, uncut footage from every CCTV camera with a view of the gate at the relevant time, including sound where available, I believe that this video can claim to be the definitive analysis of the footage made available so far.
I hope the fact that this is no doubt a very amateurish first attempt will not distract you from the evidence itself!
Please note that the video has no sound – intentionally, to let the images speak for themselves without distracting commentary by Mr Mitchell or any TV presenters: