'Plebgate' Police Federation chief guilty of standards breach


A Police Federation official accused of giving a misleading account of a meeting with Plebgate row MP Andrew Mitchell has been found guilty of breaching standards of professional behaviour.

But a West Mercia Police misconduct panel decided to impose no sanction on Inspector Ken Mackaill after clearing him of acting dishonestly during the furore in 2012.

A panel chaired by an assistant chief constable from Lincolnshire Police ruled that Mr Mackaill's breach of professional standards amounted to misconduct rather than gross misconduct.

The hearing centred around comments made by the officer - the then chairman of the West Mercia Police Federation - shortly before Mr Mitchell's resignation as a Government chief whip three years ago.

Addressing the media outside the Sutton Coldfield MP's constituency office on October 12 2012, Mr Mackaill called for Mr Mitchell to resign and claimed the politician had "refused to elaborate" on what happened during a verbal exchange with police officers in Downing Street.

Commenting after the disciplinary hearing, Detective Superintendent Gary Watson, the Head of Professional Standards for Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police, said: "This matter has been the subject of the most intense scrutiny and the due process has been concluded.

"The force accepts the decision of the panel."

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) ruled in July this year that Mr Mackaill and a Warwickshire Police Federation official should face disciplinary action after a recording of their meeting with Mr Mitchell was broadcast by Channel 4's Dispatches programme.

The West Mercia Police Federation confirmed in a statement that a disciplinary panel had chosen to to take "no further action" against Mr Mackaill, who is considering an appeal.

The statement read: "It is noted that allegations of dishonesty, deliberate conduct and gross misconduct were rejected by the panel."

The IPCC completed an independent investigation in May this year into the conduct of three Police Federation representatives following their meeting with Mr Mitchell.

IPCC Commissioner Carl Gumsley announced in August that he had "directed" Warwickshire Police to hold a misconduct hearing for Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton after the force declined to follow a recommendation that there was a case to answer for gross misconduct.

In its statement, the West Mercia federation added: "Pending the hearing against Det Sgt Stuart Hinton, it would not be appropriate to comment any further."