A London police officer tasked with protecting diplomats was arrested in a probe into allegations of verbal abuse that led to the resignation of Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Cabinet.
The 46-year-old male officer was arrested at his workplace on suspicion of unauthorized disclosure of information to the media and is still in custody, the Metropolitan Police Service said today in a statement that didn’t identify him. It’s the third arrest in the case.
Police are investigating an officer’s allegation that Mitchell, who was in charge of discipline in Cameron’s Tory party, called officers “plebs” outside the prime minister’s Downing Street residence after they refused to let him cycle through the main gate. He stepped down a month later.
A report by Channel 4 News televised Dec. 18 said a police officer had posed as a member of the public and falsely claimed to have witnessed the events in an e-mail to a lawmaker.
“The allegations in relation to this matter are extremely serious and it is therefore vital that a thorough and proportionate investigation is carried out,” the Met said in the statement. “The investigation continues to be progressed with urgency, determination and an open mind.”
The man arrested today was not one of the officers present during the incident at Downing Street in September 2012, the Met said. The earlier arrests, involving at least one police officer, were made on suspicion of misconduct in public office and on suspicion of “intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an indictable offense,” police said.
Cameron may restore Mitchell to office if the new evidence exonerates him, a person familiar with the premier’s thinking said at the time.
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