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Yvette Cooper calls for inquiry into Chief Whip's outburst on Newcastle visit

SHADOW Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has compared the Government’s chief whip’s behaviour to that seen in anti-social teenagers on Tyneside estates.

Vera Baird, Shadow Minister Yvette Cooper, and Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes

SHADOW Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has compared the Government’s chief whip’s behaviour to that seen in anti-social teenagers on Tyneside estates.

Ms Cooper repeated calls for an inquiry into Andrew Mitchell’s police outburst on a visit to Newcastle to promote Labour police commissioner candidate Vera Baird.

Demands for a full Whitehall investigation into the row were rejected last night.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood said he agreed with Prime Minister David Cameron that there would not be “any purpose” in a probe after Mr Mitchell apologised for the incident.

Mr Mitchell has been under pressure since claims emerged that he swore at police and called an officer a “pleb”.

During a tour of the Blakelaw estate in Newcastle yesterday, Ms Cooper said families struggling with teenagers who failed to respect the police would find the comparison easy to make.

She said: “It is shocking. He has admitted he swore at officers, that is a change in what he said before, but he is still saying something very different to what the police say.

“We can’t have a situation where the PM ignores the testimony of the police officers whose job it is to keep Downing Street safe.

“Did Andrew Mitchell call a serving police officer a pleb, because he has not answered that question? We heard today, we were actually told, that part of the problem here in Newcastle is that some of the kids do not have respect for the police and it makes it much worse if you have on the news senior members of the Government calling police officers names.”

Ms Baird, seeking to be the first police commissioner in the Northumbria patch, said it showed the Government was out of touch. She said: “I don’t think you would find Andrew Mitchell coming to see an estate like this. I don’t think he understands what our folk are facing up to, it hasn’t penetrated to the likes of Witney or Sutton Coldfield. I think he is completely unaware of the damage he does with his cuts and the example he sets with his behaviour.”

In his first appearance before the cameras since news of his outburst broke last week, Mr Mitchell insisted that reports of his comments were inaccurate.

Asked whether he had used the politically explosive word “plebs”, he said: “I want to make it absolutely clear that I did not use the words that have been attributed to me.”

Speaking as he arrived for work in Whitehall, Mr Mitchell declined to give any detail of what words he recalled using in the altercation last Wednesday.

But he acknowledged that he had not shown the police “the amount of respect I should have done” during the confrontation.

“It had been the end of a long and extremely frustrating day – not that that is any excuse at all for what happened,” he said.

But Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis, president-elect of the Police Superintendents’ Association, said it was still unclear whether Mr Mitchell used the word “pleb”.

She said: “We are five days on from when this incident happened and we’re still no clearer as to what was said.

“By saying he disputes what the officer has said, he’s actually calling into question the police officer’s integrity, and for a police officer that’s a very serious matter.”

 

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