Former UK minister Andrew Mitchell loses ‘Plebgate’ libel case

Judge rules ex-Conservative chief whip called PC Toby Rowland a ‘pleb’

A former minister in David Cameron’s Tory government lost a libel case on Thursday over a newspaper article that said he had insultingly referred to police as “plebs”.

Andrew Mitchell was forced to quit his ministerial job after a 2012 confrontation with officers outside Mr Cameron's Downing Street office.

A high court judge ruled former the chief whip called PC Toby Rowland a “pleb” when the PC asked Mr Mitchell to use the pedestrian exit at number 9 Downing St.

The judge said Mr Mitchell did call Mr Rowland the “politically toxic” word because the officer did not have the “wit, imagination or inclination” to invent it.


Mr Mitchell had admitted swearing but denied using the word “pleb”, as reported by the Sun.

He sued the tabloid's publisher, News Group Newspapers, over the claims.

Mr Rowland previously said he would seek damages from Mr Mitchell for suggesting he had lied.

The former minister said after the ruling he was disappointed but added: “This has been a miserable two years and we now need to bring this matter to a close and move on with our lives.”

Legal bills

Mr Mitchell could be facing legal bills of up to £3 million (€3.8 million) as lawyers for Mr Rowland and News Group Newspapers seek reimbursement for their costs.

Mr Rowland said he regretted the incident had ended up in court but was delighted by the ruling.

He said: “It is particularly saddening that all this happened because I was merely following procedures - I was doing my job without fear or favour.”

The senior British police constable who was on duty in Downing St at the time of the row said he feels sorry for Mr Mitchell.

Retired PC Ian Richardson said it was a “nonsense incident” and accused the Police Federation of “jumping on the band wagon”.