Adrian Keeling QC represents cleared 'Plebgate' Officer

Mon, 08 Feb 2016

Detective Sgt. Stuart Hinton was accused of giving a misleading account of an interview with Andrew Mitchell in the 2012 "Plebgate" row has been cleared of misconduct. 

A misconduct panel cleared him of breaching policing integrity standards. 

Mr Mitchell said inquiries into police conduct should be independent to "command more public confidence".

Warwickshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball criticised the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) for its handlings of the case, accusing it of ineptitude "from start to finish".

The "plebgate" row centred on a 15-second confrontation in September 2012 between Mr Mitchell and PC Toby Rowland, in which - according to the Sun newspaper - the then Conservative chief whip called the officer a "pleb" for his refusal to permit him to cycle through the main gates at Downing Street.

Mr Mitchell was forced to resign from the cabinet over the row but vowed to clear his name in the libel courts, launching an action against the Sun.

A gross misconduct case against serving Warwickshire Police officer Detective Sgt Hinton heard he and two Police Federation members met Mr Mitchell on 12 October 2012 at his constituency office, weeks after the incident at Downing Street.

A recording of the meeting showed Detecive Sgt Hinton thanking Mr Mitchell for his "candour", later telling him, "Everybody can have a bad day" after Mr Mitchell had admitted to swearing at a police officer but denied calling him a "pleb".

But the hearing heard Detective Sgt Hinton told BBC Radio 5 Live the following day: "He [Mr Mitchell] still won't say exactly what he did say, which suggests that the officer's account is more likely to be the accurate one."

In that interview Detective Sgt Hinton, described by colleagues as a "model detective", also called for Mr Mitchell to resign.

In his closing statement to the panel, presenting officer Aaron Rathmell said the officer had "passed judgment" and not given a fair and accurate account of the meeting.

But the detective's barrister Adrian Keeling QC said a man of "integrity" had been charged with "inaccurately reporting the lies told by a dishonest man".

"Hindsight absolutely supports Sgt Hinton's honest, accurate and candid view, relying on his good sense and judgement, which no doubt he's relied upon all these years [as a detective]," said Mr Keeling.

To read the full story, click here to visit the BBC website. 

Click here to visit Adrian Keeling QC's profile.

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