Andrew Mitchell has explained what he said to police (but it didn't help)
As Andrew Mitchell meets Police Federation officers in his Sutton Coldfield constituency, there have been repeated calls for him to reveal exactly what he said to police officers guarding the gates to Downing Street.
Labour leader Ed Miliband, in Bristol yesterday, said: "We still don't know what he said, what he said to our brave police officers, aned h has got to come forward with an explanation."
In fact, Mr Mitchell, the Chief Whip, has set out his side of the story. It appeared in a column by Matthew d'Ancona in the Sunday Telegraph last month, which states that Mr Mitchell denies calling anyone a "pleb" or suggesting they "learn your place", but states: "The Chief Whip admits that he then said, muttering to himself, but in earshot: 'You guys are supposed to fxxxing help us'."
My understanding is that Mr Mitchell admits he directed the remark at police officers, rather than simply muttering them. But the key point is that he may have sworn, for which he has apologised, but without the snobbery.
The difficulty for Mr Mitchell is that he has never been willing to put his side of the story publicly. Matthew d'Ancona, in the column, does not state that he spoke to the Chief Whip.
It appears that if Mr Mitchell has spoken to journalists it is on a "you didn't hear it from me" basis. There's a reason for this. He was reluctant to get into a public argument with police officers about what happened - a battle which would give the impression he was doubting their integrity.
But that's happened anyway. His televised statement in the street outside the Cabinet Office in Whitehall - where he said "I want to make it absolutely clear that I did not use the words that have been attributed to me" - gave the impression he was disputing the police account of events without actually setting out his own side of the story.
Mr Mitchell hoped the story would go away, but sections of the national media have been determined to keep it in the spotlight. In his interview with the Sutton Coldfield Observer, he said: "I feel the incident has been blown out of all proportion by the national media". In particular, there is a feeling that The Sun, which broke the story initially, is keen to claim a ministerial scalp to demonstrate it is still a force to be reckoned with, following criticism of the paper and its former stablemate, the New of the World.
But the fact is that the story refuses to die. The Daily Telegraph has now called on Mr Mitchell to resign as Chief Whip - stating that it no longer matters what he actually said, however unfair that may be.
The Telegraph's leader column states: "The truth is that it does not matter. In the absence of a miraculous recantation by the officers involved, the key fact will remain the same: Mr Mitchell's continued presence in government is doing considerable harm."
The fact that this verdict has been delivered by a paper so associated with the right that it's affectionately known as the Torygraph may be significant.
Will Mr Mitchell survive? I don't know. Many political journalists seem to think he could go this weekend, or at the start of next week. We'll see.
But I don't think we'll ever know for certain if he did call those police officers plebs.