Police Federation: Andrew Mitchell told us he did swear at Downing Street cops
The TV cameras didn't catch what Andrew Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield) said in the House of Commons yesterday but Labour say they are certain he told Ed Miliband he never did swear at police officers.
However, Mr Mitchell did admit swearing when he met representatives of the Police Federation last week, as we report in today's Birmingham Post:
Chris Jones, Secretary of West Midlands Police Federation, who was present at the meeting, said: "He told us that he did say under his breath 'I thought you lot were supposed to f****** help us.'
"That was from his own lips."
Mr Mitchell told the Federation that he had not used the words contained in a police log of the Downing Street incident, which reported him calling officers "plebs" and telling them to "learn your f****** place."
Mr Jones said: "He kept telling us 'on my word of honour I did not use the words that are written in that document'.
"He explained that he did not want to get into a 'firefight' with the police over what he said."
The Post also has some lively debate on its letter pagers - and readers seem to sympathise with the MP.
As you'll recall, the whole incident began when police guarding the gates to Downing Street refused to open them to Mr Mitchell could cycle out. They open the gates for cars all the time.
Here is an extract from a letter from former Birmingham Conservative councillor and Lord Mayor Sir Bernard Zissman.
. . . with most of the world in turmoil, millions starving in one continent or another, our Parliamentary leaders struggling to sort out a global economic mess, what continues to occupy our media screens and pages and our Members of Parliament? What Andrew Mitchell did say to a police officer, what he did not say, what might he have said.
None of us approves of swearing at a police officer, although I doubt many readers of this letter have not done so at some time in their lives - some under their breath, some to their face - and few will have apologised.
How many of us have not encountered someone in a uniform acting like a jobsworth, although I am not suggesting this is what happened outside 10 Downing Street?
Contrary to some opinions, MPs, even Cabinet Ministers, are human, too, just as capable of losing it for a few moments, swearing in temper and then apologising, in this case in a very public way.
There are some who still cannot understand why the wretched gate wasn't opened for Mr Mitchell . . .