View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Media Law
November 20, 2014

Pc sacked over Plebgate leak: ‘I could topple the Tory government’ text was sarcastic

By PA Mediapoint

A police officer who was sacked from the Met over her part in Plebgate has denied at the High Court that she was "intent on doing some damage" to former chief whip Andrew Mitchelland the Government.

Gillian Weatherley, who was dismissed for gross misconduct in April after a disciplinary panel found her to be a "thoroughly dishonest and incredible witness", was on duty on the Downing Street gates in September 2012 when Mitchell tried to cycle through.

She said that she did not know who Mitchell was or what office he held when she directed him to the pedestrian exit and was "somewhat surprised and shocked" when Pc Toby Rowland told her that Mitchell had called the officers "fucking plebs" who should know their place.

At the time, she saw an unsmiling female member of the public standing near the gates "with an expression of shock about her as if she was taken aback – her eyes were wide".

Weatherley said that Mitchell's counsel, James Price QC, would be wrong in suggesting that the shocked woman was an invention and was an attempt to help Pc Rowland justify giving a cabinet minister a public order warning.

When an internal email, containing Pc Rowland's account of the altercation appeared in The Sun, Weatherley said she did not suspect it had been leaked to the newspaper by another officer, James Glanville, to whom she had sent a MMS photo of the email.

She told Mr Justice Mitting that Pc Glanville, who was also later sacked, had told her he wanted to read the remarks out of interest to see if the stories he had heard at work had been exaggerated.

Content from our partners
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it
Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution
Papermule: Workflow automation for publishers

He told her he had deleted it after reading it, which was why she did not tell the police investigation into the leaking that she had sent it to the officer, stating only that the two copies she had printed off were still in her possession and no one else had access to them.

Challenged by Price, Weatherley, who previously had an untarnished record, denied that she was telling the court the "same pack of lies" as she told the disciplinary hearing – although she understood she was dismissed from the force for lying.

Price: "You were quite keen to damage the Government, weren't you?"

Weatherley: "No, I was not."

She said that texts she sent saying "I could topple the Tory government" and "I still have time to bring the Government down" were meant to be sarcastic remarks.

Price: "The truth is that you were intent on doing some damage to Mr Mitchell and the Government, weren't you?"

Weatherley: "No, I was not."

She said that a 22-minute phone conversation she had with Pc Rowland, two days after The Sun's story, was a "sort of welfare" chat because of the press attention and not, as Price suggested, because they needed to get their story straight as they knew they were both telling lies about what happened in Downing Street.

Asked by the judge if she was hoping that no one would discover that she had sent Pc Glanville a copy of the email, she said: "I can't answer that, I don't think so."

The judge said: "Did there ever come a time when you were trying to protect either him or you by silence?"

Weatherley: "No, because as soon as I found out that he had lied to me and been arrested, that was when I put the information forward to my chief superintendent and I told them what had happened."

Mitchell claims that the allegedly libellous story in The Sun, which News Group Newspapers (NGN) says is substantially true, meant he was guilty of launching a grossly offensive and arrogant attack at Downing Street police officers, branding them "fucking plebs".

Asked if he had used the words attributed to him by Pc Rowland – "Best you learn your fucking place – you don't run this fucking government – you're fucking plebs" – he told the judge: "I did not say those words.

"I would never call a policeman a pleb, let alone a fucking pleb."

The 58-year-old MP for Sutton Coldfield has accepted that he did say, under his breath but audibly "I thought you lot were supposed to fucking help us'", but not at the officer.

Pc Rowland, who is in turn suing Mitchell over statements he made from December 2012 which he said accused him of fabricating his allegations, has said he gave Mitchell a warning because members of the public were visibly shocked by the MP swearing at him.

The judge will decide the preliminary issues of the meaning of the words complained of and whether they were substantially true.

The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow when more police officers will give evidence.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network