How the Plebgate footage doesn’t show what Mitchell & C4 claim

Out of a desire to be sure, to my own satisfaction, about the provenance and accuracy of the ‘Plebgate’ footage that Andrew Mitchell claims ‘exonerates’ him, and which Channel 4′s ‘Dispatches‘ programme claims casts serious doubt on the police logbook’s account of the incident, I have come to two conclusions. Firm ones.

Firstly, the exterior footage shown by Dispatches is genuine footage. Secondly, the footage – while genuine – is edited and cut in such a way as to give a false impression of:

- the point at which Mr Mitchell started his ‘altercation’ with the police officers
- the amount of time he had to utter the now-infamous phrases, ‘f***ing plebs’, ‘you don’t run this f***ing country’ and ‘you should know your f***ing place’
-
the number of people outside the gates as the altercation took place

I’ve watched the footage as shown by two separate programmes: Dispatches and Channel 4 News. The coverage by both programmes is available on Youtube, and I’m going to insert them both below so you can watch them directly.

In order to see what I’m referring to, you’ll need to watch specific sections of the video carefully and possibly repeatedly. But I believe you’ll find it more than worthwhile if you persevere and are genuinely interested to get at the truth of the incident and clear away all the ‘mud’ that has been stirred up to obscure it.

Here are the two videos in question:

Video 1: from the Dispatches programme

Video 2: from Channel 4 news

Hopefully they’ll show directly within the post. If not, you’ll need to open them in separate tabs or windows to view them.

I’ll address each of Mitchell’s/Channel 4′s claims in turn, but you’ll need to keep coming back to specific time-points in the videos to see for yourself what I’m referring to:

‘Exoneration 1: the point at which Mr Mitchell started his ‘altercation’

Dispatches suggests that the police report says that Mitchell starts his altercation as he walks his bike over to the gate and concludes that there is probably not enough time for him to say everything he is supposed to have said within those few seconds. It supports this by showing a clip with Mitchell’s voice-over saying ‘And this is where the alleged log-book says that the toxic phrases were uttered’.

Look at video no.1 from 44 seconds through to 55 seconds. 11 seconds in total. Perhaps not enough time to say all the infamous phrases - if the video accurately portrays what happened.

But – the Dispatches video that the voiceover accompanies starts from just before the back wheel of Mitchell’s bike hits the kerb.

Now look at video 2 from the 2m06s mark. According to Channel 4 news’ narrative to the video – which shows Mitchell approaching the kerb with his bike - this is the moment when his rant is said to have started.

However, watch closely how Mitchell gets his bike up the kerb – you’ll see it better if you switch the video to ‘full screen’ mode so you can watch the movements and his body-language more closely. It’s no exaggeration to say that Mitchell stomps up to the kerb, easily outpacing the policeman, and almost flings his bike up onto the kerb.

The pace, the way he throws the front wheel onto the kerb and the way he leaves the policeman trailing in his wake all strongly suggest that by the time we see Mitchell approaching the kerb in this close-up clip, the argument is already in full swing and is probably still continuing.

2. The amount of time

Still with video 2, scroll back to the 1 minute mark exactly. Mitchell reaches the police officers at this point on this video. He then talks to the officers for some time before eventually moving his bike toward the kerb and reaching it at the 1m39s point of the video (according to the Youtube clock – ignore the video’s own timer for now).

39 seconds is more than enough time for an irate man to utter all the phrases in question, and even more so if you add the 11 seconds from the point at which his bike hits the kerb to when he starts to exit the gate.

There is plenty of time. Even the C4 News voiceover repeating the phrases has time to complete them in just the time covered by the 11-second clip. Mitchell – an angry man, speaking quickly as angry men do, had plenty of time to say what he is accused of saying, and even more so given that the argument appears to be well underway by the time we see him come into view.

3. The witnesses

Now here’s where I need to ask you to pay really close attention, and to show a lot of patience. First, let’s look at the segment of CCTV footage that Mitchell claims shows there are very few people outside the gate. You can see this in either of the above videos, but you’ll probably see it best in video 2, from 3m06s. Watch through as a lady walks past from the bottom of the screen to the top, and then a man in white shoes and carrying a black rucksack walks in the same direction, pauses and then walks back in the direction he’s just come.

This man appears around 3m18s, reaches the point at which he pauses at 3m26s, turns back at 3m37s, and reaches the lamp-post near the bottom of the frame at 3m47s.

The first question we have to ask is: what causes him to slow, then stop, then stand still, then walk slowly back where he came so that the scene behind the gates is in view and within earshot? Would an ‘amicable’ conversation, followed by a single phrase, muttered ‘in exasperation’ as Mitchell claims, ‘I thought you guys were supposed to f***ing help us‘ REALLY hold this man’s attention, for at least 21 seconds, and enough to get him to change direction just in order not to miss the show?

Now I need you to look at a different view. Please look at video 1 this time, from the 1m15s mark – again, it’s best to look at this in full-screen view. As soon as you get to the right point, pause the video – right at the moment where the close-up clip starts.

Look at the paused image. Through the fence, just to the left of the gatehouse, you can see our man wearing the white shoes and carrying the black backpack – already turned and on his way back. Because the high-angle CCTV view doesn’t show Mitchell exiting the gate, this frame is essential for fixing the time of what we’re seeing in this view from within Downing Street.

Channel 4 – for whatever reason – blurred out the timestamp on the footage showing the street outside the gate from above. But, thanks to our fascinated ‘boomerang’ passer-by, we can with an extremely high degree of certainty that Mitchell’s altercation is well underway by the time that he starts to move toward the kerb with his bike. This reinforces the fact that Mitchell had plenty of time to say all he is supposed to have said to the officers, and for them to say all they are supposed to have said to him.

But that’s not all. Remember that by the time Mitchell is walking his bike to the kerb, his discussion – and then altercation – with the officers has already been going for 39 seconds.

But the lady who walks ahead of our ‘boomerang’ witness only starts to leave the fenced area at 3m10s – only 27 seconds before boomerang-man starts walking back. This adds a 2nd potential witness. But the police log said there were ‘several members of the public present’. Two isn’t several.

No – nor does it need to be. There are two more potential witnesses within the right time-frame. Back to video 1. Watch the top left corner of the image from the 1m20s mark. What appears to be two further passers-by appear, walking left to right. Still with video 1 (again, full-screen works best), go forward to the 2m0s mark.

Mitchell’s self-serving voice-over says that the police log talks of ‘crowds of people’ witnessing the scene – but remember, it actually says ‘several’, not ‘crowds’.

Viewing from the 2m mark, we again see boomerang-man making his way to his pause-point, pause, and then turn and walk back. But at the 2m11s mark, two women (probably women) are clearly seen walking in the same direction as b-man is now travelling, toward the bottom of the frame.

Now back to 1m15s again. Watch b-man’s progress outside the gate. He reaches the lamp-post before Mitchell exits the gate.

The video is cut off by Mitchell and/or C4 before he reaches the lamp-post, but even so, the women are already crossing the road outside the gate well before b-man reaches the lamp-post – and so are well within sight and earshot of the events behind the fence while Mitchell’s tirade is still underway.

B-man, the first lady, and the 2 passers-by walking together. 4 witnesses, which clearly qualifies as ‘several’. The log refers to the members of the public appearing shocked – but it’s perfectly likely that boomerang-man was sufficiently shocked to make an impression on the officer who wrote up the incident. Sufficiently that he conflated b-man’s shock with the appearance of the other passers-by, even if those other witnesses didn’t appear shocked, which the footage by no means demonstrates.

One more thing to watch, and then we’re done. Go to video 1 at 1m32s. You see Mitchell go through the gate and then the policeman closing it. At 1m36s, you see another 2 passers-by appear from behind the pedestrian gate, outside the fence. 4 seconds.

4 seconds. The police log states:

Mr MITCHELL was then silent and left saying “you haven’t heard the last of this” as he cycled off.

As he cycled off. Those two passers-by were almost certainly witnesses to at least this parting remark, and quite possibly to more. They don’t appear on the high-angle footage – but the high-angle footage doesn’t even show the pedestrian gate through which Mitchell exited, so it wouldn’t show these two people.

Mitchell and his allies – including, apparently, Channel 4 – claim that the video footage ‘exonerates’ him, because it supposedly shows he couldn’t have said what he is claimed to have said, nor were the witnesses there as the police report states.

But, by going through the footage, from both angles, over and over, second by second, I believe I’ve been able to show that none of the supposedly-exonerating points is actually borne out by the CCTV footage, and that the accusations against the police at the gate are unfounded.

By all means, take a look at the key sections and decide for yourself. I think it speaks for itself.

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134 responses to “How the Plebgate footage doesn’t show what Mitchell & C4 claim

  1. The pace, the way he throws the front wheel onto the kerb and the way “…he leaves the policeman trailing in his wake all strongly suggest that by the time we see Mitchell approaching the kerb in this close-up clip, the argument is already in full swing and is probably still continuing.”

    The above are your own words of explanation, but they contradict the log of the events.

    “…There were several members of public present as is the norm opposite the pedestrian gate AND AS WE NEARED IT, Mr Mitchell said: “Best you learn your f—— place…you don’t run this f—— government…You’re f—— plebs.”

    The officer then supposedly cautioned him, this is again in the log:-

    “Please don’t swear at me Sir. If you continue to I will have no option but to arrest you under the public order act”.

    Then apparently Mr. Mitchell is supposed to have said, again from the log:-

    Mr Mitchell was then SILENT and left saying “you haven’t heard the last of this” as he cycled off.

    So we have natural pauses to account for, a period of silence and all the phrases above and all apparently with the police officer behind him all the way through this interaction.

    It is a fabrication.

      • The period of time between the walk to the pedestrian gate was taken up with requests to and from to alternately ask for the gate to be opened and refusal and explanations of why not and further explanations of why this time when previously allowed to pass…

        The ‘toxicity’ stems from the events going from the main gate to the pedestrian gate and all I’ve written is supposedly in that couple of seconds and from behind…

        It simply doesn’t add up… or rather it does and the addition of time for the words, pauses and then silence add up to too much.

      • I typed badly, my apologies… the capitals I missed out first time…

        The period of time between STOPPING AND the walk to the pedestrian gate was taken up with requests to and from to alternately ask for the gate to be opened and refusal and explanations of why not and further explanations of why this time when previously allowed to pass…

  2. No not really.

    A caution for example can’t be clipped too much, most especially to someone who frequents Downing Street, it would be enunciated quite clearly so as to avoid any ambiguity, not clipped and from behind.

    No matter how much it might be to the bod in the street, but in this street, with this level of minister you’re talking to, you’d get both the words and the level of clarity right on the money.

    There is none of this in the video.

    The more you look the more aberrant the log looks.

    • I meant in the officer’s memory of the sequence of events. It’s easily done – and it’s why eye-witness testimony is often problematic.

      • My apologies I thought you meant elision (the contraction of speech, clipped English).

        I agree that eye-witness evidence is often unreliable to some extent, but this is not a matter of just a member of the public, this is a trained officer guarding a high risk location.

        The officer won’t be quite as inept as perhaps you and I would expect ourselves to be.

        If the sequence was in any doubt (as he mentioned the apparent threat from Mitchell) he would get it absolutely right as it was going to be under scrutiny very shortly.

        But even you are beginning to have doubts about the very report that started this particular rabbit running.

        This is my take on the entire matter.

        1/. Mitchell has cycled through the main gate throughout the last months, he may have done this at speed and the officers there were getting narked about his rather off-hand attitude to them at these regular ‘shoot throughs’ at the gate.

        2/. An opportunity to gently take the man down a peg or two arose.

        3/. They took it.

        4/. It blew up in their faces.

        It blew up because they over-egged the pudding, the incendiary word pleb was plucked out of the air and it all went pear-shaped as the little bit of ‘games people play’ hit the headlines and the Federation grabbed it too hard to their spiteful bosom.

        It didn’t help that just a few weeks earlier two officers were murdered and this was a supposed to just run under this headline, but the officers were displaced in the presses minds by this chance to attack the tory toffs and the word pleb fitted their agenda more perfectly.

        My version won’t be exactly right, but I can guarantee that it is far closer to the truth of how humans interact and our means of giving someone their comeuppance than yours or any other version I seen to date.

        We humans can feel grievance even when it is innocent and the modern idea of ‘respec’ (purposeful missing ‘t’) or lack of it is sometimes a grievous hurt.

      • It seems entirely supposition.

        The officer was writing down the report after the fact, some time later (hence the vagueness about the exact time), and probably having been told by his fellow officers or seniors that he’d better do so given Mitchell’s parting remarks.

        He puts down his best recollection, but recalls the words far better than the exact sequence or point at which they were uttered. The words would certainly make more of an impression!

        No doubts, just accommodating human fallibility.

  3. Not entirely, all the stock pics of Mitchell show him racing through the gates on his bike, he is known for doing that.

    One close shave and the die is cast.

    All reports are post facto, but they are also renowned for being fabricated as a result of that and the natural desire to ginger up the event to warrant actions.

    Plus, again according to the log, the events were also in his pocket book prior to the log at the gate, meaning that his account would be as contemporaneous as is possible.

    The log is going to be about as accurate as it is ever possible for a police account to be, if you are saying that even with such perfect circumstances the pocket book and log are ‘a bit like the truth’ then there is a whole history of prosecutions called into question as a result of such thoughts.

    Better in that case that this log alone was fabricated, the reult of your thoughts on this are unconscionable.

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  6. MP Pleb vs PC Pleb? Good analysis but you say yourself these are ‘passers by’ not a crowd of tourists stationary who might have been ‘inadvertedly filming’ as the eyewitness referred to in the News International report subsequently claimed. The ‘eyewitness’ Michael Crick exposed as a policeman who admitted he wasnt there. The Despatches report needs to be seen again after reading (and rereading) a number of publically available weblinks. They are on my others tweets at #plebgate. Bear in mind also no one here in the UK wants to get sued or arrested. Just saying (all one responsibly can).
    Not all my comments are helpful to AM or to the NI/Police Federation I might add. I try to avoid bias and so take fire from both sides.

    • Nothing I’ve highlighted concerns the email, though. AM claimed that the footage shows the police log to be untrue. That doesn’t appear to be the case.

      • You’re missing the point. Both the police log and the email which appeared to corroborate it said :-

        “several members of the public” were present, that they had heard the exchange, and were “visibly shocked”.

        There wasn’t, they didn’t and they weren’t.

        The police log is a fabrication, provably a tissue of lies. The only remaining point to discover is whether there was a conspiracy to subvert or undermine (a member of) Her Majesty’s Government and there’s a rather nasty little word for that.

      • No, I’m not. Watch the video. There were at least 6 people in a position to hear at least part of the exchange. They may have looked shocked – it’s impossible to tell from the footage released so far.

        The footage supports the log rather than undermining it. And Mr Mitchell already admitted swearing at the officers – which, again, corroborates their account whatever he has said afterward supported by his misleadingly edited footage.

      • I’ve just watched the videos again and it’s obvious you can’t count either. When the MP approaches the gate, the chap doing the u-turn is still just before he returns the way he came and then there are 2 pedestrians walking along the road side of the footway. Nobody else is “present” during the period of the alleged conversation.

        In the first place, that’s 3 not 6.

        Secondly, 6 can’t be described as several let alone 3.

        Thirdly, I would argue there is a subtle difference between being in the general area and standing around long enough to hear the whole of the alleged conversation. It’s enough of a difference to debate the use of the word “present”.

        Fourthly, I can make out no reaction from the 3 members of the public “present” which would differentiate between the use of the f-word once and the reported tirade of abuse. A tirade, I might add, which would have to have been loud enough to be heard by the pair walking past maybe 25 to 30 feet away. And reaction doesn’t just mean a facial expression.

        And if you’re going to use a video to support your fantasy then you should *really* watch all of the video. While you’re using it to try and prove that there was enough time for the alleged tirade to be said then you should also add in enough time for the police officer’s warning to the MP. But, of course, that would be inconvenient wouldn’t it?

        And please don’t get me started on your paranoid dissection of the actions of Mr U-turn. He was already stationary as the MP approaches the gate.

      • The conversation is supposed to have taken place all the way to the gate, and to have continued as Mitchell cycled off. Several people appear as Mitchell is leaving, and any number could have been in the zone outside the gate but not seen on the footage Mitchell & C4 elected to show. Several clearly were, as they appear on the view from inside the street a second after Mitchell goes through. So there were quite possibly others simply standing there – but even those we do see come to 6.

    • Thanks, I’ll take a look later. But the fake email, if proven to be so, is a completely separate issue from the CCTV footage and the police log of the events.

  7. Sure, it’s a ‘completely separate ssue’, when it doesn’t suit you to be otherwise. Taking it into account just makes this blog entry a more obvious, if futile, effort to chip away at Mitchell’s defence. Take it to the IPCC, they’re very good at turning a blind eye that way…

    • Of course it’s separate. Nobody has suggested the email was sent by the gate officers, nor that they had solicited it.

      But you have the right to be wrong.

  8. It’s all police officers making stuff up about the same incident. Any ‘reasonable person’ (a phrase favoured by the police and the IPCC) can see that.

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  10. Andrew Mitchell’s behaviour throughout smacks of a Barrister’s attempt to undermine a witness (the witness in this case being the police). You’re absolutely right in what you say, the CCTV footage doesn’t undermine the Police account at all – it’s been distorted (cut in unnecessary places) and with a set of unjustified assertions via voice over, to make it seem it does.

    • Not really. They might be foreigners – or understandably reluctant to get embroiled in the inevitable backlash and attempted character assassination by political spin doctors.

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