Andrew Mitchell 'Must Resign' Over Pleb Row

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Andrew Mitchell has "no option but to resign" over his rant at officers in Downing Street, police representatives have said following a meeting with the Conservative Chief Whip.

Ken Mackaill, chair of West Mercia Police Federation, revealed Mr Mitchell had again refused to specify exactly what he had said to officers guarding Number 10.

He said Mr Mitchell had repeated a "profound apology" for not treating officers with respect when they would not let him cycle through Downing Street's main gate.

Mr Mitchell, who left the 45-minute meeting in Sutton Coldfield without speaking to reporters, having failed to silence calls for his resignation, has denied using the word "plebs" in the altercation last month.

But Mr Mackaill said the Chief Whip had "refused to tell us what he did say" because he did not want to "impugn the integrity" of police officers and start what Mr Mitchell described as a "firefight".

"But, unfortunately, that's exactly what's happened," Mr Mackaill told reporters after the meeting. "The question of integrity remains unresolved."

Mr Mackaill added: "I think Mr Mitchell now has no option but to resign. He's continuing to refuse to elaborate on what happened. I think his position is untenable."

He said the key issue was that "a Cabinet minister is challenging the accuracy of police records".

The comments came as Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond said the row had been "hijacked".

Mr Hammond told the BBC the Police Federation was using the situation as an excuse to bring up its own issues and grievances.

He told Radio 4's Any Questions: "We've now got other people who were not involved in the incident who seem to be trying to hijack this issue now and take it forward for their own purposes.

"The man's apologised, the person he insulted has accepted the apology, let's draw a line."

He added: "The House of Commons will be back on Monday - Andrew Mitchell will be performing his duties as Chief Whip.

"I don't really buy the argument that he can't do the job. I think he can do the job."

Representatives from West Mercia, West Midlands and Warwickshire Police Federations were also meeting Mr Mitchell to discuss the coalition Government's cuts to police budgets.

They warned earlier that they would demand Mr Mitchell's resignation after the meeting if he did not make clear what he said to police in Downing Street.

Many Tory MPs are dismayed that the row has dragged on for so long and that Mr Mitchell - who did not attend the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham this week - has neither resigned nor been sacked by Mr Cameron.

Conservative MPs believe Mr Mitchell's fate hangs in the balance this weekend. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude is being tipped to replace him in a mini-reshuffle.

Earlier, Labour said it was time for the Prime Minister to remove Mr Mitchell from his post as Chief Whip over the row.

Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, said the time had passed for clarifications and apologies over Mr Mitchell's alleged remarks.

She said: "This has gone on long enough. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Chief Whip have proved capable of coming clean swiftly and putting this right."

Labour has previously raised questions over Mr Mitchell's ability to keep his job, which he gained in last month's reshuffle, but has stopped short of calling for his resignation or for Mr Cameron to sack him.

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