21/10/2012 19:33 BST | Updated 21/12/2012 10:12 GMT

Plebgate Compared With 1950s Japanese Film Rashomon By Michael Gove

Michael Gove has supported Andrew Mitchell over 'plebgate' by invoking a 1950s Japanese film in which four people have different recollections of the same event.

The Education Secretary backed Mitchell in an interview with BBC 5Live saying:

"There's a Japanese film, I think it's called Rashomon, in which different participants who see the same event all have different recollections of it. I wasn't there. I trust Andrew, and I'm always inclined to give him the benefit of any doubt."

Rashomon, described by film critics as a "masterful tale of truth, deception and humanity" tells the story of a woodcutter and a priest who find a murdered samurai in the woods and begin to tell their story to a commoner at the gate to the forest.


Plebgate: just like Rashomon?

What actually occurred in the lead up to the killing becomes even more complicated after a bandit confesses and the wife of the samurai comes forward also believing she may have killed her husband.

As the tale unravels and the case goes to trial, the events leading up to the murder become more and more blurred, with each of their different tales seeming both convincing and contradictory. The film gave rise to the term "the Rashomon effect" which describes the difficulty of finding the truth from conflicting witness accounts.

On Friday, Mitchell was forced to step down as Conservative chief whip after a storm erupted over his use of the word 'pleb', something he continues to deny.

However in a police log of the incident, Mitchell is recorded launching into an expletive ridden tirade against officers guarding Downing Street, using the class-based insult.

pleb police

Both a commoner and a gate played a part in Rashomon, however it was the nature of conflicting testimonies that Gove drew upon for his analogy

In his resignation letter, Mitchell said: "It has become clear to me that whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter I will not be able to fulfil my duties as we would both wish."

However he strongly denied using the words attributed to him: "I give you me categorical assurance again - that I did not, never have and never would call a police officer a 'pleb' or a 'moron' or used any of the other pejorative descriptions."

"The offending comment and the reason for my apology to the police was my parting remark 'I thought you guys were supposed to f***ing help us'.

andrew mitchell

Plebgate: just your average tale of truth, deception and humanity

Gove said he would have supported Mitchell had he decided to stay on, telling Radio 5Live:

"The Prime Minister wanted him to stay on, and I felt that he should have stayed on, but Andrew made the judgement.

"And in a way, being chief whip, operating in the whips office means that you need to have a feel for interpersonal relations in the party, and Andrew himself came to that judgement.

michael gove

Michael Gove invoked the 1950s film to describe the affair

"When your own chief whip says my judgement in terms of party management is that I should go, then you accept that.

"All of us, from time to time will have moments of exasperation. I think it's probably better you know to swear at the TV or the radio at home rather than at a flesh and blood individual whose job it is to protect you."

He claimed that that the difficult stories of the past week were "froth" that would not influence voters.

"It's always the case that there are weeks when the headlines are populated by stories that are of interest to the Westminster village and contain an element of human drama, but which for most people are just part of the froth of political life and not central to the concerns which will determine how they vote or how they live their lives," he told Sky News.