POLITICS
28/10/2013 09:49 GMT

Andrew Mitchell's Daughter Hannah: 'We Knew Right Away It Was A Conspiracy'

PA
File photo dated 17/4/2013 of Andrew Mitchell as Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe today apologised to the Tory former chief whip if his confidence in the Plebgate police probe had been damaged.

Andrew Mitchell's daughter has spoken about the toll the 'plebgate' saga on the ex-cabinet minister and his family, as the pressure grows on three police officers accused of giving misleading accounts of a meeting with former chief whip to apologise.

Speaking BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House programme on Sunday, Hannah Mitchell said the family believed very early on that the accusation her father had called police officers "plebs" was suspicious.

"I remember Dad shouted, 'I’ve been stitched up'," she said. "I just remember sitting in the chair shaking, being certain that something really terrible was going on and we would say this to people but no one would believe us. We knew right from the word go that it was a conspiracy."

Andrew Mitchell was forced to resign from the cabinet amid a media storm over the allegations he had used the toxic class-based insult during a tirade against police at the gates of No.10.

Hannah Mitchell told the BBC that when the story was first published in The Sun and picked up elsewhere, a picture was painted of her father as an "arrogant Tory toff, somebody who was rude and abusive to people" which had "no resemblance" to the man she knew as a "very kind warm generous character"

"I've never seen this rude abrasive character put around in the press," she said. "It was very embarrassing. When people think that is what your father is like."

"My father was in a very bad way. I was very worried about him.

"Just the character assassination that was going on would have hurt the most robust person and I think my dad faced the media storm with a lot of courage and dignity."

"At points he was very withdrawn, unable to even think about how to face what was happening. It was definitely a very worrying time."

Hannah Mitchell also spoke about the "menacing" behaviour of the press that staked out the family home - including one occasion where she believed she was followed by a journalist while driving. "We just carried on and tried to do what we could and switch off the television and not look at the newspapers," she said.

"it took its toll on him and it took its toll on all of us," she said. "People now appear to be starting to realise my dad was not the sinner in this situation."

Hannah Mitchell's account of the time in her family home comes as Sir Hugh Orde, the head of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) called on Police Federation representatives Inspector Ken MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones to apologise.

The three told journalists that Andrew Mitchell had refused to tell them exactly what he said during a foul-mouthed confrontation with officers in Downing Street the previous month.

But the Tory MP recorded the 45-minute meeting and the three were later accused of giving a misleading account of what happened.

Andrew Mitchell met the three officers in his constituency office on October 12 last year after he was accused of calling officers guarding Downing Street ''plebs'' in a rant as he was asked to cycle through a side gate on September 19.

He said he wanted to meet MacKaill, Detective Sergeant Hinton and Sergeant Jones to ''clear the air''.

A secret recording made by Andrew Mitchell shows that he apologised for swearing at the police officers but denied using the word ''plebs'', while in comments made after the meeting MacKaill claimed the former minister refused to provide an account of the incident.