A Metropolitan Police investigation into an alleged conspiracy among its own officers which eventually resulted in the resignation of a Cabinet minister is likely to cost over £140,000.
Figures supplied by the Metropolitan Police show that the cost of investigating a possible conspiracy over the row which led to the resignation of former chief whip Andrew Mitchell cost £82,500 between Dec 15 and Jan 11.
Patricia Gallan, a deputy assistant commissioner in charge of the probe, told Keith Vaz MP, the chairman of the home affairs select committee, that she expected a file to be handed over to the Crown Prosecution Service by the end of this month.
This would mean that, at the current rate of around £3,200 a day, the cost of the Metropolitan Police’s ‘cover-up’ investigation will cost around £143,000.
The costs are likely to rise when including the costs of the Crown Prosecution Service lawyers who will assess the police file and decide whether to prosecute.
Ms Gallan said: “An advice file will be submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service by the end of January asking them to consider whether there should be relevant and appropriate charges arising from the investigation.”
Keith Vaz MP, the chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, said: “It is clear that this investigation which began with four officers has now increased in size by nearly tenfold and has cost £82,500 to date.
“It is in everyone’s interest that this matter is concluded thoroughly, but speedily.”
An estimated 30 officers, led by a detective superintendent, are involved in the investigation, known as ‘Operation Alice’, to see if there was a police conspiracy to suggest that Mr Mitchell called officers in Downing Street “******* plebs” after they allegedly refused to allow him to leave by the gates in September.
The following month Mr Mitchell stepped down from his job under public pressure, even though he denied using the language attributed to him by officers.
It later emerged that a member of the public who claimed to witness the dispute was actually a police officer, sparking accusations of a “stitch-up”. The officer is now the subject of an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Last week Cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood was criticised for failing to act on suspicions that Mr Mitchell was the victim of a “gigantic conspiracy” over the plebgate scandal.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, has promised to “ruthlessly search for the truth” over Plebgate, and last month an SO6 officer was arrested after allegedly posing as a member of the public and falsely claiming to have witnessed the incident.
Earlier this month Scotland Yard was accused of wasting time and money by asking all 800 members of its SO6 diplomatic protection group to provide sworn statements about the “plebgate” affair.
One estimate suggested that analysing the statements from every officer in the group – detailing what they did while they were on duty on the day of Mr Mitchell’s outburst. – could take 2,500 man hours and cost around £64,000.
Labour MP Steve McCabe said: “To spend this time and money questioning officers who can’t possibly know anything is madness. It seems an awful lot of resources are being used when it would be much simpler if Andrew Mitchell just came clean and told us exactly what did happen.”
Mr Mitchell has admitted swearing at officers, but has always denied using the world plebs.
Metropolitan Police’s plebgate probe ‘to cost £140,000′