CONSERVATIVES should not instigate a witch-hunt against the police in the wake of the Plebgate row, a senior Tory has warned.

Michael Fabricant, a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party, made his comments as he stressed how former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell had not emerged from the affair 'smelling of roses.'

The Lichfield MP's remarks appear to be an attempt to dampen down not only the onslaught against the Police Federation by some of his Tory colleagues but also the momentum building up in Mr Mitchell's favour.

Loading article content

Following the release of CCTV footage of the alleged confrontation between Mr Mitchell and police officers in Downing Street in September, the ex-Cabinet minister insisted the pictures refuted claims in the police log and a supposed corroborative email.

The email claimed he had engaged in a blazing row with the policemen, in which he called them plebs and morons, and that there had been a crowd outside the gates witnessing it. A police officer has since been arrested on suspicion of misconduct.

However, Mr Fabricant took to Twitter to point out the CCTV footage lasted 46 seconds, while the words recalled by Mr Mitchell would take only around 20 seconds to say.

He also suggested people were ready to believe Mr Mitchell could have been abrasive because of pre-existing views about his personality.

He said: "The problem Andrew Mitchell has is that if Michael Gove had been accused, it would be hard to believe; he is invariably polite and courteous.

"If Andrew Mitchell was stitched up by the police, it is unforgivable, but will we ever know exactly what was said and by whom?"

Mr Fabricant added: "No-one comes out of it smelling of roses: neither the police nor Andrew."

In his calculation of the time spent by Mr Mitchell in Downing Street on the night of the confrontation, he asked: "The CCTV outside FCO has had its time code removed. Why? Downing Street CCTV footage does show at least one person outside listening to exchange. Will he/she come forward?"

Later, Mr Fabricant added: "What is my motive? To get to the truth and overcome poor journalism by some. Neither Andrew nor police should be vilified until facts known."

At the weekend, Mr Mitchell accused the Police Federation of trying to "toxify" the Tories and destroy his reputation.

Former policing minister Nick Herbert called for action to tackle the "cancer" of corruption within the police.

One senior Tory said members of the Police Federation could end up in prison as a result of the alleged "stitch-up" of Mr Mitchell.

He said: "There has been a concerted action within the Police Federation to blacken his name and to advance their political cause. The Police Federation's reputation is shot. Three or four coppers could go to prison because of this."

Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, has promised a thorough investigation.