Home AffairsWritten evidence submitted by Sir Jeremy Heywood KCB, Secretary of the Cabinet [IPCC 40]

Thank you for your letter dated 9 January. As you will be aware, I gave evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee yesterday. In advance of the evidence session, I provided the Committee with details of my involvement in the events relating to Andrew Mitchell, and I enclose a copy of my letter for your ease of reference.

You have asked whether I passed to the Metropolitan Police the email from John Randall’s constituent and the CCTV footage of the incident, and if so, when this took place and why I did so. Following a discussion I had with the Metropolitan Commissioner on 27 November, I provided him with copies of two emails from Mr Randall’s constituent and the unredacted CCTV footage on 12 December. I thought it right to make available to the Metropolitan Police any material we held which could potentially be relevant to any future inquiries as well as their on-going leak investigation. In doing so, I was conscious that Andrew Mitchell had requested his own copy of the footage and had indicated that he might wish to make this public at some stage.

January 2013

Annex

LETTER FROM SIR JEREMY HEYWOOD KCB, SECRETARY OF THE CABINET, TO BERNARD JENKIN MP, PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE, 24 DECEMBER 2012

RE: ORAL EVIDENCE

Thank you for your letter of 20 December. I am grateful for the opportunity to offer views before the Committee meets on 8 January.

There has been significant coverage of this matter in the last two weeks, and in particular in relation to CCTV images taken on 19 September 2012, and subsequent emails purporting to be from a witness to events that took place on that date.

It is my role as Cabinet Secretary to consider and provide advice to the Prime Minister including on matters relating to Ministerial conduct. As you will know, following the incident in Downing Street on 19 September, Andrew Mitchell apologised to the police for his inappropriate behaviour and the police decided to take no further action. The Prime Minister regarded the matter as closed, and Andrew Mitchell remained in post as Chief Whip.

I first became substantively involved when the Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, wrote to me about the episode on Sunday 23 September. I replied setting out the Prime Minister’s position on 24 September. I enclose a copy here.

I became aware during the course of 24 September that the Deputy Chief Whip, John Randall, had copied to No10 a private email he had received from a constituent. The next day, following receipt of a second email and confirmation from John Randall that he had established through direct contact that this was indeed a genuine constituent, the Prime Minister asked me to look into whether this MPs constituency correspondence changed his original assessment of the then Chief Whip’s conduct. He did not ask me to investigate the veracity of the police logs or any other aspect of this incident. I do not have the powers to conduct a criminal investigation.

Nor is it the Cabinet Secretary’s role to investigate the conduct of the police.

To meet the Prime Minister’s request I reviewed the content of the two e-mails against the CCTV footage held by Downing Street and the Foreign Office and oral evidence provided to me by Andrew Mitchell. The Deputy Chief Whip’s constituent refused to speak to either me or my staff, arguing I believe, that his e-mails were private communications to his local MP and had not been intended for wider dissemination. I therefore asked the Deputy Chief Whip to talk to his constituent. He did so and questioned him specifically on whether he had any links to the police or the media which he denied.

I concluded on the basis of my short review that the e-mails did not provide conclusive or reliable evidence and that there was no reason for the Prime Minister to change his conclusion that the Chief Whip should remain in post.

The Prime Minister agreed with this conclusion and decided that no further action was warranted. This judgement was shared with the then Chief Whip. As you know Andrew Mitchell then remained in his post as Chief Whip until 19 October.

I recognise the Committee’s desire to seek clarity on this case. Clearly significant questions remain to be answered about the episode, how the Downing Street police log-books ended up in the public domain and how the e-mailer knew about the incident prior to its becoming public. It is imperative that these questions are answered as soon as possible and the Government has therefore welcomed Scotland Yard’s commitment to a comprehensive, rigorous and urgent investigation. I have spoken to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner on a number of occasions to stress the importance that the Prime Minister attaches to this.

In light of the on-going police investigation and having consulted the Treasury Solicitor and the Metropolitan Police, I do not believe I can provide a more detailed public account of my own internal review without the risk of prejudice to potential future criminal proceedings. I hope the Committee will understand the overriding importance of this consideration.

December 2012

Prepared 1st February 2013