I can't say I wept for Andrew Mitchell after he departed the Chief Whip's office a couple of months back. A small sliver of satisfaction maybe. After all, who doesn't enjoy a high-flying Tory crashing and burning? But C4's investigative digging into the circumstances, and crucially uncovering CCTV footage that throws into doubt the existence of a third corroborative witness to the celebrated plebgate exchange points to a police frame up. As Owen observes;
A white privileged politician has just experienced a small slice of the frustration long felt in many of our communities. Perhaps now it will be a little bit more acceptable to stop automatically taking every police officer at their word.
Perhaps, after this episode, politicians will be more open to scrutinising police behaviour. Consider, too, the recent exposure of the Hillsborough cover-up, and the false statements initially provided after the killings of Jean-Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson.
Could this be a watershed moment for the police? This affair comes hot on the heels of public admission of RUC/loyalist collusion over Pat Finucane's murder, serious questions about dodgy activity during the miners' strike, corruption over phone hacking, and the apparent refusal of the police to look into the Jimmy Savile allegations.
It is too early to talk about a wider legitimation crisis for the thin blue line, but with a government determined to chop down their budgets, a timely rubbishing of the police's public image may prove useful.