|Born||Andrew John Bower Mitchell|
23 March 1956
|Alma mater||Jesus College (Cambridge)|
Andrew John Bower Mitchell is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sutton Coldfield since 2001, having previously been MP for Gedling from 1987 to 1997. He served in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for International Development from 2010 to 2012, and then briefly as Government Chief Whip in the House of Commons. Andrew Mitchell resigned after losing the confidence of many of his colleagues following an altercation with police officers at Downing Street, when he allegedly called them "f*****g plebs".
- 1 Brexit "intelligence"
- 2 Background
- 3 Career
- 4 Political career
- 5 Shadow International Development Secretary
- 6 International Development Secretary
- 7 Preparing for regime change in Libya
- 8 "Plebgate"
- 9 Personal life
- 10 References
- 11 External links
In January 2018 Channel 4 secretly recorded Andrew Lansley, Andrew Mitchell and Peter Lilley offering to sell Brexit intelligence to actors who posed as Chinese businessmen hoping to hire them to make money out of Britain leaving the EU. This was a front page story in the Sunday Times of 28 January 2018.
Andrew Mitchell was born at Hampstead in North London, the son of Sir David Mitchell, a former Conservative MP and junior Government Minister. He was educated at Rugby School, at which school the self-confessed "stern disciplinarian" earned the nickname "Thrasher".
In February 1975, he was commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment, serving in Cyprus during the 1970s. His commission was terminated in October 1975, when he transferred to the General List of the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve and was given seniority in his rank from 10 March 1975. He then went to the University of Cambridge, where he read History at Jesus College. He was Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association in the Michaelmas Term of 1977. He resigned his British Army commission on 9 February 1977 after serving in the Royal Tank Regiment for eight months on a Short Service Commission. He served as President of the Cambridge Union 1978–79, after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1978, later proceeding to Master of Arts.
Andrew Mitchell was the only Conservative member of Islington Health Authority (IHA) in North London during the 1980s, and in that capacity, he called for the IHA to make greater use of competitive tendering in the allocation of service contracts.
Mitchell entered Parliament in 1987 at the age of 31 as MP for Gedling, Nottinghamshire, serving in the House of Commons concurrently with his father. In 1988, under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he became PPS to William Waldegrave, who was Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In 1990, he became PPS to John Wakeham, who was Secretary of State for Energy. In 1992, under John Major, he became Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party, and in the same year was appointed as an Assistant Government Whip. In 1993, he became a Government Whip. In 1995, he became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Social Security, a position he held until 1997.
Mitchell lost his Commons seat with Tony Blair's Labour victory at the 1997 election. He was returned to Parliament at the 2001 election as the MP for Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham. He held no shadow ministerial or organisational position under the leadership of Iain Duncan Smith, but in November 2003, under new leader Michael Howard, he became Shadow Economic Affairs Minister. In 2004, he moved to Shadow Home Office Minister primarily dealing with police matters.
Shadow International Development Secretary
In May 2005, Mitchell was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. After Howard's decision to stand down as leader following the Conservatives' 2005 general election defeat, Mitchell ran the unsuccessful leadership campaign of David Davis, but retained his Shadow Cabinet position under the new Leader of HM Opposition, David Cameron.
In that role, Mitchell visited countries throughout the developing world to establish in detail how aid could be most effectively and fairly delivered. He visited a number of countries in Africa and Asia containing some of the worst poverty in the world, such as Sierra Leone, Ghana, Ethiopia, Chad, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Thailand, Cambodia and Burma (The Republic of the Union of Myanmar). In many of these places, he created video reports detailing local conditions and some of the NGO projects aimed at ameliorating them. Whilst in Burma, Mitchell challenged its Government by raising evidence of systematic human rights abuses in the country, and its continued imprisonment of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He also emphasised the need to provide rapid and substantial aid to the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
A former United Nations military peacekeeper, Andrew Mitchell has extensive pre-government experience of the developing world, and is the founder of Project Umubano, a Conservative Party social action project in Rwanda and Sierra Leone in Central and West Africa, launched in 2007.
Mitchell led large groups of Conservative volunteers from a wide range of professions, including doctors, teachers, lawyers and entrepreneurs, in social development projects in Rwanda for three consecutive summers, from 2007 to 2009, as part of Project Umubano, and kept a detailed diary of their activities and experiences.
The volunteers focused on five areas: health, education, justice, the private sector, and a community centre construction project. In 2008, Mitchell himself taught English to over a thousand Rwandan primary school teachers. It was during one of these trips that Mitchell and his aides are reported to have verbally abused one of the volunteers, a student journalist who had circulated a draft newspaper article she had written criticising the way the project was organised. The journalist, Lucy Kinder, claimed Mitchell texted her father, a friend from Mitchell's university days: "They [his aides] are threatening her with physical violence and I can't say I blame them."
BBC Gaza Appeal
Mitchell expressed support for the idea of a televised appeal for Gaza on the BBC in 2009, a subject which had aroused much controversy on both sides of the argument. He said that, while the matter was ultimately for the BBC to decide, "We believe that they should allow the broadcast to proceed so that the British public, who have proved themselves so generous during recent emergencies in the Congo and Burma, can make their own judgement on the validity of the appeal".
International Development Secretary
Following the 2010 general election and formation of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition in May 2010, Andrew Mitchell was appointed Secretary of State for International Development. Mitchell visited Pakistan during the floods in 2010 and returned the following year. He also visited Haiti, to see the effects of the earthquake, and Somalia and Libya in 2011. He addressed the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 to press the case for greater support for the developing world, strongly criticised the developed world for failing in its responsibilities towards it, and announced that Britain would double its aid contribution to Pakistan.
Both in Opposition and Government, Mitchell asserted the need for transparency and value for money in British aid contributions to the developing world, with resources concentrated on the world's poorest and most troubled countries. Mitchell accepted that a smaller aid budget might have meant fewer cuts elsewhere, but insisted that development projects also helped protect Britain. "Our security is not just provided by soldiers and tanks and fighter jets, it is also provided by training the police in Afghanistan, by building up governance structures in the Middle East and by getting girls into school in the Horn of Africa," he said, "Those things are all part of what makes us safer."
Praise in debate
On 1 July 2010, at the end of a debate on global poverty in the House of Commons, the Minister of State for International Development, Alan Duncan, quoted the journalist Jon Snow as having said, "Andrew Mitchell is unquestionably the best prepared Secretary of State — nobody has waited longer in the wings and everyone in the sector knows of his commitment to the sector".
Both in Opposition, and later as Secretary of State for International Development, Mitchell repeatedly asserted the need for transparency in aid donations to other countries, with contributions fully accounted for and published, and the intention for Britain to lead the world in this transparency. He made clear that value for money in aid donations was of critical importance and provided a guarantee that British legislation would be amended to ensure that Britain's aid contributions will be maintained at 0.7 per cent of UK GNI (Gross National Income) by 2013. He also asked former international envoy and Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown to conduct a review of the UK's response to international humanitarian disasters, such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake, to see whether lessons could be learned from them.
An article in The Sunday Times on 30 October 2010, quoted by The Guardian the following day, claimed that Mitchell had pressured the Foreign Office and colleagues to lobby Ghana (successfully) for the lifting of a trading ban on a cocoa company, Armajaro, which had been a repeated donor to Mitchell's parliamentary office and also a donor to the Conservative Party. Ghana had imposed the ban as the company was believed to have been smuggling cocoa out of the country. However, when questioned by ITV News on 2 November 2010 about his role in the case, Mitchell said that he had a duty as a member of the government to respond to the company's requests, as it was registered as a British company, and that the government had a responsibility to promote British trade. He argued that he had seen no evidence that the Ghanaian government's suspicions about the company in question had been substantiated, and that the claim that he had acted improperly on behalf of a party donor was unreasonable, as the company had ceased to donate to both the Conservative Party and his parliamentary office several years earlier.
Aid to Rwanda
On his final day as International Development Secretary, Mitchell authorised the payment of £16 million of previously suspended aid to Rwanda, half of Britain's annual aid to Rwanda. The aid had been suspended in July, along with other governments' aid, over concerns about Rwanda's alleged support of the rebel March 23 Movement in 2012 East Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mitchell's successor stopped further aid payments as Rwanda had breached agreements, and following the publication of a United Nations Security Council investigators' report which provided evidence that Rwanda had supplied guns, money and recruits to the rebels contrary to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1807, and engaged directly in combat to help the rebels capture territory.
The International Development Select Committee launched an inquiry into the suspending, then subsequent authorisation, of budget support to Rwanda. On 30 November 2012 the committee published its report criticising Mitchell for restoring the funding, stating "We do not understand how [Mitchell] reached the conclusion that support for the M23 had ceased", which was one of the three conditions that the Prime Minister had set for the resumption of aid.
Preparing for regime change in Libya
During the NATO bombing of Libya in 2011, Mitchell said that the UK had learned from Iraq and had laid the groundwork for a post-Gaddafi Libya. While emphasising that the transition should be Libyan-led, he said that Libya's allies had outlined steps to ensure a smooth transition. He added, "We have made clear that there should be no revenge attacks," and, "Libyans have to work together for a new Libya. They should keep in place the sinews of security. The National Transitional Council (NTC) in Benghazi has good informal connections with security officials in Tripoli and has told them: 'You've got a job, please help us keep stability'." He added that "Divisions between the rebels groups are overstated. The way the National Transitional Council has reached out gives us some confidence."
In September 2013, the Daily Telegraph reported in an article entitled "Secret MI6 plot to help Colonel Gaddafi escape Libya revealed" that Andrew Mitchell, then International Development Secretary, was dispatched in mid-2011 to build covert contacts with the controversial regime in Equatorial Guinea. The Cabinet Office and MI6 had "prepared an exit strategy for Gaddafi in case it was necessary to strike a deal and to end the conflict," and Equatorial Guinea, "oil-rich but awesomely corrupt", was selected for Colonel Gaddafi "as a prospective retirement home." Although Britain had no bilateral links with Equatorial Guinea, contributing only small amounts in aid, Mr Mitchell "was able to assist the officials tasked with these delicate contingency plans, helping make the necessary contacts in the capital, Malabo, and elsewhere."
In September 2012, Mitchell was appointed Government Chief Whip in David Cameron's first significant Cabinet reshuffle.
On the evening of 19 September 2012 Mitchell, who was cycling, swore when a police officer told him to exit Downing Street through the pedestrian gate rather than by the main gate. The leaked official police log of the incident stated that Mitchell said "Best you learn your fucking place. You don't run this fucking government.... You're fucking plebs." The allegations became known in the media as "Plebgate".
In response to the allegations, Mitchell apologised, but disputed many of the details of the accusations, in particular that he had used the word "pleb". He later resigned.
On 26 November 2013, Andrew Mitchell accused the police officer at the centre of the "Plebgate" row of "not telling the truth", at a press conference. The Crown Prosecution Service has charged one officer, PC Keith Wallis, over the allegation that he falsely claiming to have witnessed the incident in an email to his MP. But PC Toby Rowland, the officer who reported the incident, is not one of the five facing disciplinary action. The CPS has suggested that Mr Mitchell's account of events had "varied" over time but he insisted he had been "completely clear" from the start about what he had and had not said.
Andrew Mitchell suggested the officer had "invented the three lying phrases - about plebs and people knowing their place - which appeared in the police log and were used to destroy my political career." And he added: "I wish to make clear that PC Toby Rowland, who was responsible for writing those toxic phrases into his notebook, was not telling the truth."
But, in a statement, PC Rowland said he stood by his account of what happened in Downing Street:
- "This has now been thoroughly investigated and the CPS has confirmed there is insufficient evidence to take any criminal proceedings against me," he said.
- "In addition, neither am I subject to any disciplinary proceedings. I confirm that I am prepared to give evidence under oath if required."
In December 2012, CCTV evidence was published in the media which appeared to contradict the police's account, along with evidence that an email corroborating the police account and purporting to be sent by a member of the public to their MP was actually sent by an off-duty police officer who was not at the scene. Additionally, a claim by Police Federation officers from the West Midlands Police who met Mitchell that he refused to give his side of events was contradicted by Mitchell's own audio recording of the meeting.
The Metropolitan Police Service investigation of both the leak of the police log and the discrepancies between it and other accounts is known as "Operation Alice". It was revealed in April 2013 that "Operation Alice" had to date cost £144,000.
Andrew Mitchell has condemned the police and accused them of a "cynical smear campaign" in an article in the Sunday Times.
Early in November 2013, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Lord Blair, accused MPs of "grandstanding" in their treatment of junior police officers over the "Plebgate" affair. Lord Blair said:
- "There is still no answer as to who said what to whom at the gate outside the centre of British government. There is something unhealthy going on here: a display of outrage on behalf of a fellow MP that has not always been seen in relation to other scandals affecting ordinary citizens. When this is accompanied by a chorus of political voices clearly assuming that Mr Mitchell was disgracefully 'stitched up' when this has not yet been proven, then an impression of politicians being overprecipitate judges in their own cause could be the unsettling result."
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is considering separately whether to charge five officers from the Met's diplomatic protection unit - including one of those on duty when the altercation occurred - and three civilians over allegations that they leaked information and committed misconduct offences. A decision by the new Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Alison Saunders, is expected soon.
- "I am particularly pleased that Alison is the first head of the CPS to be appointed from within its ranks as proof of the high quality of the professionals that work within the service."
Alison Saunders described the low point in her career as "making the wrong decision in not proceeding against a police officer over an alleged racist incident, a decision she subsequently reversed."
In November 2013, Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said the CPS had considered "all of the evidence" in the Andrew Mitchell case, including previously unseen, unedited CCTV footage from Downing Street, before deciding not to bring charges against PC Rowland.
- "Taking it all into account, including the accounts of the officer at the gate of Downing Street and that of Andrew Mitchell MP before, during and after the incident, we have found that there is insufficient evidence to show that the officer at the gate lied in his account," she said.
- "The CPS has also found that there is insufficient evidence to show that Mr Mitchell was the victim of a conspiracy of misinformation."
But the CPS said it had decided to charge PC Wallis over the allegation he falsely claimed to have witnessed the incident in an email to deputy chief whip, John Randall, who was his MP. PC Wallis has been charged and is required to attend Westminster Magistrates' Court on 16 December.
In January 2015, the BBC reported that Andrew Mitchell had paid £300,000 in legal costs after losing his libel case in the "Plebgate" affair. This followed the ruling by a High Court Judge in December 2014 that Mitchell must pay the Police Federation and News Group Newspapers - publishers of the Sun - an interim payment of £150,000 each. The Judge had concluded Andrew Mitchell had probably called police "plebs" in 2012.
He is a Trustee of the E.M. Radiation Research Trust, which conducts research into radiation emissions, from sites such as mobile phone masts. He was also a Senior Strategy Adviser for Accenture, the management consultancy and technology outsourcing company. He is also Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Vintners.
On Tuesday 11 October 2016, Andrew Mitchell was granted an emergency 3-hour debate in the House of Commons to discuss the situation in Syria amid allegations by the Western-backed NGO White Helmets that Russian military jets and Syrian helicopters were bombarding civilians in eastern Aleppo. Describing the alleged bombardment as "akin to the attack on Guernica during the Spanish civil war", Mitchell advocated the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria and suggested the RAF should be prepared to shoot down Russian and Syrian aircraft. He also called for more British funding for the rebel first responders White Helmets who, although recently given £32 million by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, are crestfallen over not being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 7 October 2016.
Mitchell's call for shooting down Russian jets over Syria was “disgraceful” and would put the world “on the path to World War,” an agenda that is being actively followed by “American Zionists,” said Dr Rodney Shakespeare, a British academic and political analyst.
- "Minister Mitchell quits over "pleb" police outburst"
- "Mitchell ‘Has Said Pleb Before’"
- "Profile: Andrew Mitchell"
- "Andrew Mitchell (Members of Parliament)"
- "Andrew Mitchell"
- Guido Fawkes Plots Rumours and Conspiracy
- "CUCA pleased to announce new Vice President"
- "About Andrew"
- "Andrew Mitchell biography"
- "Response to Haiti"
- "President Kagame Officially Opens Girubuntu Education Center"
- "Welcome to Project Umubano"
- "Andrew Mitchell's Rwandan Diary"
- "Andrew Mitchell MP: It's good to be back in Rwanda as Project Umubano enters its third year"
- "Andrew Mitchell MP: Project Umubano 2008"
- "Project Umubano"
- "How Andrew Mitchell turned his anger on me"
- "BBC crisis over refusal to broadcast Gaza appeal"
- "Andrew Mitchell Attacks Flood Response in UN Address"
- "Coffee House Interview: Andrew Mitchell"
- "Foreign aid keeps us safe, insists Andrew Mitchell"
- "Global Poverty Debate"
- "BBC Report"
- "Coalition deserves praise for leading world on aid transparency"
- "Queen’s speech includes commitment to spend 0.7% on development aid from 2013"
- "Lord Ashdown to review UK's humanitarian aid response"
- ITV Lunchtime News, ITV1 2 November 2010.
- "Tory minister 'intervened on behalf of cocoa millionaire'"
- "Andrew Mitchell denies 'rogue' action over Rwanda aid"
- "Rwanda defence chief leads DR Congo rebels, UN report says"
- "UK stops 21m aid payment to Rwanda"
- "Letter dated 26 June 2012 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo addressed to the President of the Security Council"
- "Britain's aid to Rwanda is funding a 'repressive regime' says former Kagame official"
- "UK aid to Rwanda"
- "The British Government and Andrew Mitchell got it badly wrong on Rwanda's secret war in the Congo"
- "UK Aid to Rwanda"
- "Libyans must avoid post-Gaddafi revenge attacks, says Britain"
- "Police log reveals details of Andrew Mitchell's 'pleb' rant"
- "Andrew Mitchell announces resignation over 'plebgate' claims"
- "Andrew Mitchell says 'plebgate' officer 'not telling truth'"
- "CCTV casts doubt on account of Andrew Mitchell exchange"
- "Plebgate probe has cost £144,000 so far as prosecutors consider whether to charge police over claims they lied about minister's swearing"
- "It's an Unfair Cop"
- "Lord Blair accuses MPs in Plebgate case of 'grandstanding'"
- "New DPP aims to make life harder for villains and easier for victims"
- "CPS decisions in Operation Alice - incident at Downing Street on 19 September 2012"
- "'Plebgate': Andrew Mitchell legal bill of £300,000"
- "Andrew Mitchell"
- "The new ruling class"
- "The coalition of millionaires: 23 of the 29 member of the new cabinet are worth more than £1m... and the Lib Dems are just as wealthy as the Tories"
- "EM Radiation Research Trust" Andrew Mitchell, Conservative MP, is listed at the bottom of the webpage, together with other members of the Board of Trustees.
- "West must confront Russia over Aleppo, emergency Commons debate to hear"
- "UK MP's call for downing Russian jets in Syria ‘disgraceful’: Analyst"
- Profile: Andrew Mitchell BBC News, 10 February 2005
- Pan-African Free Trade Agreement: Helping Africa through Free Trade – Andrew Mitchell talks at the Cato Institute
- Debrett's People of Today