After a detailed analysis of the evidence of the claimants in both actions, of the other officers present, and of the experts, the Judge concluded
“On balance of probabilities, I am satisfied that Mitchell did say the words, or very similar, as alleged”
The words in question which, PC Rowland said that Mr Mitchell addressed to him were
“”best you learn your fucking place…you don’t run this fucking government … you’re fucking plebs”.
The Judge heard evidence from 26 witnesses over a period of 7 days. There were a number of important factors which enabled the him to reach the conclusion that the words were probably said.
The Judge described Mr Mitchell’s conduct in insisting on being let out of the main gate as “childish”. He held that Mr Mitchell “did lose his temper” and that it can lead to “loss of inhibition in speaking and imperfect recollection”. He was not in a state of mind to measure his words carefully or remember precisely what they were. His account was inconsistent with the CCTV footage.
In contrast, the Judge found that PC Rowland was not the sort of man who had the “wit” to invent on “spur of the moment what a senior politician said to him”. He also accepted the evidence of two other police officers who were present, PC Richardson and PC Weatherley.
The Judge refused to enter judgment for PC Rowland and the Sun but gave Mr Mitchell 14 days to formulate an undertaking and to consider the next steps. However, the judge did make an order for costs against Mr Mitchell – on the basis that he had failed on the issues of fact which the court had determined.
Following the judgment, a Police Federation spokesman said:
“We are pleased that the judge has ruled in PC Toby Rowland’s favour. Toby’s name has been cleared and his integrity restored. Toby has conducted himself with dignity and professionalism in relation to this incident and subsequent enquiries and legal cases. It is important that this incident is now brought to a close to allow Toby and his family to look to the future.”
The background to the case is set out in our post here.