The recently-appointed Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell has been forced to apologise after an altercation with armed police in Downing Street that is alleged to have involved foul language.Mitchell issued the apology following claims he was threatened with arrest for ranting at officers who prevented him leaving on his bicycle.
The Sun newspaper reported that Mitchell demanded: "Open this gate, I'm the chief whip. I'm telling you – I'm the chief whip and I'm coming through these gates." [Actually, The Sun suggested a rather more ribald version.] Tourists and other members of the public were said to have been within earshot. The alleged incident, which happened just days after two police officers, Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone, were shot dead near Manchester, is likely to cause embarrassment for David Cameron. The prime minister entrusted Mitchell with enforcing party discipline in this month's cabinet reshuffle.
Mitchell, a keen cyclist, denied using offensive language but admitted he had behaved badly after he was barred from leaving Downing Street via his usual route through the main gates.