I went to a famous public school. I was a policeman. I was an adviser to the House of Commons Commission. I rode my bike in and out of the Palace of Westminster daily. Why are these facts relevant? The answer is Andrew Mitchell MP, still Chief Whip for the moment anyway. I’ll come to what he said in a jiffy, but I’ve little sympathy for the police he allegedly insulted. I know first hand how arrogant and boorish the Palace coppers can be. One accidentally sprung a steel car-barrier from the road-way as I was riding over it; sending me flying. Trying to get an apology and £70 to fix the back wheel took ages. Don’t forget that 99.9% of the time, policing the Palace is a cushy job. Coppers in rough neighbourhoods get abused regularly (I know!) so these two have no business being offended. In my day you could not offend a policeman. It needed a passer by (ideally an old lady) to be outraged before an arrest could take place – but that all changed with Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. It made mere insults an arrestable offence. Many people (me included) do not consider it for the courts to prevent hurt feelings when the real casualty is freedom of speech. Especially, the feelings of those empowered to carry guns, truncheons and tazers. I have no doubt Mitchell was rude, but what did the police do to provoke his outburst. We need to know that too. Still, what concerns me here, is if he really called them ‘plebs’ . This is what the Sun reported him saying ‘Best you learn your f****** place. You don’t run this f****** Government. You’re f****** plebs,” Why do I have a sinking feeling that he may have said nothing of the kind. Public school types, of my acquaintance anyway, don’t talk like that. To me it smacks of a pastiche of Cad Speak from a comic strip. Say it out loud in your best Bertie Wooster, Flashman, Alan B’Stard voice and you will see what I mean. Nobody says “You’re fucking Plebs”, to a policeman, anymore than Londoners say ” its a fair cop guv, you got me bang to rights, me old china” or Irishmen say ‘Begosh and begorra, tis a lovely day, so it is, to be sure”. Unless they can provide CCTV or audio to corroborate the copper’s account – perhaps Mitchell’s used ‘plebs’ elsewhere – I’ll keep a pinch of salt handy.