Andrew Mitchell was forced to resign at Conservative chief whip after the ‘Plebgate’ affair in 2012.
Andrew Mitchell sued for libel over claims in The Sun he called police officers 'plebs'Reuters

Andrew Mitchell did call police officers plebs or say something "very similar", a judge has ruled at a libel trial on the 'plebgate' affair.

Judge Mr Justice Mitting also said Mitchell's account of the spat was "inconsistent" with CCTV footage of the incident at the gates of Downing Street in 2012.

It means Mitchell loses the libel case he brought over reports he called officers "plebs."

The sensational ruling deals a heavy blow to Mitchell, who brought the libel action against The Sun newspaper for reporting he called police officers "plebs."

Mitting said in his summing up; "On balance of probabilities, I am satisfied that Mitchell did say the words, or very similar, as alleged."

What next for Mitchell after this ruling is uncertain, as it severely damages his credibility.

During the trial Mitchell admitted having a temper and to using foul language too often. The court heard from Live Aid organiser Sir Bob Geldof - an unlikely friend of Conservative chief whip. Geldof said Mitchell was "no slouch" in terms of how much he swore.

Mitchell branded the 'plebgate' affair a "s***storm" which he blamed for destroying his political career.

"I do not deny I have a temper sometimes, but I do deny I am quick to lose it," he said. "I am capable of using bad language, I use it too much. I am someone who uses bad language from time to time.

"I would never call a policeman a pleb, let alone a f****** pleb," Mitchell insisted.

Also involved at the trial was the police officer who supplied The Sun newspaper with the explosive comments. During the row at Downing Street, Pc Kevin Rowland told Mitchell he would arrest the top Tory if he swore again.

Rowland counter-sued Mitchell for claiming the 'pleb' allegations were fabricated. Summing up, Mitting described him as lacking "the wit or imagination to invent on the spot the words alleged by the Cabinet Minister."

Mitchell's lawyer, James Price QC said there was "powerful evidence" the politician never said the word "pleb." But Rowland's lawyer, Desmond Browne QC, accused Mitchell of providing "a warped image" of the matter in a bid to "blind the world" to his actions at the Downing Street gates.