Toby Rowland sued Andrew Mitchell for claiming he made up "pleb" claims
Toby Rowland sued Andrew Mitchell for claiming he made up "pleb" claims Getty

The police officer at the centre of Andrew Mitchell's 'plebgate' libel defeat has spoken of his "delight" after being found to have told the truth.

Rowland was the officer at Downing Street who reported that Mitchell called him and other colleagues "plebs" during a row in 2012.

Mitchell always denied using the politically toxic word, but at the High Court a judge ruled he "probably" did say pleb – dealing a hammer blow to Mitchell's credibility.

Rowland was counter-suing Mitchell for claiming he made up the allegation to the Sun Newspaper. The tabloid title defeated Mitchell's claim against it that the story was false and defamatory.

The former government chief whip said he was "bitterly disappointed" by the verdict in the case, which cost him an estimated £2m in legal fees.

Rowland said the saga – which has dragged on for nearly two years – was a matter of huge regret to him. He was also the subject of a criminal inquiry and disciplinary action at Scotland Yard.

Rowland said: "It has been a huge regret that what happened at the gates of Downing Street more than two years ago has ended up here. It should be pointed out that I and my colleagues tried everything possible to stop the need for court action.

"Even before this trial began, I had already been cleared of any wrongdoing by full, extensive and wide-reaching investigations, including a criminal one. I am delighted to hear again my innocence, my integrity and my reputation as a police officer has been recognised.

"The pain myself and my family have been though is indescribable. And it is particularly saddening that this happened because I was following procedures and was doing my job without fear or favour.

"I also recognise how difficult it must have been for Mr Mitchell's family and I hope now that a line can be drawn and everyone can be left in peace."

Following the verdict, Scotland Yard would not comment on Rowland in particular. A police spokesman said: "We are aware of the judgement delivered today. The MPS has not been a party to the defamation actions, but complied with all our legal obligations."