Keith Wallis admits 'Plebgate' offending

Keith Wallis admits 'Plebgate' offending



Introduction and Facts

You’re probably familiar with the ‘Plebgate Affair’, a useful reminder that anyone, even Tory MPs, can be the victim of false allegations, but if not there is good background here.

On 10th January 2014 PC Keith Wallis pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office in relation to an email that he sent to the Deputy Chief Whip of the Tory party stating that he had witnessed Andrew Mitchell confront diplomatic protection officers in Downing Street in 2012 and supporting the allegation that Mr Mitchell had used the ‘P word’. Mr Wallis wrongly claimed to be a constituent of Mr Mitchell.

Sentence has been adjourned until 6th February.

What will he get?

He will certainly go to prison (unless there is some wholly exceptional* mitigation such as him being terminally ill, which is not suggested to be the case). The Courts take this offending very seriously and insist on a custodial sentence to mark it.

Some guidance (in relation to completely different circumstances) was given in Bohannan [2010] EWCA Crim 2261. Reference should be made to cases relating to perverting the course of justice by making a false allegation, but the fact that he is a police officer is an aggravating feature.

It is always perhaps unwise to guess, but we would say that a proper starting point would be about 18 months, which would give a sentence of 12 months after full credit for the plea of guilty.

But whatever happens, Mr Wallis police career will be over.

A word to the Guardian

The case was obviously reported in all the news outlets, including the Guardian. They are normally pretty accurate, but indicated here that Sweeny J (the Judge who took the plea) ‘released Wallis on police bail‘ until the sentence. Since Sweeny J is a Judge this is ‘normal’ bail rather than police bail. It’s not a particularly big point, but was a strange mistake to make.

*This originally read exceptionable for some reason … thanks to Andrew for pointing out the error.

Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.