David Cameron has indicated that he has not ruled out a return to the Government for former chief whip and Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell, who was forced to resign over the "plebgate" affair.
Mr Mitchell resigned from the Cabinet on October 19 last year after allegations that he called police officers guarding Downing Street "plebs". But a police investigation was later launched after CCTV footage appeared to indicate that the claims were incorrect.
Speaking during a TV interview at the Conservative annual conference in Manchester, Mr Cameron declined to discuss the ongoing inquiry, but said he was "sorry" about what had happened and made a point of praising Mr Mitchell as "a very talented politician".
Asked if there could be a return to the front rank for the MP once the inquiry is over, the Prime Minister told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "Right now there is a police investigation going on and a number of people have been arrested.
"These things shouldn't go on and on and on, but it's under way and it wouldn't be right for me as Prime Minister to interfere in that in any way. We have to wait for the outcome and then make decisions.
"He is a very talented politician. I have enormous respect for him. He was a brilliant (International) Development Secretary. I am very sorry about all the things that have taken place.
"We have to let this investigation take place and then we can take it from there."
Speaking at a ConservativeHome.com fringe event at the party's conference, Mr Mitchell said the recent revelations from former Labour spin doctor Damian McBride would further discourage young people from getting involved in politics.
"It will act as an enormous deterrent to the next generation's desire to take part in the political process," he said. "My own daughter was asked some time ago now whether she would be interested in following her father and her grandfather into politics.
"She replied to the journalist that she would rather take a bullet."
Mr Mitchell won a warm reception as he addressed the Tory Reform Group of centre-right Conservatives in Manchester.
There were loud cries of "Hear! Hear!" as TRG chair Victoria Roberts told the reception: "Many of us are huge fans of his and we very much hope to see him back on the front benches soon."