Labour leader Keir Starmer’s two biggest concerns about Beergate police review
Sadiq Khan: Starmer allegations a million miles from PM's actions
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The investigation concerns video footage which shows Sir Keir Starmer drinking a bottle of beer in a Labour MP’s office during the spring of last year. Durham Police initially decided no offence had been committed but said it had since received “significant new information”. Sir Keir has said he is confident no rules were broken.
The alleged offence took place on April 30 last year when Sir Keir visited the constituency office for the City of Durham MP Mary Foy.
Footage of the 59-year-old has since led to criticism of the Labour leader’s actions.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, he said he had “stopped for something to eat” during meetings, and there was “no party”.
He added: “The police obviously have got their job to do – we should let them get on with it.”
A Durham Constabulary spokesperson said an “assessment” of whether lockdown rule breach had happened was carried out earlier this year.
They said: “At that time, it was concluded that no offence had been established and therefore no further action would be taken.
“Following the receipt of significant new information over recent days, Durham Constabulary has reviewed that position and now, following the conclusion of the pre-election period, we can confirm that an investigation into potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations relating to this gathering is now being conducted.”
So, while the review takes place what could be giving the Labour leader cause for concern?
Firstly, an internal Labour planning memo obtained by the Mail on Sunday suggests advance planning of the beer and curry event which Sir Keir attended – and reveals crucial details about the night.
Details include an 80-minute slot set aside for “dinner in Miners Hall”, from 8.40 to 10pm which critics argue would show the takeaway – which the memo says was to be arranged by YS from ‘Spice Lounge’ – was prearranged and not the impromptu break Mr Starmer has suggested.
The operational note then finishes with an “End of visit” entry, after “Walk from Miners Hal to Radisson Blu” from 10pm to 10.15pm, which raises questions about Sir Keir’s insistence his team only stopped for a meal before returning back to work.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times interviewed a witness over the weekend who has claimed they are ready to tell police that the party broke lockdown rules.
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The witness told the paper that Sir Keir did not return to work after eating and that Ms Foy was similarly culpable.
The memo also shows the names of four Met Police officers, part of Mr Starmer’s liaison bodyguard team, who could become key witnesses for Durham Constabulary’s investigation.
In a statement, Ms Foy said she and her team “were working during a very busy period, including facilitating the leader’s visit”.
The statement added: “I do not believe either I or my office broke any rules, and I will of course fully engage with any police investigation.”
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Keir was working, a takeaway was made available in the kitchen, and he ate between work demands. No rules were broken.”
The investigation into Sir Keir comes hot off the heels of members of the Government being fined by the Metropolitan Police, last month, for breaches of lockdown rules.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were all issued fixed penalty notices for attending a birthday party for the PM in Downing Street.
MPs have since voted for Mr Johnson to face an inquiry by the Privileges Committee into whether he knowingly misled the House of Commons.
The 57-year-old has previously denied that he broke any Covid rules during the lockdown period.
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