Sir Keir Starmer insists ‘no rules were broken’ amid ‘beergate’ investigation

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Sir Keir Starmer has insisted he is “sure no rules were broken” after police said they would investigate allegations he broke lockdown rules last year.

The Labor leader, who has repeatedly called for Boris Johnson to resign for breaking the rules at Downing Street, told reporters on Friday night: “Obviously I understand that the police must do their job, we must let them get on with it, but I”. I trust the rules have not been broken.

Durham Police announced on Friday that they were investigating the claims after receiving ‘significant new information’, having previously said they did not believe an offense had been established.

Police’s U-turn follows mounting pressure on the force to re-examine allegations after footage emerged of the Labor leader having a beer with up to 30 colleagues at an election office in Durham in April 2021 during campaigning. for the Hartlepool by-election. .

Video capture of Sir Keir Starmer drinking a beer after campaigning in Durham in April 2021

The Labor leader, on a victory lap in England after some success in Thursday’s local council election, refused to answer questions from reporters in Carlisle on Friday afternoon after police confirmed his change of heart. .

A Labor Party spokesman said: “We are obviously happy to answer any questions there are and we made it clear that no rules were broken.”

The police announcement appears to be timed to coincide with the end of local elections, in which Labor won some significant victories, including control of three London councils.

A police statement on Friday afternoon read: “Earlier this year Durham Police carried out an assessment as to whether Covid-19 regulations had been breached at a meeting in the City of Durham on 30th April 2021.

‘At that time, it was concluded that no offense had been established and therefore no further action would be taken.

“Following the receipt of significant new information in recent days, Durham Police have reviewed that position and now, following the conclusion of the pre-election period, we can confirm that an investigation into possible breaches of Covid-19 regulations is underway. 19 related to this meeting.” is now taking place.

Police did not elaborate on what the new information implied.

CARLISLE, ENGLAND - MAY 6: Sir Keir Starmer congratulates the winning Labor candidates in the Cumberland Council election on May 6, 2022 in Carlisle, England.  Labor took control of Cumberland Council, the first of Cumbria's two new unitary authorities, winning 66% of the seats in yesterday's local election.  (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

The announcement overshadowed the Labor leader’s victory lap in England (Picture: Getty)

The accusations against Sir Keir refused to abate in the run-up to the election, with the Labor leader saying this week that he wanted to focus on the cost-of-living crisis and not Conservative “insults”.

At the time of the alleged meeting, non-essential retail stores and outdoor venues, including pub gardens, were open but social distancing rules, which included a ban on indoor mingling between households, were maintained.

Sir Keir has repeatedly denied breaking the rules.

In January, he said the prime minister “needs to do the right thing and resign” after being embroiled in accusations of breaching the lockdown.

His opposition colleague Angela Rayner, who was with Sir Keir at the Durham meeting in April 2021, also questioned Johnson’s suitability as prime minister.

She wrote on Twitter: “Boris Johnson’s Downing Street is under police investigation, how the hell can he think he can stay Prime Minister?”

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Durham Police have previously said their ‘general approach’ was not to take ‘retrospective action’, including against former Downing Street Senior Assessor Dominic Cummings for his notorious trip to Barnard Castle to ‘test his eyesight’ while the country was locked.

The force has now been asked to confirm whether this general approach holds.

Sir Keir has previously said that there were no restaurants or pubs open at the time of the alleged crime, and that the hotel he and his colleagues were staying at did not serve food, so “if you did not get takeaways, then our team was eating”. That afternoon’.

North West Durham Conservative MP Richard Holden said police are doing “exactly the right thing” by investigating possible lockdown breaches involving Sir Keir.

Holden, who had been pressing police to investigate after presenting new evidence, said: “It is vital that the man who wants to be prime minister is held to the same standard as the prime minister and everyone else.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and Foreign Minister Rishi Sunak are among those who have already been fined for breaking Covid laws.

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