Durham police will investigate Sir Keir Starmer over “beergate” allegations

By Waseem Mohamed

Durham Constabulary has said that they will now investigate the allegations made against Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, over a potential breach of lockdown rules in April 2021. This marks a u-turn on Durham Constabulary’s position over the so-called “beergate” scandal, as the police previously said they would “take no further action in relation to this matter”.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Durham Constabulary said “Earlier this year, Durham constabulary carried out an assessment as to whether Covid-19 regulations had been breached at a gathering in Durham City on 30 April 2021. 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”.

In response, a spokesperson for the Labour party said “We’re obviously happy to answer any questions there are and we remain clear that no rules were broken”.

The announcement comes after Durham Constabulary faced increased pressure to open an investigation into Sir Keir Starmer. Durham police previously said that “We do not believe an offence has been established in relation to the legislation and guidance in place at that time”, after footage filmed by a former Durham student showed Starmer drinking beer in the office of Durham City MP Mary Foy, in April last year.

“We can confirm…that an investigation relating to this gathering is now being conducted”

Durham constabulary spokesperson

The Conservative MP for North West Durham, Richard Holden, reacted to the by saying to The Telegraph “I’m delighted that the police have finally come to this conclusion. After seeing all the evidence so far, I think it’s the only reasonable conclusion anybody could have come to. 

“After denying that there should be any investigation for weeks, I’m glad that the actions of the Labour leader, the deputy leader and the senior staff will now be properly looked at. I await the outcome of their enquiries”. Holden is among several Conservative MPs to have asked Durham police to open an investigation into the ‘beergate’ gathering.

Durham police will now decide if Sir Starmer and his colleagues broke the lockdown rules enforced in April 2021. At that time, the mixing of households was banned indoors, with non-essential retail and outdoor venues being allowed to open.

Starmer has previously claimed that the incident was a work event and was therefore legally permissible, saying “we were working, we stopped, we ate. No breach of the rules. No party.” Starmer also accused Conservative MPs of mud-slinging.

Metropolitan Police in London recently handed out dozens of fixed penalty notices to the attendees of parties held in Downing Street during lockdown restrictions, including fines given to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The investigation follows pressure from several Conservatives to investigate the matter, with critics arguing that there is no difference between Starmer eating a takeaway curry and Johnson eating a birthday cake.

Image Credit – Flickr

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