Beergate: Durham Police to investigate Sir Keir Starmer over allegation he broke lockdown rules

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Sir Keir Starmer will be investigated by police over “beergate” – the allegation he broke lockdown rules while drinking with colleagues.

The Labour leader has come under pressure since footage emerged of him drinking a beer and having curry with colleagues in Durham during campaigning for the Hartlepool by-election in April 2021.

At the time, non-essential retail and outdoor venues including pub gardens were open but social distancing rules, which included a ban on indoor mixing between households, remained in place.

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 April 30 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.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “We’re obviously happy to answer any questions there are and we remain clear that no rules were broken.”

The revelation comes after Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were fined for breaking lockdown rules following a Met Police investigation into partygate.

Sir Keir accused Conservative MPs on Monday of “mudslinging” over the allegations after coming under pressure from Tories over the event.

He said he and his colleagues were working in the Durham constituency office of local MP Mary Foy and paused for some food, adding that “no rules were broken”.

Last week, the Labour Party confirmed its deputy leader Angela Rayner was also in attendance, having previously told journalists she was not present at the gathering last April when coronavirus restrictions were in force.

But a party source said it was a “mistake made in good faith” and Sir Keir has insisted it “makes absolutely no difference” as no rules had been broken.

Sir Keir said earlier this week: “There was no party, no breach of the rules.

“This is a few days from the election, I know what’s going on here – Tories are desperately trying to talk about anything other than the cost of living, chucking as much mud as possible.

“If they spent as much energy and as much focus on people’s bills and the tax that they are whacking people for then millions of people would be grateful for that.

“So I think this is classic two or three days before an election mudslinging from the Tories. But I have got nothing to add.”

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