On Saturday, the Labour leader reportedly told colleagues that he would step down if he is slapped with a fine over an alleged breach of coronavirus lockdown rules during last year’s gathering, something that is now being re-investigated by the Durham police.
A leaked memo obtained by The Daily Mail has cast doubt on UK Labour Party leader Keir Starmer’s claims that he did not break COVID rules in April 2021, when he was filmed having a beer and a takeaway with colleagues at the office of Durham MP Mary Foy.
The newspaper reported that an operational note, which was passed to the Mail by a whistleblower and purportedly marked “private and confidential”, reveals that the Durham gathering had been planned in advance.
The document indicated that the 30 April 2021 event had been listed on the schedule amid the local election and Hartlepool by-election campaign, stating that there would be a “dinner in Miners Hall” with City of Durham MP Mary Foy from 8.40pm to 10pm, according to The Mail.
The note also revealed that a member of staff in Starmer’s office was to arrange “a takeaway from the Spice Lounge [a local curry house]”, and after this entry the document simply reads, “End of visit”.
The Mail claimed that the memo also further undermines Labour’s allegations that the party made “an honest mistake” when it denied that Deputy Leader Angela Rayner was at the Durham event, given the fact that the note lists “AR” alongside “KS” as the “two senior politicians anchoring the day’s proceedings”.
The newspaper also referred to an unnamed witness, who was ostensibly present at the Durham gathering and is now allegedly poised to tell Durham Constabulary that the event did break COVID restriction rules last year.
The Mail quoted the source as saying that Durham MP Mary Foy and her staff “were not working and I have not got a problem telling that to the police”.
“They were just getting p****d. They were just there for a jolly. It’s not something that I am prepared to defend,” the source added.
The claims come after Starmer reiterated that he was allegedly working and stopped to eat when he was filmed having a beer during last April’s campaign gathering.
“As I’ve explained a number of times, I was working in the office, we stopped for something to eat, there was no party, no breach of the rules. I’m confident of that but the police have to do their job,” he asserted.
The remarks followed Durham Constabulary announcing on Friday that they had opened a probe into the matter.
“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 Durham police spokesperson said, referring to Labour’s 30 April 2021 event.
Labour MP Diane Abbott has, meanwhile, told LBC that Starmer should step down if he is fined for breaching the rules.
“I’m a loyal supporter of Keir Starmer. I’m just making the common sense point that if he gets a fixed penalty notice he should consider his position,” she pointed out.
Last month, Tory MP Richard Holden wrote to Durham Constabulary, asking them to probe Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner over the “Beergate” scandal. The MP mentioned new “incontrovertible evidence”, which he claimed “shows clearly that the Labour Party have lied about” last year’s event, trying “to cover up their Deputy Leader Angela Rayner’s presence at the social”.
In February, the police said that they had decided not to open a probe into the issue after reviewing a video of Starmer “drinking and socialising” at Foy’s office last year . Durham Constabulary said at the time they did not believe any offence had been committed by the Labour leader.
Senior Tory members, for their part, previously called for a full probe into Starmer’s conduct, arguing that there appeared to be no difference between the event that he attended and the 2020 Downing Street “birthday party”, for which Prime Minister Boris Johnson was fined £50 ($62 dollars) by the Metropolitan Police last month.