Sir Keir Starmer will be re-investigated over ‘Beergate’ following the emergence of new footage, Durham Police have confirmed.
The Labour leader was pictured having a takeaway and drinking a beer indoors with colleagues in April 2021 during a by-election campaign.
At the time, mixing indoors was strictly prohibited in England, unless it was for the purpose of work.
Thus far, Labour have maintained that no rules were broken, with Shadow Attorney-General Emily Thornberry stating: “We’ll answer whatever questions are put to us and we’ll do whatever we can to help. We’re completely confident that no rules have been broken.
“I appreciate they’ve [Durham Police] been put under a lot of pressure. There’s lots of people that have been campaigning for this investigation to be re-opened, lots of Conservative MPs have been asking, lots of Conservative-supporting newspapers have been making a big fuss about it.
“If they’re opening it again, that’s fine, we will answer questions.”
Sir Keir too has always maintained that no rules were broken and that those involved were merely breaking to eat before resuming their work.
In their initial investigation, Durham Police concluded that no offence had been committed and said it would take no further action, but it is now clear that position has drastically changed.
They released in a statement: “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.”
This development comes following calls from Sir Keir himself for both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to resign after they were fined by the Metropolitan Police for their own Covid-rule breaches.
The announcement comes on a day where Labour claimed both Westminster, a Conservative stronghold since its creation in 1964, and Wandsworth, widely believed to be Margaret Thatcher’s favourite council – and run by the Tories since 1978 – in today’s local elections.
In addition to these relative surprises, Labour took their top London target in Barnet, with Starmer greeting supporters in the borough they narrowly failed to win in 2014.
Almost 150 councils held votes across England on Thursday, including 32 London boroughs.
Council seats were also contested in Scotland, Wales and the Northern Ireland assembly, where nationalists Sinn Féin could become the largest party for the first time in Northern Irish history.
All results in England, Scotland and Wales are expected to be known by Friday evening, although those in Northern Ireland are likely to carry through to Saturday.
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