Police launch investigation into Keir Starmer 'beergate' allegations following 'significant' new evidence
- Durham Police have launched an investigation into claims
Keir Starmerbreached COVID rules in "beergate".
- Footage emerged of the Labour leader drinking beer with other members while taking a break from campaigning.
Durham Police has launched an investigation into allegations Labour leader Keir Starmer breached England's COVID-19 rules in what has become dubbed 'beergate'.
The force said Friday it was opening an investigation into a gathering in April 2021, where Starmer was pictured drinking a beer in an office with colleagues, after "significant new information" had come to light.
A statement was issued the day after England's local elections.
It 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."
Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions, has insisted no rules were broken by the event, part of which was filmed by a student at Durham university and shared online.
He told the BBC: "We were working in the office, it was just before elections, we were busy, we paused for food … there was no party, no rules were broken, that is the long and the short of it."
The possibility of receiving a fine is tricky for Starmer, who has called for Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to resign after they received fines for attending a lockdown-breaching birthday party for Johnson in Downing Street.
Richard Holden, Conservative MP for North West Durham, has been pressing for the police to launch a probe.
Responding to the news, he said: "It's vital that the man who wants to be Prime Minister is held to the same standard as the Prime Minister and everybody else.
"For the last fortnight Starmer & Labour HQ have obfuscated, denied, lied, & attempted to smear in an attempt to shield Starmer & other senior Labour figures from reasonable questions which they have been unwilling to answer. I am glad that they will now have to answer them."
Emily Thornberry, shadow attorney general, told Sky News that Durham Police had been "put under a lot of pressure" by the Conservatives and the media.
She refused to comment on whether Starmer would resign if he received a fine, insisting that would not be the case.
A Labour Party spokesperson told Insider: "We're obviously happy to answer any questions there are and we remain clear that no rules were broken."
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