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beergate

Starmer and Rayner will not be fined over ‘beergate’, say police

The British Labour leadership duo had vowed to quit if police had taken action against them.

BRITAIN’S LABOUR LEADER Keir Starmer has welcomed the findings of a Durham Police investigation that he did not break Covid regulations during a visit to the city while campaigning last year.

Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner had promise to resign if they received fines in relation to the gathering in the offices of a local Labour MP in April 2021.

But after re-opening an inquiry into the event, where Starmer was picture drinking from a bottle of beer, Durham Police found there was no case to answer regarding any of the participants.

In a statement, the force said the restrictions in place at the time on social gatherings had not been violated due to the application of an exception “namely reasonably necessary for work”.

While Starmer and Rayner, who was also present, had always maintained their innocence, the finding will have come as a huge relief to Labour.

The investigation, if it had resulted in fixed penalty notices, would have plunged the party into political turmoil just as Westminster was grappling with the resignation of Boris Johnson.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Starmer said: “I’ve always said no rules were broken when I was in Durham.

“For me, this was always a matter of principle. Honesty and integrity matter. You will always get that from me.”

Rayner added: “Integrity matters in politics.

“The contrast with the behaviour of this disgraced Prime Minister couldn’t be clearer.”

The gathering, dubbed “beergate”, took place during a visit to Durham ahead of the Hartlepool by-election.

Starmer was videoed drinking a bottle of beer over a takeaway curry with colleagues in the offices of MP, Mary Foy.

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 Police initially investigated and found there was no evidence of rule-breaking, but looked at the case again following the intervention of North West Durham Tory MP Richard Holden in April.

Investigation

A Durham Police statement released on Friday said: “Following the emergence of significant new information, an investigation was launched by Durham Constabulary into a gathering at the Miners’ Hall, in Redhills, Durham on April 30 2021.

“That investigation has now concluded.

“A substantial amount of documentary and witness evidence was obtained which identified the 17 participants and their activities during that gathering.

“Following the application of the evidential Full Code Test, it has been concluded that there is no case to answer for a contravention of the regulations, due to the application of an exception, namely reasonably necessary work.

“Accordingly, Durham Constabulary will not be issuing any fixed-penalty notices in respect of the gathering and no further action will be taken.

“The investigation has been thorough, detailed and proportionate.

“The final evidence supplied by participants from the local constituency was returned to Durham Police on July 5 and analysed by investigators against all the evidence before the investigation was concluded on July 8 2022.”

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