Labor thinks Sir Keir Starmer can prove he didn’t break lockdown rules
Labor believe it may show Sir Keir Starmer did not break lockdown rules after the party leader vowed he would quit if fined by police. In a dramatic statement on Monday, Sir Keir said he would do the ‘right thing’ if he received a fixed penalty notice in relation to a rally at Labor offices in Durham in April last year.
The move was seen as a huge gamble, putting his future in the hands of Durham Police after it was announced last week that officers would reopen an investigation into the event where Sir Keir drank beer and ate curry. However, Labor sources are confident they can prove it was a work event and those present were taking a break to eat while working late on preparations for the Hartlepool by-election.
The party compiled time-stamped logs from WhatsApp chats, documents and video montages, showing they continued to work after takeout was delivered – until 1am, The Guardian reported. A party source said: ‘We have been completely clear that no rules have been broken. We will provide documentary evidence that people were working before and after stopping to eat.
In his statement, Sir Keir repeatedly said no rules were broken as he sought to contrast his actions with Boris Johnson who refused to step down after being fined by Met Police for a rally at No 10 in June 2020 to mark his 56th birthday. But after repeatedly calling on Mr Johnson to go for breaking the law, many in Westminster believed he would have no choice but to fall on his sword if it turned out he had it does himself.
Deputy Chief Angela Rayner – who also attended – said she would also step down if fined. A government minister, however, accused Sir Keir of ‘attempting to pressure the police to clear him’, saying a fine would end his leadership.
Technology Minister Chris Philp said the Labor leader’s statement was “deeply inappropriate”. However, Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry said it was the Tory MPs who called for the investigation to be reopened who were looking to pressure the police.
“Anyone who stands back and watches this with an open mind can see that attempts have been made to put pressure on Durham Police,” she told LBC. “Tory MPs tweeted at them, wrote to them. What’s the point of doing that if not to put pressure on them?”
In his statement, Sir Keir said he believed in the principle that “those who make the laws must follow them” and that politicians who do not “undermine our democracy”. “I am absolutely clear that no laws were broken, they were obeyed at all times, I just had something to eat while working late into the evening as any politician would a few days before a election,” he said.
For more stories of where you live, visit In your region.