Labour fears that Sir Keir Starmer might be fined over his alleged ‘Beergate’ Covid breach in April 2021 grew final night time after Durham police confirmed they had been following robust nationwide pointers on lockdown offences
Some Starmer allies have assumed he’ll escape punishment as a result of the Durham power determined to not impose a retrospective penalty on Dominic Cummings for his Barnard Fort journey in 2020.
However in a brand new Freedom of Info (FOI) launch, the power made it clear that they’ve been following the revised steering in place on the time of the alleged incident involving Sir Keir, his deputy Angela Rayner and different Labour colleagues.
The Nationwide Police Chiefs’ Council steering was toughened in early 2021 and led to a surge in Covid-related mounted penalty fines. Final yr, greater than 23,000 folks had been prosecuted in contrast with simply over 4,000 in 2020.
Final night time, Labour MPs admitted the disclosure will enhance issues that Sir Keir, who has vowed to give up if fined, may get the identical form of FPN that Boris Johnson obtained for attending his party at No10 in June 2020.
Sir Keir Starmer was filmed sipping beer at a boozy curry in Durham in April final yr – an occasion that’s now being investigated by Durham police over alleged Covid rule-breaking
One senior Labour MP even claimed privately that some colleagues wouldn’t be sad to see Sir Keir fined as it might make method for a ‘extra charismatic’ chief.
Allies of Sir Keir dismissed that yesterday and insisted he had damaged no guidelines throughout the break from campaigning within the native elections. In addition they claimed it was no secret that Durham police had been following the nationwide steering.
But it surely emerged final week that police had despatched Sir Keir and Ms Rayner, who has additionally promised to resign if fined, ‘extremely complete’ questionnaires over the alleged ‘beer and curry’ assembly on the workplace of Durham MP Mary Foy.
Sir Keir was pictured on the Platinum Jubilee service for the Queen in London
Final night time, Tory MP Richard Holden – who made the FOI request – stated that Durham police’s reply appeared to point out that no matter their last resolution, it might not be based mostly on some lenient native coverage on retrospective fines. As an alternative, the one related steering could be the up to date nationwide recommendation for 2021.
Mr Holden stated: ‘This will likely disappoint Labour supporters however on this response, Durham Constabulary appears to be telling me that the one related steering is the up to date nationwide police recommendation for 2021.
‘That steering appeared to result in a lot more durable enforcement in opposition to Covid offences.’
Tory MP Richard Holden (pictured) stated that Durham police’s reply to an FOI request appeared to point out that no matter their last resolution, it might not be based mostly on some lenient native coverage on retrospective fines
Nonetheless, police sources stated that regardless of the nationwide steering, every power would use its personal discretion.
Durham police, who couldn’t be reached for remark yesterday, initially dominated out wanting into the Beergate incident, saying that ‘no offence has been established’. However in early Could the power revealed that ‘following the receipt of great new data’, it was opening an investigation
Final night time, a spokesman for Sir Keir stated the occasion in Durham had damaged no Covid guidelines.