Former UK Chief Constable Urges Durham Police to Reconsider Labour Head Starmer’s 'Beergate Scandal'
06:12 GMT 05.05.2022 (Updated: 15:19 GMT 28.05.2023)
Late last week, Labour admitted that the party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner had attended an April 2021 event where Keir Starmer was caught on camera drinking beer with colleagues at the office of Durham MP Mary Foy during a COVID lockdown.
Peter Fahy, the former head of the Greater Manchester Police, has urged Durham Constabulary to re-investigate claims that UK Labour Party leader Keir Starmer broke COVID lockdown rules last year.
Starmer is under fire over the so-called “Beergate scandal”, which is related to his alleged breaches of coronavirus regulations in Durham on 30 April 2021, when the Labour leader was filmed drinking beer and socialising with colleagues.
“I think they should probably just look at the new information and reconsider their situation. […] Once again, it highlights that a lot of the legislation around coronavirus was confused, so I think the police have been struggling with this. […] I think Durham do need to probably reconsider it […]”, Fahy told the BBC.
He was referring to the previous report by The Telegraph that detectives had not yet requested the full, unedited footage of Keir having beer during last year’s event from a person who filmed it.
The person, whose name was not disclosed, told the newspaper that they “have not had any contact [from the police] yet” when it comes to providing a copy of the footage to the force.
When asked why they had made the video, the filmmaker said that they thought “it was pretty outrageous, because at the time we [Britons] were not allowed to have our friends over and everything was shut down, feeling very isolated”.
“It was a kick in the teeth that they were having a bit of a jolly inside. So I thought I would film it,” the person added.
The Telegraph reported in this regard that the version of the footage published on social media lasts 34 seconds, while the original version is purportedly at least 10 seconds longer.
The filmmaker’s comments came as the Durham police confirmed that they're continuing to look into complaints over the “Beergate” row, stating, “We have received a number of recent communications on this subject, which we are considering and will respond in due course.”
This was preceded by Starmer failing to reject reports that he shared a 30 April 2021 lockdown curry with up to 30 Labour officials, an event that was reportedly worth about £200 ($250).
7 February 2022, 07:51 GMT
When asked how many people were with him on that night, and if whether the number was as many as 30, the Labour leader claimed, “I had a team with me. We were working in the office. No breach of the rules, no party.”
“This relentless focus on mudslinging instead of the issue in hand by the Conservatives means that they've got no answer to the real question that so many people want answered, which is: 'what are you going to do to help me with my bills?'” he added.
The remarks followed Tory MP Richard Holden writing to the Durham police late last week, asking them to probe Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner over the “Beergate” scandal.
The MP mentioned new “incontrovertible evidence”, which he claimed “shows clearly that the Labour Party have lied about” the 30 April 2021 event, trying “to cover up their Deputy Leader Angela Rayner’s presence at the social”.
This came after Labour acknowledged that it had previously told journalists that Rayner was not present at the gathering, with an unnamed Labour source telling the PA news agency that it was a “mistake made in good faith”.
Starmer, for his part, insisted that “whether Angela Rayner was there or not makes absolutely no difference – there was no breach of the rules, the matter has already been looked into”.
Earlier last week, Durham Constabulary pledged to consider a request from MP Holden to launch a full-fledged probe into allegations that Starmer broke coronavirus lockdown rules in 2021. In February, the police decided not to open a probe after reviewing a video of Starmer “drinking and socialising” at an Durham MP Mary Foy’s office on 30 April 2021. Durham Constabulary said at the time they did not believe any offence had been committed by the Labour leader.
Senior Tory members called for a full probe into Starmer’s conduct, arguing that there appeared to be no difference between the event that he attended and the 2020 Downing Street “birthday party”, for which Prime Minister Boris Johnson was fined £50 ($62 dollars) by the Metropolitan Police earlier this month.