Keir Starmer ‘beergate’ event was planned, leaked memo claims

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Keir Starmer ‘beergate’ event was planned, leaked memo claims
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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has been accused of being “dishonest” after it emerged the curry he shared with colleagues during lockdown had been planned in advance, reports have claimed.

A leaked memo drawn up days before the gathering at an MP’s constituency office in Durham set out plans to "arrange takeaway" from a local eatery, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Sir Keir last week suggested the meal, the subject of a police inquiry, had been a spontaneous event. "At some point, this was in the evening, everybody’s hungry and then that takeaway was ordered," he said.

But the memo features a timetable including "dinner" from 8.40pm to 10pm at the Miners Hall with Mary Foy, and states a takeaway will be ordered from a curry house called Spice Lounge.

It also says Sir Keir would return to a hotel after 10pm, which appears to contradict his claim that everyone at the gathering "got on with their work" after eating.

The note states at the top: "Covid alert level: National lockdown."

It appears deputy leader Angela Rayner, referred to as AR, was due to attend the event at the office of Durham MP Mary Foy.

Labour initially denied she was present before admitting she took part.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is to be investigated by police amid allegations that he broke lockdown rules in 2021 (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is to be investigated by police amid allegations that he broke lockdown rules in 2021 (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

At the time of the incident, Covid restrictions banned households from mixing indoors apart from when working.

A spokesman for the Leader of the Opposition’s office said: “Keir was working, a takeaway was made available in the kitchen, and he ate between work demands. No rules were broken.”

A party source added: “During a fast-moving campaign, the op note doesn’t always keep up with events so it would be wrong to assume that activities occurred at the times originally planned. For example, it’s been documented that the takeaway was late.”

Sir Keir, a former director of public prosecutions, told reporters on Saturday: “As I have explained a number of times, I was working in the office, we stopped for something to eat.

“There was no party, no breach of rules, I am confident of that.”

Speaking to Sky News, Lisa Nandy defended Sir Keir, saying: “Keir Starmer went on a work visit and had a break to eat.

"The idea that this is the same thing is just a sign of a government that is tired, desperate and just out of ideas.”

He said he would not resign and would lead Labour into the next general election.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “It was a lie. No break in a work meeting. No pieces to camera, but a pre-arranged social dinner at which Rayner, Foy, and Starmer were present.”

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly accused Starmer of “hypocrisy and dishonesty” over the beergate row.

Mr Cleverly said: “Starmer claimed it was an impromptu curry. Turns out it was pre-planned.

“Starmer claimed nowhere served food. Turns out that loads of places did.

“Angela Rayner claimed she wasn’t there. Turns out she was. Hypocrisy and dishonesty in equal measure.”

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi told Times Radio “the public will be uncomfortable with the hypocrisy” adding: “He has tweeted himself saying that if you’re under investigation, a criminal investigation, then you should resign.”

In January, Sir Keir said the Prime Minister “needs to do the decent thing and resign” after he became embroiled in lockdown breach allegations.

Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are among those to have already been fined for breaking Covid laws as part of the Met’s investigation into No 10 parties.

The Sunday Mirror reported that more fines have been issued to people who attended a No 10 Christmas party on December 18, 2020 – the event which triggered aide Allegra Stratton’s resignation after she was caught joking about it on camera at a mock press conference.

Mr Johnson is not believed to have attended that event.

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