Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner cleared by police of breaking lockdown rules over Durham meeting

Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner cleared by police of breaking lockdown rules over Durham meeting

Sir Keir Starmer will not be fined for breaching Covid restrictions, Durham police confirmed on Friday.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner will also not recieve a fixed penalty notice for attending a campaigning event last year when some pandemic rules were still in place.

The force said the Labour leader has "no case to answer" over the “beergate” gathering on April 30 2021 where he was filmed swigging from a bottle in a room with others.

Seventeen Labour MPs and staffers enjoyed a drink and takeaway curry together, but the meeting was “reasonably necessary for work”, an investigation found.

At the time social distancing rules - which included a ban on indoor mixing between households -were in place.

“Durham Constabulary will not be issuing any fixed penalty notices in respect of the gathering and no further action will be taken”, police said in a statement.

Sir Keir has always insisted he stopped for a break with his team, before resuming work at Durham Miners Hall just after 10pm that night.

Labour staff had been campaigning ahead of the Hartlepool by-election and Sir Keir was videoed drinking a bottle of beer with colleagues in the offices of Mary Foy MP.

It was later revealed that Ms Rayner was also at the event, a claim the party had previously denied.

Durham police added: “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.

“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.”

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.

Sir Keir repeatedly denied there was any breach in the rules and said that his case was different from that of the Prime Minister who was fined over a birthday party in Downing Street.

After he was cleared, he tweeted: "I've always said no rules were broken when I was in Durham. The police have completed their investigation and agreed: there is no case to answer.

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

Ms Rayner added: "Integrity matters in politics. The contrast with the behaviour of this disgraced Prime Minister couldn't be clearer."