Did Beergate meal break the law? Keir Starmer insists he and his team consumed curry and beer during a work break – but a dinner lasting 80 minutes was listed in his official itinerary
The leaked Labour memo documenting Sir Keir Starmer’s visit to Durham threatens to torpedo his defence that no rules were broken.
Lockdown laws banned indoor socialising last April, when Beergate took place. Police could fine those who disobeyed the rules.
Staff could only meet indoors if doing so was ‘reasonably necessary for work’, but ‘there should not be any sharing of food and drink by staff who do not share a household’.
The leaked Labour memo documenting Sir Keir Starmer’s visit to Durham threatens to torpedo his defence that no rules were broken
Sir Keir has insisted that he and his team did not flout the rules, and that they consumed curry and beer during a break in work.
But revelations that a dinner lasting one hour and 20 minutes was listed in his official itinerary and no work after the meal was scheduled will fuel Tory claims that this was a ‘social event’.
Earlier this year Durham Constabulary decided that no offence had occurred on April 30 last year.
But last week it said it had received ‘significant new information’ and was launching a probe. Officers must decide whether what appears to be a prearranged late-night dinner – inside and with alcohol – was ‘reasonably necessary’ for Sir Keir’s work.
The Labour Leader was pictured having a beer and a curry with colleagues during last year’s Hartlepool by-election while some covid restrictions were still in place
Sir Keir faces further questions about how the prearranged takeaway dinner complied with Government guidance for those fighting local elections.
It recommended: ‘You should not meet other campaigners indoors. It is safer to meet outdoors, where the risk of catching or spreading Covid is much lower, but two-metre social distancing should still be maintained.’
Campaigners were also advised that ‘meetings to organise and plan campaigns should be held online or over the phone… not in person.’
The Durham force issued 1,090 fines for Covid breaches between March 2020 and February 2022. The Metropolitan Police, which is investigating alleged parties in Downing Street, issued 17,829.