Pressure mounts on Sir Keir Starmer as student who filmed Beergate video has told Durham Police they will testify in court and claims event was ‘entirely social’
Pressure is mounting on Sir [object Window] over Beergate as Durham police have asked a witness if they are prepared to give evidence in court.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that one of the students who filmed the video of the Labour leader drinking beer has already agreed to testify in court, in the event that any fixed penalty fines are challenged. The witness claims the gathering was ‘entirely social’.
Police could release the conclusions of its investigation into whether Sir Keir broke 폐쇄 rules as soon as this week. Both he and his deputy, 안젤라 레이너, have promised to resign if they are fined over the ‘curry and beer’ gathering at the office of Labour MP Mary Foy in Durham Miners Hall last year.
Richard Holden, Conservative MP for North West Durham, 말했다: ‘The fact that court action has been mentioned is a sign of just how seriously both the police and witnesses are taking this.
Pressure is mounting on Sir Keir Starmer over Beergate as Durham police have asked a witness if they are prepared to give evidence in court
‘It shows all bases are being rightly covered in case Sir Keir Starmer, or the other Labour MPs and supporters present, decided to challenge any potential fines in court.’
Two university students filmed Sir Keir swigging beer and chatting with colleagues just after 10pm on April 30 last year when indoor socialising was banned.
One told The Mail on Sunday they had been asked by police to testify in court. The student previously told this newspaper: ‘I have never seen a work meeting with people sitting on tables, drinking San Miguel and standing around eating off plates. There is a clear difference between a meeting and what was happening there, which was entirely social.’
The Labour leader has insisted no laws were broken and that he returned to work after the drinks.
Police launched their investigation at the start of May. Sir Keir returned his questionnaire two weeks ago, after taking 18 days to complete it. His spokesman confirmed he had received legal advice on his answers. A Labour source said: ‘The longer this goes on and the more people who are prepared to testify, the worse it looks for Keir. The last thing we need is for the Labour Party to rip itself to pieces in another internal debate when the Government is on the back foot and we should be making real progress.’
The source said any move by Sir Keir to challenge the fine ‘would look like a desperate attempt to hang on, that would completely undermine the promises he made’.
A source with knowledge of the police investigation said Durham detectives have been ‘in total lockdown’ over the Beergate probe, 첨가: ‘There is concern over how long it’s now taking, concern this is dragging on, when they are only investigating one event and one evening.’ The event took place when any gathering had to be ‘reasonably necessary for work’. As well as drinking beer with Labour colleagues, Sir Keir was pictured posing with a football shirt handed to him by an activist. Police are understood to have sent Sir Keir detailed questions about the work purpose of this interaction.
Asked if Sir Keir is planning to challenge any fine he gets in court, Labour declined to comment and pointed to his pledge to quit. Sir Keir said in May: ‘If the police decide to issue me with a fixed penalty notice I would, 물론이야, do the right thing and step down.’
A Durham police spokesman said: ‘This is an ongoing investigation and we do not intend to provide a running commentary.’