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'Self-righteous' Keir Starmer has questions to answer over 'Beergate', says minister
4 May 2022, 09:08
Environment Secretary George Eustice has told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast Keir Starmer has "questions to answer" over the 'Beergate' allegations.
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The Labour leader was pictured with a beer in his hand inside the party offices in Durham in April 2021.
Since then claims have emerged that up to 30 people - including deputy leader Angela Rayner - were in attendance.
Indoor socialising was banned at the time.
When asked by Nick if a full inquiry was needed, Mr Eustice said: "It's certainly the case that Keir Starmer's got questions to answer.
"I mean, we've all seen him being highly self-righteous in recent weeks about allegations around the Prime Minister and the fact that the Prime Minister received that Fixed Penalty Notice for literally having people around with a cake for his birthday.
He said the allegations levelled at Sir Keir were "quite extraordinary claims if they turn out to be true".
"I think we definitely need to hear from Keir Starmer, he's got questions to answer, we need to see a full account of what happened because this story does seem to be quite well-sourced to police protection officers," he added.
On April 20, the day the photo was taken, the rules stated: "You must not socialise indoors except with your household or support bubble."
There have recently been new claims that Sir Keir and senior colleagues also had food delivered.
Sir Keir defended the move, saying no hospitality venues were open at the time and the hotel he was staying in stopped serving food an hour earlier, at 9pm.
The Labour leader also said he carried on working after the photo was taken, at just after 10pm.
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves defended Sir Keir on Wednesday, telling LBC the Beergate saga is a "million miles" from the "industrial-scale rule-breaking" in Downing Street.
"That is why Durham Police found that there was no case to answer," she told Nick.
"The Tories are trying to deflect and distract from their own rule-breaking and lawbreaking... [Keir and his team] worked all day, out campaigning, on the phones, for those crucial local elections.
"They had some food and a drink and then they carried on working.
"That is within the rules and that is why Durham Police have said there was no case to answer."
Speaking on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday, Sir Keir further defended the picture and said the police had not spoken to him recently.
"I think they put out a statement last week saying they're not reinvestigating and they haven't spoken to me," he said.
Describing the evening in question, he said: "We're on the road at the end of the day, we're in the office preparing.
"Now, that evening, from memory, we were doing an online event for members because we had this get out the vote thing."
He added: "At some point, this was in the evening, everybody's hungry and then that takeaway was ordered.
"It was then delivered into the kitchen... restaurants and pubs were closed, so takeaways were really the only way you could eat.
"So, this was brought in and at various points people went through the kitchen, got a plate, had some food to eat and got on with their work."