Police say no further action over Sir Keir's lockdown beer footage

7 February 2022, 06:30 | Updated: 7 February 2022, 12:56

Sir Keir is in the clear over footage showing him drinking a beer during England's lockdown
Sir Keir is in the clear over footage showing him drinking a beer during England's lockdown. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Police do not believe an offence was "established" and will take no further action after Sir Keir Starmer was seen enjoying a beer during England's lockdown.

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The leader of the opposition said the decision by police that no offence occurred after allegations he broke lockdown rules in April 2021 when filmed drinking a beer in an office showed the "contrast" with No 10.

Asked by broadcasters in south London whether he was "relieved" by Durham Constabulary's announcement, Labour's Sir Keir Starmer said: "I was clear throughout that no rules were broken.

"And here's the contrast - only last Monday we got the overview from Sue Gray, and 12 cases being referred to the Metropolitan Police in relation to the Prime Minister and the goings on in Downing Street.

"Because the Metropolitan Police consider there was evidence not only of offences, but they were serious enough and flagrant enough to put aside their usual rule that they won't investigate 12 months after the event.

"So that's a huge contrast, as there always was in this case."

Some Tories had called for an investigation into the Labour leader as Boris Johnson came under sustained attack for the partygate saga, which is being probed by the Metropolitan Police.

Conservatives had tried to compare Sir Keir's drink in a Labour office in Durham to repeated allegations of Covid rule-breaking parties at Downing Street throughout the periods of coronavirus restrictions, with education secretary Nadhim Zahawi calling for him to apologise.

Sir Keir rejected comparisons and Durham Police has now said it will not be taking the matter further.

"We do not believe an offence has been established in relation to the legislation and guidance in place at that time," a spokesperson for the force said.

"We will, therefore, take no further action."

Sir Keir was filmed having a beer in the constituency office of City of Durham MP Mary Foy on April 30 2021, as England was beginning to leave the third national lockdown but remained under restrictions.

Read more: Sir Keir fights back over Partygate: Tories are trying to drag us 'into the gutter'

Read more: Streeting: 'No comparison' between No.10 partygate and Starmer beer photo

Some Tories jumped on the chance to attack the former director of public prosecutions over it, with Mr Zahawi comparing it to Mr Johnson's attendance at a do in the Downing Street garden.

But speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari during Call Keir in January, the Labour leader said: "We didn’t break any rules, we were working in the office and stopped for a takeaway.

"I understand what's going on here, which is exactly what happened with Owen Paterson.

Read more: You'll need a panzer division to oust me from No10 vows Boris

"There comes a point where the Tories try to take everybody into the gutter with them. That's what's happening here.

"We were working in the office and a takeaway turned up and we stopped and we ate it. There was no breach of the rules, no party, no comparison with the PM.

"The PM is facing allegations of multiple parties. There is simply no comparison."

Boris Johnson continues to fight on as Prime Minister despite a raft of resignations among his senior aides.

Five, including Munira Mirza, his long-time ally, confirmed their departures in recent days, with Ms Mirza citing Mr Johnson's baseless claim that Sir Keir failed to prosecute the paedophile Jimmy Savile as the reason for her exit.

Mr Johnson has vowed to fight on, reportedly saying it would require a panzer division to oust him from Downing Street.