Starmer sends back questionnaire over 'Beergate' as he promises to quit if fined

17 June 2022, 18:45 | Updated: 17 June 2022, 18:47

Keir Starmer has pledged to resign if fined
Keir Starmer has pledged to resign if fined. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Sir Keir Starmer has handed in a questionnaire to Durham Police after promising to resign if he is found to have broken Covid rules.

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The Labour leader submitted his responses with deputy leader Angela Rayner by Friday, a party spokesman said.

Sir Keir was seen drinking a beer in an MP's office while campaigning in the local elections in Durham in April 2021.

Along with Ms Rayner he has denied breaking any Covid rules and promised to quit if fined by officers.

He said it was important to distinguish himself from Boris Johnson, who was fined over a Partygate incident along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, but both have ploughed on after apologising.

Sir Keir has handed in his questionnaire to Durham Police
Sir Keir has handed in his questionnaire to Durham Police. Picture: Alamy

The incident has been described as "Beergate", and Conservatives have tried to draw attention to the photo as public anger swelled over a series of lockdown breaking rules in Downing Street and Whitehall.

Read more: Labour will lose the next general election, says Len McCluskey

"If police decide to issue me with a fixed penalty notice, I would of course do the right thing and step down," he said in May.

"The penalty for a COVID breach is a fixed-penalty notice, that's a matter of law, and I've set out what the position is in relation to that."

Covid rules at the time banned indoor mixing unless for work purposes.

Read more: Keir Starmer confirms he won't run again as Labour leader if fined over Beergate scandal

Asked previously by LBC's Nick Ferrari whether he could stand again for the Labour leadership, if he resigns after being fined, Sir Keir replied: "No.

"If I'm found to have broken the law, I don't believe I have, but if I'm wrong about that I will stand down - that is a matter of principle.

"I'm different and if that fixed penalty notice is issued I will do the right thing and step down from my post."

He added: "I was travelling with my usual team.

"I've got a camera person, I've got a videographer, I've got a policy advisor, a Comms advisor, someone from the leaders office and me - that makes six.

"I've then got two protection officers - police officers - travelling with me.

"At the office there was obviously Angela Rayner and someone from her team, Mary Foy and some of her staff."