Detailed Beergate questions sent to Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner
Angela Rayner clashes with Jane Moore over 'Beergate'
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Documents emailed to the pair include detailed questions about their lockdown beer-and-curry episode. One series focuses on a football shirt presented to Sir Keir at the event in Durham. He, Ms Rayner and about 15 other Labour staffers and volunteers received questionnaires from detectives investigating whether the event was a breach of Covid rules. Sir Keir vehemently denies breaking any laws on April 30 last year, after campaigning for the Hartlepool by-election, but has pledged to quit as party leader if he is issued with a fine.
Labour insiders say issues raised in the longer-than-expected questionnaires include the brand of lager drank with the meal and a Consett AFC football shirt given to Sir Keir. A North West Durham Labour Party tweet at the time said campaigners “interrupted Keir Starmer while he was hard at work…to proudly show him our Consett AFC strip ahead of their historic FA Vase final”.
When a photo of him holding the shirt emerged last month, a Labour spokesman said: “As this tweet clearly shows, Keir Starmer was working. No rules were broken.”
Sir Keir said the Indian takeaway formed part of the campaigning and he returned to work afterwards. Durham Police did not initially investigate, but said later “significant new information” had come to light.
Labour officials are understood to have compiled a detailed dossier – said to include time-stamped logs of online exchanges, documents and video clips – to prove the event was a work gathering.
At that time, non-essential retail and outdoor venues like pub gardens were open. But social distancing rules, which included a ban on indoor mixing between households, remained.
Labour has said the food was eaten between work events, meaning it was within the rules.
Sir Keir has said he “put everything on the line” by pledging to quit if he gets a fixed penalty notice and resigning would be “the right thing to do”.
His frontbenchers have contrasted his stance with that of Boris Johnson.
The Prime Minister has refused to resign after being fined by police over a No10 gathering in June 2020 to mark his 56th birthday.
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