Sir Keir Starmer faces questions over why it took him more than TWO WEEKS to return his Beergate questionnaire that will seal his leadership fate
- Starmer and deputy Rayner will quit if they receive fines over Durham gathering
- The Labour leader finally returned a questionnaire to Durham Police yesterday
- Their stories have changed multiple times, including how many people were there and why a £200 takeaway was ordered when the hotel was serving food
Sir Keir Starmer was facing questions last night over why it took him more than a fortnight to give his account of Beergate to police.
The Labour leader finally returned a questionnaire to Durham Police yesterday – 18 days after the force asked him about the night in an MP’s office that allegedly broke lockdown rules.
His spokesman confirmed he had received legal advice on his answers.
Sir Keir and deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner received the questionnaires, which will decide their political fates, on May 31.
The pair have vowed to quit if they receive fixed penalty notices over the gathering at City of Durham Labour MP Mary Foy’s office in Durham Miners Hall.
Sir Keir was pictured swigging from a bottle of beer late in the evening. They both insist no laws were broken and they were working hard ahead of a by-election.
But their story has changed multiple times, with different accounts of whether or not Mrs Rayner was present, how many other people were there and why a £200 takeaway curry was ordered when their nearby hotel was serving meals.
Last night Labour finally confirmed Sir Keir’s questionnaire had been sent to Durham Police, as had that of Mrs Rayner. A party spokesman said: ‘Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner’s questionnaires have been returned to Durham Constabulary today.’
Trouble brewing: Sir Keir Starmer holding a beer at Durham Miners Hall last year during a period of coronavirus restrictions
Earlier in the day, Labour repeatedly ignored the Daily Mail’s questions about whether or not Sir Keir’s questionnaire had been submitted – only admitting it had been sent an hour after a version of this story was published on the MailPlus website last night.
It was 18 days between the party confirming they had received the documents and their return. In contrast, Boris Johnson took just seven days to complete the form he was sent by Scotland Yard about the birthday party thrown for him in June 2020 before a meeting in Downing Street.
Sir Keir’s delay had prompted speculation that despite his background as a barrister he had found it hard to explain his actions on April 30, 2021, when indoor socialising was banned and gatherings had to be ‘reasonably necessary for work’.
As well as drinking beer with more than a dozen party colleagues, Sir Keir was pictured posing with a football shirt handed to him by an activist. Detectives were understood to have sent him detailed questions about the work purpose of this interaction. Last night Richard Holden, Tory MP for North West Durham, said: ‘Two weeks for an experienced QC and former director of public prosecutions to get his story straight is an awfully long time if everything is as simple as he says it was.’ Fellow Red Wall Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith said: ‘After his last two performances at Prime Minister’s Questions, it’s obvious the Leader of the Opposition has something else on his mind.
Sir Keir and deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner received the questionnaires, which will decide their political fates, on May 31. The pair have vowed to quit if they receive fixed penalty notices over the gathering (pictured centre and right at the Commons on May 18)
‘He is clearly being distracted from his job by Beergate.’
Durham Police launched their probe on May 6 and it was estimated it would take two months, meaning just three weeks are left.
Meanwhile, former Labour adviser John McTernan insisted the leader, dubbed Sir Beer Korma by Boris Johnson, is not as boring as some in his shadow cabinet have reportedly claimed him to be.
‘No one who has been on a night out with Keir Starmer thinks he’s boring, he’s the life and soul of the party,’ he told LBC radio.
Sir Keir is facing an inquiry by Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone for allegedly failing to register free football tickets and book royalties on time. He apologised for ‘administrative errors’ but said he is ‘absolutely confident’ he has not broken the MPs’ code of conduct.
Durham Police declined to comment on the Beergate investigation last night. The force has said it will not give any updates until the inquiry is complete.