Now Beergate is being investigated for the first time and there are big questions to answer, says Tom Harwood
Let’s remember that, despite what Labour has continually claimed, Durham Police had not until now investigated Starmer’s event at all
As the dust was settling on a mixed bag of local elections, perhaps an even more significant piece of news dropped.
The Telegraph reported Sir Keir Starmer was under police investigation over his lockdown curry social.
The police then confirmed this scoop, leaving many to wonder if this would have been made public at all on Friday if it weren’t for some good honest investigative journalism.
New evidence, the police confirmed, had come to light surrounding the event on 30th April 2021.
When, as with the 19th June 2020 event for which the Prime Minister and Chancellor received their fixed penalty notices, indoor socialising was against the rules.
Evidence including 30 people attending, the fact that the Deputy Leader of the Labour party was there too despite Labour’s earlier denials, the fact that Starmer’s hotel served food, and the timing of the footage coming to light too have raised some big questions and inconsistencies in the Labour Party’s account.
Let’s remember that, despite what Labour has continually claimed, Durham Police had not until now investigated Starmer’s event at all. They had simply reviewed the video, concluding an investigation was not necessary.
Well now the event is being investigated for the first time. And there are big questions to answer.
Particularly now that we know the dinner was a pre-planned event, thanks to this internal Labour Party op note obtained by the Mail on Sunday.
The note, which highlights the state of national lockdown at the time, lists a zoom call followed by a separate dinner, lasting an hour and a half, to take place in Miners Hall with Durham MP Mary Foy.
The dinner was scheduled to start after Sir Keir left his zoom call, and there are no further items on the agenda after it.
This is a note that confirms the last scheduled event of the day was a curry and beer with the campaigning team after a long day of work.
After the dinner it simply lists a short walk back to the hotel, and confirms the end of the visit.
But in recent weeks as Sir Keir has tried to explain this event, he has given a very different impression. He has said that people simply got hungry and ordered a takeaway while they worked. He has said they returned to work after eating.
Well we now know that this is at best misleading. The curry and drinks were pre planned, and there was no work listed for afterwards.
Someone who attended the event, and is willing to speak to the police, this morning told Politico Playbook that “There was no work being done. There just wasn’t… The zoom events had finished… it wasn’t work and there was no work after that I was aware of.”
Well this morning Sir Keir has cancelled a speaking event which included a Q&A. And over the weekend Labour tasked Lord Falconer with constructing a legal defence for the party.
He will have to argue that the curry and beers were, necessary, for the purposes of campaigning.
This is a story that is just getting started.