Sunderland council leader hopes Keir Starmer announcement will 'put Beergate to bed'

One of Sunderland’s senior Labour politicians says he hopes today’s announcement that Sir Keir Starmrer and Angel Rayner will not be fined for breach of covid rules will put Beergate ‘to bed’.

By Kevin Clark
Friday, 8th July 2022, 5:23 pm

The Labour leader and his deputy had both promised to step down if they were found to have broken the rules during a visit to Durham in April 2021, ahead of the Hartlepool by-election.

Sir Keir was videoed drinking a bottle of beer over a takeaway curry with colleagues in the offices of City of Durham MP Mary Foy.

It later emerged Ms Rayner was also at the gathering, dubbed “beergate” by some.

Durham Constabulary initially investigated and found there was no evidence of rule-breaking, but reopened the case following intervention from North West Durham Tory MP Richard Holden in April.

Now the force has concluded there is no case to answer, as the meeting was subject to a legal exception, and it will not be issuing any fixed penalty notices.

Sunderland City Council leader Coun Graeme Miller said he was pleased the matter was over – and praised Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner for their handling of the affair.

"I am pleased that this is the outcome,” he said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and deputy Angela Rayner have been told they will not be fined for breach of covid regulations

"The leader of the party always said he was confident he had done nothing wrong and this just puts that whole issue, hopefully, to bed.

“I think the party was very, very confident that our leader and deputy leader had shown some real moral character by saying ‘If we are fined, we will resign’, unlike the Prime Minister and his government.”

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Easington MP Grahame Morris MP said the Conservatives had attempted to smear the pair to divert attention from rule-breaking in Downing Street: “This week shows the difference between a law-breaking Prime Minister that lacks honesty and integrity, and a Labour leader who upholds standards in public life,” he said.

Sunderland City Council Leader Coun Graeme Miller (left) with Sir Keir Starmer during the Labour leader's visit to The Fire Station in Sunderland

“Keir Starmer was clear, if fined, he would resign.

"The Conservative Party and local MPs that sought to smear Labour to distract from the law-breaking in Downing Street should apologise. The public has a clear choice; a Conservative Party that condones law-breaking, or a Labour Leadership that respects the rule of law."

Easington MP Grahame Morris