Keir Starmer has confirmed that Durham police have not contacted him about drinking a beer and eating a takeaway with staff in a constituency office last year, as he said he was always “very careful” to abide by lockdown rules.
The Labour leader gave his first full explanation of what happened on the night in April last year, after days of coverage from the Daily Mail and Conservatives MPs urging police to look into the incident.
Asked whether the police had been in touch with him, Starmer said: “No, I think they put out a statement last week saying they’re not reinvestigating and they haven’t spoken to me.”
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain there was no breach of the rules when he shared a meal with staff after campaigning and while they were working late.
“We’re on the road. At the end of the day we’re in the office preparing,” he said. “Now that evening, from memory we were doing an online event for members … At some point, this was in the evening, everybody’s hungry and a takeaway was ordered.
“It was then delivered to the kitchen of the offices … In Durham, all restaurants and pubs were closed, so takeaways really were the only way you could eat. So this was brought in and at various points people went through to the kitchen and had something to eat, and got on with their work.”
He added:“We were very careful to abide by the rules … and we did it within my family. My wife’s father is very elderly and had to shield in difficult circumstances that I won’t go into. My wife went and sat on the pavement outside his house. All she wanted to do, like many families, is she wanted to go in and clean and she didn’t because the rules didn’t allow her. So I know what that feels like.”
Starmer has previously accused the Tories of “mudslinging” over their allegations that he broke Covid rules, in order to distract from the prime minister’s own law-breaking, for which he was issued a fixed-penalty notice.
Johnson paid a fine for attending his birthday party in June 2020, and is still under investigation over his alleged attendance at several other parties.
Footage emerged of the Labour leader drinking a beer with colleagues in April 2021 while coronavirus restrictions were in place. In February, Durham police confirmed they did not believe any offence had been committed.
A spokesperson for the force said at the time: “Durham constabulary has reviewed video footage recorded in Durham on 30 April 2021. We do not believe an offence has been established in relation to the legislation and guidance in place at that time and will therefore take no further action in relation to this matter.”
The force subsequently confirmed it was not reinvestigating.