A memo obtained by a national newspaper cast doubt on the Labor leader’s claims that he broke no rules when he had a beer and a takeaway with colleagues while COVID restrictions were in place.
Mr Keir Starmer said he was working and had stopped to eat when he was filmed having a beer in a room in Durham last April, when COVID rules prohibited households from mixing indoors outside work.
“As I’ve explained many times, I was working in the office, we stopped for something to eat, there was no party, no rule breaking,” he said.
“I am convinced of it, but the police must do their job.”
But a leaked memo obtained by The Mail On Sunday said the dinner was put on the day-long program in April 2021 during Hartlepool’s local elections and by-election campaign.
The document said there would be a “dinner at Miners Hall” with Durham City MP Mary Foy from 8.40pm to 10pm.
A note said a member of staff from Sir Keir’s office was to arrange a take-out at the Spice Lounge.
The only business listed after dinner was for Sir Keir to walk back to his hotel – he has previously claimed he ‘stopped to eat’ and continued to work after the meal, claiming ‘the idea that no one working at 10 p.m. is absurd”.
A gathering investigation was announced by Durham Constabulary on Friday.
Earlier on Saturday, Diane Abbott became the first Labor MP to say publicly that Sir Keir may have to resign if he is fined over the incident.
Home Secretary Jeremy Corbyn told LBC: “If he actually gets a fixed penalty notice, he really needs to think about his position.
“I mean, I don’t think he will, I think it’s kind of a hype built up by the conservative press.
“But if he were to receive a fixed penalty notice, he should consider his position.”
Sir Keir’s allies have refused to publicly consider what will happen if the Labor leader is fined.
Tories lined up to call out his “hypocrisy”, as Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News.
Sir Keir has spent months asking Boris Johnson to resign for the party, for which the Prime Minister was fined last month.
How does a right-handed ex-lawyer get caught up in a lockdown scandal?
So far only one Labor MP – former shadow home secretary and Corbyn ally Diane Abbott – has put her head above the parapet and said, officially, that Keir Starmer should consider his position s he received a fixed penalty notice. for breaking the COVID rules.
For the most part, Sir Keir’s allies refuse to consider this possibility. Part of it is media management, but there is also a degree of bewilderment about the situation.
How does the right-handed ex-lawyer who probably wouldn’t go to a legal party get caught up in a potentially anti-lockdown bash?
Find out more in the political pole
The Labor leader argued that no rules were broken and they had stopped to eat lunch and then resumed work during the Hartlepool by-election.
He told Sky News on Friday: “We were working in the office, stopping for something to eat, no partying, no breaking the rules.
“The police obviously have their jobs to do and we should let them, but I’m confident no rules were broken.”
Some senior Labor MPs have admitted he may have to resign if fined, but they did so anonymously.
A shadow minister told Sky News: ‘It really doesn’t seem the same to me, but I guess we’ll have to see what happens if he’s fined. I guess it’s difficult when we called the Prime Minister to resign.”
A former shadow cabinet minister said: ‘If he is fined, then yes [he should resign]but I doubt he is.”
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