Labour leader Keir Starmer and his deputy, Angela Rayner, have been cleared by Durham Police of breaching lockdown rules after they enjoyed a beer and takeaway curry with staff during election campaigning last year.
Starmer and Rayner had both previously vowed to resign if found guilty, but Durham Police’s investigation has concluded that the April 2021 gathering was reasonable for work purposes and no fixed penalty notices had been issued.
The force previously said there was no case to answer after video footage showed the event on April 30 last year, which occurred during a by-election for the Hartlepool seat.
But they subsequently opened a formal investigation in May after receiving “significant new information” about the event.
Today’s statement from the force said: “Following the emergence of significant new information, an investigation was launched by Durham constabulary into a gathering at the Miners’ Hall, in Redhills, Durham on 30 April 2021. That investigation has now concluded.
“A substantial amount of documentary and witness evidence was obtained which identified the 17 participants and their activities during that gathering. Following the application of the evidential full code test, it has been concluded that there is no case to answer for a contravention of the regulations, due to the application of an exception, namely reasonably necessary work.
“Accordingly, Durham constabulary will not be issuing any fixed penalty notices in respect of the gathering and no further action will be taken. The investigation has been thorough, detailed and proportionate.”
A Labour party spokesperson said: “Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner have always been clear that no rules were broken in Durham. The police have completed their investigation and have agreed saying that there is no case to answer.”
The latest investigation was launched following intense pressure from local Tory MP, Richard Holden and consecutive front page headlines in the Daily Mail.
Labour always insisted no wrongdoing had occurred as it within the Covid regulations at the time which allowed colleagues to eat and drink as they discussed the by-election. While indoor gatherings were limited, election activities were allowed under rules at that time.