The international trade secretary has suggested Durham Police ought to reinvestigate whether Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer breached lockdown rules at an event last year.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was accused of breaching Covid rules after drinking beer in Durham’s local Labour party office on 30 April 2021.
Sir Keir has accused Conservative MPs of “trying to throw mud around” by raising discussion of the event ahead of the 5 May local elections.
During a canvassing trip to West Sussex yesterday, Sir Keir has refused to tell journalists if he planned cooperate with police, should the probe be reopened.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan told Sky News earlier today that police must reconsider the event: “So across the piste, if there were concerns raised by local people on the questions of lockdown rules then I would hope that the police had investigated.
“Richard Holden, one of the Durham MPs, raised this because he felt that Durham constabulary hadn’t investigated it.
“I understand that there is some work ongoing and I would absolutely encourage them to look at it because… we did an extraordinary thing through Covid in terms of the whole of our population genuinely trying to do their bit and do their best.”
Durham Constabulary said back in February that Starmer did not break the rules, but there have been fresh calls for an investigation after Scotland Yard slammed the prime minister and chancellor with £50 fines respectively after a birthday gathering in Downing Street.
Richard Holden, the Conservative MP for the neighbouring North West Durham constituency, has urged a fresh probe into the event after he said there was proof a quiz and social was hosted by the local party the same day.
McFadden stressed that there was no “equivalence” between Sir Keir’s drink and the alleged series of Downing Street gatherings.
McFadden told Sky News earlier last week: “The police have already looked at this in Durham and they have found nothing to take action on.
“People are trying to draw some equivalence to this but the police have already looked at it and that has been their conclusion and I simply don’t believe that this is equivalent in any way to a series of parties, bring your own booze, booze being brought in by the suitcase with Abba singing Winner Takes It All in the background.
“And the attempt to draw equivalence is to try to, they want people to think everybody, it is all the same, so no scandal matters and that is a bad place for us to go.”
The Daily Mail published a “six-page dossier” on the row, saying that Labour now admits deputy leader Angela Rayner was too in attendance at the event, despite previously stating she was not.
A Labour spokesperson told the paper that the inconsistent statements regarding the gathering were “an honest mistake”.