‘Make No Response’: Labour Reportedly Orders Activists to Keep Mum on ‘Beergate’ Scandal

© AFP 2023 / Leon NealBritain's Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks with members of the NHS team, during a visit to the vaccination centre at Robertson House, in Stevenage, England, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021
Britain's Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks with members of the NHS team, during a visit to the vaccination centre at Robertson House, in Stevenage, England, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.05.2022
Earlier this month, Labour admitted that the party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner also attended an April 2021 event where Keir Starmer was caught on camera drinking beer with colleagues at the office of Durham MP Mary Foy during a COVID lockdown. The gathering is now being re-investigated by Durham Constabulary.
Labour activists have been ordered to remain tight-lipped on the so-called Beergate scandal pertaining to the party’s leader Keir Starmer’s alleged breach of coronavirus lockdown rules during last year’s gathering at the office of Durham MP Mary Foy.
In an email to the activists, Chris Turner, the secretary of the local Labour party in the City of Durham, warned them that if they are “contacted by a journalist, I would advise you make no response. Politely decline to speak to them”.
This came after the BBC was berated for giving Beergate “insufficient coverage”, admitting that it has received more than 100 complaints about the issue.
The UK broadcaster defended its reporting, claiming that the story had been covered “across” its “news and current affairs programmes”.
The remarks followed the Telegraph reporting that Starmer does not plan to step down as Labour leader unless he is slapped with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) by Durham Constabulary for breaking COVID rules.
The 59-year-old previously told reporters that he would resign if the recently-reopened Durham Constabulary probe into a party gathering in Durham in April 2021 saw him issued with a FPN fine.
Britain's main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer (L) and Britain's main opposition Labour Party deputy leader Angela Rayner sit in the conference hall for the the debate on the leadership election rules changes, on the second day of the annual Labour Party conference at The Brighton Centre in Brighton on the south coast of England, on September 26, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.04.2022
Beergate: Labour Admits Starmer's Deputy Attended 'Lockdown-Breaching' Party Gathering Last Year
In a development late last week, the Daily Mail released a leaked memo which cast doubt on Starmer’s claims that he did not breach lockdown restrictions in April 2021, when he was filmed having a beer and a takeaway with colleagues at the office of Mary Foy.
The newspaper reported that an operational note, which was passed to the Mail by a whistleblower and purportedly marked “private and confidential”, revealed that the Durham gathering had been planned in advance. The note was released as Starmer reiterated that he was allegedly working and stopped to eat when he was filmed having a beer during last April’s campaign gathering.
“As I've explained a number of times, I was working in the office, we stopped for something to eat, there was no party, no breach of the rules. I'm confident of that but the police have to do their job”, he asserted.
The remarks came after a Durham Constabulary spokesperson announced last Friday that they had opened a probe into the “Beergate” row, saying, "following the receipt of significant new information over recent days, Durham Constabulary has reviewed that position and now, following the conclusion of the pre-election period, we can confirm that an investigation into potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations relating to this gathering is now being conducted.”
In April, Tory MP Richard Holden wrote to the Durham police, asking them to investigate Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner over the “Beergate” scandal. The MP mentioned new “incontrovertible evidence”, which he claimed “shows clearly that the Labour Party have lied about” last year’s event, in particular trying “to cover up their Deputy Leader Angela Rayner’s presence at the social”.
In February, the police said that they had decided not to open a probe into the issue after reviewing a video of Starmer “drinking and socialising” at Foy’s office last year. Durham Constabulary said at the time they did not believe any offence had been committed by the Labour leader.
Senior Tory members, for their part, previously called for a full probe into Starmer’s conduct, arguing that there appeared to be no difference between the event that he attended and the 2020 Downing Street “birthday party”, for which Prime Minister Boris Johnson was fined £50 ($62 dollars) by the Metropolitan Police last month.
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