Keir Starmer claims Nicola Sturgeon is pitting Scot against Scot

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The Labour Party leader has been under investigation by Durham Constabulary after allegations he was involved in a social gathering while the country was under strict lockdown rules. Durham Constabulary is looking into whether the rules were violated after Sir Keir was caught on camera drinking a beer in an MP’s office after a day of campaigning for the local elections in Durham in April 2021.

A party spokesman said last month that Sir Keir and Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner had returned questionnaires to police carrying out the investigation.

Both the Labour leader and Ms Rayner have said they will stand down if they are issued with fixed-penalty notices.

At the time of the gathering, non-essential retail and outdoor venues, including pub gardens, were open, but social distancing rules, which included a ban on indoor mixing between households, were still in place.

Labour has argued food was consumed between work events, meaning it was within the rules.

Sir Keir and Ms Rayner have faced intense scrutiny with political opponents calling for the outcome of the investigation to be made public.

It follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak both being fined for lockdown breaches.

Mr Johnson has resisted calls to resign over the partygate scandal.

Susan Hall, who leads the Tories on the London Assembly, tweeted on Sunday (July 3): “The silence on beergate is deafening. Is there an injunction stopping news outlets talking about it?”

She continued: “Boris got a fine and paid up as did Rishi- I’m sure Keir and Angie would have the integrity to do the same… no?”

Fellow Twitter user Mike Atwood tweeted: “Come on [Durham Police]. The hunt for the holy grail has taken less time than your investigation into beergate.”

David C Bannerman speculated on the platform: “Not sure if this is correct, but I note Starmer has gone very quiet and it is entirely credible he will be fined and therefore should resign.”

Geoffrey Myers asked: “How long does it take, how long should it take to investigate one event? Quite right that [Durham Police] should be thorough and cover all bases but isn’t it starting to look more like a political frame than a police investigation into a lockdown breach?”

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To date, no one is known to have been fined over beergate, whereas more than 50 fixed penalty notices have been handed out by London’s Metropolitan Police over partygate.

Sir Keir’s supporters rushed to his defence in response to the online criticism, pointing to the resignation from Government of Chris Pincher in the wake of allegations he groped two men at the Carlton Club in Piccadilly, London.

Mr Johnson is facing demands to set out what he knew about allegations of inappropriate behaviour centring on Chris Pincher before appointing him to the Tory whips’ office.

The Prime Minister is alleged to have referred to the MP for Tamworth as “Pincher by name, pincher by nature” before making him deputy chief whip in February.

He was brought in alongside Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris to shore up support for the Prime Minister amid growing unrest among Tory MPs over the disclosures about Downing Street lockdown parties.

It is the second time Mr Pincher has resigned from the whips’ office after Conservative candidate Alex Story accused him of making an inappropriate advance in 2017.

He referred himself to the police and the Conservative Party complaints procedure.

Mr Pincher was reinstated two months later as a senior whip by former PM Theresa May after having referred himself to both the police and the Conservative Party complaints procedure.

The Conservative whip has been suspended from Mr Pincher and an investigation launched into the allegations which emerged last week.

Durham Constabulary and the Labour Party have been approached for comment.

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