A COUNTY DURHAM MP has called on officers to re-investigate an alleged breach of coronavirus rules by Labour leader Keir Starmer in the North East.

Durham police has been urged to rethink its decision into whether Mr Starmer is guilty of an offence after photographs emerged of him drinking beer in the constituency office of Durham MP, Mary Foy, in April 2021.

Richard Holden, the Tory MP for North West Durham, has written to Durham Constabulary’s Chief Constable Jo Farrell in an effort to secure a partygate-style probe into the Labour leader, as Boris Johnson continues to come under pressure for gatherings held in Downing Street and Whitehall during lockdown.

More than 50 fines have been handed out by the Met Police for those events, with the Prime Minister and Chancellor each receiving one fine each so far.

Holden, elected in 2019 as the constituency’s first ever Tory MP, wrote the letter on Friday (April 22) demanding Starmer receive the same treatment as the Conservative leader.

Although police already cleared Starmer of breaching rules by “drinking and socialising” in an MP’s office while household mixing was off-limits, Holden called on officers to look again.

The Northern Echo: The letter sent to Jo Farrell at Durham policeThe letter sent to Jo Farrell at Durham police

He said: “The Metropolitan Police has since issued a fixed penalty notice to a number of politicians in relation to an event inside the Downing Street Cabinet room on 19 June 2020, where individuals may have briefly celebrated a birthday at a work event. It is reported that this event may have included the presence of cake in a Tupperware box.

Read more: Keir Starmer in the clear over beer in Durham MP's office

“In light of that decision, and the tests applied by Metropolitan Police for the level of a Covid regulations brief, I believe there is a strong public interest in Durham Constabulary reviewing its decision not to investigate the Starmer incident further.”

He went on: “I do not believe the photographed activity meets the ‘functional but not social’ test in the guidance on political campaigning in campaign rooms.”

In January, when the image and video of Starmer in the constituency office recirculated, he said the team had stopped working for something to eat during Hartlepool by-election campaigning, before continuing to work.

“No party, no breach of the rules and absolutely no comparison with the Prime Minister,” he added.

The Northern Echo: Keir Starmer, pictured here drinking a beer on a visit to Durham in 2021. Picture: TWITTERKeir Starmer, pictured here drinking a beer on a visit to Durham in 2021. Picture: TWITTER

Read more: Keir Starmer says drinking beer in Durham 'absolutely no comparison' with Boris Johnson

In a tweet alongside his letter Mr Holden said: “The rules and the way they are interpreted should apply equally to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, & to those who seek office like Keir Starmer.

“And they should be applied equally by the police, whether Met Police or Durham Police.”

The statement was praised by Redcar MP Jacob Young in a WhatsApp group for Tory MPs. “Great from Ric Holden,” he said.

The Northern Echo: Richard Holden MPRichard Holden MP

Durham Police and Keir Starmer's office declined to comment.

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