SUGGESTIONS that Durham Police will be pressured in their investigation into Covid-19 lockdown 'breaches' from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer have been rubbished by a former director of public prosecutions. 

Last Friday (May 6), the police force confirmed it had re-opened an investigation into the politician, following an incident last year that saw Sir Keir pictured at Durham Miners' Hall with a beer in his hand - following "significant new evidence" coming to light.

At the time of the incident, which saw the Labour leader in the North East to support the Hartlepool by-election, non-essential retail and outdoor venues including pub gardens were open, but social distancing rules – which included a ban on indoor mixing between households – remained in place.

Read more: Durham venues 'would have welcomed Starmer with open arms'

Announcing the news of the investigation last week, a spokesperson for Durham Police said: “Earlier this year, Durham Constabulary carried out an assessment as to whether Covid-19 regulations had been breached at a gathering in Durham City on April 30, 2021. At that time, it was concluded that no offence had been established and therefore no further action would be taken.

“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 the aftermath of the news of the police investigation, Sir Keir held a conference at the Labour Party headquarters in London yesterday (May 9) - where he confirmed he would do the “right thing” and resign as leader if he was issued with a fixed penalty notice. 

The Northern Echo: Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer holds a conference yesterday (May 9). Picture: PA MEDIA.Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer holds a conference yesterday (May 9). Picture: PA MEDIA.

In his statement, Sir Keir said repeatedly no rules had been broken as he sought to contrast his actions with Boris Johnson who has refused to quit after being fined by the Met Police over a gathering in No 10 in June 2020 to mark his 56th birthday.

Despite some Conservatives calling Sir Keir's statement as 'putting pressure' on Durham Police to drop the investigation on him, a former director of public prosecution has said the suggestion the police will be pressured in their investigation of Sir Keir Starmer were “wide of the mark”.

Crossbench peer Lord Ken Macdonald told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that’s wide of the mark, actually.

The Northern Echo: Sir Kier was pictured with a beer last year at Durham Miners' Hall on the election campaign trail. Picture: PA MEDIA.Sir Kier was pictured with a beer last year at Durham Miners' Hall on the election campaign trail. Picture: PA MEDIA.

“My experience of working with the police in very sensitive cases under full glare of public and press interest was that, very quickly, you find your focus taking over and, in a sense, a sort of bloody-mindedness creeps in: ‘this is my case and I’ll decided it, thank you very much, without any help from you’.

“So, that sort of pressure actually becomes, in my experience, reinforcing of independence, which I’m sure is what we want.

“I don’t think Durham Police will be troubled at all by that sort of aspect.”

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