Yet more food for thought, Sir Keir: Labour leader faces fresh ‘Beergate’ scrutiny after he claimed the Durham hotel he was staying in wasn’t serving food – but it can be revealed that it was… until 9pm
- Sir Keir was last night accused of ‘misleading the public’ with lockdown drinks
- He insists they were working at Durham Miners Hall but stopped for time to eat
- MoS reveal he stayed at Radisson Blu hotel in Durham who was serving food
Sir Keir Starmer was last night accused of ‘misleading the public’ as fresh questions were raised over his account of swigging beer with colleagues during lockdown.
The Labour leader has consistently denied breaking Covid rules after he and several party officials were caught on camera chatting over beers on April 30 last year when indoor socialising was banned.
He insists they had been working at Durham Miners Hall but stopped for food before resuming their work.
Interviewed on LBC radio in January, Sir Keir said: ‘No restaurants were open, no pubs were open. The hotel we were staying in had no food, they didn’t run food. So if you didn’t get a takeaway then our team wasn’t eating that evening.’
But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Sir Keir stayed at the Radisson Blu hotel in Durham – and that its restaurant was serving food outside on its terrace until 9pm.
Sir Keir was accused of ‘misleading the public’ as fresh questions were raised over his account of swigging beer with colleagues during lockdown, as the MoS reveal the hotel he was staying at was serving food – contrary to his justification for drinking during lockdown (pictured)
A source at the hotel recalled Sir Keir and a ‘number of aides’ staying there last April and confirmed the exact date after being shown pictures posted by Sir Keir on Twitter showing him in the city the following day.
‘I can’t tell you how many people were with him, but he had a lot of aides,’ the source said. ‘At the time, we were serving limited food and there was room service. It wasn’t like the first lockdown when the bar and restaurant were closed.’
On April 12 last year – more than a fortnight before Sir Keir’s visit to Durham – the hotel announced on Facebook: ‘The day has finally arrived where we can welcome you to drink and dine with us outside.
‘Serving food including afternoon tea from 12pm to 9pm weekends and 3pm to 9pm through the week.’
On April 30, the day of Sir Keir’s ‘Beergate’ drinks, the hotel posted a bank holiday menu, including a 10oz steak and glass of wine for £25.
A 43-second video of Sir Keir drinking was filmed just after 10pm that night after he had spent the day on the campaign trail. He and his deputy, Angela Rayner, also took part in a video call with party members which is understood to have finished at 9.20pm.
A source at the hotel recalled Sir Keir (pictured on BBC’s Sunday Morning in April) and a ‘number of aides’ staying there last April and confirmed the exact date after being shown pictures posted by Sir Keir on Twitter showing him in the city the following day
Labour last night declined to say when Sir Keir checked into his hotel or whether there had been a chance for him to eat there before the restaurant closed.
The revelations come after Labour was forced to admit Ms Rayner had been at the Miners Hall gathering, having previously categorically insisted in response to Daily Mail questions: ‘Angela wasn’t there.’
Last night, a Tory source said: ‘When Keir Starmer was first asked about this, he claimed he had to drink alcohol and eat inside with others because his hotel wasn’t serving food. This now appears to be false. The same people who have been caught twice misleading the public about this are asking them to believe Keir Starmer stopped working at 10pm on a Friday to drink beers with activists then returned to work. Nobody does this. Labour should come clean now and refer this matter to the police.’
A Labour spokesman said: ‘Keir Starmer was in the workplace, meeting a local MP in her constituency office and participating in an online Labour Party event.
‘They paused for food as the meeting was during the evening. No rules were broken.’
You will always find him in the kitchen at… ‘work functions’
By Jacinta Taylor
People do tend to congregate in kitchens at parties, but Sir Keir Starmer insists that on the night of ‘Beergate’ he was there only while taking a short break from work.
As our exclusive picture shows, the Labour leader swigged alcohol and chatted with colleagues in a small kitchen with little scope for social distancing.
With a double row of white kitchen cupboards and no obvious seating, the room on the ground floor of Miners Hall – the 100-year-old home of the Durham Miners’ Association – is far from an ideal work environment.
The kitchen is at the end of a long corridor in what was a suite of offices that were being used last year by Durham’s Labour MP Mary Foy. She is understood to have subsequently moved ahead of renovations.
A 43-second video recorded on April 30 last year shows Sir Keir enjoying a bottle of beer by the kitchen window. A second bottle is on the window sill.
WHERE THERE’S SMOKE: A fire blanket, circled, in the Miners Hall kitchen looks exactly like the one behind Sir Keir in the ‘Beergate’ video
He was talking to Ms Foy and a second woman, the back of whose head was visible.
There has been speculation that it could be Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner after her party last week admitted she had been at Miners Hall that day, contradicting previous denials.
Neither Sir Keir, who would have been standing with his back to a kitchen counter, nor Mrs Foy are wearing masks and appear closer than two metres from each other.
At the time, England was in Step 2 of its lockdown roadmap which banned indoor socialising with people not in your support bubble.
Sir Keir has insisted the drinks were ‘perfectly lawful’, adding: ‘I was in a constituency office. We were very busy. We were working.’
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