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16th Sep 2022

Starmer ‘Beergate’ probe cost police over £100k and used 9 major crime detectives

Jack Peat

The picture of Sir Keir Starmer that sparked 'beergate'

The Labour leader was cleared of any wrongdoing in July 

Keir Starmer’s ‘Beergate’ investigation cost police force over £100,000 – and used nine major crime detectives, an investigation found.

Durham Constabulary’s probe into with the Labour leader broke Covid rules involved 3,200 hours of work.

Top detectives, who are usually on the case for solving murders and sexual assaults, were pulled into the Covid-19 rules investigation, NationalWorld says.

Reports show that nine detectives from Durham Constabulary’s major crime team spent a total of 3,203 hours investigating whether Sir Keir Starmer broke Covid rules – only to clear him of any offence.

In total, police spent more than £101,000 on the so-called ‘beergate’ probe.

The Labour leader had been captured with a beer and Indian takeaway in Durham on 30 April 2021, whilst on the campaign trail for the impending Hartlepool byelection.

Starmer’s team insisted he and other attendees – including deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner – had stopped to eat while working, and that Covid rules had never been broken.

All were cleared of any wrongdoing in July 2022 following an investigation by Durham Constabulary.

The force had reopened the case in May 2022 after coming under significant pressure from Conservative MPs and others – despite stating earlier in the year that they did not believe rules had been broken.

NationalWorld submitted a freedom of information request to Durham Constabulary asking how much the subsequent investigation had cost, how many officers had been involved and what their usual roles were, and how much time the force had sunk into the matter.

They discovered nine officers were involved in the inquiry, one detective superintendent, one detective inspector, one detective sergeant and six detective constables, alongside two other members of police staff.

All 11 were from the force’s major crime team.

Starmer has previously said he “hated” being subject to a criminal investigation.

He told Sky News’s Beth Rigby that waiting to hear whether he would be exonerated was a “burden every day”.

He said: “I hated it, I am not like other people in many respects that will say it doesn’t matter, it meant a lot to me, it was a burden I was carrying.

“I tried not to show it of course, but it was there every day.”

NationalWorld also put the same questions to Durham Constabulary regarding its investigation into former Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings, who drove his family from London to Barnard Castle and back again between March and April 2020 despite strict lockdown measures.

The force said it does not have an estimate of the cost or hours spent on this investigation.

But it did reveal one detective chief superintendent worked on the investigation alongside four further detectives (who assisted the senior investigating officer whilst continuing to perform other detective duties) and a member of police staff.

The force pointed to ‘beergate’ involving multiple suspects as the reason for the higher number of officers involved in that case.

Labour has been approached for comment.

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