'No case to answer'
No fine for Starmer and Rayner over Covid curry
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner will not face a charge of breaking lockdown rules.
Durham Constabulary found there was “no case to answer” over accusations that they attended a a beer and curry gathering with about 30 Labour staff colleagues in April last year.
A statement read: “A substantial amount of documentary and witness evidence was obtained which identified the 17 participants and their activities during that gathering.
“Following the application of the evidential Full Code Test, it has been concluded that there is no case to answer for a contravention of the regulations, due to the application of an exception, namely reasonably necessary work.
“Accordingly, Durham Constabulary will not be issuing any fixed penalty notices in respect of the gathering and no further action will be taken.”
Sir Keir and Ms Rayner completed a police questionnaire about the incident three weeks ago and both had pledged to resign their posts if they had been issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice, similar to the one issued to the Prime Minister over the Downing Street gatherings.
With the threat of a penalty now removed, it means there is no longer the prospect of Labour leadership contest being run simultaneously with the Conservative campaign to replace Boris Johnson as party leader.
The announcement from Durham police followed the Labour leadership saying it could force a confidence vote in the Government if Mr Johnson does not leave Number 10 immediately.
Sir Keir and Ms Rayner believe there are enough disgruntled Tory backbenchers, as well as former ministers, who would support such a motion, though critics of the proposal say it could have the reverse affect and unite the Tories.
By convention, the Government always accepts a demand from the Leader of the Opposition for a confidence motion.
Should the Government lose a confidence vote it would almost certainly force the government to call a general election.
Commenting on the response of Tory MPs to Mr Johnson’s decision to remain in Downing Street until the autumn, Ms Rayner said in a radio interview: “They do have to get rid of him, and if they don’t, we will call a no confidence vote because it’s pretty clear, he hasn’t got the confidence of the House or the British public.”