There are now just two weeks to go before Durham Police are expected to conclude their investigation into Beergate. Having waited 18 days for Starmer and Rayner to return their questionnaires – a task which took the PM significantly less time – the force now has all the evidence it needs to wrap up the probe just before recess. Guido hears there are now six detectives working round the clock on the case, which was prolonged by Starmer’s tardiness…
The Sunday Times has already reported on Starmer’s contingency plans if “the worst comes to the worst”, allegedly telling the likes of Streeting and Nandy to gear up for a leadership bid if necessary – something Nandy later denied, although it’s not like she needed to hear that anyway. It turns out Sir Keir’s not the only one weighing up what to do if he’s whacked with a fine. Guido hears that an exasperated Speaker Lindsay Hoyle is also getting nervy about the prospects of having to deal with an interim leader of the opposition…
As the Guardian reports that detectives investigating Keir Starmer’s beergate session are considering interviewing the Labour leader face-to-face and questionnaires are expected to go out to those who were present for the takeaway curry and beer, it is worth considering some of the questions the police should be asking.
The narrative on the legalities has been much argued on Twitter by lawyers, there are some underlying commonsense questions that Starmer should answer:
The police will want to establish the timeline and cicumstances.
His personal protection officers will not want to perjure themselves. They are not going to risk their pensions to cover for Starmer drinking a beer. The former Director of Police Prosecutions will know that what starts with a police interview can end up with the evidence going to Court. These are very high stakes: if Durham police decide not to act and there were to be a complaint to the Independent Office of Police Conduct, Starmer could end up repeating this statement in Court. Of course there is nothing stopping journalists asking these questions, though of course they won’t be answered under a police caution.
*Election expenses are carefully recorded, so the evidence of a purchase receipt should properly have been kept and provided to the Electoral Commission.