Mary Foy Blames Holden for ‘Ruining’ Professional Relationship Over Beergate

The Guardian’s just published an interview with Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy in which she talks about the pressures she faced from the media over her central involvement in the Beergate investigation. She claims a reporter broke into her office to find materials relating the curry and says she has been “shattered by the media storm”. That’s politics for you…

The one bit of the interview that really grabbed Guido’s attention, however, was where she spoke of her relationship with constituency neighbour Richard Holden, who had been one of the most prominent Tory voices holding Sir Keir and the Labour Party to account for the curry:

“Foy said one of the lasting legacies was a breakdown in the relationship between her and Tory Durham MPs, something she said could affect work in the local area.

“I thought I was quite friendly with Richard Holden – we were all new together,” she said. “We were getting on well with plans for levelling up – what a farce that is – but we had to decide on some projects and we had issues we talked about. Obviously now it’s a working relationship that is really ruined.”

The Guardian failed to mention the more relevant factor that may have hurt her and Holden’s professional relationship: the fact she drunkenly grabbed and furiously berated him on the House of Commons terrace. For those who missed the Mail’s report at the time:

“A Labour MP launched a ‘drunken tirade’ against the Conservative MP leading calls for the police to review claims Sir Keir Starmer broke lockdown rules.

Three witnesses told the Daily Mail that Mary Foy vented her fury at Richard Holden on the Commons terrace on Tuesday night.

She is said to have verbally abused him for asking Durham Police to reopen the investigation into footage of the Labour leader having a beer with officials in her office on April 30, 2021.

Witnesses claim the City of Durham MP grabbed Mr Holden by the arm with both hands and tried to drag him across the terrace before staff restrained her.”

For Mary Foy, any self-reflection of her own behaviour during the political storm appears to be a naan-starter…

UPDATE: Holden tells Guido

I accepted Mary Foy’s unreserved apology for her drunken and unprovoked assault on me terrace of the House of Commons and considered the matter closed.

“I’m sad that Mary considers that our working relationship is ruined. I’d urge her to try and forgive herself, or at least come to terms her actions, and to now work constructively on herself and with me for the people of the county that we were both elected to serve.”

mdi-timer 23 August 2022 @ 15:21 23 Aug 2022 @ 15:21 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Punters Betting on Keir Resigning Over Beergate

In the last month the implied probability of Keir Starmer resigning as Labour leader this year has risen from under 10% to over 30% as gamblers increasingly believe the Durham Police investigation could go badly for Starmer. We are due to hear from Durham Police this week as to if he has received a Fixed Penalty Notice.

Yesterday Starmer reconfirmed to Robert Peston that he would resign if that happens…

mdi-timer 5 July 2022 @ 12:25 5 Jul 2022 @ 12:25 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Durham Police Have Issued Over Hundred Retrospective Fines

What originally seemed like a safe bet for Sir Keir is now looking like an increasingly high stakes gamble. Yesterday the Mail on Sunday revealed Durham Constabulary, the police force currently investigating Starmer over Beergate, have handed out over 100 Covid fines retrospectively, with 90 handed out at least a week after the breaches were discovered, and another dozen or so meted out over a month later. One of the reasons Sir Keir felt safe in pledging to resign was his belief that Durham Constabulary don’t hand out retrospective penalties – it turns out they did…

The FoI requests published in the MoS also reveal the Constabulary issued fines for gatherings far smaller than Sir Keir’s – and in the same month Beergate took place. Six fines were handed out for gatherings of just three people, with another for a meeting of just five. There’s no definitive attendee figure for Sir Keir’s bash, because the story keeps changing, although it’s now assumed to be between 15 and 30 people…

One woman even received a £10,000 retrospective fine for organising a memorial for her father-in-law who died of Covid. She only had it reduced to £500 on appeal in April 2021, a week before the Beergate gathering. Not long to go now before the investigation concludes. No wonder contingency planning for the ‘worst case scenario’ is ramping up

mdi-timer 27 June 2022 @ 10:30 27 Jun 2022 @ 10:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Starmer’s Beergate Resignation Contingency Planning Ramps Up

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… 

mdi-timer 23 June 2022 @ 13:06 23 Jun 2022 @ 13:06 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Questions Durham Police Should Ask Keir Starmer

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.

  • What time did Starmer arrive at and leave the event? If his police protection car was pictured there at 11pm, it suggests he stayed at least as late as 11pm. That is hours after his diary shows his final work engagement.
  • Will the two protection officers who accompanied him be authorised to provide statements? Will they supply any contemporaneous written records of his movements to give an accurate and independent account?
  • Who does Starmer say was there? He knew that Rayner was there yet said nothing about that for months when both were asked about it in on the record in interviews. Was anyone else there we don’t know about?
  • How many people were actually there? 15 as now suggested? 30 as previously widely reported? Or 6 as Starmer himself originally suggested?
  • What time did everyone else leave the gathering – did it stretch on further?
  • Why, when we know food was available at the hotel and at other Covid-safe options, didn’t he consider them or was this a regular practice on Labour campaigns?
  • What was the process around ordering food and alcohol? Who did it, who paid, was it properly declared as an election expense?
  • What work was Starmer doing whilst eating? Or did he stop working to eat?
  • Why was his attendance in Durham necessary at all? If, as he claimed, he was on his laptop making calls over Zoom, recording video messages, approving documents and dealing with emails, why did he have to be in Durham?
  • What had to be done at the Durham Miners Hall that could not reasonably have been done in his suite in the Radisson Hotel?
  • Was it reasonably necessary for work to stand around drinking beer?
  • Why was it necessary, as per witnesses quoted in the Sunday Times, for the local MP Mary Foy and her staff to be drinking with his team for hours?
  • Were people, as eyewitnesses claim, drunk at the event?
  • How many beers* or other alcoholic drinks were consumed by the group, if he was simply pausing for a food break, why was 80 minutes scheduled for dinner in his diary/ops note?
  • Are there any other similar events that should be reviewed?
  • Crucially – if his defence is that he was working, how can he show he ‘went back to work’ as claimed?

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.

mdi-timer 13 May 2022 @ 14:57 13 May 2022 @ 14:57 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments