Starmer: I hated being subject to criminal investigation over Beergate - it was a burden

21 July 2022, 21:24 | Updated: 21 July 2022, 22:26

Sir Keir said he hated being investigated over Beergate
Sir Keir said he hated being investigated over Beergate. Picture: Getty

By Will Taylor

The "beergate" saga was a "burden", Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said, and he "hated" being part of a criminal investigation.

He had promised he would resign, along with deputy leader Angela Rayner, if they were fined for breaking Covid rules over a beer and curry at the offices of Mary Foy, the Labour MP, in Durham.

Sir Keir wanted to juxtapose his style with Boris Johnson, who was fined for the Partygate scandal but stayed on as Prime Minister.

Any resignation would have been a huge own-goal for Labour while it is in the ascendency after a series of scandals led to Boris Johnson's resignation and Tory infighting between its leadership candidates.

Durham Constabulary closed the matter without handing out fines.

"I really hated it, if I'm honest, being subject to a criminal investigation, when you've been the director of public prosecutions, I hated it," he told Sky News.

"And I'm not like other people in many respects, who may say, well, it doesn't really matter... it really meant a lot to me.

"It was a burden that I was carrying. I'm trying not to show it of course. But it was there every day.

"And of course, I was massively pleased when the decision came through, completely exonerated me."

Sir Keir said he put everything on the line – not just his leadership of his party, but the reputation he built as a lawyer, the director of public prosecutions and his time as an MP.

He talked to his wife, Vic, before going ahead with his announcement to resign, and was on the train back from the North West when Durham Constabulary announced it would open an investigation.

"She supported me through it. But I needed to talk to her about it, (it) was such a big decision."

Elsewhere in his interview, he insisted people he spoke to did not ask for him to be entertaining, amid accusations he can come across as boring.

Sir Keir added that he believed whoever is in Government needs to ensure they resolve negotiations between unions, train companies and Network Rail.

He said if Labour was in government this would mean their Cabinet could not go out and join the picket lines. He told his top team not to go to demonstrations during the RMT's strikes.

Sir Keir said "of course" a prime minister could not go to the picket lines.