Police launch investigation into claims Angela Rayner broke electoral law over council house sale

12 April 2024, 10:34 | Updated: 12 April 2024, 12:10

Greater Manchester Police has reopened a probe into claims about Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner
Greater Manchester Police has reopened a probe into claims about Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Labour Deputy leader Angela Rayner is being investigated by police over claims she may have broken electoral law.

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Greater Manchester Police (GMP) originally said Ms Rayner would not face an investigation over claims she gave false information about where she was living for the electoral roll.

But after a complaint by deputy Tory chairman James Daly, GMP said it would ‘review’ the circumstances around the claims.

Today they said they would be investigating.

Mr Daly made Greater Manchester Police aware of neighbours contradicting Ms Rayner's statement that a property, separate from her husband's, was her main residency.

The Bury North MP alleged she may have made a false declaration about where she was living on the electoral register.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said on Friday: "We're investigating whether any offences have been committed. This follows a reassessment of the information provided to us by Mr Daly."

A Labour spokesperson said: “Angela welcomes the chance to set out the facts with the police. We remain completely confident that Angela has complied with the rules at all times and it’s now appropriate to let the police do its work.”

Angela Rayner during a visit to Perry Barr bus depot in Birmingham yesterday
Angela Rayner during a visit to Perry Barr bus depot in Birmingham yesterday. Picture: Alamy

On Tuesday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Conservatives are "chasing a smear" in raising questions about her taxes.

Ms Rayner has faced questions about whether she paid the right amount of tax on the 2015 sale of her ex-council house due to confusion over whether it was her principal residency.

The Labour deputy leader has insisted she has "done absolutely nothing wrong" and took legal advice that no rules were broken.

Asked if Labour still has confidence in Ms Rayner, Climate Change Shadow Secretary Ed Miliband told LBC: “We are fully confident that Angela has complied with the rules, we are 100% behind Angela Rayner and in support of her.

"She welcomes the chance to set out the facts to the police and they’ll now do their investigation.”

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She has said she would present this advice to the police or HMRC but would not publicly release her "personal tax advice".

Caller Pauline says she cannot understand the 'furore' over Angela Rayner's tax affairs

On Sunday evening, Conservative Party chairman Richard Holden published a letter he has written to Sir Keir where he refers to testimony of residents alleging that Ms Rayner was not living at the property she was registered to on the electoral register.

In the letter, Mr Holden said: "You have pledged to uphold standards in public life but the failure by you and your deputy to answer the simplest questions about this matter makes a mockery of these claims."

He added: "Given the clear public interest in this case, your unwillingness to investigate this fully so far, or even bother to look at the legal advice Ms Rayner claims to have received, is a damning indictment of your leadership. Surely you recognise this matter is highly corrosive to your own reputation, not just that of your deputy."

Sir Keir defended Ms Rayner and said people were more interested in "problems caused by this government."

He said: "Angela Rayner has been asked no end of questions about this. She's answered them all. She said she's very happy to answer any further questions from the police or from any of the authorities.

"I don't need to see the legal advice. My team has seen it. But I will say this, that on the day that the A&E figures, people are waiting more than 24 hours in A&E, we now know that they are 10 times as high as they were five years ago.

"The idea that the Tories want to be focusing on what Angela Rayner, how much time she spent with her ex-husband 10 years ago, I can tell you here at this hospital, nobody but nobody is interested in that. They're very, very interested in what are you going to do about the A&E problem caused by this government.

Sir Keir added that it was "not appropriate" for him to see Ms Rayner's legal advice personally.

He added: "But I do know this, that if you're waiting more than 24 hours for A&E, you're much more interested in why the government is not absolutely laser focused on that, which is what they should be, than chasing this smear against Angela Rayner and how much time she spent with her husband over 10 years ago."

Following the Labour leader's comments, Tory deputy chairman Jack Lopresti said: "Sir Keir Starmer is deliberately trying to avoid dealing with a serious ethics scandal engulfing his deputy because he is too weak to lead.

"It goes to show that for all the bluster, he hasn't changed the Labour Party at all.

"Angela Rayner has clearly not been telling the truth about where she lived - Sir Keir must order an independent inquiry to get to the bottom of the matter."