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Sir Keir Starmer accused the Tories of ‘throwing mud’ ahead of the local elections today as he again denied breaking lockdown rules by drinking beer with officials last year.

While repeatedly lambasting Boris Johnson over the ‘Partygate’ scandal, Sir Keir has repeatedly insisted that no rules were broken during his trip to Durham on April 30 last year.

Appearing on television today he again denied any rules were broken. He also insisted it was an ‘genuine mistake’ by Labour to deny his deputy Angela Rayner was present, when she was also there.

Asked if the deputy leader was at the office, Sir Keir told Sky News: ‘Yes. We were in the office, we were working, we paused for something to eat, there was no party, no rules were broken and that is the long and short of it.

‘I know what is going on here, we have got an election on Thursday and there are just Tory MPs trying to throw mud around because they have got nothing to say on the central issue of the cost of living.’

Appearing on television today he again denied any rules were broken. He also insisted it was an 'genuine mistake' by Labour to deny his deputy Angela Rayner was present, when she was also there.

Appearing on television today he again denied any rules were broken. He also insisted it was an 'genuine mistake' by Labour to deny his deputy Angela Rayner was present, when she was also there.

Appearing on television today he again denied any rules were broken. He also insisted it was an ‘genuine mistake’ by Labour to deny his deputy Angela Rayner was present, when she was also there.

Two students who filmed a video of Sir Keir Starmer swigging beer with Labour officials during lockdown have accused him of breaking Covid rules (pictured)

Two students who filmed a video of Sir Keir Starmer swigging beer with Labour officials during lockdown have accused him of breaking Covid rules (pictured)

Two students who filmed a video of Sir Keir Starmer swigging beer with Labour officials during lockdown have accused him of breaking Covid rules (pictured)

He later said Labour did not realise it had made a mistake when it said Ms Rayner was not at the Durham event last year.

Sir Keir said: ‘We were asked twice and I didn’t even realise we had made a mistake until it came out this week. We are a busy office, we made a mistake, it is a genuine mistake and I take responsibility for it.’

But two students who filmed a video of Sir Keir Starmer swigging beer with Labour officials during lockdown have accused him of breaking Covid rules.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, they cast doubt on the Labour leader’s claim that he was not in breach of the rules because he was attending a work meeting.

And in comments that will heap more pressure on Durham Constabulary to investigate the incident, both said they were prepared to make detailed statements to officers about what they saw.

The university students, who asked to remain anonymous, filmed a 43-second video of Sir Keir drinking a beer and chatting with colleagues just after 10pm.

At the time, indoor socialising was banned and those who disobeyed the rules faced being fined by police.

But his defence is now under fresh scrutiny after the Daily Mail last week forced Labour to admit that Deputy Leader Angela Rayner was at the Durham Miners Hall on the same day, having previously denied it.

The MoS can today reveal that Sir Keir, local Labour MP Mary Foy and a mystery woman, who may have been Ms Rayner, were actually gathered in a narrow kitchen next to Ms Foy’s office.

The eyewitnesses said the trio and other Labour officials, who were standing in a narrow corridor outside, appeared to be socialising.

‘I have never seen a work meeting with people sitting on tables, drinking San Miguel and standing around eating off plates,’ one said. ‘They weren’t having a meeting. There is a clear difference between a meeting and what was happening there, which was entirely social.’

After watching for five minutes, the pair went back to their accommodation. They returned an hour later and saw that people were still inside the room. They could not see if Sir Keir was among them.

Durham Police are facing mounting calls from Tory Ministers and MPs to launch a new probe, having announced in February that no rules had been broken.

Both witnesses said they are prepared to help the police. ‘We are the only two eyewitnesses that aren’t trying to defend it,’ one said. ‘I would be so happy to talk to them and tell them the truth.’

About three weeks before Sir Keir’s trip to Durham, factory worker Tyler James, 20, from Chester-le-Street, Durham, was fined £400 for also holding a balloon-releasing memorial for a friend who died in March 2021. ‘It just makes you think, it’s one rule for them, and one rule for us,’ he said. ‘I don’t understand, if Boris Johnson was fined, why wasn’t he?’

Durham Constabulary said: ‘We have since received further communications on this subject and will now consider the content of those communications and respond in due course.’

Source: Daily Mail

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