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In a sensational U-turn, Labour acknowledged that Angela Rayner was also at the event on April 30 last year at which Sir Keir was filmed enjoying a beer with officials at a time when indoor socialising was banned.
A Labour spokesman said last night: ‘Angela was present.’ A party source claimed the previous denials had been ‘an honest mistake’.
It directly contradicts assurances given to the Daily Mail over the past three months that Mrs Rayner was ‘not there’.
The admission came only after this newspaper confronted Labour officials with video evidence that Mrs Rayner had joined Sir Keir at an online rally for activists filmed in the Durham offices of Labour MP Mary Foy where the party leader was later seen drinking.
The extraordinary revelation raises questions about whether Labour’s deputy leader also broke lockdown rules.
In a sensational U-turn, Labour acknowledged that Angela Rayner was also at the event on April 30 last year at which Sir Keir was filmed enjoying a beer (pictured) with officials at a time when indoor socialising was banned
Angela Rayner waves at the offices of Redhills, the home of the Durham Miners Association in Durham, County Durham in 2021
Labour leader Keir Starmer and Deputy Leader Angela Rayner during a visit to a site development on the banks of the River Wear in Durham on May 1
‘Men want to sleep with you’ slur
A woman MP has claimed a Shadow Cabinet minister said she was a ‘secret weapon’ because men wanted to sleep with her.
The member of Sir Keir Starmer’s top team is alleged to have made the lewd comment after the woman was described as a ‘rising star’ of the party at an event.
The Welsh MP, who wants to remain anonymous, told the BBC that before she could reply, the frontbencher intervened to describe her as ‘a secret weapon’.
He said ‘women want to be her friend’ and, using a swear word, that men want to sleep with her, before adding: ‘She is a vote winner.’
The MP said she chose not to make a formal complaint.
Labour said yesterday that the issue would be taken ‘extremely seriously’ if one was received.
Labour leader Sir Keir said: ‘I’m deeply concerned to hear these suggestions and these allegations. There is a complaints procedure and I want everybody to have the confidence to use that procedure because I would want to get to the bottom of this and do something about it.’
Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth said the party should investigate even if a formal complaint had not been made.
Conservative MP Brendan Clarke Smith said last night: ‘For all their sanctimony about honesty and transparency, it’s plain to see that Labour have not told the truth about Keir Starmer’s lockdown drinks party.
‘Why would they lie about Angela Rayner’s presence if they thought the event was legal? It makes you wonder what else they are hiding.’
In another astonishing development, the Mail can reveal that Mrs Foy was forced to apologise this week after launching a ‘drunken’ tirade on the Commons terrace against ‘Men want to sleep with you’ slur Tory MP Richard Holden, who has led calls for Durham Police to reopen the case.
Last night Mrs Rayner was also facing questions over her denials that she had joked with Tory MPs about crossing and uncrossing her legs to distract Boris Johnson in the Commons.
The claim in The Mail on Sunday provoked a storm of criticism on social media this week and a demand from the Commons Speaker for the newspaper’s editor to explain himself.
Mrs Rayner described the article as ‘desperate, perverted smears’. But The Daily Telegraph yesterday revealed it had spoken to two Tory MPs who corroborated the claim that Mrs Rayner had joked about giving the PM ‘a flash’.
Separately, The Mail On Sunday has now spoken to four Tory MPs who have all supported the account and contradicted the insinuation by Mrs Rayner and her allies that the claims were cooked up by sexist colleagues.
On a day of shame for Labour:
- Defence Secretary Ben Wallace called on the police to investigate the Labour event in the same way detectives are probing Partygate claims against the Prime Minister;
- Labour sources confirmed that staff had presented Sir Keir with two birthday cakes in September 2020, when Covid guidance stated that people ‘should not hold or attend celebrations’ where social distancing would be difficult;
- Former Labour Cabinet minister Liam Byrne is facing a two-day suspension from the Commons for bullying a staff member;
- A female Labour MP claimed that a Shadow Cabinet minister told her she was a ‘secret weapon’ because men want to sleep with her;
- The Tories faced their own sleaze claims as Mr Johnson was forced to condemn the ‘totally unacceptable’ behaviour of a Conservative MP said to have watched porn in the Commons.
The Daily Mail first asked Labour on January 14 whether Mrs Rayner had been present at the notorious Durham drinks event.
A senior Labour official replied: ‘Goodness me, with all that’s going on. It’s an old story! Angela wasn’t there. It was Mary Foy’s office.’
But rumours about Mrs Rayner’s presence at the meeting persisted. She was pictured in Durham at an election event with Sir Keir early the following morning.
And a woman whose head can be seen from behind in the video of Sir Keir has hair which bears a remarkable resemblance to Mrs Rayner’s striking red locks.
The Mail presented officials with video evidence that Mrs Rayner had also been present at the Durham Miners Hall that evening.
Labour admitted it had lied about an event at which Sir Keir Starmer is alleged to have broken lockdown rules
Sir Keir gave a six-minute speech at the venue to an online party rally. Later in the event, Mrs Rayner appeared on screen in front of the same background Sir Keir had sat in front of 20 minutes earlier.
And she even confirmed exactly where she was, quoting the motto of the Durham Miners.
‘Being here at the Miners Hall in Durham, I’ve got to start with ‘the past we inherit, the future we build’,’ Mrs Rayner said.
Labour yesterday refused to answer a string of further questions from the Mail about the event, which police are now under pressure to investigate.
Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth said the party should investigate even if a formal complaint had not been made after the report a Welsh MP was told she was a ‘secret weapon’ because men wanted to sleep with her.
In January, Sir Keir said: ‘We were working in the office. We stopped for something to eat and then we carried on working. No party, no breach of the rules and absolutely no comparison with the Prime Minister.’
It can now be established that the online event finished at around 9.20pm, about 45 minutes before Sir Keir was filmed by a passerby drinking from a bottle of beer.
Labour officials refused to say how long the ‘meal break’ lasted, or how many attended.
They also refused to say whether anyone in the leader’s office had since spoken to Durham’s Labour police and crime commissioner – but denied suggestions she had also been present that evening.
Durham Police said this week they would consider a request from Mr Holden to review their controversial decision that Sir Keir had not broken any rules.
Senior Tories demanded a full investigation, saying there appeared to be no difference between the event and the socalled ‘birthday party’ in No10, for which Mr Johnson was fined £50.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said detectives should launch a full investigation, adding: ‘A consistency of the application of the law, that’s what we all deserve – whether we’re in London or whether we’re in Durham.’
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: ‘The PM thinks the law should be applied equally at all times.’
‘We made a mistake. Angela WAS present’: Labour makes humiliating U-turn after Mail proves Rayner was at ‘beergate’ event under police review
By Martin Beckford for the Daily Mail
The WhatsApp message sent by a senior Labour press officer could hardly have been clearer.
Asked by the Daily Mail if the party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner had been present at the Durham Miners Hall the evening Sir Keir Starmer enjoyed a beer with local MP Mary Foy and other comrades, the spokesman replied categorically: ‘Angela wasn’t there.’
But now that simple claim has been undermined, ironically by Labour’s own digital campaigning prowess.
Last night, in an astonishing volte-face, Labour belatedly admitted that Mrs Rayner had been there, but gave no further details.
The party’s about-turn came after a Mail investigation had already established that despite the denials, the party’s deputy leader had been in the Miners Hall.
Deputy leader of Labour, Angela Rayner (pictured), has been confirmed to have been present at the Durham Miners Hall in the evening of April 30 2021 after it was originally denied
Earlier in the evening, before having a beer, Sir Kier was at an online rally in Durham with Angela Rayner
Lockdown laws at the time, in April 2021, banned indoor socialising except within a household or support bubble
Almost a year since the fateful event, when lockdown laws at the time banned indoor socialising except within a household or support bubble, the party’s Facebook page still shows a video that proves Sir Keir and Mrs Rayner were in the same building at the same time.
It can be revealed today that less than an hour before the infamous video was taken of Sir Keir with bottle in hand, he and his deputy sat at the same desk to address Labour activists across the country.
They were the star turns in a live online rally being held less than a week before the country went to the ballot boxes in the pair’s first major electoral test.
It was advertised by frontbencher Nick Thomas-Symonds in a social media post that can still be viewed today. ‘Tune in 8.30pm-9pm tonight for Labour’s Get Out The Vote ‘6 Days to 6th May’ rally with Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner and special guests,’ he wrote on Twitter on the afternoon of Friday, April 30.
He helpfully included a link to the Facebook page hosting the virtual campaigning event, which not only remains online but includes a complete video of the 48-minute proceedings. It was hosted by Labour MP Carolyn Harris, broadcasting from her home in Wales. She made it clear the rally was live by announcing: ‘Well, hello everyone and welcome to the very last Friday before May 6.’
After her introduction she handed over to Sir Keir, who was wearing the same open-necked white shirt which would later be seen in the clip filmed by passers-by as he drank a bottle of beer.
The event took place at the Durham Miners Hall (pictured), where Sir Kier and Angela addressed Labour voters online
As he addressed voters by webcam, he was sitting in a small room with white walls and a mirror on a mantelpiece that showed the reflection of a distinctive ‘half round’ fanlight window.
Sir Keir gave a six-minute speech to the 16,000 watching online, saying: ‘Let me just start by thanking every single person who’s on this call this evening. Thank you for joining us.’ He said the party was facing ‘huge, huge elections’, the first since the ‘devastating’ national poll in December 2019 – which saw Boris Johnson rout his predecessor as Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
Sir Keir claimed the upcoming elections would pit his Labour Party against a ‘Conservative Party that’s up to its neck in sleaze’.
After the rally heard from other speakers, including one in the US, host Miss Harris handed over to the final speaker – Angela Rayner.
She appeared on screen in front of the same background Sir Keir had sat in front of less than 20 minutes earlier – the same white walls, the same mirror on the mantelpiece and the same window in the reflection. And she even confirmed exactly where she was, quoting the motto of Durham Miners.
A Labour press officer told the Daily Mail that Angela Rayner was not present (pictured)
‘Being here at the Miners Hall in Durham, I’ve got to start with ‘the past we inherit, the future we build’,’ Mrs Rayner said.
As well as hosting the ‘Pitman’s Parliament’ in decades gone by and being the headquarters of the Durham Miners’ Association, the grand Edwardian building is also used for constituency meetings by Mrs Foy.
And it is where the party has admitted Sir Keir was when he was caught enjoying a drink with colleagues, including Mrs Foy, in an apparent breach of Covid rules at the time as well as government electioneering guidance that stated: ‘You should not meet with other campaigners indoors.’
That video was shot a little after 10pm – less than an hour after Mrs Rayner addressed the online rally from a room there. Photos of the hall show that its ground floor has the same distinctive fanlight windows that can be seen in the background of Sir Keir and Mrs Rayner’s pieces to camera.
The full 43-second clip of the video revealed by the Mail this week shows Sir Keir in another room of the hall, swigging from a bottle of beer and listening to Mrs Foy while two men eat food by the doorway.
A woman sitting facing the two Labour MPs had been named by social media users as Joy Allen, then campaigning to be Durham crime tsar. But she has denied being present and the evidence obtained by the Mail suggests the woman is Mrs Rayner.
When this newspaper first asked the party’s press office in January about Mrs Rayner’s possible presence, the reply was unequivocal: ‘Angela wasn’t there.’ But the deputy leader had also shared photos and videos of herself with Sir Keir in the building at the same time.
She was wearing the same polka-dot dress as she wore during the online rally and earlier that day while out canvassing hundreds of miles away in Birmingham. The next day – at 8.53am on Saturday, May 1 – she posted two photographs of herself in front of miners’ lodges banners at the hall and wrote: ‘Last year was the first year in two decades that I couldn’t come to Durham. It’s good to be back!’
Then at 9.45am she shared a video – which again is still online – of herself and Sir Keir touring the building which Labour claims she had not stepped inside.
It began with him declaring: ‘On International Workers’ Day, we’re at Redhills, the historic Durham Miners Hall.’
Mrs Rayner was filmed outside the building saying: ‘From here in Durham to the miners in South Wales, it was working people and trade unionists who created local healthcare systems that laid the foundations for our country’s greatest institution, the National Health Service.’
The morning after the indoor event, Sir Keir and Mrs Rayner were pictured in hard hats and hi-vis jackets as they visited a major building development in Durham, known as Milburngate.
Revealed: Damning testimony from four MPs of Angela Rayner’s vulgar joke about Sharon Stone ploy
By Glen Owen and Dan Hodges for the Daily Mail
Angela Rayner last night risked accusations of a cover-up over the sexism row that has convulsed Westminster.
Labour’s deputy leader had described a story in last week’s Mail on Sunday – which said she had joked with Tory MPs about crossing and uncrossing her legs to distract Boris Johnson – as ‘disgusting’ and ‘completely untrue’.
Amid a storm of criticism on social media, Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle demanded a meeting with the newspaper’s editor David Dillon.
Mr Dillon rejected the call, saying that journalists should ‘not take instruction’ from parliamentary officials.
Several MPs have supported the claim the Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner (Pictured next to Sir Kier Starmer) made jokes about crossing and uncrossing her legs to distract Boris Johnson
Yesterday The Daily Telegraph reported that two Conservative MPs had told the newspaper they had heard Mrs Rayner laughing publicly about the idea that she could put off the Prime Minister by ‘giving him a flash’.
The witnesses said she had been joking about the suggestion that she was crossing and uncrossing her legs during a light-hearted discussion on the Commons terrace about two months ago.
Separately, The Mail On Sunday has now spoken to a total of four Tory MPs – the original source and three others, including one woman – all of whom supported this account and contradicted the insinuation by Mrs Rayner and her allies that the claims were cooked up by sexists.
One of the MPs, describing a night on the Commons terrace earlier this year, said Mrs Rayner had initiated the discussion of the issue. They said she had spoken of giving the Prime Minister ‘a flash’.
A second MP claimed that Mrs Rayner had referenced the thriller Basic Instinct, in which Sharon Stone’s character infamously uncrosses her legs while being interrogated by police. ‘Angela told us: ‘I like to do my Sharon Stone trick to distract Boris… I cross and uncross my legs’,’ the witness said. A third MP added that they also remembered the encounter.
The original source for the Mail on Sunday story said that the ‘Sharon Stone’ joke had been made while Mrs Rayner spoke to a Tory MP. ‘She was telling him how she distracts Boris,’ they said. All four Tories gave almost identical accounts of her remarks. They each said Mrs Rayner had used a startling slang colloquialism during the discussion.
Angela Rayner joked about a Sharon Stone meme based on her during a podcast in January
When The Mail on Sunday approached Mrs Rayner last Saturday about the exchanges on the terrace, a Labour spokesman said: ‘It’s completely made up, so unless they’re going to say something properly on the record or have any evidence I would expect that this made-up story wouldn’t run.
‘I’m telling you categorically it’s untrue so I’m afraid you know that doesn’t meet the bar, an unnamed source without any evidence… I’m telling you, it’s categorically untrue that this has happened.’ After Mrs Rayner strenuously denied making the remarks, coverage of the story initially concentrated on allegations of sexism. The row then saw Sir Lindsay attempt to summon The Mail on Sunday’s editor for a meeting.
However, on Wednesday the Daily Mail revealed that Mrs Rayner had in fact publicly joked about the Basic Instinct comparison herself in January. Speaking to Matt Forde for his Political Party podcast, she volunteered the fact that her appearances in the Commons had prompted online references to the 1992 movie thriller.
A Labour spokesman said the story was ‘completely made up’ was asked for a comment
‘Every time I do a Prime Minister’s Questions somebody has an opinion on what I wear. Did you see the meme about Sharon Stone like I was doing it at PMQs? I was mortified,’ she said, laughing. ‘I wasn’t aware I did it but apparently there was this whole meme about how my dress was a bit revealing. I didn’t think it was. It was a perfectly suitable Karen Millen – in the sale by the way.’
The podcast also saw her use the same slang colloquialism MPs say she used on the Commons terrace.
Meanwhile, as the backlash grew over Sir Lindsay’s intervention, Mr Dillon formally turned down the Speaker’s request for a meeting, saying that Britain’s free Press would not endure if journalists had to take instructions from officials in the House of Commons. He also said other MPs had come forward to corroborate the original account of Mrs Rayner’s remarks.
The Prime Minister later backed Mr Dillon’s decision. A No 10 spokesman said Mr Johnson would not want ‘any perception of politicians seeking to in any way curb or control what a free Press seeks to report’.
A spokesman for Mrs Rayner last night declined to comment further on the story.
Labour’s own partygate: Keir Starmer flouted Covid lockdown guidance at own birthday bash… with TWO cakes
By Harriet Line, Chief Political Correspondent for the Daily Mail
Sir Keir Starmer was last night accused of hypocrisy for attending a birthday cake celebration in his office during the pandemic.
The Labour leader tucked into the shop-bought chocolate and lemon cakes while coronavirus guidance advised against holding close social gatherings indoors.
Sir Keir has repeatedly demanded Boris Johnson quit for attending an impromptu birthday gathering in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 – just three months before his own celebration.
The PM and Chancellor were hit with fines for breaking lockdown laws that banned indoor gatherings at that time. However, it has now emerged that Sir Keir was given a birthday card and two cakes in his office on his birthday in September 2020.
Sir Keir Starmer was last night accused of hypocrisy for attending a birthday cake celebration in his office during the pandemic
While Covid laws on gatherings had been relaxed a month earlier, government guidance at the time stated that people should not ‘hold or attend celebrations (such as parties) where it is difficult to maintain social distancing and avoid close social interaction’.
How Labour queued up to condemn the PM
‘This is the first time in the history of our country that a Prime Minister has been found to be in breach of the law, and then he lied repeatedly to the public about it. Britain deserves better, they have to go.’
Sir Keir Starmer, April 12
‘Now we know the Prime Minister did not shut down his own birthday party… he spent it breaking the law. We have a Prime Minister who is sorry only that he has been found out.’
Angela Rayner, April 21
‘We are all concerned by the situation in Ukraine, but that should not be used as a smokescreen for the failings of this Prime Minister.’
MP Matt Western, April 21
The Government also said people should not ‘socialise indoors in groups of more than two households’. It was not clear last night how many others helped Sir Keir to eat the cakes in his office.
A Tory source said: ‘It now seems that, as well as sinking a few cold ones with mates at his infamous Durham drinks party, Sir Keir flouted the guidance in place for a little birthday bash… that is of course unless you believe that he popped out to a shop, bought himself a cake and sat alone eating it in his office.
‘We know that Labour have lied about these things in the past so it makes you wonder what else they’re hiding. The stench of hypocrisy gets stronger by the day.’
Sir Keir claimed the Prime Minister and Chancellor ‘dishonoured their office’ by attending the impromptu birthday celebration on June 19, 2020, the day Mr Johnson turned 56.
Rishi Sunak was in attendance because he had been invited to a crucial meeting about Covid. Mr Johnson was eating a salad.
It was initially believed that the PM had been presented with a Union Jack cake while aides sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him.
However, it has since emerged that the cake – bought by a special adviser – never even left its Tupperware box. Some sausage rolls from Marks and Spencer were laid out on the Cabinet table along with a few cans of Estrella lager, but it is believed that these too were left untouched.
Nevertheless, Sir Keir claimed Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak’s attendance had ‘dishonoured’ the sacrifices made by people during lockdown – as well as their offices.
After the men were fined, Sir Keir said: ‘This is the first time in the history of our country that a Prime Minister has been found to be in breach of the law, and then he lied repeatedly to the public about it. Britain deserves better, they [the PM and the Chancellor] have to go.’
Labour did not respond to a request for comment last night. However, a party source said no laws were broken.