A barrister specialising in lockdown guidelines has stated a leaked doc displaying Keir Starmer attended a prearranged meal in Durham throughout an election may very well be used to clear the Labour chief of allegations that he broke the regulation.
The doc, printed by the Mail on Sunday, reveals that an 80-minute dinner with the Labour MP Mary Foy, that includes a takeaway curry, was deliberate as a part of his schedule.
The newspaper claimed that the doc confirmed that the occasion was prearranged, “so no different from the No 10 events”.
Conservatives argued the memo was proof the meal was in breach of lockdown guidelines as a result of it confirmed that it was prearranged to happen between 8.40pm and 10pm, and never only a spontaneous determination to order meals.
But Adam Wagner, a human rights barrister from Doughty Street Chambers, stated he didn’t suppose the leaked memo confirmed that Starmer had damaged any guidelines.
“Seeing that this was a scheduled event as part of the leader of the opposition’s visit to Durham – during a local election campaign, an event focused on him being with a local MP and their staff, and it was in the evening and food was ordered because it was the evening – I don’t really see how it could be a breach of the regulations.
“The regulations allowed for any gathering that was reasonably necessary for work or voluntary activity. And obviously the purpose of that visit overall was for the leader of the opposition to visit the local campaigners and the local MP and that is all on the schedule.
“So the police would have to say, ‘Well we actually disagree with the Labour party’s analysis of what was reasonably necessary for the leader’s trip to Durham’ and I am doubtful that they could really go behind that reasoning,” he stated.
“The issue with the Downing Street events was that they were prearranged social events.
“Those being investigated are the ones where it’s quite obvious that the purpose of the event was social – a Christmas party, a leaving party, a birthday party.
“Whereas the fact that this [Starmer event] is preplanned, I think shows the opposite. It shows that the purpose was political.”
He additionally argued that the occasion was analogous to the Downing Street gathering the place Johnson and his employees had been photographed ingesting wine and consuming cheese within the No 10 backyard the place they had been stated to be discussing work issues.
That occasion was not investigated by the Met, Wagner identified.
Wagner stated the choice by Durham police to launch an investigation may result in calls for for Boris Johnson to launch his schedule.
“Are they going to look at the prime minister’s schedule and at every time he ate, during trips to various constituencies during last year’s local elections, and ask if that event was reasonably necessary?” he stated.
Durham police must also clarify why the power is investigating Starmer two years after the occasion when it refused to research Dominic Cummings due to a coverage to not take “retrospective action”, Wagner stated.
He added: “The first question for Durham police is: what is their policy and are they applying it consistently?
“I think it would be unlawful if the reason they’re investigating is because they’re under lots of pressure from the newspapers and politically.”
Another distinguished lawyer stated he believes the leaked memo places Starmer in a troublesome place.
Matthew Scott, who publishes articles below the title BarristerBlogger, tweeted: “This is awkward for Starmer. Curry was planned in advance, at the end of the working day.”