Durham Police should reopen an investigation into whether Sir Keir Starmer broke coronavirus laws, a minister has said.
The Labour leader has come under pressure since footage emerged of him drinking a beer with colleagues at a time when restrictions were in place.
Speaking on Sky News, International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said officers should “look at it again” with “all the new evidence” that has come forward.
She added that if the police “consider a fixed penalty notice should be issued then clearly that would be the tool available to them to do so”.
But Ms Trevelyan said that Sir Keir should not have to step down as leader of the Labour Party if he were to be awarded a fixed penalty notice, adding: “I don’t think that is a I don’t think I don’t think that’s a resigning matter, personally.”
“As I say, I’d like the police to look at everything and to – if they felt a fixed penalty notice was the appropriate statement of of of conclusion of it, in the same way, the Metropolitan Police have here for a number of people who were in Downing Street at events that have been deemed unsuitable – then what I would want to see is that same fixed notice,” Ms Trevelyan told Sky News.
“I don’t think those are resigning matters.”
Starmer accuses Tory MPs of ‘mudslinging’
On Monday, Sir Keir accused Conservative MPs of “mudslinging” over the footage of him drinking a beer with others in an office at a time of COVID restrictions
He told broadcasters those pictured were working and paused for some food and that “no rules were broken”.
At the time, people in England were banned from mixing indoors apart from for work.
He added that there is a stark contrast between the incident and the behaviour in Downing Street which is “the most fined workplace in the whole of the UK”.
In recent days, Sir Keir has come under increased pressure over the event – at which he was caught on camera drinking beer with activists in the Durham constituency office of the local MP Mary Foy in the run-up to the Hartlepool by-election
‘We were working’
Last week, the Labour Party confirmed its deputy leader Angela Rayner was also in attendance, having previously told journalists she was not present at the gathering last April when coronavirus restrictions were in force.
But a party source said it was a “mistake made in good faith” and Sir Keir has insisted it “makes absolutely no difference” as no rules had been broken.
Probed on the matter on Monday, the Labour leader told reporters: “We were working. It was days before the election. We paused for something to eat.
“There was no party, no rules were broken. There is nothing I can add to that.”
Asked if he would like to issue any further clarification on what to place, the Labour leader continued: “There was no party, no breach of the rules.
“This is a few days from the election, I know what’s going on here – Tories are desperately trying to talk about anything other than the cost of living, chucking as much mud as possible.
“If they spent as much energy and as much focus on people’s bills and the tax that they are whacking people for then millions of people would be grateful for that.
“So I think this is classic two or three days before an election mudslinging from the Tories.
“But I have got nothing to add.”
Labour rejects Downing Street partygate comparison
Richard Holden, the Conservative MP for North West Durham, has been pressing police to reconsider their decision not investigate the event following the fine issued to Mr Johnson for attending a birthday gathering in No 10.
But Labour has rejected that there is any equivalence with the Downing Street partygate scandal, which has rocked the government.
Durham Police confirmed it had received “a number of further communications” that it will be responding to, but said it is not currently investigating the matter.
The Metropolitan Police’s investigation into lockdown-breaching parties held across Downing Street and Whitehall is still ongoing.
Last month, the prime minister, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Mr Johnson’s wife Carrie Johnson were all issued fixed-penalty notices for attending an event to mark the prime minister’s 56th birthday.
The prime minister, who has faced persistent calls to resign over partygate, is thought to have been at more of the 12 events under investigation by Scotland Yard.
The Met Police has said it will not issue any further partygate updates before the May local elections.