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British opposition leader Starmer has been acquitted of a lockdown violation

#British #opposition #leader #Starmer #acquitted #lockdown #violation

British opposition Labor party leader Keir Starmer and his deputy leader Angela Rayner were acquitted by police on Friday of breaking lockdown rules at a campaign rally.

“Durham Constabulary will not issue any firm penalties (fines) in relation to the gathering and no further action will be taken,” the force said in a statement.

Both politicians had said they would quit if they were fined for the Durham event in north-east England in April last year.

The police investigation was launched after video surfaced of Starmer drinking beer and eating a take-out meal with party colleagues at a campaign office.

“It has been determined that no case of non-compliance was accountable for the application of an exception, namely reasonably required work,” police said.

Starmer, a solicitor and former Attorney-General for England and Wales, insisted the gathering did not break rules on indoor gatherings because he was working.

Police investigated the incident at the time but concluded that “no criminal offense was established”.

But it had said in May that “having received significant new information in recent days… we can confirm that an investigation into possible breaches of Covid-19 regulations in relation to this gathering is now being conducted”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and then-Finance Minister Rishi Sunak both received fines for attending an impromptu gathering at Johnson’s office to celebrate his birthday in 2020.

Johnson’s fine – the first for a British Prime Minister while he was still in office – put pressure on him and fueled public anger following a steady stream of revelations about violations at Downing Street.

He initially denied parties had taken place but then accepted there were gatherings but claimed they complied with the strict social distancing rules he imposed on the public, leading to claims he misled Parliament .

Starmer said he was capturing Zoom video and taking a break to eat, adding that no restaurants or pubs were open at the time of the alleged offense and that his hotel was not serving food.

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