Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has committed to resigning if Durham police find him guilty of breaching lockdown rules last year.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the former head of public prosecutions said: “I’ve always followed the rules” since the start of lockdown.
He said everyone “found the rules frustrating at times”, and that he “isolated six times” during lockdown.
“The idea that I would then casually break those rules is wrong, and frankly I don’t believe those accusing me believe it themselves. They are just trying to feed cynicism, so the public to believe all politicians are the same.”
“I am absolutely clear that no laws were broken. They were followed at all times. I simply had something to eat whilst working late in the evening, as any politician would do days before an election.”
He added however, t hat “if the police decide to issue me with a fixed penalty notice I would of course do the right thing, and step down.”
The Labour leader insisted his stance was a “matter of principle”, and that he was “very different” to the Prime Minister. He repeatedly said the accusations of rule-breaking were attempts to “paint all politicians as the same”, and he was “different.”
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “I’ve always been clear that I was at the event in Durham working in my capacity as deputy leader and that no rules were broken.
“Eating during a long day’s work was not against the rules. We have a Prime Minister who has been found to have broken the rules, lied about it and then been fined. If I were issued with a fine, I would do the decent thing and step down.”
This comes after Durham Constabulary said on Friday it was investigating the incident despite having previously said it did not think Starmer had broken rules over the gathering. During the event it was reported that beer was drunk and a takeaway curry was eaten, at a time when social gatherings were banned due to coronavirus restrictions.
In a statement, the force said: “Earlier this year, Durham Constabulary carried out an assessment as to whether Covid-19 regulations had been breached at a gathering in Durham City on April 30 2021.
“At that time, it was concluded that no offence had been established and therefore no further action would be taken.
“Following the receipt of significant new information over recent days, Durham Constabulary has reviewed that position and now, following the conclusion of the pre-election period, we can confirm that an investigation into potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations relating to this gathering is now being conducted.”
Last week a Labour Party spokesperson told City AM: “We’re obviously happy to answer any questions there are and we remain clear that no rules were broken.”
This comes after Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak were issued with fixed penalty notices over coronavirus restriction breaches, in so-called ‘partygate’.
50 fines have been handed out to Whitehall and Downing Street.