Exclusive: Keir Starmer ‘Beergate’ investigation cost Durham police over £100,000

Detectives who would normally solve murders and sexual assaults were pulled into the Covid rules investigation of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer costing £100,000.

Nine detectives from Durham Constabulary’s major crime team spent 3,200 hours investigating whether Sir Keir Starmer broke Covid rules - only to clear him of any offence.

NationalWorld can exclusively reveal that in total police spent more than £100,000 on the so-called ‘beergate’ probe.

Nine detectives and other staff from Durham Constabulary's major crime team – who normally investigate offences including murders and serious sexual assaults – were drawn into the investigation.

The Labour leader had been photographed enjoying a beer and Indian takeaway in Durham on 30 April 2021, while on the campaign trail for the impending Hartlepool byelection.

Sir Keir’s team insisted he and other attendees – including deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner – had stopped to eat while working, and that Covid rules had never been broken. All were cleared of any wrongdoing in July 2022 following an investigation by Durham Constabulary.

The force had reopened the case in May 2022 after coming under significant pressure from Conservative MPs and others, despite stating earlier in the year that they did not believe rules had been broken.

Durham police’s beergate investigation into Keir Starmer cost £100,000 and 3,200 hours of major crime detectives’ time (Image: NationalWorld/Kim Mogg)

NationalWorld submitted a freedom of information request to Durham Constabulary asking how much the subsequent investigation had cost, how many officers had been involved and what their usual roles were, and how much time the force had sunk into the matter.

We can now reveal the investigation cost the force an estimated £101,000 and approximately 3,203 hours of police work.

Nine officers were involved in the inquiry – one detective superintendent, one detective inspector, one detective sergeant, ansix detective constables, alongside two other members of police staff. All 11 were from the force’s major crime team.

Sir Keir has previously said he “hated” being subject to a criminal investigation.

He told Sky News’s Beth Rigby that waiting to hear whether he would be exonerated was a “burden every day”.

He said: "I hated it, I am not like other people in many respects that will say it doesn’t matter, it meant a lot to me, it was a burden I was carrying. I tried not to show it of course, but it was there every day."

NationalWorld also put the same questions to Durham Constabulary regarding its investigation into former Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings, who drove his family from London to Barnard Castle and back again between March and April 2020 despite strict lockdown measures.

The force said it does not have an estimate of the cost or hours spent on this investigation.

But it did say one detective chief superintendent worked on the investigation alongside four further detectives (who assisted the senior investigating officer whilst continuing to perform other detective duties) and a member of police staff.

The force pointed to ‘beergate’ involving multiple suspects as the reason for the higher number of officers involved in that case.

Labour has been approached for comment.

The response to our FOI request can be found here.