Probe announced into Keir Starmer over declarations of outside earnings

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Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the UK’s opposition Labour party, is under investigation for allegedly breaching parliamentary standards over declarations of outside earnings and gifts.

Kathryn Stone, parliamentary standards commissioner, announced on Monday that a probe into Starmer had begun last week over two potential breaches of the MPs’ code of conduct.

MPs are required to register all outside payments above £100 for work outside the House of Commons, as well as any gifts with a value above that limit within 28 days.

According to parliament’s website, Starmer is being investigated over two sections of the code: declarations of outside earnings and employment, and the registration of outside gifts, benefits and hospitality.

Starmer’s latest entry in the register of members interests states he received four tickets with hospitality valued at £532 for a Tottenham Hotspur football match against Arsenal. He has been a life-long supporter of the latter north London team.

He also received an £18,450 advance payment from HarperCollins for an upcoming book that is expected to set out his political philosophy. Starmer has pledged to donate the earnings to charity.

One senior Labour party insider said that Stone’s investigation referred to these two items, which his office accepts were registered later than required. The official said that Starmer had “nothing to hide” with his declarations.

Speaking to reporters on a visit to Wakefield ahead of a crucial parliamentary by-election next week, Starmer said he was “absolutely confidant” that “there is no problem here”. He added: “My office is dealing with it and will be replying in due course.”

In a follow-up statement, Starmer’s office apologised for “a small number of late declarations”, blaming “administrative errors”. It said that Starmer “takes his declaration very seriously”, adding that “the standards commissioner has asked for more information which we are happy to provide.”

Starmer is also under investigation by Durham Police over whether Covid-19 rules were broken at a campaign event in April 2021. The so-called “beergate” scandal arose after he was photographed enjoying a bottle of beer at the event. He has pledged to resign if fined by the police.

Both investigations risk tarnishing Starmer’s image as a diligent rule follower, after he frequently attacked Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his investigations regarding the partygate scandal and political donations.

Stone provided no further details of her investigation into Starmer. Two other MPs are facing inquiries into whether they broke parliamentary rules: Chris Philp, junior culture minister, and backbench Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen. Stone has frequently dismissed previous investigations.

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