Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has refused to say sorry for images which showed him drinking beer in an office at a time when coronavirus rules banned indoor socialising.
Sir Keir insisted he and staff "did nothing wrong" amid accusations they broke Covid rules in April 2021 by having a takeaway in a constituency office while working on the Hartlepool election campaign.
The Labour leader - who is calling on Boris Johnson to resign over allegations that he broke his own coronavirus rules - was branded a “hypocrite” by a caller during his LBC Radio phone-in show after repeatedly refusing to apologise.
Sir Keir was pictured in the office of City of Durham MP Mary Foy on April 30 2021 in the run-up to May’s local elections and the Hartlepool parliamentary by-election.
The photograph was published by the Sun newspaper in May last year and received little reaction at the time, however it appeared on the front page of the Daily Mail on Saturday.
The Labour leader has demanded the resignation of Boris Johnson over No 10 parties held during 2020 when England was locked down.
Sir Keir said: “The picture of me was in a constituency office up in the North East, it was I think, three or four days before the May elections, so we’re really busy. I was with my team going across the country from place to place.
“We’re in the office, working in the office and we stopped for a takeaway, and then we carried on working and that is the long and the short of it.
“There was no breach of the rules. There was no party. And there was absolutely no comparison with the prime minister.”
Sir Keir said no restaurants or pubs were open and the hotel he and his colleagues were staying in did not serve food, so “if you didn’t get a takeaway then our team wasn’t eating that evening”.
Asked if he was prepared to apologise, Sir Keir said: “We didn’t break any rules, we were working in the office and we stopped for a takeaway.”
He added: “We did nothing wrong.”
The LBC caller who asked about the incident dismissed Sir Keir’s response as “like listening to Boris Johnson without the harrumphing”, adding: “You should apologise and you are a hypocrite for not.”
The Labour leader was asked whether he would prefer to fight a damaged Mr Johnson at the next election, rather than Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss – the frontrunners to succeed the prime minister.
Sir Keir said: “I will take on whoever is leading, I don’t really care.
“I think that it’s in the national interest that Boris Johnson goes now… Put party politics to one side, he’s lost all authority and that matters, whatever party you are in.
“We’re still in the pandemic and it’s very important that people behave in the way that we need them to behave, but he has lost the authority to ask people to do so.”