LONDON — Senior executives from the U.K. Labour Party held an indoor meeting to discuss redundancies last year despite concerns raised by staff over compliance with the country’s coronavirus guidance.
Several members of leader Keir Starmer’s top team, as well as the party’s general secretary, David Evans, attended the in-person meeting on the “Organise to Win” strategy — a major restructuring of the opposition party — on June 10, 2021.
At least 15 people gathered in the party’s headquarters in central London, at a time when office workers in England were still being encouraged to work from home if possible and social-distancing rules were in place.
Some staff raised concerns that the meeting was unlikely to meet public health guidance on avoiding crowded spaces, social distancing and ventilation, but bosses determined that it should go ahead anyway.
One member of staff said those in attendance did not take precautions such as using hand sanitizer or wearing masks when not speaking.
Labels designating certain desks for use and others to be left vacant were ignored, the same staff member claimed.
“It was bizarre how they were carrying on like there wasn’t a pandemic going on outside,” the person said. “They all seemed as clueless and indifferent as those pictured in the Downing Street parties, and just seemed like failing to practise what they preach.”
A senior Labour official said the event had not broken any laws and all appropriate mitigation measures had been taken.
They added that the meeting had taken place in a large room to reduce the risk of infection.
Starmer is under pressure after Durham Police announced they would investigate claims his team breached COVID rules at a meal with up to 30 party workers in April 2021. The Labour leader insists the gathering was permitted under the rules at the time and has pledged to resign if the police conclude he broke the law.
He said he did not want voters to think all politicians are the same as Boris Johnson, who shows no sign of budging despite having been fined by police over a party which took place in Downing Street in June 2020.
The Metropolitan Police have now issued more than 100 fines over lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.