8th May 2022

Dear Mr. Holden,

On or about the 26th April 2022, as reported in the Daily Mail on the 27th April 2022, you wrote to the Deputy Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary stating that the City of Durham Labour Party had advertised an “in person event” in the form of a “Quiz and Social” that was to be held on the evening of Friday 30th April 2021 at 7:00 p.m. In your letter you speculate, wrongly, that before the event our MP Mary Foy posted online encouragement to members to attend and to drink heavily, linking the event to images of the Leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, drinking a beer at Redhills that evening. You make reference to Mary Foy’s using the phrase “ have a greasy night” in support of your argument that she called on our members to drink. This was clearly a typographical error and the City of Durham Labour Party pointed this out very shortly after, which you must have seen. ( A copy of the correction is attached.) You have made a clumsy attempt to persuade the public that the Leader of the Opposition was drinking beer at our event, which does not stand up to even the most superficial examination.

In effect, you have accused me as Chair of the City of Durham Constituency Labour Party and other Officers of our Party of wilfully and purposefully conspiring to breach the Covid Lockdown Regulations that existed at that time.

You, by implication, have accused all of our members who attended that event of breaking the law.

There is no evidence whatsoever that our Party’s fundraising event as held on 30th April 2021 was an “in person event” and you have not referred to any in your letter to the Deputy Chief Constable. You have no basis on which to accuse me and others of planning to hold this event in person and of actually holding it with members present. Your assertion that the event was held in person was pure fabrication that was published solely for what you hope will be political gain.

The initial invitation to the social event on 30th April 2021 posted online explicitly states that members should “check your emails for Zoom link”. Have you seen a copy of the invitation emailed to our members with this invitation? I can only conclude that you have not as that email, sent by me and our then Fundraising Officer Chris Fletcher, asks people to register in advance for a Zoom event. It also tries to coax people into taking part by stating that there will be a singalong that people can join “from the comfort of our settees”. I attach a copy of that email invitation, together with a copy of a screenshot of the online notice.

You should note that prior to the meeting Mary Foy MP posted in response to the Facebook invitation that she would not be able to attend. If you had carried out even the most basic of investigations you would have discovered that you were wasting Police time by asking them to investigate whether or not Keir Starmer attended the event as you would have seen that he was with Mary Foy at the time.

The City of Durham Constituency Labour Party Quiz and Social was held online using Zoom on the evening of 30th April 2021, to which everyone who took part can attest. Sir Keir Starmer did not attend. You have unjustly and unfairly accused me and others of knowingly organising an unlawful in person event in breach of the Covid Regulations. You brazenly did this knowing you had no evidence to prove your assertions to the Deputy Chief Constable. All you have is a picture of the Leader of the Opposition drinking a beer in Durham on the same evening with the local MP, from which you have tried to manufacture a flimsy innuendo. Your actions and behaviour are unfitting of an MP.

I must insist that you issue a full and unequivocal apology to me and to all of our members who planned and attended our online social event on 30th April 2021 and to arrange for that apology to be published prominently in the Daily Mail. You should also contact Jo Farrell, Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary, to make clear that your report to the Police regarding our online social event was based on conjecture. You have smeared my reputation and that of many other innocent people. You must rectify this wrongdoing immediately.

Yours sincerely,
Sheila Williams Chair City of Durham CLP

Cc. Chair of the Conservative Party

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