NADINE Dorries has been accused of spreading “disinformation” amid her dogged defence of the law-breaking Prime Minister.

Conservatives have launched a series of broadsides aimed at Labour leader Keir Starmer and his deputy Anglea Rayner as they attempt to deflect from the scandals around Boris Johnson’s criminal behaviour.

The Tories’ efforts focus on an event labelled “beergate”. Starmer, Rayner, and a raft of Labour staff were present in Durham’s Miners Hall on April 30, 2021, in the week before both the Hartlepool by-election and 145 English council elections.

The National: A screengrab from the social media video showing Keir Starmer holding a beer while a Labour staffer eats in the backgroundA screengrab from the social media video showing Keir Starmer holding a beer while a Labour staffer eats in the background

Starmer was photographed through a window drinking a beer, while a takeaway order of curry was reportedly delivered to the address.

England’s Covid rules at the time prohibited indoor mixing, but there was an exemption in place for work purposes. Labour have insisted it was a work event, with the curry and beer coming during a “break” before campaign business resumed.

“There was no party, no breach of the rules,” Starmer said.

Casting doubt on Labour’s assertions, Dorries tweeted: “We are expected to believe that a curry and beers arrived for about 30 people at 10pm, and this was a break for a work meeting?

“No reasonable person believes Labours [sic] story, so why do Durham police and what were they told?”

Among the pictures used to illustrate the Daily Mail story being shared by Dorries was one of Starmer eating a curry. However, it came to light that the photo had been taken in April 2015.

Noting the image, SNP MP John Nicolson wrote: “The picture Nadine Dorries is retweeting is of Keir Starmer sharing a curry with Frank Dobson who died in 2019. Ergo he could not have been eating with Keir Starmer in 2021 no matter what time of day it was.”

“Nadine Dorries is the Cabinet minister responsible for #disinformation,” he added.

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“Keir Starmer is my political opponent but an honourable and decent man. No one in political office should be tweeting #disinformation like this - least of all the Cabinet Secretary responsible for tackling disinformation. Nadine Dorries should take this down.”

Labour’s Chris Bryant added: “I was Frank Dobson’s election agent in 1992 and attended his beautiful funeral in 2019.

“It’s bad enough that a Culture Secretary would tweet a blatant lie, but despicable that she’s refusing to take it down.”

Responding, Dorries wrote: “Oh Chris, behave. It’s a generic stock photo and they are used all the time as you well know. Just like the pictures of the PM with a birthday cake outside a school - not in cake free Downing St.

“Frank was a lovely man, we can all agree on that.”

She added: “I’ve linked to an article and am not responsible for what photographs they use.

“The substance is in the story and the absurdity that we are expected to believe that Starmer had beers and curry with others at 10pm and then went back to work? Is that what he told the police?”

Nicolson then countered: “No but you’re responsible for what photographs you use. And (to be generous) having now discovered you’ve retweeted #disinformation by mistake the appropriate response is to apologise and delete the tweet.

“Not least as the Cabinet minister tasked with tackling disinformation.”

Tory MP Paul Bristows, in a post shared by Dorries, interjected: “The real disinformation here is @MrJohnNicolson selectively cropping the screen grab to make it look like Nadine selected the pictures, rather than them being embedded as part of a Mail story…”

Nicolson's image had removed the details which made clear Dorries had been sharing a link to a story, and not an image or gallery.

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have both paid fines for breaking the Covid laws they brought in on at least one occasion.

It is understood that the police are still probing further lockdown-breaching events to decide whether to issue more fines.

However, the Met has taken the extraordinary step of saying it will not release any further details until after the May elections – despite the police not being covered by rules which restrict pre-election activity.