Rayner’s former aide ‘contradicts her housing claims in police statement’

The row over Angela Rayner’s previous living arrangements has deepened as her former aide reportedly wrote to police contradicting her claims.

Ex-staffer Matt Finnegan said there was “no doubt in my mind that this was Ms Rayner’s family home” when he visited her at what she says was her husband’s address in 2014.

Officers are investigating whether Labour’s deputy leader broke electoral law after Tory allegations that she may given false information about her main residence a decade ago.

She was registered at an ex-council house she bought in Stockport, but it is understood Conservative Party deputy chairman James Daly has suggested neighbours say she lived with her husband at a separate property.

Angela Rayner
A spokesperson said Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner is looking forward to sitting down with authorities to ‘draw a line under this matter’ (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) initially said it would not be investigating the allegations, but following a complaint from the Bury North MP, the force confirmed it had reassessed information and launched a probe.

Mr Finnegan left Ms Rayner’s employment with a £20,000 payout and non-disclosure agreement after accusing her of disability discrimination and unfair dismissal and has told police he “vividly” remembers her home was elsewhere, the Sunday Times reported.

He visited her around the time she became a parliamentary candidate at an address in Lowndes Lane, Stockport, in the summer of 2014, according to the paper.

“There was no doubt in my mind that this was Ms Rayner’s family home, where she lived with her then-husband, Mark,” his letter states.

“I remember it quite vividly because Ms Rayner was not at home at first and I had to wait for some time in my car before she eventually arrived. It was also memorable in that it was the first and only time I visited her home during the course of my voluntary work for her.”

Ms Rayner has promised to resign if she is found to have committed a crime over the accusations, but said she “followed the rules at all times”.

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer said he has full confidence in his deputy (Danny Lawson/PA)

Sir Keir Starmer has welcomed the police investigation into Ms Rayner’s living arrangements and said he had “full confidence” in her.

Shadow minister Jim McMahon dismissed the allegations earlier on Saturday as a “storm in a teacup” after Defence Secretary Grant Shapps accused Ms Rayner of “double standards”.

The deputy leader previously suggested former prime minister Boris Johnson should resign while Scotland Yard probed claims of Covid rule-breaking in Downing Street, prompting calls for her to step down while the GMP investigation continues.

However, Scott Wortley, a law lecturer at Edinburgh University, pointed out that any potential prosecution should have been launched within a year of the suspected crime.

Providing false information is an offence under Section 13D of the Representation of the People Act 1983, but the legislation imposes a time limit of a year for bringing any charge.

Magistrates extend that deadline in certain circumstances, but only by another year, according to the Act.

Mr Wortley described the police probe as “completely pointless”, saying: “Why waste money on investigating something absolutely time-barred? They would not do it for (Road Traffic Act) matters nearly a decade after it could be prosecuted.

“It is not the role of the police to investigate something that could never be charged.”

A Labour spokesperson said: “Angela has always made clear she also spent time at her husband’s property when they had children and got married, as he did at hers.

“The house she owned remained her main home.

“Angela looks forward to sitting down with the appropriate authorities, including the police and HMRC, to set out the facts and draw a line under this matter.”