Labour has been forced to clarify that Sir Keir Starmer did not speak to a police officer before leaving the scene of a crash that left a cyclist injured.
Sir Keir is understood to have been driving to an appointment with his tailor on Sunday afternoon when his Toyota Rav 4 SUV hit a cyclist with a “loud bang” near his home in Kentish Town, north London.
The Labour leader exchanged insurance details with the man before leaving him in the care of paramedics who took him to hospital with an injured arm.
Two Metropolitan Police cars then arrived to discover that Sir Keir, the former director of public prosecutions, had already left the scene. Officers travelled to Sir Keir’s nearby home and left a note asking him to report to the local police station for questioning, which he did that afternoon.
The 58-year-old was not arrested or interviewed under caution, and the Met’s Roads and Transport Policing Command continue to investigate the incident.
In a statement issued on Tuesday morning, the Labour leader’s office claimed he had already spoken with a “British Transport Police officer who attended the scene” before leaving, and provided the badge number of the person concerned.
However a British Transport Police spokesman said they had no record of speaking with the Labour leader and had no details registered on their system.
Later the force dismissed the Labour leader’s claim that he spoke to a police officer, confirming that it had actually been an “off-duty member of staff” – understood to be a PCSO – who happened to be a witness.
“It was an off duty member of BTP staff that provided their details as a witness to the collision – not a police officer,” a British Transport Police spokesman said.
PCSOs are not police officers and cannot investigate crime, arrest suspects or interview and process prisoners.
A senior Labour source said Sir Keir had swapped details with “an individual who came up to him” and said they were an officer.
“That’s why they swapped the badge number. If British Transport Police say the individual wasn’t a police officer, then fine. Keir was at the police station two hours later anyway,” the source added.
Under the 1988 Road Traffic Act, motorists involved in an accident in which anyone is injured must provide their insurance details to police as soon as possible.
Sir Keir is believed to have been on his way to an appointment with his celebrity tailor when the crash took place outside The Grafton pub in north London just after 12pm on Sunday.
Renzo Khan, the owner of Stitch & Clean whose clientele includes Gillian Anderson, Billie Piper, Jude Law and both Ed and David Miliband, said the Labour leader had cancelled a private appointment which had been pencilled in for around half an hour earlier.
“He was supposed to come on Sunday, at around 11 or 11.30am, but he had this accident and he cancelled it and he came on Monday instead,” Mr Khan said.
“I was waiting for him to come. His personal secretary called me to say he couldn’t come.
“He came at around 9am to 10am the next day.”
A Labour source insisted he had not been running late when he hit the cyclist because there had not been a specific time agreed for the visit.
Mr Khan said he had been Sir Keir’s tailor for “quite a long time”, estimating it had been around two years since he had begun doing dry cleaning and alterations for him.
“His normal brown suit, he brings in – good quality. He is a very nice guy,” the tailor said.
Mr Khan, who was formerly a personal shopper at Harrods until he opened his tailoring shop around 15 years ago, added Sir Keir brought in “nice English, classic suits”, adding: “Designer, you can say, that sort of thing.”
In December last year, Sir Keir and the Labour party unveiled plans to make England “one of the safest cycling and walking-friendly places in the world.”
The campaign group Stop Killing Cyclists criticised the Labour leader for driving a “child-endangering and high-embedded carbon SUV” rather than cycling around the city.
A spokesperson for Sir Keir said: “Keir stayed at the scene until the ambulance arrived. Later that afternoon, he reported the incident to a police station in accordance with the law. Since the incident, Keir has also been in touch with the other individual involved.”