Landlord refutes Keir Starmer claim he said 'COVID only kills old people' in Bath pub row

Ross McGuinness
·3 min read
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer listens to Rod Humphris (right), landlord of The Raven pub in Bath, as he shouts how disappointed he is with him and the Labour party during the pandemic, consequently asking him to leave and banning him from the pub,. Mr Starmer was visiting the city to support West of England metro mayoral candidate Dan Norris and mark Labour's launch of an independent Commission to rebuild Britain's high streets. Picture date: Monday April 19, 2021.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer listens to Rod Humphris, right, landlord of The Raven pub in Bath, Somerset, last month. (PA)

A pub landlord has refuted a claim by Sir Keir Starmer that he told the Labour leader in a row last month that coronavirus only kills old people.

The landlord told the Labour leader to get out of his pub during a walkabout in Bath on 19 April.

Video footage showed Rod Humphris, landlord of The Raven pub, barking at Sir Keir to leave.

“That man is not allowed in my pub,” shouted Humphris, who appeared to be held back by Sir Keir’s security team.

“Get out of my pub,” added Humphris. “Go on! Get out of my pub."

Watch: Pub landlord kicks Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer out of pub

On Tuesday, Sir Keir said Humphris had claimed coronavirus only killed the elderly, and that a lockdown wasn’t necessary and his pub should have remained open.

The Labour leader told Sky News the landlord believed "only old people were dying in the virus and therefore there was no need for a lockdown, no need for restrictions".

Sir Keir said: "Having seen what was happening at the height of the pandemic, with over 1,000 people dying everyday, I profoundly disagree with that.

"I am never going to agree with the view that we didn't need a lockdown and that the virus was only killing old people."

But Humphris told Yahoo News UK on Tuesday: “What I told him [Sir Keir] was that according to data from the ONS the average age of death from COVID is 82 years and 3 months.

“I think it’s very different than saying only old people are dying.”

He added: “It’s clearly not only killing old people but the proportion of young people it’s killing is relatively small.

“We have done untold harm to our society to prevent people who were about to die from dying. And he [Sir Keir] should have stood up in Parliament and challenged that.”

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average age of death involving COVID-19 between 13 March and 4 December last year was 80.3, compared to 78.2 for all causes of death.

After the incident, Humphris, 54, told PA Media why he ejected Sir Keir from his pub.

“I had heard that the Labour Party were coming round and he turned up and I told him what I thought of him, basically.

Screengrab taken from PA video of Rod Humphris (centre) landlord of the Raven pub grapples with a member of Keir Starmer's team after refusing entry to the Labour leader (left) during his visit to Bath. Mr Starmer was visiting the city to support West of England metro mayoral candidate Dan Norris and mark Labour's launch of an independent Commission to rebuild Britain's high streets. Picture date: Monday April 19, 2021.
Rod Humphris, centre, landlord of The Raven pub in Bath, Somerset, tells Sir Keir Starmer, left, to leave the premises. (PA)

“I think he has utterly failed us as the leader of the opposition, he has completely failed to ask the questions that needed asking, like, why did we throw away our previous pandemic preparedness?

“Why have we just accepted lockdown? Why have we just accepted the loss of all our freedoms?”

Later, The Raven’s co-owner Tim Perry told Yahoo News UK the angry scenes were partly due to a "misunderstanding" between Sir Keir’s team and pub staff.

"It then all got a bit heated when [Sir Keir] came into the pub.

"I was taken aback by how strong [Humphris's] opinions were. He was very angry, and I think he even surprised himself with his own strength of feeling."

The Labour leader faces his first electoral test across Britain on Thursday, with votes being cast for the Hartlepool by-election, English councils, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Senedd.

Watch: Sir Keir Starmer visits Liberty Steel ahead of Hartlepool by-election