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David Cameron faces claims he left Northern Ireland talks to attend Ibiza rave for wife Samantha's birthday

By David Young

Prime Minister David Cameron is at the centre of a storm over the reason why he left the Stormont crisis talks early last Friday morning.

A senior Labour MP has claimed that the Prime Minister was more concerned about attending his wife's belated birthday party than focusing on the issues at the talks.

Shadow Secretary of State Ivan Lewis said: "I have no problem with David Cameron attending a family celebration.

"However, his unwillingness to remain in Northern Ireland for a longer period in order to broker progress caused serious concern at the time."

Around 200 high-profile guests - among them comedian Harry Enfield, film and TV actress Helena Bonham Carter and controversial Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson - attended the party, described as an "Ibiza-style rave" at Chequers, the Prime Minister's 450-year-old country residence in Buckinghamshire.

The party was held in the unlikely setting of the Chequers wood-panelled Great Hall, with its Old Masters hanging on the walls and its Elizabethan-style ceiling.

It was reputed to have been Samantha Cameron's 40th birthday celebrations which have been delayed for four years.

The PM's wife is now 44 and the celebrations were said to have been delayed because the couple have had "a very busy four years".

Sarah HB, a former host of BBC Radio 1's Breakfast Show, acted as DJ. She once made a comment that taking drugs can "be quite fun" but insists it was taken out of context.

Mr Lewis said the Prime Minister must state exactly why he left the crucial and fraught negotiations early.

The shadow Northern Ireland spokesman said: "He now has serious questions to answer about whether he was less than truthful about his reasons for an abrupt departure, which made an already fraught situation worse."

Downing Street sources, however, pointed out that Mr Cameron could still have made it to the birthday celebrations at Chequers if he had left Northern Ireland at 5pm, rather than 9am.

A spokesman added the decision to leave the Stormont talks had been taken jointly with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, after the local parties rejected Mr Cameron's financial package.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has already said the intervention by the two premiers was the "most amateurish, ham-fisted episode I have ever been involved in", while others described the British Government's financial offer as "derisory" and claimed there was more in the coffers and are continuing to negotiate.

Mr Cameron has been urged by the main parties to up the ante on his financial package to get a deal but so far he is standing firm and refusing to make a better offer, claiming money is not the solution and demanding a welfare reform deal.

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