|Sir Keir Starmer
KCB QC MP
|Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union|
6 October 2016
|Preceded by||Emily Thornberry|
|Member of Parliament
for Holborn and St Pancras
7 May 2015
|Preceded by||Frank Dobson|
|Director of Public Prosecutions|
1 November 2008 – 1 November 2013
|Preceded by||Ken Macdonald|
|Succeeded by||Alison Saunders|
2 September 1962 |
London, England, UK
|Alma mater||University of Leeds
St Edmund Hall, Oxford
Sir Keir Starmer, KCB, QC (born 2 September 1962) is a British politician and barrister. Since the 2015 General Election, he has been the Labour Member of Parliament for Holborn and St Pancras. He was the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) from 2008 to 2013. He has prosecuted in numerous cases for the CPS during his career, while acting principally as a defence lawyer specialising in human rights issues.
Starmer was the second of four children of a toolmaker and a nurse. He was named after former Labour Party leader and socialist Keir Hardie. He passed the 11-Plus examination and gained entry to Reigate Grammar School, then a voluntary aided school. He studied law at the University of Leeds and graduated with a first class Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree in 1985. He then undertook postgraduate studies at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and graduated from the University of Oxford Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) degree in 1986.
Starmer became a barrister in 1987. He advised Helen Steel and David Morris in the McLibel case, which went to court in 1997. In an interview, he described the case as "very much a David and Goliath", and said that "There's an extremely good legal team acting for McDonalds at great expense and Dave and Helen have had to act for themselves with me as a sort of free back up whenever possible." He was also interviewed for McLibel, the documentary about the case directed by Franny Armstrong and Ken Loach. He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2002, and was joint head of his chambers, Doughty Street Chambers
Acting in several appeals to the Privy Council for defendants who had been sentenced to death in Caribbean countries, his legal submissions led to the abolition of the mandatory death penalty in those countries. He worked with lawyers in African countries towards the same end. In 2005 he persuaded the House of Lords that evidence obtained by torture should be inadmissible in court. In 2007 he represented two alleged terrorists in a case in the House of Lords in which he successfully challenged their control orders on human rights grounds. He has also acted in 15 other cases in the House of Lords since 1999, including two cases about the conduct of British soldiers in Iraq, and representing David Shayler in his appeal against conviction for breaching the Official Secrets Act 1989.
He was a human rights advisor to the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Association of Chief Police Officers. He is a member of the Foreign Secretary's Death Penalty Advisory Panel. In 2007 he was named "QC of the Year". While in office he was widely viewed to be favourable towards the Labour Party.
Director of Public Prosecutions
On 25 July 2008, the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, QC, named Starmer as the next head of the CPS, to take over from Sir Ken Macdonald, QC on 1 November 2008. Macdonald (now Lord Macdonald of River Glaven), himself a former defence lawyer, welcomed the appointment.
On 22 July 2010 Starmer announced the controversial decision not to prosecute the police officer Simon Harwood in relation to the death of Ian Tomlinson resulting in accusations by Tomlinson's family of a police cover up.
On 3 February 2012 Starmer announced that the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne MP and his former wife, Vicky Pryce would be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice. Huhne became the first Cabinet minister in British history to be compelled to resign as a result of criminal proceedings. Starmer had previously stated in relation to the case that "[w]here there is sufficient evidence we do not shy away from prosecuting politicians".
In the summer of 2012, Nick Cohen, a journalist, published allegations that Starmer was personally responsible for the continued prosecution of Paul Chambers, a traveller who, frustrated at airport delays, had posted a joke about the airport on Twitter. In the case known as the "Twitter Joke Trial" Chambers had been convicted of sending a "public electronic message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character". The trial and conviction provoked widespread protest by free-speech activists, but the Crown Prosecution Service maintained a long-term opposition to Chambers' appeals. According to Chambers' defenders, prosecutors had been willing to stop opposing the appeals, but Starmer had over-ruled his subordinates because he was "trying to save face by refusing to admit he was in the wrong."
In December 2013, the Labour Party announced that Starmer would lead an enquiry into changing the law to give further protection to victims in cases of rape and child abuse. On 28 December, Starmer did not deny entering politics was a possibility, commenting to BBC News: "well, I'm back in private practice; I'm rather enjoying having some free time, and I'm considering a number of options".
Starmer was chosen on 13 December 2014 as the Labour Party's prospective parliamentary candidate for the constituency of Holborn and St Pancras, following the decision of the sitting MP Frank Dobson to stand down. Starmer was elected MP at the 2015 general election by a margin of 17,048 votes over the next candidate.
He was urged by activists to stand for Leader of the Labour Party in the 2015 leadership election, but he ruled out doing so, citing his lack of political experience. During the campaign to elect a new leader of the Labour Party, following the resignation of Ed Miliband, Keir Starmer backed Andy Burnham for the leadership. After Jeremy Corbyn was elected, Starmer was appointed as a Shadow Home Office Minister reporting to Burnham.
In September 2015, Starmer along with Tulip Siddiq and Catherine West wrote a letter to British prime minister David Cameron seeking urgent action to address the refugee crisis due to the Syrian Civil War. Early in October 2016, he was appointed by Jeremy Corbyn to the shadow cabinet, as Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.
Later that month he appeared on Question Time along with Ken Loach, the director of the film I, Daniel Blake. Starmer called for a review of how the eligibility test for sickness benefits — the Work Capability Assessment — had worked in practice.
Shadow Brexit Secretary
On October 6th 2016, Starmer was appointed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, replacing Emily Thornberry in this role. Starmer resigned from a consultancy position with the law firm (Mishcon de Reya LLP) that acted for Gina Miller in bringing legal proceedings against the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. Starmer has used his position as shadow Secretary of State to question the government's 'destination' for Britain outside the European Union, as well as calling for the government's Brexit plan to be released. On December 6th 2016, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the government would do this, in what was portrayed as a victory for Starmer. He has questioned whether the victory for 'Leave' in the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016 was a mandate for a so-called 'Hard Brexit', which would see the UK leave the European single market as well as the political union itself.
He married Victoria Alexander, a solicitor, in 2007 and has a son and daughter. The couple live in Camden. Whilst Starmer is entitled to be styled "Sir Keir Starmer" he does not like or use that name and he does not use it on his website or Parliamentary profile.
- He was appointed a Queen's Counsel (QC) in 2002.
- Starmer was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2014 New Year Honours for "services to law and criminal justice".
- On 21 July 2011 Starmer became an Honorary Graduate of the University of Essex.
- In November 2013 he received an honorary Doctorate from the University of East London.
Starmer is the author and editor of several books about criminal law and human rights.
- Nina Goswami: "Keir Starmer QC appointed DPP" (25 July 2008), The Lawyer
- Frances Gibb: "Human rights lawyer Keir Starmer named as new prosecution service chief" (26 July 2008), Times online
- Moss, Stephen (21 September 2009). "Keir Starmer: 'I wouldn't characterise myself as a bleeding heart liberal . . .'". The Guardian. London.
- "People of Today". Debretts.com. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
- "Keir Starmer interview". McSpotlight. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- Stephen Bates: "Profile: Keir Starmer QC" (1 August 2008), The Guardian
- Dodd, Vikram; Lewis, Paul (22 July 2010). "Ian Tomlinson death: police officer will not face criminal charges". The Guardian. London.
- M. Settle, "Huhne forced to resign as points court battle looms", The Daily Herald, (4 February 2012)
- Keir Starmer QC, "Letter to the Daily Mail from CPS about the Chris Huhne case", The blog of the Crown Prosecution Service, (23 November 2011)
- Nick Cohen. "'Twitter joke' case only went ahead at insistence of DPP | Law". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
- Branagh, Ellen (23 July 2013). "Stephen Lawrence barrister Alison Saunders to take over from Keir Starmer as new Director of Public Prosecutions". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
- "Saunders to replace Starmer at DPP". Liverpool Daily Post. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
- "Keir Starmer heads Labour's victim treatment review". BBC News. 28 December 2013.
-  Archived 1 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Keir Starmer to stand for Labour in Holborn and St Pancras". The Guardian. 13 December 2014.
- "Holborn & St. Pancras Parliamentary Constituency". BBC. 8 May 2015.
- Matthew Weaver (15 May 2015). "Labour activists urge Keir Starmer to stand for party leadership". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
- Caroline Davies (17 May 2015). "Keir Starmer rules himself out of Labour leadership contest". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
- Wilkinson, Michael (13 September 2015). "Splits emerge as Jeremy Corbyn finalises Labour's shadow cabinet". The Telegraph'. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- Cadwalladr, Carole (28 December 2014). "Rising stars of 2015: politician Dan Jarvis". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
- Pasha, Syed Nahas (5 September 2015). "Tulip Siddiq urges PM Cameron to take urgent action to address refugee crisis in Europe". London: Bdnews24.com. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
- "Tulip seeks action to end refugee crisis". Dhaka: Prothom Alo. 5 September 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
- "Question Time". BBCTV. 27 October 2016.
- MailOnline, 3 November 2016.
- "Law | The Times". Business.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
- Richard Osley. "Keir, actually". Richardosley.com. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 2013.
- "The New Year Honours List 2014 – Higher Awards" (PDF). 30 January 2013.
- "University of Essex :: Honorary Graduates :: Honorary Graduates :: Profile: Keir Starmer QC". Essex.ac.uk. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- "University of East London :: Honorary Graduates :: Honorary Graduates :: Profile: Keir Starmer QC". uel.ac.uk. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
|Director of Public Prosecutions
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament
for Holborn and St Pancras
|Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union