Keir Starmer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Right Honourable
Sir Keir Starmer
Official portrait of Keir Starmer crop 2.jpg
Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
Assumed office
6 October 2016
Leader Jeremy Corbyn
Shadowing David Davis
Preceded by Emily Thornberry
Director of Public Prosecutions
In office
1 November 2008 – 1 November 2013
Appointed by The Baroness Scotland of Asthal
Preceded by Ken Macdonald
Succeeded by Alison Saunders
Member of Parliament
for Holborn and St Pancras
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded by Frank Dobson
Majority 30,509 (51.7%)
Personal details
Born (1962-09-02) 2 September 1962 (age 55)
London, England, UK
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Victoria Alexander
Children 2
Alma mater University of Leeds
St Edmund Hall, Oxford
Website Official website

Sir Keir Starmer, KCB, PC, QC (born 2 September 1962) is a barrister, a Labour Member of Parliament for Holborn and St Pancras and Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. Previously he was the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).[1] He has prosecuted in numerous cases for the CPS during his career, while acting principally as a defence lawyer specialising in human rights issues.[2]

He was appointed a Queen's Counsel (QC) in 2002 and Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2014 New Year Honours. He was sworn of the Privy Council On 19 July 2017.[3]

Early life[edit]

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.[4] He passed the 11-Plus examination and gained entry to Reigate Grammar School,[4] 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.[5]

Legal career[edit]

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.[6] He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2002, and was joint head of his chambers, Doughty Street Chambers

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".[7] While in office he was widely viewed to be favourable towards the Labour Party.[4]

Director of Public Prosecutions[edit]

On 25 July 2008, the Attorney General, Patricia Scotland, named Starmer as the next head of the CPS, to take over from Sir Ken Macdonald, QC on 1 November 2008.[1] 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.[8]

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.[9] Starmer had previously stated in relation to the case that "[w]here there is sufficient evidence we do not shy away from prosecuting politicians".[10]

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."[11]

He left office on 1 November 2013 and was replaced by Alison Saunders.[12][13]


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.[14] 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".[15]

Political career[edit]

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.[16] Starmer was elected MP at the 2015 general election by a margin of 17,048 votes over the next candidate.[17]

He was urged by activists to stand for Leader of the Labour Party in the 2015 leadership election,[18] but he ruled out doing so, citing his lack of political experience.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21][22][23] 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.[24]

Shadow Cabinet[edit]

On 6 October 2016 Starmer was appointed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union,[25] replacing Emily Thornberry in this role. Starmer resigned from a consultancy position with the law firm specialising in human rights (Mishcon de Reya LLP) that acted for Gina Miller in bringing legal proceedings against the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.[26] 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 6 December 2016, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the government would do this,[27] 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 and not just the Political union itself.[28]

Personal life[edit]

He married Victoria Alexander, a solicitor, in 2007 and has a son and daughter.[29] The couple live in Camden.


KCB breast star


Starmer is the author and editor of several books about criminal law and human rights.

  • Justice in error, ed. by Clive Walker and Keir Starmer (London: Blackstone, 1993), ISBN 1-85431-234-0
  • Francesca Klug, Keir Starmer and Stuart Weir, The three pillars of liberty: political rights and freedoms in the United Kingdom (London: Routledge, 1996), ISBN 0-415-09641-3
  • Conor Foley and Keir Starmer, Signing up for human rights: the United Kingdom and international standards (London: Amnesty International United Kingdom, 1998), ISBN 1-873328-30-3
  • Miscarriages of justice: a review of justice in error, ed. by Clive Walker and Keir Starmer (London: Blackstone, 1999), ISBN 1-85431-687-7
  • Keir Starmer, European human rights law: the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights (London: Legal Action Group, 1999), ISBN 0-905099-77-X
  • Keir Starmer, Michelle Strange, and Quincy Whitaker, with Anthony Jennings and Tim Owen, Criminal justice, police powers and human rights (London: Blackstone, 2001), ISBN 1-84174-138-8
  • Keir Starmer with Iain Byrne, Blackstone's human rights digest (London: Blackstone, 2001), ISBN 1-84174-153-1
  • Keir Starmer and Jane Gordon, A report on the policing of the Ardoyne parades 12 July 2004 (Belfast: Northern Ireland Policing Board, 2004)


  1. ^ a b Nina Goswami: "Keir Starmer QC appointed DPP" (25 July 2008), The Lawyer
  2. ^ Frances Gibb: "Human rights lawyer Keir Starmer named as new prosecution service chief" (26 July 2008), Times online
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c Moss, Stephen (21 September 2009). "Keir Starmer: 'I wouldn't characterise myself as a bleeding heart liberal . . .'". The Guardian. London. 
  5. ^ "People of Today". Archived from the original on 23 February 2015. Retrieved 4 July 2016. 
  6. ^ "Keir Starmer interview". McSpotlight. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 
  7. ^ Stephen Bates: "Profile: Keir Starmer QC" (1 August 2008), The Guardian
  8. ^ Dodd, Vikram; Lewis, Paul (22 July 2010). "Ian Tomlinson death: police officer will not face criminal charges". The Guardian. London. 
  9. ^ M. Settle, "Huhne forced to resign as points court battle looms", The Daily Herald, (4 February 2012)
  10. ^ 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)
  11. ^ Nick Cohen. "'Twitter joke' case only went ahead at insistence of DPP | Law". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 September 2015. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ "Saunders to replace Starmer at DPP". Liverpool Daily Post. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  14. ^ "Keir Starmer heads Labour's victim treatment review". BBC News. 28 December 2013. 
  15. ^ "Keir Starmer: Victims' law a real gear change to justice system". 1 January 2014. Archived from the original on 14 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Keir Starmer to stand for Labour in Holborn and St Pancras". The Guardian. 13 December 2014. 
  17. ^ "Holborn & St. Pancras Parliamentary Constituency". BBC. 8 May 2015. 
  18. ^ Matthew Weaver (15 May 2015). "Labour activists urge Keir Starmer to stand for party leadership". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2015. 
  19. ^ Caroline Davies (17 May 2015). "Keir Starmer rules himself out of Labour leadership contest". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2015. 
  20. ^ Wilkinson, Michael (13 September 2015). "Splits emerge as Jeremy Corbyn finalises Labour's shadow cabinet". The Telegraph'. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  21. ^ Cadwalladr, Carole (28 December 2014). "Rising stars of 2015: politician Dan Jarvis". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  22. ^ Pasha, Syed Nahas (5 September 2015). "Tulip Siddiq urges PM Cameron to take urgent action to address refugee crisis in Europe". London: Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  23. ^ "Tulip seeks action to end refugee crisis". Dhaka: Prothom Alo. 5 September 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  24. ^ "Question Time". BBCTV. 27 October 2016. 
  25. ^ "  » Blog Archive  » Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Sir Keir Starmer as Shadow Brexit Secretary and the Tories should be worried". 
  26. ^ "Top City law firm behind Brexit bid l won't reveal its fat cat backers". 
  27. ^ "Labour says MPs are entitled to Brexit plan details". 7 December 2016 – via 
  28. ^ "Keir Starmer: Labour will fight against hard Brexit and bring country together – LabourList". 4 December 2016. 
  29. ^ "Law | The Times". Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  30. ^ "No. 60728". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2013. p. 3. 
  31. ^ "The New Year Honours List 2014 – Higher Awards" (PDF). 30 January 2013. 
  32. ^ "University of Essex :: Honorary Graduates :: Honorary Graduates :: Profile: Keir Starmer QC". Retrieved 23 June 2015. 
  33. ^ "University of East London :: Honorary Graduates :: Honorary Graduates :: Profile: Keir Starmer QC". Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  34. ^

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Ken Macdonald
Director of Public Prosecutions
Succeeded by
Alison Saunders
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Frank Dobson
Member of Parliament
for Holborn and St Pancras

Political offices
Preceded by
Emily Thornberry
Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union