Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer, QC
Queen's Counsel
Queen's Counsel , known as King's Counsel during the reign of a male sovereign, are lawyers appointed by letters patent to be one of Her [or His] Majesty's Counsel learned in the law...

, (born 2 September 1962, Southwark
Southwark is a district of south London, England, and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Southwark. Situated east of Charing Cross, it forms one of the oldest parts of London and fronts the River Thames to the north...

) is a barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 in England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

. He became the fourteenth Director of Public Prosecutions
Director of Public Prosecutions (England and Wales)
The Director of Public Prosecutions of England and Wales is a senior prosecutor, appointed by the Attorney General. First created in 1879, the office was unified with that of the Treasury Solicitor less than a decade later before again becoming independent in 1908...

 (DPP) and the sixth head of the Crown Prosecution Service
Crown Prosecution Service
The Crown Prosecution Service, or CPS, is a non-ministerial department of the Government of the United Kingdom responsible for public prosecutions of people charged with criminal offences in England and Wales. Its role is similar to that of the longer-established Crown Office in Scotland, and the...

 on 1 November 2008. Until then, although he had prosecuted cases for the CPS during his career, he was mainly known as a defence lawyer, with special expertise in the law of human rights.

Early life

Starmer was the second of four children. He was named after former Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 leader and socialist Keir Hardie
Keir Hardie
James Keir Hardie, Sr. , was a Scottish socialist and labour leader, and was the first Independent Labour Member of Parliament elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom...

. He was educated at Reigate Grammar School
Reigate Grammar School
Reigate Grammar School is an independent co-educational day school located in the town of Reigate, Surrey, United Kingdom. Intake is from 11 to 18, with the majority of its pupils entering at the age of 11, and others entering at 13 and 16.- History :...

. He gained a 1st class LLB
Bachelor of Laws
The Bachelor of Laws is an undergraduate, or bachelor, degree in law originating in England and offered in most common law countries as the primary law degree...

 from the University of Leeds
University of Leeds
The University of Leeds is a British Redbrick university located in the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England...

 in 1985 and a BCL
Bachelor of Civil Law
Bachelor of Civil Law is the name of various degrees in law conferred by English-language universities. Historically, it originated as a postgraduate degree in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, but many universities now offer the BCL as an undergraduate degree...

 from St Edmund Hall, Oxford
St Edmund Hall, Oxford
St Edmund Hall is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Better known within the University by its nickname, "Teddy Hall", the college has a claim to being "the oldest academical society for the education of undergraduates in any university"...

 in 1986.


He became a barrister in 1987, became a Queen's Counsel
Queen's Counsel
Queen's Counsel , known as King's Counsel during the reign of a male sovereign, are lawyers appointed by letters patent to be one of Her [or His] Majesty's Counsel learned in the law...

 in 2002, and was joint head of his chambers
Chambers (law)
A judge's chambers, often just called his or her chambers, is the office of a judge.Chambers may also refer to the type of courtroom where motions related to matter of procedure are heard.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :...

, Doughty Street Chambers
Doughty Street Chambers
Doughty Street Chambers is a UK set of barristers' chambers situated in London's Doughty Street undertaking criminal justice, public law, immigration, employment, human rights and civil liberties work. Doughty Street Chambers was set up in 1990 by thirty independent-minded barristers, aiming to...


Acting in several appeals to the Privy Council
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is one of the highest courts in the United Kingdom. Established by the Judicial Committee Act 1833 to hear appeals formerly heard by the King in Council The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is one of the highest courts in the United...

 for defendants who had been sentenced to death
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 in Caribbean countries, his legal submissions led to the abolition of the mandatory
Mandatory sentencing
A mandatory sentence is a court decision setting where judicial discretion is limited by law. Typically, people convicted of certain crimes must be punished with at least a minimum number of years in prison...

 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
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 in which he successfully challenged their control order
Control order
A control order is an order made by the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom to restrict an individual's liberty for the purpose of "protecting members of the public from a risk of terrorism". Its definition and power were provided by Parliament in the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005...

s on human rights
Human Rights Act 1998
The Human Rights Act 1998 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom which received Royal Assent on 9 November 1998, and mostly came into force on 2 October 2000. Its aim is to "give further effect" in UK law to the rights contained in the European Convention 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
David Shayler
David Shayler is a British journalist and former MI5 officer. Shayler earned notoriety after being prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act 1989 for his passing secret documents to the Mail on Sunday in August 1997 that alleged that MI5 was paranoid about socialists, and that it had previously...

 in his appeal against conviction for breaching the Official Secrets Act 1989
Official Secrets Act 1989
The Official Secrets Act 1989 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It repeals and replaces section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911. It is said to have removed the public interest defence created by that section....

. He gave free legal advice to the defendants in the "McLibel" case, and was interviewed twice — ten years apart — in Franny Armstrong
Franny Armstrong
Franny Armstrong is a British documentary film director working for her own company, Spanner Films, and a former drummer with indie pop group The Band of Holy Joy...

's 2005 documentary, McLibel
McLibel (film)
McLibel is a documentary film directed by Franny Armstrong and Ken Loach for Spanner Films about the McLibel case. The film was first completed, as a 52 minute television version, in 1997, after the conclusion of the original McLibel trial...


He was a human rights advisor to the Northern Ireland Policing Board
Northern Ireland Policing Board
The Northern Ireland Policing Board is the police authority for Northern Ireland, charged with supervising the activities of the Police Service of Northern Ireland...

 and the Association of Chief Police Officers
Association of Chief Police Officers
The Association of Chief Police Officers , established in 1948, is a private limited company that leads the development of policing practice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.ACPO provides a forum for chief police officers to share ideas and coordinates the strategic...

. He is a member of the Foreign Secretary's Death Penalty Advisory Panel. In 2007 he was named "QC of the Year." He is generally seen as supportive of the Labour Party.


On 25 July 2008 the Attorney-General
Attorney General for England and Wales
Her Majesty's Attorney General for England and Wales, usually known simply as the Attorney General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown. Along with the subordinate Solicitor General for England and Wales, the Attorney General serves as the chief legal adviser of the Crown and its government in...

, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, QC
Patricia Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal
Patricia Janet, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, PC, QC is a British barrister, and served in many ministerial positions within the UK Government, most notably as the Attorney General for England and Wales and Advocate General for Northern Ireland.-Early life and career:Baroness Scotland was born in...

, named him as the next head of the CPS, to take over from Sir Ken Macdonald, QC on 1 November 2008. Macdonald, himself a former defence lawyer, welcomed Starmer's appointment.
One issue he has had to deal with as DPP is that of victims' rights. After the controversial conviction of Munir Hussain
Munir Hussain and victims' rights
Munir Hussain is a British businessman and community leader. He was jailed for 30 months following an attack on a burglar who had broken into his home and threatened him and his family...

 on 14 December 2009 for attacking a burglar who had terrorized Hussain and his family, he said:
Starmer was involved in the decision to prosecute Omari Roberts, a trainee builder who killed a teenage burglar in a struggle at Roberts's mother's home. The prosecution case relied on the evidence of a second teenage burglar (who had many previous convictions for violent offences), and was eventually dropped on 19 April 2010, with Roberts being formally found not guilty. Mr. Roberts said: Roberts's mother suggests that if she had not been so vocal in her protests over the decision to prosecute or the 2010 general election
General election
In a parliamentary political system, a general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are chosen. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.The term...

 was not in progress, the prosecution might not have been dropped.

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
Death of Ian Tomlinson
Ian Tomlinson was an English newspaper vendor who collapsed and died in the City of London after coming into contact with the police while on his way home from work during the 2009 G-20 summit protests. A first postmortem examination indicated he had suffered a heart attack and had died of natural...

 resulting in accusations by Tomlinson's family of a police cover up.

On the 21st July 2011 Starmer was honoured at the University of Essex and was provided with an Honorary degree.

External links

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