Keir Starmer, named after the former Labour Party leader and socialist Keir Hardie, lives in Camden. He became a barrister in 1987, was appointed a QC in 2002 and worked as a human rights advisor to the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Association of Chief Police Officers. He was QC of the year in 2007.
In 2008, Keir was appointed Director of Public Prosecutions. In February 2012, he 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. Keir had previously stated in relation to the case that “[w]here there is sufficient evidence we do not shy away from prosecuting politicians”.
In December 2013, the Labour Party announced that Keir would lead an enquiry into changing the law to give further protection to victims in cases of rape and child abuse. He did not deny entering politics was a possibility, and that he was “considering a number of options”. He then stood as MP for Holborn and St Pancras in the 2015 General Election on the retirement of Frank Dobson and was elected by a margin of 17,048 votes.
In September 2015 Keir, along with Tulip Siddiq and Catherine West, wrote a letter to David Cameron seeking urgent action to address the refugee crisis arising out of the Syrian civil war.
When activists urged him to stand for Leader of the Labour Party in the 2015 leadership election he ruled it out, citing his lack of political experience. After Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader, Keir was appointed a Shadow Home Office Minister under Andy Burnham, and then in October 2016 was promoted to the shadow cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.
Keir is calling for a review of how the eligibility test for sickness benefits — the Work Capability Assessment — works in practice. He has resigned from a consultancy position with Mishcon de Reya LLP, the law firm specialising in human rights which acted for Gina Miller in bringing legal proceedings against the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. He used his position as Shadow Brexit Secretary to question the Government’s ‘destination’ for Britain outside the European Union and call for the Government to release its plan for Brexit. In what was portrayed as a victory for Keir, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed on 6 December 2016 that the Government would do so. He has questioned whether the victory for Leave in the EU referendum was a mandate for a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ that would see the UK leave the European single market and not just the political union itself.