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Keir Starmer, QC, (born 1962) is a barrister in England and Wales. He became the fourteenth Director of Public Prosecutions and the sixth head of the Crown Prosecution Service on 1 November 2008.[1] Until then, although he had prosecuted cases for the CPS during his career, he was mainly known as a defence lawyer.[2]


Starmer was educated at Reigate Grammar School, University of Leeds and St Edmund Hall, Oxford. He was called to the bar in 1987, became a 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 has recently 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. He gave free legal advice to the defendants in the "McLibel" case,[3] and was interviewed twice —ten years apart— in Franny Armstrong's 2005 documentary, McLibel.

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."[4]

On 25 July 2008 the Attorney-General, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, QC, 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.

He is the author and editor of several books about criminal law and human rights.[5]

He is married with one child.

Preceded by
Sir Ken Macdonald
Director of Public Prosecutions
Succeeded by




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