Thursday, 9 April 2020

Poacher Turned Gamekeeper


 

 

Sir Keir Starmer (“I never liked titles”) Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) and Leader of the Labour Party.

As a barrister in 1986 Sir K represented striking print-workers at Wapping and four years later gave free legal advice to poll-tax protestors.

 

After his appointment as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in 2008, Sir K oversaw the prosecution of MPs and Lords who were accused of abusing their parliamentary expenses. He also initiated the successful retrial of the killers of Stephen Lawrence. At this time he notably defended the Human Rights Act against Tory hostility.

 

But a DPP’s main role is about exercising state power and he was happy to oblige. He promoted prosecuting people for protesting, and introduced the term “domestic extremist”.

 

Sir K was DPP when the CPS was accused of covering up evidence about the ‘spycop’, Mark Kennedy. He had infiltrated environmental groups between 2003 and 2009. In 2011, a CPS approved trial of environmental activists accused of breaking into Ratcliffe power station collapsed. The Defendants produced recordings of Kennedy attending protestors planning meetings.

 

“Getting One Over the System” was how he referred to those people who fail to declare a piece of information to the Dept of Health & Social Security (DHSS). For example, when part-time workers on housing benefit fail to tell the authorities that their hours at work have increased they were ‘getting one over’.

 

This played well with Sun headlines about ‘benefit scroungers’ and when Sir K called for the prosecution of demonstrators with scarves around their faces, he was supplying them with further copy.

 

Sir K was DPP in 2009 when Sussex Police referred four cases of child abuse by Sir Jimmy Saville to the CPS. They were dropped with the claim that there was “insufficient evidence”.

 

It is quite possible to read all this and think “The system’s the system. Maybe he was doing his best even when his role was compromised.” Maybe, but it's something that could never be said about Jeremy Corbyn.

 

 


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