Keir Starmer

Case Studies

Before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, I was part of the legal team representing two penniless prisoners on death row in the Bahamas arguing that the mandatory death penalty passed on them was unconstitutional. When we succeeded, we were contacted by lawyers in Uganda for help and the next year we travelled to Uganda, Malawi, Kenya and Zambia to make the same argument. So far, the mandatory death penalty has been struck down in over 12 countries as a result of these arguments.

In a case which went to the then highest court in England and Wales, the House of Lords, I argued for Amnesty International that evidence obtained by torture should not be admissible in our courts.

Again at the House of Lords, I argued the case for the family of a man called James Ashley, who was mistakenly shot dead by the police. The result means that in civil proceedings the police now have to justify the use of fatal force by showing an honest and reasonable belief that it was necessary to shoot in self-defence.

In the international arena, I represented a number of death row prisoners, from Barbados to the Inter American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica. This case was a full frontal attack on the death penalty regime in Barbados and the conditions in which prisoner are kept on ‘death row’.

In a specially convened Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, I represented the father of a young boy who was tragically killed when he picked up an unexploded cluster bomb dropped in Kosovo by NATO, which should have been cleared by French troops. Ten governments and the UN intervened.

And in a negotiated settlement, I led a team of lawyers who successfully negotiated compensation in a group action by Colombian peasant farmers against BP for environmental damage.

I am currently acting for Croatia in a case before the International Court of Justice. The case seeks to show that Serbia committed genocide in the breakup of former Yugoslavia.