Former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer will go head to head against Camden council leader Sarah Hayward in a battle for one of Labour’s safest London seats.
The pair are frontrunners to become the new MP for Holborn & St Pancras, the last of the capital’s plum Labour strongholds, in the general election.
Sir Keir, 52, has heavyweight backing from big names including David Miliband, Fiona Millar, Trevor Phillips and Joan Bakewell.
However, rivals complain that the selection contest was delayed by Labour bosses so that Sir Keir could enter the race. He stood down as impartial DPP only last year and under Labour rules no one can be selected as a candidate until they have been a party member for a full year.
Ms Hayward won her spurs by boosting Labour’s majority at Camden in this year’s local elections.
At a shortlisting meeting yesterday, three others made it to the final showdown: former Camden leader Raj Chada, Camden councillor Angela Pober and family doctor Patrick French, chairman of the Highgate branch of the Labour party.
Sitting MP Frank Dobson is standing down at next year’s general election after 35 years.
Labour’s leadership has been keenly supporting Sir Keir’s ambitions to become an MP and he is tipped for fast-track promotion to a frontbench job in the justice or home affairs teams.
He was a key adviser on manifesto plans for new rights for victims of crime, including the right to be kept informed by police about what is happening in a prosecution.
A highly regarded human rights lawyer, Sir Keir took over the leadership of the Crown Prosecution Service in 2008 and oversaw the decision to prosecute the Lib-Dem former Cabinet minister Chris Huhne.