Keir Starmer turns down role with Mishcon de Reya law firm

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Sir Keir StarmerImage source, PA

Sir Keir Starmer has turned down a role advising a top law firm amid criticism that it would conflict with his job leading Labour's Brexit policy.

The shadow Brexit secretary was reported to be in discussions with Mishcon de Reya about advising its training and development academy.

Tory MPs suggested it was inappropriate for him to work for a firm which took part in Brexit-related legal cases.

Sir Keir said he was not pursuing the role in light of his other commitments.

Mishcon de Reya acted for businesswoman Gina Miller in her successful legal challenge earlier this year against the government's attempts to trigger Article 50 without the prior consent of Parliament.

After a lengthy legal battle lasting months, the Supreme Court found in Ms Miller's favour in January, ruling that MPs and peers needed to explicitly approve the UK's official notification of its decision to leave the EU.

Sir Keir Starmer has been involved with the law firm as recently as last year, declaring £4,500 in income for advising its academy between 1 June 2016 and 30 September 2016. However, this was before he took up the role as shadow Brexit secretary in October 2016.

Conservative MP James Cleverly had been pressing Sir Keir to reassure his constituents and the public in general that any further work for the firm would not compromise his shadow cabinet duties.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Mishcon de Reya acted for Gina Miller in her Article 50 legal challenge

In a letter on Monday he suggested "members of the public will rightly detect a conflict of interest between your paid work for a law firm and your important role on the front bench".

Sir Keir has now withdrawn his interest. "I am grateful for Mischon de Reya for discussing a possible role advising the Mishcon Academy with me but given my other commitments, I have decided not to further the discussions."

Sir Keir, a former director of public prosecutions who became an MP in 2015, is one of the most powerful figures in the shadow cabinet. He was made a privy counsellor recently - meaning that he has access to official government briefings and information on a confidential basis.

According to Mishcon, its academy is an "in-house place of learning and platform for thought leadership".