Why is Keir Starmer a Sir, when was the Labour leader knighted and what's his connection to Bridget Jones?

So, why IS Keir Starmer a Sir? Here's what you need to know about his Knighthood

Why is Keir Starmer a sir? Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer addresses delegates from the stage during his keynote speech on the final day of the Labour Party conference on September 29, 2021
(Image credit: Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

From his work as a human rights lawyer to potentially being the inspiration for Bridget Jones’ Mark Darcy, we all have a lot of questions about Keir Starmer. But first of all, why is Keir Starmer a Sir?

While it’s not unusual for MPs to be given titles by the Queen for their service, the reason why Keir Starmer is a Sir is unrelated to his political career.

Sir Keir Starmer was elected as leader of the Labour party on April 4th 2020, following a successful campaign after the general election earlier in the year. 

In recent months, he has taken on PM Boris Johnson in Prime Minister's Question Time over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak and, this week, appeared at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, outlining his new promises and policies. 

Keir opened up on the Party's goals to improve the state of housing, employment, the economy, the NHS and education, as well as his hopes to change the way mental health support is approached and his plans for a greener nation. 

And in light of Sarah Everard's murderer being sentenced to life in prison, Keir unveiled his hopes to toughen the legal action in reaction to violence against women. 

And this ambition to change lives for the better is the reason why Sir Keir Starmer was knighted several years ago.

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Why is Keir Starmer a Sir?

Keir Starmer became a Sir for his services to law and criminal justice back in 2014. 

Keir became a barrister and began focusing on violations of human rights around the world, back in 1986.

He was involved in legal battles to get rid of the death penalty in Africa and the Caribbean. He also served as a human rights adviser to the Northern Ireland Policing Board, as well as on the Association of Chief Police Officers.

From 2002 to 2008, Keir Starmer was also a member of the Foreign Office Death Penalty Advisory Panel.

Alongside these prominent human rights cases however, Sir Keir was part of the legal team in a case nicknamed the “McLibel case”. He was assisting two activists in their case over a factsheet they had written about fast-food mega giant, McDonald’s.

In 2008, Sir Keir was named as the new head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and given the title of Director of Public Prosecutions. The work he was involved with during this time is why Keir Starmer is a Sir. He personally dealt with a number of high profile cases, including the conviction of two men in 2012 for the racially motivated murder of 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence.

Why is Keir Starmer a sir? Labour leader Keir Starmer gives his keynote speech on the final day of the annual Labour Party conference in Brighton

(Image credit: Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

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When was Sir Keir Starmer knighted?

Keir Starmer was awarded his knighthood in 2014, for services to law and criminal justice. 

However, he notably prefers not to use his title. During his campaign for Labour leadership, some argued that the title (which is given by the Queen) would not go down well among Labour supporters. Yet this appears not to be the reason why.

Only a year after being given the title in 2015, he told the Hampstead & Highgate Express, “I’ve never liked titles”, and reportedly also refused to be referred to as “Director” during his time in the Crown Prosecution Service.

Is Bridget Jones' Mark Darcy based on Keir Starmer? 

Contrary to popular belief, Keir Starmer wasn't actually wasn't the inspiration behind Mark Darcy in Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones books. 

When pressed on the issue by ITV in January, Sir Keir said, "Everybody asks me this question when they should be asking her [the author] because she knows the answer and I don't.

"It's a rumour that's been doing the rounds for years, but I honestly don't know."

When Sir Keir Starmer was elected as labour leader, the long-standing rumour among literary circles that author Helen Fielding had used the human rights lawyer as inspiration for Bridget Jones' handsome, but stoic, love interest came to light again.

Hugh Grant, Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth during "Bridget Jones : The Edge of Reason

(Image credit: Photo by Kurt Vinion/WireImage/ Getty Images)

In the books, Mark Darcy is also human rights lawyer, both real and fiction men attended Oxford University and lived in Leeds, and Keir Starmer was making a name for himself around the same time that Helen Fielding was writing the columns, which would later become the Bridget Jones books. Although Mark Darcy wasn't never knighted, he does seem to have a lot in common with the Labour leader...

Sadly for the gossip in us, Helen Fielding has since addressed the rumours, calling them untrue.

Speaking on Desert Island Discs, the author said, "I had several different boyfriends, all very gorgeous.

“It’s amazing the number of people that lay claim to be Daniel [Hugh Grant’s character] or Mark, including Keir Starmer.”

Grace Walsh
Grace Walsh

A digital health journalist with over five years experience writing and editing for UK publications, Grace has covered the world of health and wellbeing extensively for Cosmopolitan, The i Paper and more.

She started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness. Everything from the best protein powder to sleep technology, the latest health trend to nutrition essentials, Grace has a huge spectrum of interests in the wellness sphere. Having reported on the coronavirus pandemic since the very first swab, she now also counts public health among them.