Parliamentary candidates to watch: legal eagles

The path from the legal profession to Parliament is well-trodden. Here are four to watch in 2015.

Given that there were 88 sitting in the Commons during the last parliament, they certainly won’t be lonely.

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour, Holborn St Pancras

@Keir_Starmer

The heir to Frank Dobson’s Holborn and St Pancras seat, he is sure to see off solid competition from Green’s leader Natalie Bennett and Conservative hopeful Will Blair.

Sir Keir has tip top legal credentials as a member of Doughty Street Chambers, Director of Public Prosecutions and currently a consultant for Mishcon de Reya.

He made his name in the 90s McLibel case and has been working with Baroness Lawrence on Labour’s’ victim law’, so he has serious clout as an advocate for victims.  The one potential sticking point may be his position on access to justice.  In a recent article for The Independent he noted that improving access to justice in the wake of coalition cuts had to be a ‘year one’ priority for a Labour Government.  This is somewhat at odds with Labour’s shadow Justice Minister, Sadiq Khan, who has acknowledged in The Guardian  that it will not be possible for Labour to reverse the cuts.

Victoria Prentis, Conservative, North Oxfordshire

@VictoriaPrentis

Victoria has lived in her constituency most of her life and has spent 17 years as a barrister employed in the civil service.  She looks set to hold the (very) safe seat, but she hasn’t made her legal experience a large part of her campaign.  In fact, legal changes aren’t part of her views page which focuses on traditional Tory policies including immigration and Europe.

Steven Woolfe MEP, UKIP, Stockport

@Steven_Woolfe

Standing in his home seat, Steven Woolfe MEP will be looking to overthrow Ann Coffey’s 2010 majority of more than 6000.  He was made an MEP in 2014, having previously (unsuccessfully) run for the Greater London Assembly and Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner.

A criminal barrister, he then went on to become a legal adviser for both hedge funds and financial institutions.  Currently the party’s spokesman for migration and financial affairs, as well as the heart of their drive to generate more BME candidates and supporters, Woolfe looks set to be a rising star in the party even if he misses out in May.

Lionel Blackman, Independent, Epsom & Ewell

@lionelvschris

Ok, so Lionel is not going to be entering the Commons anytime soon, but he is still the kind of hero that an English election is all about.   Running against the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling, Blackman is using the campaign to highlight the impact of the Government’s much maligned justice reforms.  A true local and criminal defence solicitor, Blackman’s biggest concern is Grayling’s plan to repeal the Human Rights Act, which he believes will be the “ultimate barbarity.”