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Starmer defends attack on Sunak’s hedge fund career

Starmer defends attack on Sunak’s hedge fund career

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the public could “compare and contrast” his work as a lawyer with Rishi Sunak’s career in finance before they both entered politics.

The Prime Minister has sought to attack Sir Keir’s legal career, highlighting his work for the now-outlawed Hizb ut-Tahrir group and his focus on European human rights law.

In response, Sir Keir has turned to attacking Mr Sunak’s hedge fund work, accusing him of “making millions betting on the misery of working people during the financial crisis”.

The bitter personal attacks are expected to continue throughout election year as both the Tories and Labour ramp up their campaigns.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday the two leaders traded jibes about their previous jobs.

Sir Keir defended his actions, telling reporters: “If the Prime Minister wants to highlight what we both did in our working lives before we came into politics, I’ve worked as a lawyer, I worked with the police in Northern Ireland for five years, I worked as the director of public prosecutions for five years.

“Whilst I was DPP, which started in 2008, as set out in the Sunday Times it is clear what he was doing, which was making millions of pounds betting on the misery of working people in the financial crisis. The public can compare and contrast.”

Sir Keir was thought to be referring to a Sunday Times article in 2020 about then chancellor Mr Sunak’s work at the hedge fund TCI when it launched an activist campaign against the Dutch bank ABN Amro in 2007, resulting in its sale to the Royal Bank of Scotland – something which ultimately contributed to the collapse of RBS.

The Labour leader said: “There’s no disputing the facts and I was obviously contrasting that with what I was doing in 2008, which was, as director of public prosecutions, prosecuting terrorists and murderers and all sorts of other offenders.”

The Tory attack on Sir Keir has included social media adverts about his work, playing on the US legal drama Better Call Saul, stating: “Are you a terrorist in need of legal advice? Better call Keir.”

Mr Sunak told MPs earlier this month: “I know that he does not like talking about them because they have been a client, but when I see a group chanting ‘jihad’ on our streets, I ban them; he invoices them.”

Sir Keir was asked to give advice to Hizb ut-Tahri in a legal dispute between the group and the German government in 2008.

The Labour leader also dismissed attacks on him for taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I just think it’s pathetic when the Prime Minister goes down this route. If all he’s got after 14 years (in power) is that kind of nonsense, it really isn’t surprising his own side is losing faith in him as quickly as they are.”