Records Destroyed of Starmer Trips to DC During Assange Case

U.K. public prosecutor destroyed records showing Keir Starmer met with U.S. attorney general and other U.S. and U.K. national security officials in D.C. in 2011, when Starmer led Assange’s proposed extradition to Sweden, Matt Kennard reports.

Keir Starmer in 2013, while director of public prosecutions for the Crown Prosecution Service, U.K. (Chatham House, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Matt Kennard 
Declassified UK

  • Among his trips, Starmer, then head of Crown Prosecution Service, led five-person British delegation that met with Eric Holder for 45 minutes in Washington in November 2011
  • Delegation included the U.K. liaison prosecutor to the U.S., who dealt with extradition
  • Meeting was also attended by head of U.S. Department of Justice’s national security division
  • CPS refuses to clarify to Declassified UK if destruction of the Washington documents is routine procedure

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), England and Wales’ public prosecutor, has deleted all records of its former head Keir Starmer’s trips to the U.S., it can be revealed. 

Starmer served as director of public prosecutions (DPP) from 2008-13, a period when the body was overseeing Julian Assange’s proposed extradition to Sweden to face questioning over sexual assault allegations. 

Starmer, who became an MP in 2015, is now leader of the Labour Party. Assange, meanwhile, faces imminent extradition to the U.S. to face up to 175 years in prison under charges mostly related to the U.S. Espionage Act.

While DPP, Starmer made trips to Washington in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013 at a cost to the British taxpayer of £21,603. It was his most frequent foreign destination while in post. Max Hill, the current DPP, has made just one trip to Washington during his five-year tenure.

During Starmer’s time in post, the CPS was marred by irregularities surrounding the case of the WikiLeaks founder.

The organisation has admitted to destroying key emails related to the Assange case, mostly covering the period when Starmer was in charge, while the CPS lawyer overseeing the case advised the Swedes in 2010 or 2011 not to visit London to interview Assange.

An interview at that time could have prevented the long-running embassy standoff. 

Assange and WikiLeaks began publishing classified U.S. diplomatic cables — in alliance with some of the world’s largest newspapers — in November 2010. In the same month, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Assange over allegations of sexual misconduct, leading to a protracted legal battle, in which the CPS was heavily involved. 

Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi has been waging a years-long legal fight to access documents related to the CPS and Assange case. However, the role of its then head, Starmer, in the episode has always remained unclear. 

Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general from 2009-15, met with Keir Starmer in Washington in November 2011. (U.S. Department of Justice)

Starmer in Washington

Using the Freedom of Information Act, Declassified requested the itinerary for each of Starmer’s four trips to Washington with details of his official meetings, including any briefing notes.

“The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) does not hold any information falling within the scope of your request,” the public body told Declassified. “Information held has been destroyed in line with retention schedules.”

When asked by Declassified what these retention schedules are, the CPS pointed to its retention and disposal schedule policy. But that document contains no references to time-limits on the preservation of CPS documents. 

Asked for clarification — and whether the destruction of Starmer’s Washington documents was routine — the CPS did not respond. 

But while there is no longer any official record of what Starmer did on these four trips on the British side, some information has come to light on the U.S. side. 

U.S. records show that on Nov. 9, 2011, then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder met with Starmer at his office at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for 45 minutes. 

Starmer’s CPS was then handling Assange’s proposed extradition to Sweden. In December 2010, Holder had been asked about WikiLeaks’ cable releases. “We are doing everything that we can,” he said. 

Asked if he might mount a prosecution under the Espionage Act, Holder added: “That is certainly something that might play a role, but there are other statutes, other tools at our disposal.” 

[Related: How America’s Official Secrets Act Ensnared Julian Assange]

He continued that he had given the go-ahead for a number of unspecified actions as part of a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks. “I personally authorised a number of things last week and that’s an indication of the seriousness with which we take this matter and the highest level of involvement at the Department of Justice,” Holder said.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s diary for 9 November 2011. (US Department of Justice)

Meeting at DOJ

The personnel involved in the Starmer-Holder meeting at the DOJ indicates it had a national security focus. It is possible that some of the unspecified actions against WikiLeaks and Assange referenced by Holder the previous year were discussed. 

Starmer was part of a five-person British delegation. This included Gary Balch, then U.K. liaison prosecutor to the U.S., who dealt with extradition

Also present was Patrick Stevens, then head of the international division at the CPS, in which he developed and led CPS activities worldwide “in support of U.S. national security.” Stevens states that, at the time, he was “at the heart of the U.S. government’s national security and international justice strategy.” 

Alongside them sat Susan Hemming, then head of counter-terrorism at the CPS, who was in charge of issues related to — among other things — “official secrets”. 

On the U.S. side, the point of contact was listed as Amy Jeffress, then the DOJ’s attaché at the U.S. embassy in London, a role which involved coordinating with the CPS. Before that role, she had been national security counselor to Attorney General Holder which involved “interfacing regularly” with the U.S. intelligence community. 

Jeffress moved from the DOJ in Washington to the U.S. embassy in London in September 2010, two months after WikiLeaks began publishing the Afghan War Diary. She would stay in London until 2014. 

[Related: The Revelations of WikiLeaks: No. 2 —The Leak That ‘Exposed the True Afghan War’]

When Assange was seized at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in April 2019, Jeffress told The Washington Post: “It will be some years before a final decision is reached — at least a year and probably longer.” She added: “These cases can become very political in the U.S.”

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco (right) — who met with Starmer in Washington in 2011 — with U.K. Home Office Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft in London in February. (U.S. Department of Justice)

National Security

Another U.S. official present at Starmer’s DOJ meeting was Denise Cheung who would go on to be deputy chief of its National Security Section. Also present was Bruce Schwartz, then the DOJ’s counselor for international affairs, who would go on to win the department’s award for excellence in furthering the interests of U.S. national security. 

Lisa Monaco, another DOJ official at the meeting, had recently been appointed assistant attorney general for national security, leading the DOJ division overseeing its intelligence functions. 

Monaco, who is now deputy U.S. attorney general, was in London in February this year to “reaffirm and build upon the strong partnership between the United States and Great Britain in countering threats to our national security.”

She met with Matthew Rycroft, permanent secretary at the Home Office, “to continue the strong working relationship between the Home Office and the Justice Department.”

Declassified has previously shown that the U.K. Home Office deployed eight staff on the secret operation to seize Assange from his asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. This was a highly irregular move as Ecuador is a friendly country and asylum is a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The CPS’s lack of disclosure of documents related to Assange may raise suspicions of a cover-up. While Starmer was still in charge, in April 2013, the CPS rejected Assange’s request for the personal data it had on him “because of the live matters still pending.” 

Even GCHQ, the U.K.’s largest spy agency, had granted Assange’s request for the personal information it held on him, which revealed one of its intelligence officers calling the Swedish case a “fit-up.”

Starmer did not respond to a request for comment. 

Matt Kennard is chief investigator at Declassified UK. He was a fellow and then director at the Centre for Investigative Journalism in London. Follow him on twitter @kennardmatt

This article is from Declassified UK.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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18 comments for “Records Destroyed of Starmer Trips to DC During Assange Case

  1. Vera Gottlieb
    June 30, 2023 at 12:23

    US/UK = birds of the same nefarious feathers.

  2. Antiwar7
    June 30, 2023 at 12:01

    In the West, we’re ruled by evil, lying, murderous pirates. Literally. People need to understand that.

  3. Arch Stanton
    June 30, 2023 at 11:13

    He’s going to be PM next year.

    ‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss’

    Don’t get fooled again…

  4. Tony
    June 30, 2023 at 07:37

    It is impossible to overstate just how awful Starmer is.
    I hope he never gets into power.

  5. Harold
    June 29, 2023 at 19:42

    Given that email servers are routinely “backed up” – copies made to defend against system failure / loss – it is surprisingly difficult to fully delete records. That requires systematically retrieving and deleting copies of emails from all back-up records as well as the present system. Given that multiple copies of the back-up exist at multiple locations – “off-site”storage as a contingency precaution – and that copies are held over long periods it is likely that multiple copies still exist. Few, if any resources are allocated to erasing older back-up copies as this is never a priority activity. Mr Starmer’s emails almost certainly still exist. It is simply a matter of a whistle finding and exposing them. Who will that whistle be and will s/he use the Wikileaks drop-box as protection from prosecution?

  6. Maricata
    June 29, 2023 at 18:24

    “Another U.S. official present at Starmer’s DOJ meeting was Denise Cheung who would go on to be deputy chief of its National Security Section. Also present was Bruce Schwartz, then the DOJ’s counselor for international affairs, who would go on to win the department’s award for excellence in furthering the interests of U.S. national security.

    Marx writes, “As for the individual bureaucrat, the purpose of the state becomes his private purpose, a hunt for promotion, careerism.”

    —–  “Critique of Hegel’s Doctrine of State,” in Karl Marx: Early Writings, trans. Rodney Livingstone and Gregor Benton (New York: Vintage, 1975), 111.

    Lisa Monaco, another DOJ official at the meeting, had recently been appointed assistant attorney general for national security, leading the DOJ division overseeing its intelligence functions.

    Monaco, who is now deputy U.S. attorney general, was in London in February this year to “reaffirm and build upon the strong partnership between the United States and Great Britain in countering threats to our national security.”

    She met with Matthew Rycroft, permanent secretary at the Home Office, “to continue the strong working relationship between the Home Office and the Justice Department.”

    “I have never seen a class so deeply demoralised, so incurably debased by selfishness, so corroded within, so incapable of progress, as the English bourgeoisie…

    For it nothing exists in this world, except for the sake of money, itself not excluded. It knows no bliss save that of rapid gain, no pain save that of losing gold.

    In the presence of this avarice and lust of gain, it is not possible for a single human sentiment or opinion to remain

    Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845), p.275

  7. June 29, 2023 at 17:12

    Thank you Matt Kennard
    and this from an earlier article here in ConsortiumNews!

    The Espionage Act bill was passed by the House on May 4, 1917, by 261 votes to 109 and by the Senate on May 14 by a vote of 80-8. Passage in the Senate came with a warning from Democratic Sen. Charles Spalding Thomas of Colorado, who said: “I very much fear that with the best of intention we may place upon the statute books something that will rise to plague us in the immediate future.” He added:

    “Of all times in time of war the press should be free. That of all occasions in human affairs calls for a press vigilant and bold, independent and uncensored. Better to lose a battle than to lose the vast advantage of a free press.”

  8. CaseyG
    June 29, 2023 at 17:05

    Free Julian Assange! And too, why is American Mr Pelitier still in jail?

    WHY American—- do you seem to resist the words of truth tellers?

  9. Elsa Collins
    June 29, 2023 at 17:00

    Matt you are a brilliant investigator! Julian Assange must be free, his freedom is our freedom! Starmer belongs in jail!

  10. Steve
    June 29, 2023 at 16:57

    Starmer is the man who refused to prosecute Jimmy Savile, possibly Britain’s most prolific pervert, paedophile, sex-predator.
    No trust in the establishment at all.

    • norah
      June 29, 2023 at 23:15

      When Starmer first appeared on the political landscape, my immediate impression, never having heard of him before, was that he was to be Jeremy Corbyn’s replacement at the top of the UK Labour Party. So of course that means he was already connected to the Empire. This article just enforces his connection to the Globalist Elite. So does the fake hand ringing over our almost 3 decade long open-door immigration policy, supported by the Tories, the Dim Libs and the Scottish Nationalists under Sturgeon. The fact that the UK has no First Amendment, means we, the 99%, have no power to change things on the island, and must remain mere spectators in our ever accelerating demolition and bondage.

    • Red Star
      June 30, 2023 at 16:00

      @Steve : Savile, we should remember, was deeply embedded in the British Esthablishment – friend of Margaret Thatcher, advisor to Charles Windsor – so its not really suprising that “Sir” Keir protected him as well.

      After all, you don’t get a knighthood unless you play the Esthablishment game. Just ask Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile OBE KCSG

  11. Cal Lash
    June 29, 2023 at 15:52

    Its obvious that Assange should be freed and the
    REAL CRIMINALS Arrested.

  12. JeremyT
    June 29, 2023 at 15:41

    Suckier Starmer is totally unacceptable as Leader of the Labour Party. Period.

    • Valerie
      June 29, 2023 at 17:22

      Agree, but then i don’t see any politicians fit to be leaders in the UK. They don’t make them like Tony Benn nowadays.

      • Vera Gottlieb
        June 30, 2023 at 12:25

        And equally…no politicians fit to lead the US!!!

        • Valerie
          July 1, 2023 at 04:35

          They are creepy, loathsome creatures.

    • WillD
      June 29, 2023 at 22:05

      He is unacceptable as an MP also.

Comments are closed.