Born in Kingston upon Hull, Karl Turner was educated at Bransholme High School and left school at the age of 16, becoming an antique dealer. He earned a law degree as a mature student at the University of Hull. He became a barrister in 2005 after passing the Bar Vocational Course at Northumbria University and went on to practice criminal law for the Max Gold Partnership in Hull. Karl then went onto Wilberforce Barrister Chambers where he remains a non-practising Barrister. Karl is a visiting fellow of Leeds Becket University.
He was elected to the House of Commons as the Labour Member of Parliament for Kingston upon Hull East in the 2010 General Election. Karl has held a number of positions in the Labour Party including Shadow Minister for Legal Aid, Shadow Solicitor General and Shadow Attorney General. Karl was appointed as Shadow Transport Minister with responsibility for aviation, ports and road safety in June 2017.