Patricia Scotland QC, Baroness Scotland of Asthal

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Following the first election of Barack Obama as the US President, Patricia Scotland in a celebratory and hopeful mood said: “Even today, many people cannot believe that a woman, born the 10th of 12 children, growing up in Walthamstow, east London, attending state school and not going to either Oxford or Cambridge, could become Britain’s Attorney-General.”

Patricia is a Labour peer in the House of Lords and a barrister at 4 Paper Buildings. She has made legal history numerous times, most notably as the Attorney-General for England and Wales – the first female and ethnic minority to assume the post in its 700-year history. She became the first female Queen’s Counsel of African Caribbean ancestry and the youngest ever QC (at that time) aged 35.

Patricia was born in Dominica to Antiguan and Dominican parents in 1955. Her family moved to Walthamstow when she was two years old and later went to its High School for Girls before going to London University, graduating in 1976. She was called to the Bar the following year and is a member of the Bar in Antigua and Dominica, too.

She distinguished herself at the Bar and was a founder member and former Head of Chambers at 1 Gray’s Inn Square. She chaired and represented parties in a number of major inquiries relating to child abuse, mental health and housing.

After taking silk 1991, she was appointed an Assistant Recorder (a part-time judge) in 1994 and a Recorder in 2000. She was approved to sit as a Deputy High Court judge in the Family Division by the then Tory Government under John Major, but was swiftly made a Minister by Tony Blair following the Labour Party’s success in the 1997 General Election.  

Patricia was made a bencher of the Middle Temple in 1997 and in the same year received a life peerage on a Labour Party list of working peers and created Baroness Scotland of Asthal, in the County of Oxfordshire. She and Baroness Amos became the first black women in the House of Lords when they took their places. Patricia was then raised to the Privy Council in 2001.

Between 1999 and 2001 Patricia was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and between 2001 and 2003 she was the Parliamentary Secretary at the Lord Chancellor’s Department. She was also an Alternate UK Government Representative of the European Convention for a year from 2002. 

She became the Home Office Minister of State for Criminal Justice System and Law Reform in June 2003 and in May 2005, the Home Office Minister for Criminal Justice System and Offender Management.  She was the spokesperson for the DTI on Women and Equality Issues in the House of Lords.

Patricia has received numerous awards and commendations, including top 100 Black Britons and Honorary Doctorates from the University of Westminster, the University of Buckingham, the University of Leicester and the University of East London. In 2014, she was elected as the Alderman for the ward of Bishopsgate in the City of London, having stood (in accordance with convention in the City) as an independent candidate.

Patricia is a committed Christian and is a member of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship and on the All Party Parliamentary Lords’ Prayer Group.

She is a trustee of the Queen Elizabeth 11 Diamond Jubilee Trust; governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company; Vice-President of Chatham House; HMG Trade Envoy for South Africa; Founder of Eliminate Domestic Violence Global Coalition and founder of the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence. 

See Also: 
the Legal History, The Bar, The Legislature and The Executives and the Legal Eves sections.