Barbara Mills

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Barbara Mills
Barbara Mills.jpg
Director of Public Prosecutions
Personal details
Born (1940-08-10)10 August 1940
Southwark, London, UK
Died 28 May 2011(2011-05-28) (aged 70)
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) John Mills
Education St. Helen's School
Alma mater Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford
Occupation Barrister

Dame Barbara Jean Lyon Mills DBE QC (née Warnock; 10 August 1940 – 28 May 2011) was a British barrister. She held various senior public appointments including Director of Public Prosecutions, and was widely seen as a pioneer for women gaining such appointments in the higher echelons of the legal profession.[1] At the time of her death she was Chair of the Professional Oversight Board.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

She was educated at St. Helen's School, Northwood, and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.[2] She was called to the Bar from the Middle Temple in 1963.


She had a successful career as a barrister specialising in criminal prosecution, winning convictions against the Guinness Four (1990) and the Brighton bomber Patrick Magee (1986), as well as Michael Fagan, an Irish vagrant who broke into Buckingham Palace in 1982 and stole a bottle of wine, exposing the Palace's lax security. She was appointed junior Treasury counsel in 1981, and a year later a recorder.. She was then appointed Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) from 1990 to 1992, and from 1992 to 1998 she was Director of Public Prosecutions, the first woman to hold that position. During that period, the SFO was investigating a company set up by her brother-in-law David Mills, then husband of Labour cabinet minister Tessa Jowell, in connection with bribery allegations against Silvio Berlusconi, but declined to investigate Mills himself.[3] David Mills was later found guilty of accepting a cash bribe from Berlusconi, but the conviction was quashed by Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation.[4][5]

As DPP she also served as the second head of the Crown Prosecution Service. During her term in this office, levels of bureaucracy in the CPS were high and morale was low.[6] She resigned when criticised by the High Court for repeatedly refusing to bring prosecutions over deaths in police custody.[7]

She was appointed as Adjudicator for Inland Revenue and for HM Customs and Excise on 26 April 1999, a part-time role independent of those departments, dealing with complaints from members of the public who are not satisfied with how the departments dealt with their complaints.[6][8] Mills retained the role as Adjudicator for HM Revenue and Customs when those bodies were merged in 2005, and held this post until 2009.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Dame Barbara Mills was married to Labour Party donor John Mills, a successful businessman (JML (John Mills Limited)) and former leading Councillor at Camden, from 1962 until her death.[6]

Her brother-in-law, David Mills, a lawyer, and the husband of Dame Tessa Jowell.[9]


Dame Barbara Mills died on 28 May 2011, aged 70, following a stroke. She was survived by her husband and their son and three daughters.[6][10]


  1. ^ a b c Dame Barbara Mills, obituary in The Independent, 7 June 2011
  2. ^ "LMH, Oxford - Prominent Alumni". Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  3. ^ David Mills: The networker, The Independent, 25 February 2006
  4. ^ "Tessa Jowell's husband David Mills jailed for four years over Silvio Berlusconi bribe", Daily Telegraph, 18 February 2009
  5. ^ "Background: Tessa Jowell, David Mills and Silvio Berlusconi", The Guardian, 17 February 2009
  6. ^ a b c d Dame Barbara Mills, obituary in Daily Telegraph, 29 May 2011
  7. ^ Clare Dyer (10 February 2004), Prosecutor or protector?, The Guardian, retrieved 2008-10-07 
  8. ^ Adjudicator's Office
  9. ^ Dame Barbara Mills obituary The Guardian, Sunday 29 May 2011 18.59 BST
  10. ^ Stephen Wooler (Jan 2015). "Mills , Dame Barbara Jean Lyon (1940–2011)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/103837.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Allan Green
Director of Public Prosecutions
Succeeded by
Sir David Calvert-Smith