Cherie Blair

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Cherie Blair
CBE QC
Cherie Blair in Trento.jpg
Spouse of the Prime Minister
of the United Kingdom
In office
2 May 1997 – 27 June 2007
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Norma Major
Succeeded by Sarah Brown
3rd Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University
In office
1999–2006
Vice-Chancellor Prof. Peter Toyne, CBE
Prof. Nigel Weatherill
Preceded by John Moores, CBE
Succeeded by Brian May, CBE
Personal details
Born Theresa Cara Booth
(1954-09-23) 23 September 1954 (age 60)
Bury, Lancashire, England, UK
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Tony Blair (1980–present)
Relations Lauren Booth (half-sister)
Children Euan Blair (born 1984)
Nicholas Blair (born 1985)
Kathryn Blair (born 1988)
Leo Blair (born 2000)
Parents Antony Booth, Gale Howard
Alma mater London School of Economics
Profession Barrister
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website cherieblair.org

Cherie Blair, CBE, QC (born 23 September 1954), known professionally as Cherie Booth QC, is a British barrister practising in England and Wales. She is married to the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Early life and education[edit]

Christened Theresa Cara Booth, Cherie Booth was born on 23 September 1954 at Fairfield Hospital, Bury, Lancashire, England,[1] and brought up in Ferndale Road, Waterloo, Lancashire, just north of Liverpool. Her father, British actor Tony Booth, left her mother, actress Gale Howard (née Joyce Smith), when Cherie was 8 years old.

Cherie Booth and her younger sister Lyndsey were then brought up by Gale and their paternal grandmother Vera Booth, a devout Roman Catholic of Irish descent. The sisters attended Catholic schools in Crosby,[2] Lancashire. Cherie Booth attended Seafield Convent Grammar, which is now part of Sacred Heart Catholic College, where she achieved 4 Grade-A GCE A Level passes.

She read law at the London School of Economics and graduated with First-Class Honours. She later came at the top of her year in the bar exams,[3] while teaching law at the Polytechnic of Central London (University of Westminster). She was Labour parliamentary candidate in Margate in 1983.[4]

Legal career[edit]

A member of Lincoln's Inn, she became a barrister in 1976 and Queen's Counsel in 1995. Until 1988, her head of chambers was George Carman, QC. In 1999, she was appointed a Recorder (a permanent part-time judge) in the County Court and Crown Court.

She is a founding member of Matrix Chambers in London from which she continues to practise as a barrister. Matrix was formed in 2000 specialising in human rights law, though members also practise in a range of areas of UK public and private law, the Law of the European Union and European Convention on Human Rights, and public international law.[5]

She is Chair of Omnia Strategy LLP, a law firm.

She specialises in employment, discrimination, and public law and, in this capacity, has occasionally represented claimants taking cases against the UK Government.[6]

Cherie Blair has appeared in a number of leading cases. A notable example before the European Court of Justice was concerned with discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.[7] In November 2007, she expressed interest in becoming a senior judge.[8]

Education career[edit]

She was the 3rd Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University from 1999–2006. On 26 July 2006, was awarded the honorary title of Emerita Chancellor, as well as the university honorarily naming its new Cherie Booth Building. She is also Governor of the London School of Economics and the Open University.

On 2 March 2011, Cherie Blair was appointed the Chancellor of the Asian University for Women.[9]

Controversies[edit]

In 2002, Blair purchased two flats in Bristol with the assistance, it was alleged but later denied, of Peter Foster, a convicted Australian conman and boyfriend of Blair's friend Carole Caplin, who negotiated a discount for Blair.[10] Blair publicly apologised for her embarrassing connection to Foster, stating, "I did not think it was my business to choose my friends' friends".[10]

Her relationship with Caplin gave rise to headlines in some newspapers, as Caplin is credited with introducing Blair to various New Age symbols and beliefs.[11] Reports of Blair's New Age practices included an account of her 2001 holiday in Mexico, when she and her husband, wearing only swimming costumes, privately took part in a rebirthing procedure that involved smearing mud and fruit over each other's bodies while sitting in a steam bath.[12]

In 2002, she apologised after saying within hours of a Jerusalem blast that killed at least 19 people in reference to the Palestinian suicide bombers: "As long as young people feel they have no hope but to blow themselves up, we're never going to make progress, are we?".[13][14]

On December 12, 2008 Blair gave a lecture alternatively entitled "The Church and Women’s Rights: time for a fresh perspective?"[15] or "Religion as a Force in protecting Women's Human Rights"[16] at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome.[17]

In January 2010, when sentencing a defendant, Shamso Miah, for assault, Blair announced that she would suspend his prison sentence after describing him as a "religious man". The court heard that Miah had been to a mosque shortly before he broke a man's jaw following a row in a bank queue. Blair told Miah: "You are a religious man and you know this is not acceptable behaviour." This was interpreted by some observers as special leniency given on account of the criminal's religiosity.[18][19] The Office for Judicial Complaints released an initial statement saying they had "received a number of complaints in relation to the comments" that Blair had made when sentencing Shamso Miah and that the matter was under investigation.[20] On 10 June 2010, the OJC released a statement saying that the investigation had "found that Recorder Booth's observations did not constitute judicial misconduct" and accordingly "no disciplinary action is necessary".[21] However a private letter to the National Secular Society said that the OJC had taken action in the form of "informal advice" from a more senior judge.[22]

Philanthropy[edit]

Blair is a patron of Breast Cancer Care, a UK breast cancer information and support charity, Jospice, the international hospice organisation based in her home town of Crosby,[23] and disability charity Scope.[24] She is also involved with the British branch of Child in Need India (CINI UK), and is the organisation's patron.[25][26]

In 2008 she launched her foundation the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, a development organisation that aims to support women entrepreneurs in developing countries. "Our mission is to provide women with the skills, technology, networks and access to capital that they need to become successful small and growing business owners, so that they can contribute to their economies and have a stronger voice in their societies," says its mission statement.[27]

She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to women's issues and charity.[28]

In July 1999, Blair was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of the University (DUniv) from the Open University.

Personal life[edit]

Family[edit]

Euan (left) and Cherie Blair at the Red Bull Air Race 2007, London

In 1976, while she was studying to become a barrister, she met future Prime Minister and husband Tony Blair. She obtained a pupillage in the chambers of Derry Irvine ahead of him, although he was also taken on. Married on 29 March 1980, the Blairs have three sons and one daughter: Euan, Nicholas, Leo and Kathryn.[29][30]

Leo, born 2000, was the first child born to a serving British Prime Minister in over 150 years, since Francis Russell was born to Lord John Russell on 11 July 1849. Another pregnancy at the age of 47 ended in miscarriage in early August 2002.[31] The Blair children are noted for having attended highly selective Catholic secondary schools that were selecting their pupils by way of exams, interviews and aptitude tests during Blair's time in office. All four children have Irish passports, by virtue of Tony Blair's mother, Hazel Elizabeth Rosaleen Corscaden.[32]

Via her father, Blair and her younger sister Lyndsey have six half-sisters, including British journalist Lauren Booth.

Political and religious views[edit]

Blair contested the seat of North Thanet in Kent for Labour at the 1983 UK general election, losing to Roger Gale (Conservative).[33]

She has described herself as a socialist and, at times, has appeared to have views further to the left than those of her husband.[34] In March 2008 she chaired the Street Weapons Commission on behalf of the broadcaster Channel 4. She toured the UK and took evidence from people affected by street crime and published a report and practical advice in June 2008.[35]

She is a practising Roman Catholic.[36] In 2009, Blair urged the Catholic Church to reconsider its hardline stance against contraception, suggesting it could be holding some women back from pursuing a career.[37]

In George W. Bush's 2010 autobiography Decision Points, Blair is briefly described as a fierce opponent of the death penalty.

Portrayals and coverage in books, film and theatre[edit]

Blair wrote a book of her memoirs, published in late May 2008, entitled Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography,[38] and the book was listed as a Sunday Times best-seller. Interviewed about the book by Carole MacNeil on the Canadian network CBC Television on 1 June 2008, Blair stated that she felt most of the controversy about her in the British media was due to her pioneering role as the first wife of a British Prime Minister who had her own career, with the media simply not knowing how to treat her fairly and objectively.[39]

Played by Helen McCrory, Blair features as a character in The Queen (2006), starring Helen Mirren, about the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, and is portrayed as a fierce anti-monarchist. McCrory played her again in the 2010 HBO film The Special Relationship. Cherie Blair also features as a character in Chris Bush and Ian McCluskey's production TONY! The Blair Musical.[40] Phoebe Nicholls played her in The Trial of Tony Blair (2007). She was also a subject in a song by George Michael's that was critical of the Iraq war song 'Shoot The Dog'.

Robert Harris's fictional thriller, The Ghost, features a pivotal character, Ruth Lang, inspired by Blair,[41] who is revealed to be under the influence of the C.I.A. She is portrayed by Olivia Williams in the 2010 film adaptation by Roman Polanski.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Blair, Cherie (2008). p 9.
  2. ^ ”Merseyside” didn’t exist until 1st April 1974
  3. ^ "Profile: Cherie Blair". BBC News. 19 June 2002. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  4. ^ http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2013/11/neither-a-follower-nor-a-trender-be-my-reply-to-john-rentouls-remonstrance.html
  5. ^ http://www.matrixlaw.co.uk/AreasOfPractice.aspx
  6. ^ "Purja & Ors, R (on the application of) v Ministry of Defence [2003] EWHC 445 (Admin) (21 February 2003)". Bailii.org. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  7. ^ "CURIA – Search form". Curia.europa.eu. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  8. ^ Doughty, Steve (14 November 2007). "Me a top judge? Maybe, says Cherie". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 12 May 2008. 
  9. ^ "Cherie Blair Named Chancellor of Asian University for Women". PR Newswire. UBM plc. 2 March 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Cherie says 'sorry' for Foster dealings", BBC, 10 December 2002
  11. ^ Cohen, Nick (10 December 2002). "Nick Cohen: Ev'rybody must get stones". The Observer (London). Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  12. ^ How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World, Francis Wheen, Harper Perennial 2004, ISBN 0-00-714097-5
  13. ^ Glover, Julian (9 February 2005). "Cherie under attack: from fur in flight to freebies". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "PM's wife 'sorry' in suicide bomb row". BBC News. 18 June 2002. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  15. ^ http://win.scienze-politiche.org/ENG/htnl/rass.html Accessed Dec. 1, 2014
  16. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/legacy/ni/2008/12/prolife_campaigners.html Accessed Dec. 1, 2014http://cherieblair.org/speeches/2008/12/speech-on-human-rights-women-a.html
  17. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/legacy/ni/2008/12/prolife_campaigners.html Accessed Dec. 1, 2014; http://hancaquam.blogspot.com/2008/12/fr-philips-comments-on-cherie-blairs.html Accessed Dec. 1, 2014
  18. ^ "Complaint after Cherie Booth spares religious man jail". BBC News. 4 February 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  19. ^ Taylor, Jerome (4 February 2010). "Secular society upset by Judge Cherie decision – Home News – UK". The Independent (London). Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  20. ^ "Statement from the office of judicial complaints". OJC. 10 February 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  21. ^ "Investigation Statement – Recorder Cherie Booth QC". Office for Judicial Complaints. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  22. ^ "Cover-up claim over Cherie Blair court remark to Muslim". BBC News. 19 June 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  23. ^ "Cherie Blair opens extension at Jospice in Thornton". YouTube. 1 June 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  24. ^ "Our Patrons". Scope. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  25. ^ "Cherie Blair". Cherie Blair. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  26. ^ "Child in Need India". CINI. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  27. ^ "Cherie Blair Foundation for Women". Cherieblairfoundation.org. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  28. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60367. p. 7. 29 December 2012.
  29. ^ "Facts: Life and times of Tony Blair - CNN.com". Edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  30. ^ "Blair's son 'drunk and incapable'". BBC News. 6 July 2000. 
  31. ^ "Cherie Blair suffers miscarriage". BBC News. 6 August 2002. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  32. ^ Mcdonagh, Melanie (13 September 2009). "Names that mean trouble". Sunday Times (London). Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. 
  33. ^ Walker, Tim (13 September 2009). "Cherie Blair plans to be Gordon Brown's secret weapon at the election". Daily Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  34. ^ Kettle, Martin (17 May 2008). "Martin Kettle interviews Cherie Blair". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  35. ^ Conlan, Tara (26 March 2008). "Cherie Booth tackles street crime with Channel 4". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  36. ^ "Faith". The Times (London). Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  37. ^ "Blair: end Church's hard line on birth control". Herald Scotland. 31 August 2009. 
  38. ^ Blair, Cherie (2008). Book cover
  39. ^ CBC Television, 1 June 2008; interview by Carole MacNeil
  40. ^ [1] (subscription required)
  41. ^ "The PM, his glamorous aide and a jealous wife... but it's just a novel". Daily Mail (London). 18 September 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 

Cited texts[edit]

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
-
Chancellor of the Asian University for Women
2008
Incumbent
Preceded by
John Moores, Jr
Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University
1999–2007
Succeeded by
Brian May
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Norma Major
Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1997–2007
Succeeded by
Sarah Brown