Cherie Blair

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Cherie Blair

Cherie Blair Allan Warren.JPG
Blair in 2011
Cherie Booth

(1954-09-23) 23 September 1954 (age 68)
Alma mater
Known forSpouse of a former prime minister of the United Kingdom (1997–2007)
Political partyLabour
(m. 1980)
Children4, including Euan
ParentTony Booth (father)
RelativesLauren Booth (paternal half‑sister)
WebsiteOfficial website

Cherie, Lady Blair, CBE, KC (née Booth; born 23 September 1954), also known professionally as Cherie Booth, is an English barrister and writer. She is married to former British Prime Minister, Sir Tony Blair.

Early life and education[edit]

Booth was born on 23 September 1954 at Fairfield General Hospital, Bury, Lancashire, England,[1] and brought up in Ferndale Road, Waterloo, Merseyside, just north of Liverpool. Although her birth was registered as 'Cherie', owing to her maternal grandmother's influence, she was christened 'Theresa Cara' in deference to the requirement that she be given a saint's name.[2] Her father, British actor Tony Booth, left her mother, actress Gale Howard (née Joyce Smith; 14 February 1933 – 5 June 2016), when Cherie was 8 years old. Cherie 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, Merseyside. Cherie Booth attended Seafield Convent Grammar, which is now part of Sacred Heart Catholic College, where she achieved four As in her A Levels.

She read law at the London School of Economics and graduated with First-Class Honours. Later she was enrolled at the College of Law and passed her Bar Vocational Course.[3] She came at the top of her year in the bar exams,[4] while teaching law at the Polytechnic of Central London (University of Westminster).[citation needed] She was the Labour candidate for the Conservative safe seat of North Thanet in Kent in the 1983 general election, losing to Roger Gale.[5]

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. In 1999, she was appointed a recorder (a permanent part-time judge) in the County Court and Crown Court.[6]

She was a founding member of Matrix Chambers in London but no longer practises there. 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, in addition to public international law.[7] She is Founder and chair of law firm Omnia Strategy LLP.[8] She specialises in employment, discrimination, as well as public law; in this capacity, she has occasionally represented claimants taking cases against the UK Government.[9]

Blair has appeared in a number of leading cases. A notable example, Lisa Grant v South West Trains Ltd, before the European Court of Justice concerned discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.[10][11]

Blair with Emirati politician Lubna Khalid Al Qasimi in 2011

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.[12][13] 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.[14] 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".[15] A private letter to the National Secular Society said, however, that the OJC had taken action in the form of "informal advice" from a more senior judge.[16]

In 2015, Blair defended Rwandan spy chief Emmanuel Karenzi Karake against accusations that he had conspired to murder three Spanish NGO workers and a Canadian priest.[17] Karake had allegedly done so because the workers knew about the Rwandan Patriotic Front killing Hutu civilians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[17]

Blair launched a company called Mee Healthcare with an American business partner Gail Lese in 2011. In June 2015, it ceased trading and all staff were dismissed without notice.[18]

In 2021, Blair worked as an ethics adviser for Israeli security firm NSO Group.[19]

Career in academia[edit]

Blair was the third Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University from 1999 to 2006. On 26 July 2006, she 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, Blair was appointed the Chancellor of the Asian University for Women.[20]

Blair is regularly invited to speak at legal and leadership conferences, and has in the past participated in the World Law Forum, ET Women's Forum, Yidan Prize Summit and the Commonwealth Africa Summit, amongst others.

Honours and charity work[edit]

In July 1999, Blair was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of the University (DUniv) from the Open University. 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,[21] and disability charity Scope.[22] She is also involved with the British branch of Child in Need India (CINI UK), and is the organisation's patron.[23][24]

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.[25]

In 2010, Blair spoke at WE Day, an event held by WE Charity as part of their ongoing effort to empower youth and encourage them to get involved in their communities.[26]

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.[27]

In June 2018, “Cherie Blair Foundation for Women” was inducted into Power Brands LIFE – Hall of Fame at the London International Forum for Equality.[28]


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.[29] Blair publicly apologised for her embarrassing connection to Foster, stating "I did not think it was my business to choose my friends' friends".[29]

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.[30] 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.[31]

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?"[32][33]

On 12 December 2008, Blair gave a lecture alternatively entitled "The Church and Women's Rights: time for a fresh perspective?"[34] or "Religion as a Force in protecting Women's Human Rights"[35][36] at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum, in Rome.[35][37]

In summer 2015, in the wake of the Hillary Clinton email controversy, Blair was revealed by The Guardian to have lobbied Clinton in 2009 on behalf of prominent members of the Qatari monarchy; Clinton was US Secretary of State at the time.[38][39] In a letter to the newspaper, Blair denied this characterisation of her mediation efforts, describing their story as "sensationalist and inaccurate".[40] Precisely two months later, the release of another batch of Clinton's private emails confirmed that Blair had, indeed, arranged meetings with Clinton for the Qataris outside normal diplomatic channels, with discussions to involve "the US/Qatar relationship generally", not merely joint philanthropic efforts. In one case, Blair herself stated that her purpose was to help the eldest of Sheikha Mosah's sons, Jassim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, "build up an international profile".[41]

In summer 2015, Blair's law firm accepted a large fee to advise the Maldives government as it faced a challenge from former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed over his imprisonment for "terrorism". Nasheed, who served from 2008 to 2012 as his country's first democratically elected leader, had received a 13-year prison sentence after a widely criticised trial.[42][43]

Personal life[edit]


Euan and Cherie Blair at the Red Bull Air Race in 2007 in 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 (born 1984), Nicholas (born 1985), Kathryn (born 1988), and Leo (born 2000).[44][45][46]

Leo was the first child born to the wife of a serving British prime minister in over 150 years, since Rollo Russell was born to Lady Frances Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound and Lord John Russell on 11 July 1849. Another pregnancy at the age of 47 ended in miscarriage in early August 2002.[47] The Blair children attended Catholic secondary schools, including The London Oratory School. All four children have Irish passports, by virtue of Tony Blair's mother, Hazel Elizabeth Corscadden, a Protestant, the daughter of George Corscadden, a butcher and Orangeman who moved to Glasgow in 1916 but returned to Ballyshannon in 1923, where Hazel was born to George and Sarah Margaret (née Lipsett), above her family's grocery shop.[48] Via her father, Blair and her younger sister Lyndsey have six half-sisters, including British journalist Lauren Booth.[citation needed]

Her first grandchild (a girl) was born in October 2016.[49]

Political and religious views[edit]

Blair has described herself as a socialist and, at times, has appeared to have views further to the left than those of her husband.[50] 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.[51]

She is a practising Roman Catholic.[52] In 2009, Blair urged the Catholic Church to reconsider its opposition to contraception, suggesting it could be holding some women back from pursuing a career.[53]

In George W. Bush's 2010 autobiography Decision Points, Blair is briefly described as a fierce opponent of the death penalty.[54]

Writings, portrayals, and coverage in books, film and theatre[edit]

Blair co-authored, with Cate Haste, the 2004 book The Goldfish Bowl: Married to the Prime Minister. The book is a compilation history of the lives of spouses of British prime ministers for most of the second half of the 20th century. It covers the spouses of former prime ministers Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas-Home, Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, and John Major.

Blair wrote a book of her memoirs, published in late May 2008, entitled Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography,[55] 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.[56]

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.[57] McCrory played her again in the 2010 HBO film The Special Relationship. Blair also features as a character in Chris Bush and Ian McCluskey's production TONY! The Blair Musical.[58] Phoebe Nicholls played her in The Trial of Tony Blair (2007). She was also a subject in "Shoot the Dog", a song by George Michael that was critical of the Iraq War.

In June 2019, Blair signed on as an executive producer for Jerusalem-set drama feature film The Rock Pile, a first try into film production for her.[59]


She was recognized as one of the BBC's 100 women of 2013.[60]


  1. ^ Blair, Cherie (2008), p. 9.
  2. ^ Blair, Cherie (2008). Speaking for Myself: My Life from Liverpool to Downing Street. Little, Brown.
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  5. ^ Walker, Tim (13 September 2009). "Cherie Blair plans to be Gordon Brown's secret weapon at the election". Daily Telegraph. London, UK: Telegraph Media Group. Archived from the original on 28 January 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  6. ^ "Comment by Cherie about Tony is naive". Lancashire Telegraph. Archived from the original on 15 December 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Matrix Chambers". Archived from the original on 10 February 2006.
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  16. ^ "Cover-up claim over Cherie Blair court remark to Muslim". BBC News. 19 June 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  17. ^ a b "Spanish Court Revives Case against Kagame's Military Entourage". Foreign Policy Journal. 14 July 2017.
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  19. ^ Brown, David. "Cherie Blair is adviser to NSO, the firm behind Pegasus spyware". The Times. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  20. ^ "Cherie Blair Named Chancellor of Asian University for Women". PR Newswire. UBM plc. 2 March 2011. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  21. ^ "Cherie Blair opens extension at Jospice in Thornton". YouTube. 1 June 2009. Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  22. ^ "Our Patrons". Scope. Archived from the original on 27 July 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  23. ^ "Cherie Blair profile". Cherie Blair. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  24. ^ "Child in Need India". CINI. Archived from the original on 20 January 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
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  26. ^ "Students gather at ACC for 'We Day' celebration". Toronto. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  27. ^ "No. 60367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. p. 7.
  28. ^ Global, Power Brands. "Power Brands Global". Power Brands Global. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
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  30. ^ Cohen, Nick (10 December 2002). "Nick Cohen: Ev'rybody must get stones". The Observer. London. Archived from the original on 9 July 2008. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  31. ^ How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World, Francis Wheen, Harper Perennial 2004, ISBN 0-00-714097-5
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  34. ^ "Women and Human Rights". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2014. accessed 1 December 2014.
  35. ^ a b Crawley, William (6 December 2008). "Pro-life campaigners urge Catholic university to ban Cherie Blair". Will & Testament. BBC. Archived from the original on 1 December 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  36. ^ "Cherie Blair". Archived from the original on 7 December 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  37. ^ "Domine, da mihi hanc aquam!: Fr. Philip's comments on Cherie Blair's Angelicum lecture". 18 December 2008. Archived from the original on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014. accessed 1 December 2014.
  38. ^ Roberts, Dan; Gibson, Owen (1 July 2015). "Hillary Clinton lobbied by Cherie Blair to meet Qatari royal, emails reveal". Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  39. ^ "Hillary Clinton may have broken US secrecy rules with emails from Tony Blair and Downing Street" Archived 2 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine, 1 September 2015.
  40. ^ Blair, Cherie (3 July 2015). "I did not lobby on behalf of Qatari royal". Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  41. ^ Harding, Luke (1 September 2015). "Hillary Clinton emails: Cherie Blair lobbied for Qatari crown prince". Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  42. ^ Sherwell, Philip (9 September 2015). "Amal Clooney v Cherie Blair: Maldives paradise islands stage battle of UK female lawyers". Archived from the original on 11 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  43. ^ "Conduct of trial of Maldives' ex-President raises serious concerns". United Nations. Archived from the original on 23 July 2017. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
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  47. ^ "Cherie Blair suffers miscarriage". BBC News. 6 August 2002. Archived from the original on 24 January 2003. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  48. ^ Mcdonagh, Melanie (13 September 2009). "Names that mean trouble". Sunday Times. London, UK. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011.
  49. ^ Blair, Cherie (27 October 2016). "Equality between men and women is still 170 years away". The Independent. Retrieved 28 October 2016. Last week Tony and I were delighted to welcome our first grandchild into the family.
  50. ^ Kettle, Martin (17 May 2008). "Martin Kettle interviews Cherie Blair". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  51. ^ Conlan, Tara (26 March 2008). "Cherie Booth tackles street crime with Channel 4". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  52. ^ "Faith". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  53. ^ "Blair: end Church's hard line on birth control". Herald Scotland. 31 August 2009. Archived from the original on 22 May 2013.
  54. ^ Bush, George W. (2010). Decision Points. New York, NY: Crown Publishers. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-307-59061-9.
  55. ^ Blair, Cherie (2008). Book cover.
  56. ^ CBC Television, 1 June 2008; interview by Carole MacNeil.
  57. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Queen Movie Review & Film Summary (2006) | Roger Ebert". Archived from the original on 25 July 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  58. ^ "TLS - Times Literary Supplement". Archived from the original on 8 May 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2008. (subscription required)
  59. ^ Goodfellow, Melanie (19 June 2019). "Cherie Blair signs on as executive producer for Jerusalem-set drama 'The Rock Pile'". Screen. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  60. ^ "100 Women: Who took part?". BBC News. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2022.

Cited texts[edit]

External links[edit]

External video
video icon ‘Twiggy’ Forrest and Cherie Blaire call for tougher modern slavery laws, Matter Of Fact With Stan Grant, ABC News
Academic offices
Preceded by Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University
Succeeded by
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Wife of a Knight of the Garter Succeeded by