Fiona Woolf

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Dame Fiona Woolf

Fiona Woolf (cropped).jpg
Alderman Dame Fiona Woolf
686th Lord Mayor of London
In office
8 November 2013 – 7 November 2014
Metropolitan MayorBoris Johnson
Preceded bySir Roger Gifford
Succeeded bySir Alan Yarrow
Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
In office
5 September 2014 – 31 October 2014
Appointed byTheresa May
(as Home Secretary)
Preceded byBaroness Butler-Sloss
Succeeded byDame Lowell Goddard
Personal details
Catherine Fiona Swain

(1948-05-11) 11 May 1948 (age 70)
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Spouse(s)Nicholas Woolf FCA

Dame Catherine Fiona Woolf, DBE, DStJ DL (née Swain; born 11 May 1948) is a British corporate lawyer. She served as the Lord Mayor of London (2013–14), acting as global ambassador for UK-based financial and business services. She has held and still holds many other significant positions in the City of London.

Early Life[edit]

Catherine Fiona Swain was born in Edinburgh, the son of Dr R. H. A. Swain and his wife, Margaret Helen Hart.[1]

She was educated there at St Denis School (subsequently part of St Margaret's School),[2] before going up to Keele University where she graduated in Law and Psychology (BA).[3] She completed her Master's studies at the University of Strasbourg graduating with a Diploma in Comparative Law (QLD).


Woolf qualified as a solicitor in 1973 and worked as an assistant at Clifford Chance until 1978. She then moved to CMS Cameron McKenna where she became the firm's first female partner[4] in 1981; she remained a partner until 2004.

A specialist legal advisor on major infrastructure developments, particularly with regard to infrastructure legislation and energy markets, Woolf played a role in the 1985 treaty agreements between the British and French governments concerning the Channel Tunnel. She subsequently went on to work with almost 30 governments around the world.[4] She is a consultant to CMS Cameron McKenna and is a Senior Adviser to London Economics International LLC.[citation needed]

In 2001–02 Woolf was awarded a Senior Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Business and Government.[5] While at Harvard, she wrote a book on attracting investment in electricity transmission systems: Global Transmission Expansion: Recipes for Success (2003).[6]

Woolf is an Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple, a life position which recognises contributions to the legal profession.[citation needed]

Livery companies[edit]

Woolf is associated with several livery companies. She is a Court Assistant of the Solicitors', the Plumbers' and the Wax Chandlers' companies, and an Honorary Court Assistant of the Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants. She is also a liveryman of the Arbitrators', Marketors' and the Tax Advisers' companies.

Presidency of the Law Society[edit]

Woolf served as president of the Law Society of England and Wales for 2006–07. In her valedictory speech on stepping down, she said that in her year as President she had met with "98 of the top 100 firms and another 25 or so beyond that". She was "delighted to have met with so many top firms...they had a huge number of ideas about what we should be doing for them".[7]

Lord Mayor of London[edit]

On 29 September 2013, she was elected as Lord Mayor of London, only the second time in its 800-year history that a woman has held this office.[8] She succeeded Sir Roger Gifford as Lord Mayor on 8 November 2013 during the annual "Silent Ceremony" at the Guildhall.[9] The City's second female Lord Mayor, following Dame Mary Donaldson (Lord Mayor 1983–84),[10]

Woolf was interviewed by Cathy Newman for a Daily Telegraph profile article, taking the opportunity to promote one of her mayoral campaigning themes, namely the furtherance of women in executive careers and the correction of the traditional imbalance between the sexes in senior City positions.[8] She sponsored a Long Finance initiative during her year as Lord Mayor, "Financing Tomorrow's Cities", which examined new mechanisms for funding sustainability.

She made regular media appearances about the Lord Mayor's role in welcoming the world to London,[11][12] and ventured onto a catwalk at the Old Bailey during London Fashion Week.[13]


She is the Chancellor of the University of Law.[14][15] She was a member of the Competition Commission (UK) 2005 - 2013, Alderman for the Ward of Candlewick in the City of London 2007 - 2018, and was Sheriff of London for 2010 - 2011.[citation needed] Woolf was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London, in March 2016.[16]

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse[edit]

On 5 September 2014 it was announced that Woolf would chair the independent panel inquiry that would examine how the UK's institutions have handled their duties to protect children from sexual abuse.[17]

On 21 October 2014, Woolf disclosed that she lived in the same London street as Lord Brittan and had invited the Conservative Peer and his wife, Diana Brittan (formally styled The Lady Brittan of Spennithorne DBE), to dinner on three occasions. Lord Brittan had been Home Secretary in 1984 when ministers were handed a dossier on alleged high-profile paedophiles; he has insisted that the proper procedures were followed. In total, she had dined with Lord Brittan and his family five times since 2008, and also had joined Lady Brittan for coffee on a "small number of occasions".[citation needed]

Woolf further disclosed that she had been involved in the past with bodies with which the Brittans had also had involvement. The BBC reported that survivors of child abuse were increasingly concerned about her apparent links to Lord Brittan, and Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who campaigned for the inquiry, said he thought Woolf should resign. Woolf made the disclosures to MPs ahead of her appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee, saying she was aware of "speculation gaining traction on social media" about her links with the Brittans and she wanted to "go the extra distance to make sure I have dug out every possible connection with someone who is essentially one of thousands of people I know in the City. […] Do I have a close association with them (the Brittans)? the answer is no. Let us remind ourselves that this is not an inquiry about Lord Brittan but about hundreds of institutions and frankly thousands of systemic failures”.[18]

On 22 October, the BBC reported that it had seen a judicial review application launched by a victim of historical child sexual abuse which challenged the choice of Woolf as the chair of the child sexual abuse panel inquiry on the basis that she is not impartial, has no relevant expertise and may not have time to discharge her duties. The judicial review hearing could have been held before the end of 2014.[19]

On 31 October 2014, she resigned her chairmanship of the panel.[20]


  • Order of the British Empire (Civil) Ribbon.png DBE (2015) - CBE, 2002
  • Order of St John (UK) ribbon -vector.svg DStJ (2013) - SSStJ, 2010;

Woolf was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2002 and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for "services to the legal profession, diversity, and the City of London", in recognition of her longstanding commitments in public life.[21][22]

Charitable work and other interests[edit]

Woolf is involved in supporting the work of a number of charitable and other organisations. She is a trustee of Raleigh International,[23] a governor of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama,[24] a trustee of the Friends of Oxford Shakespeare Company, and a member of the Parochial Church Council of St Clement Eastcheap. She is also chairman of the Chelsea Opera Group Trust,[25] and is actively involved in the operation, fundraising and co-ordination of its volunteers, as well as being a member of its choir. She is a member of the Royal Automobile Club.[26]

External links[edit]

Civic offices
Preceded by
Sir Roger Gifford
Coat of Arms of The City of London.svg
Lord Mayor of London

Succeeded by
Sir Alan Yarrow


  1. ^
  2. ^ "City of London's Scottish Lord Mayor listens to oil and gas sector plea for North Sea tax stability". Scottish Energy News. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Week@Keele". Keele University. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  4. ^ a b Sagar-Fenton, Beth (31 October 2014). "Profile: Fiona Woolf, second head of child abuse inquiry". BBC News. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  5. ^ "The Center for Business and Government Announces Global Crop of Fellows for Fall". John F. Kennedy School of Government. Autumn 2001. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  6. ^ Global Transmission Expansion: Recipes for Success by Fiona Woolf, PenWell Books, 2003.
  7. ^ Law Society Gazette, 20 July 2007
  8. ^ a b Cathy Newman "Hear ye! A woman's in charge of the City: meet Lord Mayor Fiona Woolf", Daily Telegraph, 15 November 2013.
  9. ^ Jamie, Dunkley (8 November 2013). "Woolf Takes Over As The Second Woman To Be Lord Mayor Of City". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  10. ^ James Pickles "Fiona Woolf second woman in 800 years to be Lord Mayor of London", Financial Times, 30 September 2013.
  11. ^ "New Lord Mayor Fiona Woolf on promoting UK business". 8 November 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  12. ^ "Interview: Welcoming the world to London, Lord Mayor Fiona Woolf is". Evening Standard. 2 May 2014.
  13. ^ London Fashion Week 2014,; accessed 10 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Fiona Woolf CBE announced chancellor of the University of Law". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  15. ^ "International Students". The University of Law.
  16. ^ "2512502 | Deputy Lieutenant Commissions | The Gazette". Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  17. ^ "Fiona Woolf to lead abuse inquiry". BBC News Online. 5 September 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  18. ^ Staff (21 October 2014). "Abuse inquiry head Fiona Woolf defends Lord Brittan links". BBC News. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  19. ^ Staff (22 October 2014). "Legal challenge launched over abuse inquiry chair". BBC News. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  20. ^ BBC News: Fiona Woolf resigns chairmanship of the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse,; accessed 31 December 2014.
  21. ^ "No. 61092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2014. p. N8.
  22. ^ 2015 New Year Honours List Archived 2 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 31 December 2014.
  23. ^ Raleigh International List of Trustees
  24. ^ Guildhall School of Music and Drama Current members of the Board of Governors
  25. ^ "Chelsea Opera Group". Chelsea Opera Group.
  26. ^ ‘WOOLF, (Catherine) Fiona’, Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2014