Helena Kennedy, Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws

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The Right Honourable
The Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws
Official portrait of Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws crop 2.jpg
Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws' official parliamentary photo
Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford
Assumed office
September 2011
Preceded by Diana Walford
Member of the House of Lords
Assumed office
October 1997
Monarch Elizabeth II
Personal details
Born Helena Ann Kennedy
(1950-05-12) 12 May 1950 (age 68)
Glasgow, Scotland
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Iain Louis Hutchison; 2 children
Domestic partner Iain Mitchell (1978–84); 1 child
Children Keir Kennedy Mitchell
Clio Kennedy Hutchison
Roland Kennedy Hutchison
Occupation Barrister, television presenter
Website www.helenakennedy.co.uk

Helena Ann Kennedy, Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, QC, FRSA, HonFRSE (born 12 May 1950) is a British barrister, broadcaster, and Labour member of the House of Lords.

Early life and education[edit]

Kennedy was born on 12 May 1950 in Glasgow, Scotland to a devoutly Roman Catholic family.[1] She is one of four sisters born to Joshua Patrick and Mary Veronica (née Jones) Kennedy, both committed Labour activists. Her father, a printer with the Daily Record, was a trade union official.[1] She attended Holyrood Secondary School in Glasgow, where she was appointed Head Girl.

Kennedy still regularly attends Mass and professes that her Catholicism "remains very much part of who I am", even though she eschews its more traditional values. She went on to study Law at London's Council of Legal Education.[1]

Legal career[edit]

Among her many cases, Kennedy acted as junior counsel for child murderer Myra Hindley during the latter's 1974 trial for plotting to escape from Holloway.[2]


Kennedy rebels against her party whip in the House of Lords more frequently than any other Labour Peer, having a dissent rate of 33.3%.[3] She was Chair of Charter 88 (1992–97) and is closely affiliated to the educational charity Common Purpose.


Kennedy was elected principal of Mansfield College, Oxford in July 2010 (in which office she has served since September 2011).[4] She is due to retire in 2018, and will become Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Her first partner was the actor Iain Mitchell, with whom she lived from 1978 until 1984, and by whom she has a son. In 1986, Kennedy married Dr Iain Louis Hutchison (a surgeon), with whom she has a daughter and a son.[1]


She has received numerous academic awards, including:


Hosting After Dark in 1997
  • Creator: Blind Justice, BBC TV, 1987
  • Presenter: Heart of the Matter, BBC TV, 1987
  • After Dark, Channel 4 and BBC4, 1987–2003
  • Presenter: Raw Deal on Medical Negligence, BBC TV, 1989
  • Presenter: The Trial of 'Lady Chatterley's Lover', BBC Radio 4, 1990
  • Presenter: Time Gentlemen, Please, BBC Scotland, 1994 (Winner, Television Programme Award category, 1994 Industrial Journalism Awards)
  • Commissioner, BAFTA Inquiry into the future of the BBC, 1990

Public leadership[edit]

Kennedy signing The Convention on Modern Liberty in January 2009




  1. ^ a b c d Wroe, Nicholas (27 March 2004). "A radical in the House". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  2. ^ "One of Your Own: The Life and Death of Myra Hindley", by Carol Ann Lee (2012).
  3. ^ Rebel Lords — Current members The Public Whip
  4. ^ "Baroness Helena Kennedy QC elected next Principal of Mansfield College" Archived 29 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine., University of Oxford Mansfield College, 13 April 2011.
  5. ^ "Principal". Mansfield College. University of Oxford. Retrieved 16 November 2017. 
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 18 October 2013. 
  7. ^ "Baroness Helena Ann Kennedy of The Shaws QC, HonFBA, HonFRSE - The Royal Society of Edinburgh". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 2018-02-09. 
  8. ^ "2016: A Vision and Strategy for the Centennial" Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (p. 18), School of Oriental and African Studies, April 2010
  9. ^ Qureshi, Huma (17 October 2012). "Helena Kennedy: 'Women's struggles are not over'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "New Chancellor for Sheffield Hallam University"
  11. ^ "Meet The Team", LIFT. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  12. ^ "SafeHands for Mothers". SafeHands for Mothers. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "No. 54934". The London Gazette. 30 October 1997. p. 12205. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
New Institution
Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University
Succeeded by
Jon Snow