Helena Kennedy, Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws

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The Right Honourable
The Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws
Helena Kennedy -London, England-15Jan2010.jpg
Kennedy signing The Convention on Modern Liberty in January 2009
Born Helena Ann Kennedy
(1950-05-12) 12 May 1950 (age 66)
Glasgow, Scotland,
United Kingdom
Nationality British
Occupation Barrister, television presenter
Employer Mansfield College, Oxford; BBC
Political party Labour Party
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Iain Louis Hutchison; 2 children
Partner(s) Iain Mitchell (1978–84); 1 child
Children Keir Kennedy Mitchell
Clio Kennedy Hutchison
Roland Kennedy Hutchison
Website www.helenakennedy.co.uk

Helena Ann Kennedy, Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, QC, FRSA (born 12 May 1950),[1] is a British barrister, broadcaster, and Labour member of the House of Lords. Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, as she is properly styled, is a former chair of the Human Genetics Commission, which advises Her Majesty's Government on ethical, social, and legal issues arising from developments in genetic science.[citation needed]


Lady Kennedy was born in Glasgow to a devoutly Roman Catholic family. 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]

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]


Lady Kennedy was elected principal of Mansfield College, Oxford in July 2010 (which office she has served since September 2011).[3] She has received numerous academic awards, including:


  • 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


Lady 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%.[5] She was Chair of Charter 88 (1992–97) and is closely affiliated to the educational charity Common Purpose.

Public leadership[edit]




  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. ^ "Baroness Helena Kennedy QC elected next Principal of Mansfield College", University of Oxford Mansfield College, 13 April 2011.
  4. ^ http://www1.plymouth.ac.uk/graduation/honorarydegrees/honoraries2012/Pages/Baroness-Helena-Kennedy-QC.aspx
  5. ^ Rebel Lords — Current members The Public Whip
  6. ^ "2016: A Vision and Strategy for the Centennial" (p. 18), School of Oriental and African Studies, April 2010
  7. ^ Qureshi, Huma (17 October 2012). "Helena Kennedy: 'Women's struggles are not over'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "Meet The Team", LIFT. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  9. ^ "SafeHands for Mothers". SafeHands for Mothers. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 54934. p. 12205. 30 October 1997.

External links[edit]

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