Joel Joffe, Baron Joffe
The Lord Joffe
|Member of the House of Lords|
22 February 2000 – 30 March 2015
Joel Goodman Joffe
12 May 1932
Johannesburg, Transvaal Province, South Africa
|Died||18 June 2017 (aged 85)|
Liddington, Wiltshire, England, UK
|Alma mater||University of Witwatersrand|
|Occupation||Human rights lawyer|
Life and career
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, to a mother born in Palestine and a father born in Lithuania, Joffe grew up in a Jewish household before being sent to a Catholic boarding school. He was educated at the University of Witwatersrand (BCom, LLB 1955), and worked as a human rights lawyer 1958–65, including as defence attorney of the leadership of the ANC at the 1963-4 Rivonia Trial, helping to represent Nelson Mandela and his co-defendants.
Joffe chaired the Swindon and Marlborough Health Authority and he Ridgeway Hospital and was a member of The Royal Commission on the Care of the Elderly. He was associated with Oxfam in various roles between 1982 and 2001, including being its Chair 1995–2001. He was a trustee of many different charities and actively pursued a range of charitable activities through the Joffe Charitable Trust.
He was awarded Honorary Doctorates from the Open University (1995), De Montfort University (2000), University of the Witwatersrand (2001), Brunel University (2004) and Bath University (2006). In 2016, he was awarded the Freedom of the City of London.
He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1999 New Year Honours, and made a life peer on 16 February 2000, being raised to the peerage as Baron Joffe, of Liddington in the County of Wiltshire.
In February 2003 he proposed as a Private Member's Bill the "Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill", which would legalise physician-assisted dying. After deliberation by a Lords committee, the bill was put forward again in November 2005. On 12 May 2006, the Bill was debated once again in the House of Lords and an amendment to delay its introduction by six months was carried by a margin of 148–100, halting progress of the bill in that session.
Joffe retired from the House of Lords on 30 March 2015.
In 2017 Joffe appeared along with surviving defendants at the Rivonia Trial, Denis Goldberg, Andrew Mlangeni and Ahmed Kathrada, along with fellow defence lawyers George Bizos and Denis Kuny, in a documentary film entitled “Life is Wonderful”, directed by Sir Nicholas Stadlen, which tells the story of the trial. The title reflects Goldberg's words to his mother at the end of the trial on hearing that he and his comrades had been spared the death sentence.
- Joel Joffe, The Rivonia Story, Mayibuye Books, Cape Town, 1995
- Joel Joffe, The State Vs. Nelson Mandela: The Trial That Changed South Africa, Oneworld Publications, 2007
- "Joel Joffe (1932–2017)". Oxfam.
- "No. 55354". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1998. p. 8.
- "No. 55771". The London Gazette. 22 February 2000. p. 1969.
- "Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill [HL]". Public Bills before Parliament. United Kingdom Parliament. 8 January 2004. Retrieved 8 November 2007.
- "Bid to legalise assisted suicide". BBC News. 20 February 2003. Retrieved 8 November 2007.
- "Lords vote to block assisted suicide bill for terminally ill". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
- Joffe was the featured guest on BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs on 28 October 2007. During the programme, Joffe mentioned his grandfather's role in writing "Hava Nagila". In the programme notes, the listing for "Hava Nagila" states "Composer: Bashir Am Israelim", meaning that either this is an alias for Abraham Zevi Idelsohn, to whom Joffe was clearly referring in the programme, or the programme notes contain an erroneous entry.
- http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/lords/retired-lords/ Retired members of the House of Lord
- Life is Wonderful Q&A on Vimeo
- on YouTube
- Stadlen, Nick (Nicholas) (22 July 2018). "Unsung heroes: the men who stood trial with Mandela". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
- Green, Pippa (13 June 2018). "Apartheid history: Overlooked Rivonia triallists feted in Life is Wonderful". Business Day. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
- "'Life is Wonderful' screening reinforces call for such histories in curriculum". Nelson Mandela University. 15 June 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
- "Lord Joffe CBE". Humanists UK. 19 June 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
- "Statement on the death of Lord Joffe | Press releases | Oxfam GB". Oxfam GB. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
- "Tributes paid to Lord Joel Joffe, who has passed away aged 85". Swindon Advertiser. 19 June 2017.
- Battersby, John (26 June 2017). "Lord Joffe obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
- Battersby, John (29 June 2017). "Lord Joel Joffe passes away, aged 85". The South African. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
- "Obituary: Joel Joffe died on June 18th". The Economist. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
- SABC Digital News (20 June 2017), Tributes pour in for Mandela's former lawyer Lord Joel Joffe, retrieved 21 November 2017
- House of Lords biography
- Announcement of his introduction at the House of Lords House of Lords minutes of proceedings, 22 February 2000
- Mandela trial papers at AIM25 – includes some biographical information about Joel Joffe
- Lord Joffe on TheyWorkForYou – including his speeches in Parliament