Joel Joffe, Baron Joffe

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Joel Goodman Joffe, Baron Joffe, CBE (born 12 May 1932) is a South African-born British lawyer and former Labour peer in the House of Lords.

Born in South Africa, 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. Later he moved to the United Kingdom, and worked in the financial services industry, setting up Hambro Life Assurance with Sir Mark Weinberg as well as in the voluntary sector. He was associated with Oxfam in various roles between 1982 and 2001, including being its Chair 1995–2001. He actively pursues a range of charitable activities as chair of the Joffe Charitable Trust.

In 2006 he was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Laws) from the University of Bath.

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1999 New Year Honours,[1] and made a life peer on 16 February 2000, being raised to the peerage as Baron Joffe, of Liddington in the County of Wiltshire.[2] In February 2003 he proposed as a Private Member's Bill the "Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill",[3] which would legalise physician-assisted dying.[4] 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.

He appeared on the BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs on 28 October 2007.[5]

Joffe retired from the House of Lords on 30 March 2015.[6]


  • 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


  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 55354. p. 8. 31 December 1998.
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 55771. p. 1969. 22 February 2000.
  3. ^ "Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill [HL]". Public Bills before Parliament. United Kingdom Parliament. 2004-01-08. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  4. ^ "Bid to legalise assisted suicide". BBC News. BBC. 2003-02-20. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Retired members of the House of Lord

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