Dame Linda Penelope Dobbs, DBE (born 3 January 1951) was a High Court judge in England and Wales from 2004 to 2013. Dobbs was the first non-white person to be appointed to the senior judiciary of England and Wales.
Linda Penelope Dobbs was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to Arthur Ernest Dobbs, and his wife, Loyda Dobbs (née Johnson). Loyda Johnson was a Creole from Sierra Leone and Arthur Dobbs (b. 1914) was an English lawyer originally from Warwickshire who went on to serve as a High Court judge in Sierra Leone.
Dobbs was educated at Moreton Hall School, a boarding independent school for girls, near the market town of Oswestry in Shropshire, followed initially by the University of Edinburgh, where she read music but left after a year. She then attended the University of Surrey, where she studied Russian and law, graduating in 1976. She went on to the London School of Economics, where she obtained a master's degree, followed by a doctorate in Soviet criminology and penology.
Life and career
Dobbs was called to the Bar in 1981, practising from 5 King's Bench Walk, the chambers of the then Attorney-General Sir Michael Havers, QC. She had a mixed criminal practice, in later years specialising in fraud and professional disciplinary tribunals, including the General Medical Council and the General Dental Council. She took silk in 1998.
She was a member of the General Council of the Bar and chaired the Professional Standards Committee and the Race Relations Committee. In 2003, she became the chairman of the Criminal Bar Association. She was appointed as a deputy High Court judge in February 2003, without having previously held appointment as a recorder.
She was appointed as a judge of the High Court in 2004, assigned to the Queen's Bench Division without having sat as a deputy High Court judge.
Of her appointment to the High Court, she said, "Whilst this appointment might be seen as casting me into the role of standard bearer, I am simply a practitioner following a career path. I am confident, nevertheless, that I am the first of many to come."
Dobbs appeared in the 2008 "Black Britannia" exhibition in London by Daily Mirror photographer John Ferguson and was also included in the list of Britain's 10 most powerful black women and the 100 Great Black Britons.
She is a patron of the African Prisons Project and an initiator of the 18 Red Lion Court Award for African advocates. She is also patron of Masicorp - an NGO promoting education in Masiphumelele, South Africa.
On 20 April 2013, Dobbs took early retirement from the High Court, aged 62 years.
- "High Court Gets First Black Judge", BBC News, 2 September 2004.
- Clare Dyer, "Woman QC to be high court's first black judge", The Guardian, 1 September 2004.
- "Mrs Justice Dobbs DBE". Black Lawyers' Directory. Retrieved 3 Jan 2014.
- 100 Great Black Britons website.
- African Prisons Project website.
- African Advocate Award, 18 Red Lion Court. Archived 2012-04-22 at the Wayback Machine.
- Masicorp website.
- "High Court - Retirement of The Honourable Dame Linda Penelope Dobbs DBE" (Press release). Ministry of Justice. 19 April 2013.