Alex Carlile, Baron Carlile of Berriew

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Carlile of Berriew
Member of Parliament
for Montgomeryshire
In office
11 June 1983 – 1 May 1997
Preceded by Delwyn Williams
Succeeded by Lembit Opik
Personal details
Born (1948-02-12) 12 February 1948 (age 67)
Nationality British
Political party Liberal Democrats
Alma mater King's College London
Profession Barrister

Alexander Charles Carlile, Lord Carlile of Berriew, CBE, QC, LlD, FRSA (born 12 February 1948) is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords. He has been described as one of Britain's top legal experts.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Alex Carlile, the son of Polish Jewish immigrants, was brought up in North Wales and Lancashire. He was educated at Epsom College and at King's College London where he graduated in Law in 1969. He was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn in 1970 and became a QC at the unusually young age of 36.[2]

Lord Carlile of Berriew is a practising barrister and former head of chambers of 9–12 Bell Yard, a leading set of barristers' chambers. He successfully defended Diana, Princess of Wales's butler, Paul Burrell, against charges that Burrell had stolen some of her estate's belongings.[2] In 2001 he was appointed the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation.[3] Carlile stood down as head of chambers at 9–12 Bell Yard in March 2008.

Carlile was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to national security.[4]

Political career[edit]

Carlile was created a life peer in 1999, as Baron Carlile of Berriew, of Berriew in the County of Powys, having previously been a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire from 1983 to 1997; he had stood unsuccessfully as a Liberal for East Flintshire in February and October 1974. As the sole Welsh Liberal Democrat MP for Wales after the 1992 election, Carlile helped steer the party through one of its low points. He was instrumental in the pre-devolution discussions with the Welsh Labour Party that led up to the 1997 devolution referendum.

According to the Register of Lords' Interests, Lord Carlile of Berriew was inter alia a director of 5 Bell Yard Ltd and the Wynnstay Group of agricultural feed manufacturers, agricultural goods merchants and fuel oil distributors; a Deputy High Court Judge; a Chairman of the Competition Appeals Tribunal; and a trustee of the White Ensign Association. He became President of the Howard League for Penal Reform in 2006.

He is a director of a strategy and political risks consultancy.

Carlile was, in 2014, principal proponent in favour of the rescission of Maryam Rajavi's travel ban. The Supreme Court sided with government in spite of the intervention of Mishcon de Reya and Lord Pannick QC, whom Carlile instructed.[5]

Howard League for Penal Reform[edit]

Chair of the 2006 Inquiry into physical restraint, solitary confinement and forcible strip searching of children in prisons, secure training centres and local council secure children's homes. Now President of the Howard League[6]

On 11 May and 6 June 2011, Lord Carlile held a follow-on Public Inquiry in the House of Lords. He put together an expert panel to advise and to give evidence to the Inquiry. This expert panel who gave both written and oral evidence consisted of Nick Hardwick (Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons), Paul Cook (G4S children's services), Eric Baskind (British Self Defence Governing Body, Liverpool John Moores University), Malcolm Stevens (JusticeCare Solutions), Laura Janes (Howard League for Penal Reform), John Drew (Youth Justice Board for England and Wales), Sue Berelowitz (Office of the Children's Commissioner) and Carolyne Willow (CRAE).[7]


Carlile was the first Member of Parliament to campaign for the rights of transsexual people.

Lord Carlile acted from 2005 to 2011 as the independent reviewer of British anti-terrorist laws. He was succeeded by David Anderson QC. The Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, called Carlile's support for control orders "disappointing" in a February 2006 press release condemning the introduction of control orders by the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.[8] Following the resignation of David Davis to fight a by-election on an "anti 42-day" platform, Carlile wrote an article for The Sun criticising his stance.

He was vocal in his opposition to the UK coalition government's Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, proposing many amendments.[9] He was one of five Lords who vehemently opposed the introduction of means testing for police advice (to cover the cost of lawyers consulting suspects in police stations). "A single moment of reflection leaves one open-mouthed at the absurdity of this proposal," he said.[10]

He takes the Liberal Democrat Whip in the House of Lords. He is known for his dedication to Liberal principles, and for his independence of mind.

Personal life[edit]

He lists his recreations as politics, theatre, food and football, and is a member of the Athenaeum Club. He is a lifelong supporter of English football club Burnley FC.[11] He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, President of the United Kingdom's largest professional security organisation, The Security Institute, and Chairman of the Chartered Security Professionals Registration Authority.[12] He has three children by his first wife Frances and six grandchildren. He married his second wife, Alison Levitt, QC, in December 2007. She is the Head of Business Crime at the London law firm Mishcon de Reya, and herself an admired criminal lawyer.

As of 2011, Carlile is a member of the Management Committee of Gray's Inn of which he is a Bencher.[13]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Delwyn Williams
Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire
Succeeded by
Lembit Opik
Party political offices
Preceded by
Chairman of the Welsh Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Winston Roddick
Preceded by
Richard Livsey
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Succeeded by
Richard Livsey
Preceded by
Martin Thomas
President of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Succeeded by