Patricia Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal

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The Right Honourable
The Baroness Scotland of Asthal
6th Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations
Taking office
1 April 2016
Monarch Elizabeth II
Succeeding Kamalesh Sharma
Shadow Attorney General
In office
11 May 2010 – 7 October 2011
Leader Harriet Harman (Acting)
Ed Miliband
Preceded by Edward Garnier
Succeeded by Emily Thornberry
Attorney General for England and Wales
In office
28 June 2007 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by The Lord Goldsmith
Succeeded by Dominic Grieve
Advocate General for Northern Ireland
In office
12 April 2010 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Dominic Grieve
Attorney General for Northern Ireland
In office
28 June 2007 – 12 April 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by The Lord Goldsmith
Succeeded by John Larkin
Personal details
Born (1955-08-19) 19 August 1955 (age 60)
Political party Labour
Alma mater Anglia Ruskin University
University College London
Middle Temple
Religion Roman Catholicism
Patricia Scotland speaking at the Royal Courts of Justice before LGBT History Month (2007)

Patricia Janet Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, PC, QC (born 19 August 1955) is a British barrister and jurist, who served in many ministerial positions within the UK Government, most notably as the Attorney General for England and Wales and Advocate General for Northern Ireland. At the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting she was elected the 6th Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations and will take office April 1, 2016. She will be the first woman to hold the post.[1] She is a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Dominica.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Scotland was born in Dominica, the tenth child of twelve born to Roman Catholic parents[3] a Dominican mother and Antiguan father.[4] Her family moved to Walthamstow when she was two years old, where she attended the Walthamstow School for Girls. She then went on to Mid Essex Technical College in Chelmsford, where she pursued a London University (LLB) law degree in 1976 (in association with University College London). She was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1977, specialising in family and children's law, and also called to the Dominican bar in 1978.[5]

In 1991, Scotland became the first black woman to be appointed a Queen's Counsel. She later founded 1 Gray's Inn Square barristers chambers.[6] Early in 1997, she was elected as a Bencher of the Middle Temple. Scotland was named as a Millennium Commissioner on 17 February 1994, and was a member of the Commission for Racial Equality. She received a life peerage on a Labour Party list of working peers and was created Baroness Scotland of Asthal, of Asthal in the County of Oxfordshire on 30 October 1997.[7]

British government posts[edit]

From 1999 to 2001 Baroness Scotland was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where she was inter alia responsible for the UK Government's diplomatic relations with North America, the Caribbean, Overseas Territories, Consular Division, British Council, administration and all Parliamentary business in the House of Lords. Baroness Scotland notably introduced the International Criminal Court Bill which sought to ratify the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court into UK law. She established the Pro Bono Lawyers Panel, a panel of British-based lawyers who provided legal advice on a pro bono basis to United Kingdom nationals imprisoned in foreign countries. She created an Overseas Territories Council for the Caribbean and reformed and restructured the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Consular Division to be able to respond more effectively to emergencies and disasters abroad such as the 11 September attacks.

In 2001 she became Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, and was made a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. She was the minister responsible for civil justice and the reform of civil law including the comprehensive reform of land registration leading to the Land Registration Act 2002. She was also responsible for international affairs at the Lord Chancellor's Department and was appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair as the UK Alternate Representative to the European Convention[8] and was given primary responsibility for the negotiations in relation to the Charter of Rights which were successfully concluded in 2003. During this period she consolidated the strong relations created with all the applicant countries through the FAHR programme and the member states and was subsequently awarded the Polish Medal for her contribution to the reform and development of Law in Poland.

Baroness Scotland was a contender for a cabinet position in 2003, when Prime Minister Blair reportedly considered appointing her Leader of the House of Lords.[9]

In 2003 Baroness Scotland was made Minister of State for the Criminal Justice System and Law Reform at the Home Office and deputy to the Home Secretary. She served in that post until 2007 under three Home Secretaries: David Blunkett, Charles Clarke and John Reid. While at the Home Office she was responsible for major reform of the criminal justice system. She created the Office of Criminal Justice Reform[10] which helped to create and support the National Criminal Justice Board and the Local Criminal Justice Board. Having acted as Chair, she then created three Alliances to reduce re-offending (Corporate, Civic and Faith based Alliance) and the Corporate Alliance against Domestic Violence.[11] She created an advisory group on victims and the Criminal Justice Centre, Victims and Witness units.

Baroness Scotland created Inside Justice Week[12] and the Justice Awards. She introduced the Crime and Victims Act which created new offence of familial homicide which was successfully used to prosecute the killers of Baby P who would otherwise have escaped responsibility for his death. By 2009, domestic violence in the UK had been reduced by 64%.[13] The domestic violence homicide rate had been significantly reduced and crime was at its lowest since 1991.

Baroness Scotland continued her responsibility for international affairs at the Home Office and continued to represent the UK in a number of difficult and challenging international negotiations such as those relating to extradition.

In 2004 Baroness Scotland was considered to be a possible candidate to become a commissioner of the European Union.

In November 2012, she was appointed Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to South Africa.[14]

Attorney General[edit]

On 28 June 2007 Baroness Scotland was appointed Attorney General by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.[6] She was the first woman to hold the office since its foundation in 1315. As Attorney General she was the Chief legal adviser to: Her Majesty The Queen, Parliament and the Government, Supervisor and Superintendent of the Prosecutorial Authorities (SFO,CPS, RCPO), Leader of the Bar and had non-statutory oversight of the prosecutors in government departments, the Treasury Solicitors Department and armed services prosecuting authority. She was Guardian of the Rule of Law and Public Interest. She was one of the three Cabinet Ministers responsible for the criminal justice system and had specific responsibility for fraud policy and the National Fraud Authority and chaired the Inter-Ministerial Group responsible for the improvement of the response to fraud and e-crime.

She was instrumental in creating the Quintet[15] that brought together the Attorneys General of USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to consider issues of joint legal and systemic concern. During her time as Attorney General, Baroness Scotland continued to promote pro bono[16] work by lawyers and created an international and Schools Pro Bono Committee which was responsible for co-ordinating pro bono work. She created the Pro Bono Awards and Pro Bono Heroes. She also created an Attorney General's Youth Network.[17]

She was the last Attorney General for England and Wales also to be the Attorney General for Northern Ireland before the devolution of justice powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the subsequent appointment of a separate Attorney General for Northern Ireland. She became instead Advocate General for Northern Ireland, the UK government's chief advisor on Northern Ireland law, for a brief period until Labour left office.

When Labour left government on 11 May 2010, Baroness Scotland became the Shadow Attorney General and was reappointed to that role by Ed Miliband when he appointed his first Shadow Cabinet in October 2010, where she was instrumental in creating Labour's strategy against Rupert Murdoch.[18] She is currently a president of Chatham House.[19]

Local government[edit]

In December 2014 Baroness Scotland was elected as the Alderman for the ward of Bishopsgate in the City of London, having stood (in accordance with convention in the City) as an independent candidate.[20]

Commonwealth Secretary-General[edit]

At the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Scotland was nominated for the position of Commonwealth Secretary-General by her native country of Dominica and defeated Antiguan diplomat Ronald Sanders, who was thought to have been the frontrunner for the position,[21] and former deputy secretary-general for political affairs Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba of Botswana to become the 6th Commonwealth Secretary-General and the first woman to hold the post. She will begin her first of a maximum of two possible four-year terms on 1 April 2016.[22][23]

Her candidacy had been opposed by Canada's former special envoy to the Commonwealth and Senator Hugh Segal who wrote in an editorial that she was not qualified for the position "for having accepted a well-paying brief from a junta in the Maldives to argue against the Commonwealth’s legitimacy when it and Canada sought the restoration of democracy in that country."[24][25]

She has committed herself to using the first two years of her tenure to promote decriminalisation of homosexuality in the 40 of 53 Commonwealth countries that list homosexual behaviour as a crime.[26]

Charitable work[edit]

Baroness Scotland is the Patron of the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence.[27] She is the joint Patron of Missio,[28] a charity which is the Catholic Church's official support organisation for overseas mission.[29]

She is also a patron of Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB), a charity dedicated to reuniting children who have been separated from their families.[30]


Baroness Scotland has been voted Peer of the Year by Channel 4,[31] the House Magazine,[32] Parliamentarian of the Year by the Spectator[33] and the Political Studies Association,[34] and received a number of other awards for her contribution to law reform in the UK and abroad.

Baroness Scotland was awarded an Honorary Degree from the University of East London in 2005.[35] She was voted one of the 100 Great Black Britons.[36]

Baroness Scotland was decreed and invested by Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro, as a Dame of Merit with Star of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George in 2003. In 2014 she was appointed to the Council of the British and Irish Delegation of the Constantinian Order.

On 1 January 2014 she was appointed chancellor of the University of Greenwich.[37]

Public speaking[edit]

In January 2010 Baroness Scotland gave the keynote address to the Faculty of Law of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as part of the Lionel Cohen lecture series.[38] In September 2009 she gave the keynote speech of the 9th Stephen Lawrence Memorial Lecture.[39] In July 2009 she gave the keynote speech to the CPS Community Conference.[40] In May 2009 Scotland gave the keynote speech at the Law Society of Scotland Conference.[41] In February 2009 she gave the Magna Carta speech to Parliament House in Canberra, Australia.[42] In May 2008 she delivered the keynote speech at the National Mentoring Consortium.[43]

Scotland has given speeches to the Professional Organisation for Women in Antigua and Barbuda,[44] the Association of Turkish Women in Britain,[45] the Peace Alliance,[46] the Local Government Conference,[47] the Black Solicitors' Network,[48] the University of Sussex.[49] and the Medical Women's Federation.

She also spoke at the D.D. Kosambi Festival of Ideas at Goa in 2014.[50]

NatWest Three[edit]

A new extradition treaty with the United States of America had been signed on 31 March 2003. Scotland had the responsibility for promoting the necessary legislation in the House of Lords.[51] The "NatWest Three" extradition case made use of this treaty. The three men were British citizens, living in the UK and working for the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, a British bank. On 12 July 2006, in a highly unusual move, the Speaker of the House, Michael Martin, allowed an emergency debate on both the treaty and the NatWest Three after a request by Liberal Democrat frontbencher Nick Clegg.

During the debate, Scotland's view in 2005 that a higher threshold to establish "probable cause" was required by the UK to extradite from the US than vice versa was contrasted by Clegg to comments which the Prime Minister had made in July 2006, in which he stated that the evidential burdens on the two countries were the same.[52] The "NatWest Three" were subsequently extradited, and accepted a plea-bargain arrangement under which they pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud in the United States.

Illegal immigrant employment controversy[edit]

In 2009 Scotland empolyed Lolo Tapui, an illegal immigrant. Tapui had been using a forged passport for the period up to and including December 2008. She began to employ Tapui in January 2009. Tapui was later jailed for eight months for fraud, possessing a false identity stamp, and overstaying her U.K. visa. At her trial Tapui admitted to having been paid £95,000 by the Daily Mail. She was later deported.[53]

Scotland had earlier been fined £5,000 for not keeping, as an employer, copies of documents used to check Tapui's immigration status, under rules Scotland helped draft as a Home Office minister. The investigation found that Scotland had not knowingly employed an illegal worker.[54]

Personal life[edit]

Scotland resides in London[55] and in Asthal, where she and her barrister husband live with their two sons.[56]


  1. ^ "Commonwealth elects first woman secretary general". Times of Malta. 27 November 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "CHOGM: Patricia Scotland is first Commonwealth secretary-general". The Australian. 28 November 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  3. ^ Madeleine Teahan, "Baroness calls for support for priests", Catholic Herald, 5 August 2011.
  4. ^ < Alexander Downer narrowly avoids Commonwealth Secretary-General job, Financial Review, November 29, 2015
  5. ^ "Baroness Scotland gets Dominica’s support for top Commonwealth post", Caribbean 360, 30 September 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Baroness Scotland QC appointed attorney general". The Lawyer. 28 June 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 54938. p. 12377. 4 November 1997.
  8. ^ "Baroness Scotland of Asthal". 3 June 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  9. ^ David Hencke, "New Face of the Lords", The Guardian, 7 October 2003.
  10. ^ "[ARCHIVED CONTENT] Office for Criminal Justice Reform". 6 November 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  11. ^ Blue Serif - Design & Marketing Services - "Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence". CAADV. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  12. ^ [1] Archived 8 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Home Office". Equalities. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  14. ^ "New Trade Envoys and Business Investment to Boost Trade Links", UK Trade & Investment, 12 November 2012.
  15. ^ [2] Archived 4 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Attorney General Welcomes Pro Bono Progress". 31 March 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  17. ^ "Attorney General's Youth Advisory Council meets for the first time". 16 December 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  18. ^ "Ed Miliband's new frontbench team | The Labour Party". 10 October 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  19. ^ The Rt Hon Baroness Scotland QC - Chatham House Retrieved 29 September 2012
  20. ^ "Baroness Scotland elected as city Alderman". Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  21. ^ "Baroness Patricia Scotland becomes first UK citizen to be elected secretary‑general of Commonwealth". The Independent. 27 November 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  22. ^ "Commonwealth elects first woman secretary general". Times of Malta. 27 November 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  23. ^ "Lady Scotland vies to be next Commonwealth secretary general". The Guardian. 24 November 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  24. ^ Segal, Hugh (November 26, 2015). "The spirit of the Commonwealth needs to be revived - and quickly". Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 27, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Former Canadian senator backs Antigua Commonwealth nominee". Caribbean News Now. November 27, 2015. Retrieved November 27, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Baroness Scotland uses new role as secretary‑general of the Commonwealth to call for LGBT rights". The Independent. 28 November 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  27. ^ Blue Serif - Design & Marketing Services - "Baroness Scotland - (CAADV) Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence". CAADV. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  28. ^ "Catholic Mission Charity". MISSIO. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  29. ^ "Mission". 18 June 1996. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  30. ^ "Our Trustees". Children and Families Across Borders. 
  31. ^ Tran, Mark (28 June 2007). "Profile: Lady Scotland". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 26 September 2009. 
  32. ^ "Domnitjen Magazine profiles: Baroness Patricia Scotland". 19 August 1955. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  33. ^ "Top politician award for Cameron". BBC News. 10 November 2005. Archived from the original on 19 February 2006. 
  34. ^ "AWARDS". PSA. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  35. ^ "UEL Alumni Newsletter". 
  36. ^ 100 Great Black Britons.
  37. ^ "Baroness Scotland to be Chancellor of the University of Greenwich". 
  38. ^ "Attorney General Speech: "Lawfare - Time for Rules of Engagement?"". Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  39. ^ "keynote speech Stephen Lawrence Memorial Lecture". Attorney General. 10 September 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  40. ^ "Keynote Speech - CPS Community Conference". 9 July 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  41. ^ "Keynote address at Law Society of Scotland Conference - The Rule of Law". 8 May 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^ "Baroness Scotland speech Association of Turkish women in Britain", YouTube.
  46. ^ "Baroness Scotland: 'Together we can'", Operation Black Vote.
  47. ^ "Draft Speech for Baroness Scotland: The Government's Commitment to Adr Clt Local Government Conference...", Thursday, 20 June 2002.
  48. ^ "Rt Hon Baroness Scotland QC - Speech to the Black Solicitors Network", BSN, Press Office.
  49. ^ "Top lawyers give campus talks", University of Sussex Alumni Magazine Falmer Issue 49 (2010), p. 3.
  50. ^ "Scotland urges women to speak up against domestic violence", The Times of India, 9 February 2014.
  51. ^ Extradition Debate, Hansard, 12 July 2006.
  52. ^ UK-US Extradition Treaty, Hansard, 12 July 2006: Column 1396.
  53. ^ "Lady Scotland's former cleaner convicted of fraud". The Guardian. Press Association. 9 April 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  54. ^ "Brown stands by Lady Scotland as immigration row continues". The Guardian. Press Association. 27 September 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  55. ^ "Baroness Scotland faces new inquiry call over £170,000 London allowance". Telegraph. 20 September 2009. Archived from the original on 24 September 2009. 
  56. ^ Tran, Mark (28 June 2007). "Profile: Lady Scotland". London: Guardian. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Goldsmith
Attorney General for England and Wales
Succeeded by
Dominic Grieve
Attorney General for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
John Larkin
New office Advocate General for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Dominic Grieve
Preceded by
Edward Garnier
Shadow Attorney General
Succeeded by
Emily Thornberry
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Lord Hart of Chilton
Chancellor of the University of Greenwich
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Kamalesh Sharma
Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations