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Baroness Helena Kennedy QC grew up in Glasgow, raised from a working-class background. She has dedicated her professional life to giving a voice to those with the least power by championing civil liberties and promoting human rights.
Elevated to the House of Lords in 1997 – she has argued with passion, wit and humanity for social justice and written and broadcast on a range of issues, from medical negligence to women and children’s rights. Beyond the House of Lords, Helena Kennedy is an acclaimed public speaker, regularly requested for lectures and after-dinner speaking.
As a member of the Doughty Street Chambers in London she has been involved in many prominent cases; including the Brighton Bombing, the Guildford Four appeal and the bombing of the Israeli embassy. She has acted for many battered women who have killed their husbands.
She was a British member of the International Bar Association Task Force on Terrorism. She currently chairs the inquiry for the Royal College of Pathologists and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health into infant death, following miscarriages of justice where mothers were wrongly convicted of infanticide.
From 1992 to 1997, she was chair of the constitutional reform group Charter 88, persuading the Labour government to make devolution and human rights legislation central to their manifesto. She is also on the board of the Independent newspaper and chair of the Human Genetics Commission, advising government on the ethical, social and legal issues related to genetic science.
An active and prominent promoter of education issues, Kennedy was commissioner on the Hamlyn National Commission on Education from 1991 to 1993. In 1997 her report Learning Works for the Further Education Funding Council sparked great changes within education policy. Subsequently, The Helena Kennedy Foundation was established to help disadvantaged students into higher education.
She was chancellor of Oxford Brookes University from 1993 to 2001 and is president of the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University, the National Children’s Bureau and vice president of the Association of Women Barristers and the Haldane Society. She published her book Just Law: The Changing Face of Justice And Why It Matters in 2004.
She is chair of The British Council and a trustee of the Club of Three and the KPMG Foundation. A member of the Foreign Policy Centre advisory council, the International Centre for Prison Studies, World Bank Institute, the Independent News & Media board and the Académie Universelle des Cultures. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the City and Guilds of London Institute.
As a media personality, she has presented radio and television programmes including Heart of the Matter, Raw Deal and the award-winning Time, Gentlemen, Please for the BBC, and is a frequent guest on both radio and television, including Any Questions, Newsnight, Question Time and the Today programme.
She made the film Mothers Behind Bars, which radically changed policy within women’s prisons. She created the highly political drama series Blind Justice, which lifted the lid on many of the legal scandals of the era.
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