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Patricia Janet, Baroness Scotland of Asthal
(9 August 1955 –)
The Rt. Hon. Patricia Janet, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, PC, QC
Secretary General of the Commonwealth (as of 1 April 2016)

Patricia Janet, Baroness Scotland of Asthal (born 19 August 1955) is a British barrister, and 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 1 April 2016. She will be the first woman to hold the post.

Early Life and education

Patricia Scotland was born in the Commonwealth of Dominica on 9 August 1955 in 1956, as the tenth child of twelve. Her family moved to Walthamstow when she was two years old. She attended the Walthamstow School for Girls. She is a Roman Catholic. As she grew she took a liking for dance and wanted to be a modern expressionist ballet dancer at 16.

She was educated at 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.


Baroness Scotland made history in 1991 by becoming the first black woman to be appointed a Queen's Counsel. She was made a bencher of the Middle Temple in 1997, becoming a judge in 1999, and raised to the Privy Council in 2001 She later founded 1 Gray's Inn Square barristers chambers. 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 in 1997.

She is also a member of the bar in Antigua and Dominica. In 1997 she was created a peer as Baroness Scotland of Asthal, in the County of Oxfordshire. The Baroness is considered to be a rising star in the Tony Blair administration that is impeccably well connected, being close to two of Prime Portrait in The National Minister Blair's Gallery confidants: Charles Falconer (Britain's Solicitor General) and Derry Irvine (Lord Chancellor).

Government posts

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 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.

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. Whilst at the Home Office she was responsible for major reform of the criminal justice system. She created the Office of Criminal Justice Reform 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. She created an advisory group on victims and the Criminal Justice Centre, Victims and Witness units.

Baroness Scotland created Inside Justice Week 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%. 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.

Attorney General

On 28 June 2007 Baroness Scotland was appointed Attorney General by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. 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 which 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 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.

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 appointment of a separate Attorney General for Northern Ireland.

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. She is currently a president of Chatham House.

Personal life

Baroness Scotland resides in London and in Asthal, the Oxfordshire village, where she and her barrister husband live with their two sons.

Honours and awards

Baroness Scotland has received numerous awards and commendations including an honorary degree from the University of Westminster for services to law, government, social justice and International affairs. Among her other accomplishments: Chair of HMG Caribbean Advisory Group; Dominican Representative of the Council of British Commonwealth Ex-Services League; Member of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship; Member of the BBC World Service Consultative Group Lifeline (Trinidad & Tobago); Honorary Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, Member of The Millennium Commission; Patron of the Women and Children's Welfare Fund. She has specialized in family and public law and has chaired and represented parties in a number of major inquiries relating to Child Abuse, Mental Health and Housing.

At the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting she was elected the 6th Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations and will take office 1 April 2016. She will be the first woman to hold the post.

In December 2015, the Vieille Case Primary School in Dominica was named in her honour.


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Patricia Scotland
Occupation Barrister, Diplomat, Politician
Date of Birth 9 August 1955
Place of Birth Dominica
Notable Accomplishments
First black female Queens Counsel QC) in the United Kingdom: 1991
First female Attorney General in the United Kingdom: 28 June 2007
First female and 6th Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations: 1 April 2016 - present
Dominica Dominica
Black History Month 2014

 National Heroes
 Caribbean Leaders
 Women in Caribbean Politics
 Caribbean Nobel Laureates
 Order of the Caribbean Community Recipients
 In Memoriam
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